By: Julian Beai
December 14th was shaping out to be a normal day. Schools were preparing for the nice long winter break that would occur within the weeks. In Newtown, Connecticut a school that was comprised of children, each learning within their elementary classes would soon be targeted. On that day, Adam Lanza killed his mother, Nancy, and grabbed three guns. One, an AR-15 assault rifle and two pistols and headed towards Sandy Hook Elementary, where he would enact a bloody massacre that ended in 26 deaths, twenty comprised of 6 and 7-year olds and six adults. He shot himself after. Adam Lanza suffered from untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and undiagnosed anorexia.
That brings me onto Senate Bill 3-303, which was a bill that would implement a system to take possession of a person’s guns because of a suspicion that they had the intent to do harm to themselves or others. The weapons would be returned. Senate Bill 3-303 is a bill, in author Braden Kerr’s words, “to promote the safety and well-being of all in our society.” The synopsis of Representative Kerr’s bill is to allow for a relative or friend of a person dealing with mental issues (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc.) to submit evidence that proves this person has the incentive to do harm to themselves or others, to a court in order to issue a red flag warrant. This red flag warrant would prevent said person dealing with mental illness, to purchase or be given a weapon.
The bill advocates for an increase in the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent in order to fund law enforcement “tasked with keeping tabs” on those with the red flag warrants. This bill unfortunately failed in committee. I’m for this bill because the mentally challenged and the people who have mental issues are given access to dangerous weapons when their mental state is unstable.
A shotgun can be purchased at Walmart for around 200 dollars; anyone that deals with severe depression or suicidal thoughts can have an easy out for just a few hundred dollars.
I advocate for this bill not only for that reason, but for the issue of mental health. Mental health has been stereotyped and swept under the rug and now we think of it negatively. This bill raises awareness for mental health and that undertone alone makes me appreciate this bill. The mentally ill in society has been left to pick up the scraps of us in the upper echelon writhing in wealth and opportunity. The mentally ill can be labeled and forgotten, lost in the fog of prescription drugs and “miracle cures.”
Let us take a lesson from humanitarian Dorothea Dix when she said “I come to present the strong claims of suffering humanity… I come as the advocate of helpless, forgotten, insane men and women; of beings sunk to a condition from which the unconcerned world would start with real horror.” Let us be advocates- for the reformers today pave the way for the legislature of tomorrow.