Aimee Patton

A pleasantly eccentric take on politics

I woke up this morning and checked my iPhone. Breaking News – shooting.

Now where?

How many?

Who’s the guy?

I seem to ask this question way too much these days. So much so that my questions are in standard order: where, how many dead and how old is the boy? I couldn’t turn my television on so I followed the updates on Twitter. I went along my morning pretending like this didn’t happen. I have a 5 year old and I want to shield her from news like this as much as possible.

When I did finally tune in, the media was answering my questions: Aurora, 12 dead and 24 year old James Holmes.

Already the debate picked up right where where the last tragedy left off – gun control, assault weapons and conceal and carry where on everyone’s lips as I listened to my favorite radio hosts. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or maybe it’s just because we have experienced this horror way too many times, but I really feel like the gun control argument isn’t going anywhere and is no longer the right national dialogue.

The harsh reality is that our Constitution has the right to bear arms. The politics are too great and the political casualties have proven to be too severe to continue with our gun control debate. My liberalness wants me to believe that gun control is the answer. The reality is we have a bigger problem to tackle in the nation that is more complex than gun control-it’s the mental health of our citizens.

Nobody really wants to deal with mental health problems in our society. The media is going through the criminal record of the shooter – only a traffic ticket and no other signs. I am waiting to hear about his mental health history. I keep hearing, “loner”, “kept to himself” and “no one really knew him”. All too often these are the same descriptions of each shooter that keeps coming up.

We have big mental health problems as a society. What’s the matter with our citizens that they go homicidal so frequently? What’s broken in our mental health safety net that we as a nation can’t identify our mental ill and get them help before innocent people die?

Mental health isn’t as easy as the gun debate, because we can’t physically see it and touch it like our guns. It’s not an item, it’s a person. It’s a feeling instead of a possession. This is a debate this nation isn’t having. I feel like our crisis in this nation is to a level where we can’t ignore this problem, like we’ve ignored our “loners” any longer. It’s time as a nation to come together to ask the tough questions – how do we identify, help and monitor our mentally ill? Let’s stop debating the easy debate about gun control and really take a tough look at something that isn’t so easy – our nation’s mentally disturbed.

Politicians – this is a direct ask that you, along with our nation’s best in mental health medicine, do something. Come up with a plan to get these people assistance before more innocent people die. As a society, we need you now to reform our mental health system in America. This isn’t political. It isn’t polarizing. Mental illness is a crisis in this nation and needs your attention now.

Families who have lost loved ones, I am so sorry. We can debate Constitutional amendments all day, but today too many Americans lost their basic right – the right to life. For all those left alive, I hope you and your families may someday heal from this trauma.

Peace,

Aimee

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