Charlotte BernardViolence can no longer be put forth as a solution to our problems. As the President recently said in his Philidelphia address, “it is not normal.” It should not become a part of the political discourse. It has always been the way in this country.

But violence has been lurking at the heart of American culture since it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus. I was bullied as a child, threatened and accosted. I’ve had a gun to my head. My son witnessed a fatal shooting just 3 months ago. And of course, we all experience these mass shootings, together. They are like a ritual now. Like a mass at church, replete with symbolic rage, memorializing and ending in prayers for the victims. When is enough enough?

I sketched throughout the Dylann Roof trial. As a writer and actor, I’ve studied the murderer. What they have in common is they all have gone astray. They have broken from the pack. We champion rugged individualism in this country and then we give people guns. We now call people who are good citizens who believe in peace and kindness, who are part of the pack, “Sheeple.” Those who were willing to transcend the norms of society have always been our heroes. “Don’t tread on me” is their rallying cry. Arming citizens is a great way to control/subjugate/oppress the population because you never know who is packing heat and just might open up on you. So, we live in constant fear.

procession

Procession

It is obvious we must slow the flow of guns. A ban on assault rifles, requiring a license to own a gun, mandatory training. These are no brainer to any rational being. This should not be controversial. These ideas have been politicized by people rightfully frustrated by those pushing for unlimited gun rights. Meanwhile, violence is growing as a viable solution to our differences. The current trend towards violence in our country must be addressed.

Both sides believe they have the only answer, evens as the obvious answer stares them in the face. The real solution is we must intervene, not just through legislation and some reasonable controls on gun access, but through education, counseling and some form of mentoring when kids first begin to go astray.

The suffering that leads to murder begins very young. The signs are there but we turn our backs. Not because we don’t care but because the resources simply are not there. And that is simply a lack of will. Our legislators need to be convinced that we need preschool education and a return of basic civics classes. And when a child begins to withdraw, we need to send in the troops. Not the army. No, the village of concerned social workers and regular citizens who care, who will listen, who will be a friend, who will teach right from wrong, who will help find alternatives to violence. I noticed parenting did not come with instructions. Some people need help. I certainly asked for help. And still, its the most difficult job on Earth. We need to institutionalize parenting assistance. I’m not sure what that would look like, but maybe we have to stop handing babies to inexperienced parents at the hospital. And what on Earth have soldiers and SWAT teams done to prevent the carnage? Nothing. Spend a lot more money on social programs and less on war and policing. More solutions to gun violence.

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