The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 21, 2012

Taking action

Federal lawmakers need to address guns, games, movies, television and mental health issues

— As Newtown, Conn., and the rest of the nation continue to grieve over 26 lost souls, the rhetoric surrounding the issue of gun control in particular has dominated the headlines and airwaves.

It seems a bit insensitive to us that burials are still taking place all while the political posturing is commanding the day.

We certainly agree that the matter of assault weapons and their availability needs to be addressed, along with how criminal background checks are required for those purchasing any type of firearm. There are laws regarding guns that must be changed in some fashion.

President Barack Obama has vowed quick action on guns. Fine.

But we also want to hear more from Obama about what he plans to do about the violent culture in our country being fueled by movies, video games and television. He should be out front and want immediacy on laws there as well.

Our own Sen. Jay Rockefeller has introduced legislation studying the impact of video games on children. Rockefeller’s intent is good and studies are fine — but they simply take too long.

And what about focusing on perhaps the real root of the problem here, that of mental health diagnosis and access to treatment? It is the ticking time bomb that seems to be discussed only on the periphery when it is clearly a major, if not the key, component involved in this whole scenario.

Tragedy has struck and deeply saddened us once again. The loss of 20 innocent children has stoked a fire across our country demanding change.

But the only way we can begin a societal change is if our elected federal leaders take quick, swift action on a number of fronts — because this is not just about guns as many would like us to believe.

This is about bringing sensitivity back into our lives, plain and simple. With freedom and rights comes responsibility.

When that message gets sent — and the laws of the land reflect it — then and only then can America begin to recover from troubles that have been festering for years.