Letter: Politicians need to do their part on gun violence

Letter: Politicians need to do their part on gun violence

Last October I wrote, and The Sun published my letter in response to the Sun’s editorial on gun violence. I closed the letter posing this question, “When the next tragedy occurs, ask yourself, what did I do to help solve this ongoing nightmare”? Well, here we are approximately five months later, and predictably, another horrific massacre has occurred; so, what have you done??

Going back in time to the Texas tower shooting in 1961 (close to 60 years ago), through last week in Florida, in every subsequent killing event, the shooter was later proved to have had severe mental problems (I’m excepting the terrorist attacks at Fort Hood, San Bernardino and Florida.) In virtually every case, there those who knew the shooters, knew they were troubled. In several cases, people were deathly afraid to be in their presence, as was the case with Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Fla.

So, what have our lawmakers accomplished since 1961 to ensure the mentally ill do not have access to, or the right to own guns? The simple answer is, very little, as evidenced by the Parkland massacre. In the early 1970s, most of our mental hospitals were closed, and many of the mentally disturbed people are now roaming our streets! We have many millions of mentally disturbed people in our country, and only a very few ever turn violent. However, psychiatrists and psychologists inform us, that rarely can anyone predict when a mentally troubled person may commit a violent act. But those who may turn violent very often show signs of aggression, and threatening behavior, shortly before they turn violent.

Therefore, it is indeed encouraging, at long last, to hear that some of our elected officials are homing-in on the single most important factor in solving this repetitive nightmare. Kudos to Gov. Gina Raimondo, D-R.I., for her executive order establishing a “red flag” policy, crafted to keep guns from the hands of those judged to be a danger to society. I also commend Sen. Dennis Algiere, R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly, and Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, for voicing their support for common sense measures, that will reduce, and hopefully eliminate tomorrow’s tragedy.

The Parkland massacre was a resounding wakeup call for our country, for it revealed in very horrific and finite terms that we are still not prepared to stop a crazed killer, even though there existed more red flags reagarding Mr. Cruz, than one could count. The FBI’s website reveals that the majority of deaths from gunshots come from three groups: the mentally ill, gang-bangers, and hardened criminals (mostly drug-dealers). So, the time for hysteria is long past, we know (generally) where the next threat may be coming from. What we need now is the resolve of our politicians to finally do their job in crafting the appropriate legislation, and once they do, I’m supremely confident that law enforcement will do its job.

Mike Latham


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