I know Atascadero joins me in sympathy to the parents, relatives and friends of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty children were killed: Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Catherine, Jesse, Grace, Emilie, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Madeline, Chase, Dylan, Jack, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison and James, 6 and 7 years old, along with their protectors: Rachel Marie, behavior analyst; Dawn, principal; Anne Marie, aide; Lauren, substitute teacher; Mary, psychologist; and Vicki, their first-grade teacher.
Remember these children and school staff who would not consider themselves heroes, but educators simply doing their job protecting the children entrusted to them. Sandy Hook could be any school in America. The President said, “we cannot tolerate this anymore ... There will be change.”
We are not talking about rifles for hunting or the personal handgun in homes for protection. As the governor of West Virginia said Tuesday, “You only need one bullet to kill a deer.” These children were shot multiple times because one press of the trigger releases a number of bullets.
Since 1989, California has a stricter assault style weapons law banning, semi-automatic weapons that have any military style features.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein will introduce a bill in January to ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession of these types of weapons. It also bans big clips, drums, or strips of more than ten bullets. Who of you would not agree we need to get weapons of war off the streets of our cities and towns?
To protect ourselves from those who should not have access to these automatic guns, we need more services for mental health. Gun regulation does not impact budgets, but mental health services do. California cut more than $587 million in state spending on mental health care in the last two years. In March 2011, the National Alliance on Mental Illness released “State Mental Health Cuts: A National Crisis,” a report documenting deep cuts to state spending on services for children and adults living with serious mental illness. These cuts are significant reductions of service for vulnerable individuals with serious mental illness.
The demand for public mental health services is extremely high, especially at a time of severe economic distress. The crisis of identification and care continues. As a beginning, we need a ban on assault weapons and adequate mental health access and follow-up for all families in need.
Lee Perkins moved to Atascadero with her family in 1986 and is now retired. She has worked as a secretary, office administrator/public relations, and school counselor K-12.For the complete article see the 12-21-2012 issue.
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