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Shootings are public health issue
Letter to the editor
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Editor: There are people who disagree with what I write, and that’s OK. They are mostly liberals. But, I do agree with Ms. Niki Seale in that discipline should be handled at home. That is if we still lived in the 1940s and ’50s when most households had two parents and the mother stayed home to raise the children.

That is no longer valid. For example, in 1960 8.2 percent of families were headed by a single parent. In 2015, that number was 32 percent (Census report). That is a lot of latchkey kids with no one around to discipline them. Even in two parent households, both parents usually work, leaving the kids to their own devices.

This means that discipline falls to the schools. Students are more aggressive toward teachers in today’s schools because of the lack of school discipline. These antagonistic students graduate to criminal behavior such as in Parkland Florida.

42.5 million adults are affected by some kind of mental illness with criminal behavior starting in childhood marked by upset and/or poverty. Impulse disorders usually begin between the ages of 10–12. These kids are difficult in their homes and in school. Their families don’t have the resources or time to treat them; so, the schools get their problems, even though the schools do not have adequate resources to manage the kids’ conditions. Therefore, strict discipline is needed.

In a perfect society, teachers should not be armed, but Parkland is a good example as to why they should be. Once a shooter gets past the school resource officer, or the officer does nothing to stop the shooter, who will protect the students? I am not talking about building security. I am talking about student and faculty security.

She is right that there are neutral objects that are inherently more dangerous than others, such as pressure cookers and trucks full of fertilizer. Many people, who do not understand guns, think the AR model rifle is a military weapon. The AR actually stands for ArmaLite rifle, the manufacturer. The AR is no more than a semi-automatic rifle and there are a lot of semi-automatic rifles on the market that are used for hunting and target practice. The AR is popular because it looks "cool," but it works the same as many rifles that do not look military.

It is literally impossible to eliminate guns, just like it is impossible to eliminate drugs, which kill more people than guns. One drug poisoning is reported to U.S. poison control centers every 15 seconds — over 2 million of them a year. And they include hundreds of thousands of children. One shooting occurs every 10 minutes, which is not even close to one every 15 seconds. Total deaths from drugs in America number four times higher than all gun deaths (CDC).

From 1900 to 1970, there were only 28 mass shootings (most were familicides); yet in the last ten years there have been 84 (innocent bystanders in public places). 34 percent took place in schools. 65 of these shooters had mental problems. In Florida, the Baker Act allows for an involuntary psychiatric examination if a person is considered dangerous. This type of law should be nationwide.

All un-natural deaths are a tragedy, but in an imperfect society we must look at the causes for violence. It’s the people, not the objects. Laws and discipline are the backbone to a civilized society. We must do what is necessary to protect our children while bringing them to adulthood as well-adjusted citizens.

Mass shootings are a matter of public and mental health, and they’re increasing in frequency. Society must take preventative measures before it’s too late.

Len Calderone


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