OUR VIEW: Violence epidemic in need of solutions

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:34 am on Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It’s the Christmas season and we are ever mindful that it is to be one of the most joyous times of the year, and maybe, as some time passes, it will be. However, to ignore the horrific events of last Friday in Newtown would not be an honest reflection of this particular season. The fact is that our Christmas seasons forevermore may be tainted with the memory of last week.

The president told the families of the victims that, “These tragedies must end — the United States will have to change.” After what has become an all too common occurrence for him (remember he has been to Fort Hood, Tucson and Aurora), he appears ready to ratchet up the political dialogue to begin seeking solutions to America’s epidemic of mass murder.

Certainly the gun control issue will resurface and hopefully be confronted with some political guts. We find it disheartening that, as reported following this tragedy, there are more than 200 million guns in circulation in the United States and that on the most recent kick-off to the holiday shopping season the FBI reported that they did 154,000 background checks on potential firearm purchases on Black Friday alone. While it is true that guns don’t kill — people do, we find it totally implausible that large capacity ammunition magazines have any part to play in hunting and sport shooting. Banning them should be a no-brainer! Politicians of any stripe should be able to muster that much common sense and courage.

But, gun registration is not the problem. All three weapons that the shooter carried on his person were properly registered — to his mother. People are the ones doing the killing and there appears to be a pattern developing that these particular people have a history, however brief, of mental illness. The greater issue for politicians, insurance companies and society to sort out deals with how we recognize, treat and compensate mental health care. Should mental health care be treated as any other chronic health issue—think cancer treatment or kidney dialysis? Most insurance plans offer only limited mental health “visits” and this in no way can fill the bill. Parents of similarly afflicted mental health spectrum children may live with a distant thought that their child may be the next shooter. Their fears are theirs and theirs alone because society unfairly stigmatizes those with mental illness. With regular and proper care, maybe this scenario would not occur. The state of Michigan recently succeeded in opening up the autism spectrum to insurance coverage. Perhaps we shouldn’t stop there.

The president spoke to the people of Newtown and the country as its leader. He also spoke haltingly and with voice cracking as a father of two young girls. His most precious gift to the world is those two girls as it was for the parents who lost little ones last week. We had better do right by all of them and all the others who have suffered a similar fate, politics be damned.

 Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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