Praying for answers

Richard Leib talks about responses to tragedy.
Posted on April 20, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 20, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.

Richard Leib

After a week like the one that just passed, I find it hard to write a column.

Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing is more evidence, as if we needed any more, that we live in an age of domestic and international threats. It’s a reminder, as if we needed any more, that sometimes evil surges into happy moments, blackens the joy and destroys good people.

With the tragedy of Newtown still in our minds, comes now this. But it will pass. And Americans will be tighter knit as we are reminded again of how fleeting can be the good times.

After Newtown’s Sandy Hook, there was a great emotional need to do something, anything, that could diminish the possibility of recurrences. And gun control leapt to the forefront of things to do.

In February, the manager of a Denny’s in Illinois told five cops to leave the restaurant because a customer had complained that they had guns. In March, at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Virginia, an employee refused to serve police officers unless they took their guns to their cars.

There are people who passionately hate guns. And to those who feel this way, Newtown was a call to action. With some grieving Sandy Hook parents leading the drive, a wave of emotion swept the nation. “Newtown deserves a vote,” intoned Harry Reid.

But the Senate’s defeated legislation that was touted as being “for Newtown” would have had no effect on what happened there. Why, one can ask, are more meaningful prevention acts not being proposed?

Perhaps it’s, in part, because the anti-violence people on the right side of the aisle seem to be AWOL. They haven’t clamored and pushed for studies into things that would have made a difference. Instead of waving Second Amendment flags, powerful advocacies of helpful actions were called for.

One could ask about the glut of blow-’em-up and mow-’em-down movies, TV shows and virtual gaming.

And what about health care weaknesses? According to Mother Jones Magazine, untreated severely mentally ill people commit about 10% of homicides, and “chances that a perpetrator of a mass shooting displayed signs of mental illness prior to the crime are 1 in 2.”

We all know that the vast majority of people with a mental illness are not a danger. But there is a need for more beds, more professionals, and for better and more prompt intervention. And yet, health care funding is falling precipitously. Between 2009 and 2012, it’s down 31 percent in Illinois, and that’s typical.

It’s worth noting that the worst mass school murder in the U.S. happened in 1927, when a demented school board member in Michigan dynamited a school killing 45 people, mostly children.

Bomb-making plans are Internet-easy to find today, and there is a growing availability of triggering devices. Should resource officers who are well trained in threat detection be a part of school security?

Instead of vilifying the NRA president, wouldn’t it have been better to seriously consider his ideas and perhaps develop some suggestions and guidelines for local communities?

Should so-called “stop and frisk” laws be instituted in gang-bang cities like Chicago? Chicago is already about as gun-restricted legally as a city can be. And yet Mrs. Obama went to that city with an entourage to lobby for new gun laws instead of anti-gang laws.

It’s hard for me to understand why there is not an outcry from the citizenry to admonish misleading statements that promote agendas and hamper solutions.

I’m not sure there are answers to my questions. Or even if they are questions rather than just cogitations. But still, as one ponders the pain of the Sandy Hook parents and the victims of the Boston Marathon madness, one can’t help but pray for answers.

Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.


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