Society needs to make? mental health a priority

Following the Columbine shootings, I submitted a proposal to a local school administration regarding using an occupational therapist specializing in mental health intervention in the school system. The proposal was never even acknowledged. Around the same time, I submitted a similar grant proposal to the American Occupational Therapy Association, which was denied. At the time, I was told by one of the top mental health occupational therapists in the association that it was an excellent proposal, but that mental health was not a major issue for the occupational therapy profession at the time.

It seems to me that the aforementioned is an example to people that mental health is not a priority, never has been and never will be unless people wake up to the fact that it is just as important an illness to address as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, etc. We need to be attentive to our young people who have problems, be there for them, listen to them and get them the help they need before it's too late. Case in point is the young man in Newtown who himself was hurting and isolated and who took so many lives.

Janice Gagliardi, EdM, OTR/L

Past President, New York State Occupational Therapy Association



Ridiculous comparisons? don't bolster argument

I am tired of reading or hearing people make comparisons such as "cars kill people - do you want to outlaw cars?" or "children die in swimming pools - should we outlaw swimming pools?" Neither cars nor pools were designed and intended to be used to kill. Automatic weapons, however, specifically were. There are a lot of points that can be legitimately debated, but this particular sort of comparison is disingenuous and deflective. A gun can be compared to other objects designed and intended to be used to kill. A poison, for example, could be used as a comparison or an IED. A pool? A car? Let's stop being silly.

Mary Clare Keenan



Mother and son share? sole blame for tragedy

I understand that emotions are very raw right now after the Newtown shooting. I can't even imagine the devastation felt by the families of the victims and the paralysis felt by the community. I, too, am sick and tired of the carnage, and my heart bleeds for those families.

That said, I must inject some reason into this conversation we are having about gun control and the media.

Those who think that banning assault rifles will stop this are wrong; it will not. The Second Amendment protects the citizenry not from intruders or other nation states meant to do us harm, but from our own government. One need only look to Syria. If its citizens were as armed as the military and police, they may not have been so massacred.

As for banning violent video games, TV shows and movies, it's just not that simple. How about if the media quit celebrating these deviates?

As a nation, we jump too quickly to blame societal factors and because of this, all law-abiding citizens lose more and more freedom due to the actions of a minute few. Around 350 million people live in the United States and the actions, no matter how heinous, of a handful of misfits should never result in the loss of even one freedom.

The blame for this incident belongs to two people – the troubled man and his mother, who, knowing her son as she did, didn't lock up her guns.

Unfortunately, there will be no justice for the victims' families. Only the knowledge that the mother and son paid the ultimate price for their stupidity. This may sound harsh and callous, but they are the facts, and facts guide my life.

David Peterson



How can nation accept? cold-blooded murders?

In May 2000, I was part of the "Million Mom March" on Washington. Our slogan was "sensible gun laws, safe kids." Twelve years later, despite high hopes and expectations, despite hundreds of thousands of marchers and numerous inspirational speeches, we still do not have sensible gun laws and our children are far from safe.

We have been conditioned to expect mass shootings to be as inevitable as the next sunrise and told that nothing can be done. We have been let down by our lawmakers, who are more concerned about the next election than about the well-being of those they represent. The assault weapons ban was allowed to expire, and deficiencies in screening gun buyers allow potential murderers to buy assault rifles without background checks.

Obviously, other issues need to be addressed as well, such as better access to mental health treatment and more stringent security at schools and other public places, but the most pressing need is to confront the fact that nowhere else on earth do the angry, the deranged, the violent individuals on the fringes of our society have such unfettered access to weapons of mass human destruction.

If the cold-blooded murder of 20 beautiful children and the six brave women who tried to save them is not enough to do whatever it takes to stop this carnage, then we as a nation have truly lost our way.

Ilsa Cooper



Taking guns from all? won't solve the problem

Following the recent tragedy in Connecticut, Americans need to realize that removing guns from law-abiding citizens is not the answer. It is not surprising to anyone that this country is spiraling out of control because of misconstrued priorities.

How's the war on drugs going? Has it been effective? In a society where guns are made illegal, albeit in demand, they will follow the same routes as the illegal drugs. How about the two wars in the Middle East that have been put on a credit card? Domestically, we sure could have used that money. Where are our priorities? We've spent trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet our schools and valuable community programs experience significant budget cuts.

How about Erie County? We're cutting valuable social and educational programs yet our local and state governments are preparing to hand the Buffalo Bills and their millionaire owner a few hundred million.

A work colleague suggested that we have something along the lines of school marshals – trained, armed law enforcement officers, like those in aviation security. Does anyone want to balk at how intrusive or intimidating it would be to have armed officers in schools?

My response is, you can't have it all. Or maybe the idea is good, but there's no money for such a program. I ask lawmakers to address the bigger problem than the perceived one that gun ownership poses. Look at how and where the government spends its money. The answer to this problem lies not on infringing on the rights of a select group of Americans, but rather our lawmakers focusing on putting Americans first.

Damian Martelli

West Seneca