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Shooting firefighters cannot be the norm

Clearly there is no amount of convoluted logic that could ever explain killing first responders arriving at an emergency scene

The evolution of the horrid act in Webster, N.Y, that left two firefighters dead, combined with the school shooting in Newtown, has left many of us asking the “why” and “how” questions.

Why did these despicable acts happen?

How did these mad men get their hands on these firearms?

There is, of course, no simple answer to either one of these questions. Clearly, there is no amount of convoluted logic that could ever explain killing children attending classes at an elementary school, or first responders arriving at an emergency scene.

In the anger that develops after the shock and sadness, it will take a lot of collective restraint and meaningful dialogue to develop a comprehensive and real plan to reduce the frequency of such incidents, as well as the magnitude of the destruction.

The "why" question points toward the inadequate mental health system in the United States. Despite the significant advances in our understanding of how the mind works, it's still a mystery as to how someone "snaps" and wreaks havoc beyond what was in his mind.

More critically, more resources must be available to identify and work with the mentally ill. Despite our increase in understanding this disease, we still treat mental illness as a red-headed stepchild to the rest of the medical profession.

Ask any mental health professional and they are likely to tell you that there just aren't enough of them, nor enough money being spent on treating the disease.

For the mentally ill where there is no current treatment, containment and monitoring abilities simply don't exist. While the state mental institutions of the first part of the 1900s were primitive and barbaric, not having them today is equally as poor. Somewhere in this spectrum there has to be an effective median.

The "how" question is as equally confounding. I've been trying to better understand the arguments for and against gun control. From researching constitutional aspects of the Second Amendment, to long email and Facebook discussions, how Americans view the right to possess a firearm is complex.

I'll reiterate that, personally, as an American citizen, I feel that I have a right to own one, even though I don't and have no desire to have one. At this point I also believe that the average American has the right to own technology that is designed for war conditions.

I also believe that not tracking and researching the data behind firearm injury is utter nonsense. Prohibiting the federal government to study firearm epidemiology is just crap. Tracking motor vehicle injuries and fatalities have produced safer vehicles and safer roads; measuring DUI rates have helped to strengthen laws and methods to reduce death from driving while intoxicated.

Clearly I am not suggesting that data will prevent all gun deaths, but science will give us a better platform to build arguments for and against gun control.

Beyond the rhetoric and politics lie the seeds of change and a greater understanding of how our society should act and accept as the norm. Shooting children and firefighters is not the norm. I refuse to accept it. We must insist on change.

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