Editorial: Complicated conversations

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Editorial board members:

• Matt Beckett

— Community representative

• Brad King

— Community representative

• Allan Reishus

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Jerry Martin

— Newspaper representative

Our View

In the weeks since the Sandyhook shootings, community and national conversations have focused on gun control. We hope policy makers grasp the complexity of the issue and stay away from simple, easy solutions. We also hope the issue of mental illness and how it relates to tragedies like Sandyhook will be examined with the same fervor and sense of urgency as gun control.

Starting in the hours following last month’s tragic events at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., gun control has become the hottest of topics in conversations at both the national and community level.

And with good cause. Anytime so many young people are harmed — especially in such a horrific manner — it is only natural to seek out ways in which to keep our own young people safe.

However many pitfalls exist when applying an axiom as simple as keeping children safe to an idea as complicated a national gun control.

After even a quick examination of the issue, it’s easy to poke holes in any plan involving either a total ban on guns or no gun control at all. Like with most national issues, the solution appears to lie somewhere in the massive expanse of gray area that exists between those two points.

When the new editorial board discussed the issue, its complexity was apparent. And although none of the members claimed to know the answer, all agreed on two points: A total ban on guns in America would a bad idea but we have to do a better job monitoring gun sales in order to help avert weapons from ending up in the wrong hands.

Board members also agreed that mental illness is an issue that merits at least as much attention as gun control following Sandyhook. More specifically, we need to examine the options Americans have for treating mental illness, either in themselves or in friends or family members.

At a local level, those options seem to be few.

Moffat County is blessed with a few organizations its residents can utilize for mental illness issues, such a Craig Mental Health. But limited resources and personnel can make addressing an urgent problem difficult.

In some cases, a patient would have to drive all the way to Grand Junction in order to see a qualified psychiatrist.

If the case involves a person thought to be in imminent danger of harming him or herself or others, that kind of delay is unacceptable and could result in a tragedy.

Like gun control, the issue of treating mental illness in America is complicated. We all want to maintain personal freedom, but should it come at the cost of community safety?

Once again, editorial board members don’t claim to know the answer. However all members agree that talking about the issue is the first step toward discovering that answer.

We hope in the coming weeks conversations at the local and national levels reflect the same sense of urgency for finding a solution to the mental illness issue as they have for gun control.

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