Lessons From Sandy Hook: Guns & Black Mental Health

Handsome, athletic black man casually posing
The Sandy Hook tragedy truly reminds us all of how dangerous our country has become.

As an African-American physician, I have always understood the potential danger of gun policy in this country – many doctors practice in communities where gun violence is a daily occurrence. Every year, I, like so many of my colleagues, attend at least two or three funerals for young people…many of whom that we cared for as youngsters. We wonder when and how the magic of childhood became replaced with the kind of anger and rage that results in homicide.

So pervasive, gun violence is one of the leading causes of death among young African American males. So commonplace, people have come to accept gun violence as inevitable.

But is it?

Obviously, many factors contributed to the Newton massacre, such as mental illness, isolation, and a skewed relationship with violence that, like a virus, infects the psyches of too many of our young men today. Our society needs to do a much better job of addressing these issues in more meaningful ways.

But…we can make an immediate statement that guns must be better controlled. In particular, we can refuse to allow assault weapons to get into the hands of so many Americans. This would be a lasting memorial to those that died in Newton. This would also be an essential first step in an overdue conversation that might ultimately prevent more of the senseless and horrifying tragedies that we see over and over again in all communities, regardless of color, throughout our nation.