This past week has been hectic and emotional. In addition to packing up a lab, moving, and unpacking into new lab space, I’ve been distraught, as many of you were, over the tragedy in Newtown, CT last Friday. As a result, I haven’t had much of a chance to do actual scientific reading, at least pertaining to the field of Virology. What I have been reading about is various commentary on gun policy and mental health support. One particular white paper has been on my desktop that I would like to share.
There are so many levels of discussion that need to happen in the wake of this horrific tragedy, not the least of which is long term support for the families and the community as a whole. As bystanders, we are all too quick to move on and get back to normal, understandibly so, given how terrible and emotionally wracking this has been. But for the people directly affected, they will never know normal again. They will forever be plagued with visions of what those children and educators faced in three short minutes. They will forever feel the emptiness of losing a loved one. They will need to know that those heroic people are not forgotten, ever.
In the honor of the 20 children and 6 educators, and even the mother of the assailant, we need to have an honest and open discussion about how to move forward as a country and do whatever it takes to prevent this type of horror again. I think that discussion includes, among other topics, gun control reform. The white paper above was recently put out by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
“The higher prevalence of gun ownership and much less restrictive gun laws are important reasons why violent crime in the U.S. is so much more lethal than in countries of similar income levels.”
“Using various statistical methods, estimates range from a one to nine percent increase in aggravated assaults as a result of [Right-To-Carry] laws.”
“… the Australian government developed a process for the government to buy banned weapons from citizens when that country banned semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns in response to a mass shooting. In the decade following enactment of the policy, there was not a single mass shooting, and declines in homicide rates accelerated.”
The holidays are coming. I’ll be hugging my girls a little tighter this year, but I’ll get back to perusing the scientific literature and finding inspiring work out there.
In the meantime, happy holidays to all, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!