Violence prevention Is the answer, not more access to guns

We are faced, yet again, with another unnecessary tragedy due to gun violence at the hands of a young man whose own wounds we may never know.  What led him to this type of behavior? What led him down this path of destruction? Where was his community in recognizing warning signs of possible actions behind angry words on his social media posts? This young man’s anger led to his behavior. Intervention earlier in this young man’s life may have prevented his anger from being expressed in this manner. He felt isolated and alone so he acted out his anger. These issues were not unique to him. Many people have similar feelings but do not act on them. 

The trend of males seeking out vengeance is of concern. How do we support the young males in our community to prevent more of these mass shootings? Creative community interventions that are inclusive and life affirming are needed with males like this young man being included in the problem solving approach to create the support that he desperately needed. 

Steve Kerr, head coach for the Golden State Warriors, made an impassioned plea. He shared that simple words of condolences are not sufficient from those who are in the Senate with the power to create a safer place for all of us to live. Real, effective steps in policy and law are necessary and possible now.

New Zealand did it after their one mass shooting in their country. Banning assault weapons proved to be an effective policy to create a safer country. We, as a nation, are most capable of creating effective laws. 

If those in office are unwilling to do so, then it is time for them to be voted out of office so a more effective voice for the people and of the people can speak on our behalf.

Australia took similar measures after a mass shooting incident in the 90s including a massive buyback program for guns. Why is it we are lagging behind in keeping similar measures from passing in the United States of America?

Public domain image from Jeremy Bathan

Fewer guns and tougher gun laws are necessary for all Americans

A Hill poll taken since the massacre in Buffalo indicates that even though yes, there are more Democrats on board than Republicans, more than half of the people in this land want more effective gun control.  Yet, repeatedly, governors and senators make decisions fueled by NRA money. It is time for the people of this land to be truly represented. It is time for the gun lobby to be put in its place. They are dangerously out of control with the demands they are making.

Fear and money are pushing this agenda. The statistics are showing us that the current approach is not effective. Living with more guns is not the answer. People, mostly men, pull the triggers. They are very unpredictable. As a psychiatrist trained to assess and address mental health concerns, I know that predicting violence is almost impossible to do. I also know that the data indicates that the more guns in the home, the greater the likelihood of untoward violence happens, such as a toddler who finds the gun unlocked and in a drawer. Suicide is more often completed when there is a gun in the home. I have seen the need for gun safes due to these situations. This simple step can save lives. 

Choosing more carefully what weapons are available needs to be a consideration. I am not suggesting a complete ban on guns but no one needs an automatic weapon to have a sense of safety. There are other guns that can serve that purpose.  Simply banning assault weapons now would be a beginning step to reduce the risk of harm in this contentious environment where we currently live. 

Where is the voice of the people represented here? For too long, the NRA has bullied their way to the top of many senators’ agendas. Those very individuals who have accepted money from the NRA have the blood of these children on their hands.

Who is the voice of the 19 children and their two teachers who were the ultimate victims here?

Public domain image from Anna Langova

Supporting those in pain

It is most likely many of us are thunderstruck again by these unnecessary losses of life. If it is not too close to home, it may be easy enough to move on. Yet, the risk of it happening closer to home remains with the current state of the laws of the land.

In caring for yourself and your family, being mindful of safety has new meaning for each of us.

Sharing your feelings and caring for yourself and your children are very important. It is important to notice how you are feeling. Our children and our pets are very good at reading our emotional state. Their lives depend on it. It is best to be as honest with them with an age-appropriate level of sharing to address their worries.

Preparing to answer their questions includes you taking care of yourself as this situation can make one feel vulnerable and unsure how to protect those you love.

Self-care as an adult caring for young children is always a stretch as there doesn’t feel like there is time for that. Yet, that nice bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil helps to reduce the body aches and calms the mind. This helps to increase your resilience for what this moment may require from you.

It is important to ask these questions of yourself to support yourself and your family emotionally and mentally:

1)   Am I feeling triggered by what happened?

2)   Are there memories of what may have happened to me that have an impact now?

3)   What support system do I have in place, so I don’t feel so alone?

4)   Is the community I am in, my church or any group I feel connected to, available to spend time with me?

Here are specific resources for you and your family to aid in your journey to navigate these difficult times.

Public domain image from Piotr Siedlecki

Resources in Response to the Robb Elementary School Shooting

In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include:

  *   Talking to Children about the Shooting
  *   Helping Youth After a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (En Español)
  *   Talking to Children: When Scary Things Happen (En Español)
  *   Talking to Teens about Violence (En Español)
  *   Tips for Talking to Students about Violence
  *   Coping After Mass Violence For Adults
  *   For Teens: Coping After Mass Violence (En Español)

  *   Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
  *   Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
  *   Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (En Español)
  *   Guiding Adults in Talking to Children about Death and Attending Services
  *   After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal
  *   Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

  *   Once I Was Very Very Scared – children’s book for young children
  *   After the Injury—website for families with injured children
  *   Health Care Toolbox—website for pediatric health providers working with injured children
  *   Pause-Reset-Nourish (PRN) to Promote Wellbeing ( (PFA; En EspañolPsychological First Aid.

PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events.

PFA Mobile (En Español) provide a quick reminder of the core actions. The PFA online training course is also available on the NCTSN Learning Center.

Additional PFA resources for schools include:

  *   Psychological First Aid for Schools (PFA-S) – Field operations guide
  *   Providing PFA-S: For Health-Related Professionals – handout
  *   Providing PFA-S: For Principals and Administrators – handout
  *   Providing PFA-S: For School Support Staff – handout
  *   Providing PFA-S: For Teachers – handout

From the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center

  *   Transcend (mobile app to assist with recovery after mass violence)
  *   Rebuild your Community: Resources for Community Leaders
  *   Media Guidelines for Homicide Family Survivors
  *   Timeline of Activities to Promote Mental Health Recovery
  *   Self-Help: Resources for Survivors
  *   E-learning Courses: Trainings for Clinicians
  *   Resources for Victim Assistance Professionals

From the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University

  *   Grief Leadership: Leadership in the Wake of Tragedy 

*   Leadership Communication: Anticipating and Responding to Stressful Events
  *   Coping with Stress Following a Mass Shooting

Disaster Helpline

SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Helpline – call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press “2”) to be connected to a trained counselor 24/7/365.

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