After 12 people were killed and 58 wounded at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, I wrote an article about how America needs to figure out why these mass killings are occurring and stop them.
It was heartbreaking that at a very violent Batman movie, a gunman killed and wounded so many innocent people. I called for action on gun control, mental health programs, violent images aimed at children, and hatemongering.
Not much discussion on these issues was occurring then. However, that all changed when 20 students and six teachers were murdered by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
Yesterday, President Obama issued a list of items that his administration or the Congress can do to curb gun violence. I applaud the president for finally acting on this issue, and I support most of the suggested options.
Among those that I think are most needed that Congress must approve:
- Require universal background checks for all firearm sales.
- Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons.
- Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
- Provide $10 million to CDC for additional research on relationship between video games, media images and violence.
- Give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers and counselors.
- Provide $50 million to help 8,000 more schools train their teachers and staff to create safer and more nurturing environments.
- Provide $55 million for new initiative (Project AWARE) to make sure students get treatment for mental health issues.
- Provide $25 million for state-based strategies supporting individuals ages 16-25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Provide $25 million to offer students mental health services for trauma or anxiety.
- Provide $50 million to train 5,000 additional mental health professionals serving children and young adults.
Action the Obama administration can take without congressional approval:
- Direct the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- Launch a national campaign to promote common-sense gun safety measures.
- Review and enhance safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.
- Direct attorney general to review gun safety technologies.
- Launch a national dialogue about mental illness.
- Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services.
- Ensure that Medicaid recipients get quality mental health coverage.
With Congress deadlocked on so many issues, it’s discouraging to see that the most important items on the list require congressional approval.