Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown: Raising a child with disabilities in the US vs. Gun control

We are all grieving over the tragic shooting in Connecticut.
So many lives lost and so many survivors and parents who will never live life as they had before.

The media and social media quickly resorted to demanding more gun control which may be necessary. I really cannot say. It would take more time than I have to form an opinion informed enough to say what legislation we do have and what MORE gun control will achieve. It is not so obvious to me that abolishing gun ownership would save every life ended by a gun. It is just not that simple.

Even if legislation was passed, just like gay marriage, the courts would become involved because opponents of the legislation would activate suits. This article in the Atlantic is an interesting discussion of recent US Supreme Court decisions regarding attempts at gun control and the Courts understanding of the 2nd amendment's right to bear arms. My concern is that the one of the lessons to be learned from the Newton shooting has been lost and will continue to be lost in the legal and political wranglings we are seeing play out right now in the US. That lesson concerns a family grappling with a disabled child's struggles and the stress that puts on the fragile ties that currently bind American marriages.

The New York Time's has an excellent Op-Ed piece asking us not to blame Autism for Newtown. I concur. When reading the Newtown news reports I felt us all sliding back in time to a day when Autism was caused by uncaring mothers. The media has focused on the Mother's gun ownership and the son's aloofness and it seems that there is so much more we can focus on to help prevent this kind of tragedy in the future. I believe we need to focus on helping families get the help they need to remain together when they are raising a child with disabilities.

As a society, among all the other things we need to worry about, we must see that this specific kind of family fracture is happening everywhere all of the time. Our schools can only do so much. While so many of us are DEMANDING gun control, which will cost money to pass and enforce, let us also consider the soft, non-legal and political response. How do we help these families survive and raise kids with disabilities and not lose themselves to burnout in the process? Why not consider that impossibly big problem and try to solve that as well?

I want us to think outside the box and with our hearts. I doubt any legislation is going to solve the myriad of problems that led to this result. I wish we could go back "13 seconds" like the Omega 13 device from the movie Galaxy Quest. Going back and removing access to guns is not enough of a solution for me. I wish we could go back and at least know that there was not more we could have done as a society to support ALL  parents with children who demand more.

This is not one more entitlement. This is asking of States and Cities, churches and non-profits to begin to think what role they have in not preventing a recurrence of this tragedy. How have we all let these families down??  Pass gun control if that will help but it is just a band-aid. Lets try and be brutally honest about the limitations of the law and conceive of real solutions that will actually help people deal with what they face in life. Maybe it is not more than simply educating families and pointing them to where support is available. Let's start talking about THIS alongside other solutions that are so very politically laden.    

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