It's a new year, but some old issues unfortunately have tragically come to a head in the past month. In Newtown, Connecticut, a disturbed young man, Adam Lanza, committed a heinous act of seemingly wanton murder, laying siege to an elementary school, killing 26 people on site, and at home, killing his mother Nancy as well, before finally shooting himself dead as police authorities arrived.  President Barack Obama subsequently charged Vice-President Joe Biden to lead a task force that would come up with comprehensive proposals for public policy legislation related to gun access and mental health, to present before the new Congress.
This author wrote the following in response to the mass-shooting which grievously wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.  In full acknowledgment of the horrific human tragedy that unfolded in Newtown and in other recent gun-related violent crimes, it seems appropriate to reiterate the issues therein:
Mental Health- The 2010 Health Care Act must be defended against repeal efforts by those in opposition to it. In particular any statutes concerning mental health coverage should be scrutinized and bolstered with amendments. Publicly funded mental health facilities in the United States facing drastic budget cutbacks and outright closings has been a quiet, disturbing trend in the past 15 years. Mental-health coverage in self-purchased or employer-paid health insurance through private firms is often modest, at best, with high-co-pays and deductibles. Lack of mental health access has, in part, reputedly led to a spike in homeless populations, particularly in Southeast Michigan.
Gun Control- This ongoing issue in American politics is always contentious and brings out very emotional responses. But if there is going to be any genuine progress in addressing gun proliferation in our country, elected officials must be bold enough to take a stand on enacting new regulations. More stringent background checks are needed to make sure that a person is not of unsound mental health. The trend of self-described collectors owning high-powered weaponry is extremely disturbing. The purchase and ownership of military and paramilitary weaponry by civilians must be analyzed and curbed. The mantra of gun-rights absolutists and lobbyists that any and all firearms are okay for anyone to own should not be allowed to define our culture. If there is anything to be learned from the recent tragedy, it is that disagreement with others, even drastic disagreement, should not be a justification for violent aggression against our neighbors.


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