Wellbeing of Our Children
Legislators: This is a copy of the letter I will be sending to news outlets in central and northern Wisconsin. It is intended to promote thought about gun safety laws and the well being of children and families in our state. I’m sending it to you as a statement of support for both increased mental health and public school funding where mental health problems can be best identified and addressed.
In the first 46 days of this year there have been 67 mass shootings in the United States. The recent Michigan State University shooting has added one more to the almost 1,000 incidents of gunfire at our schools and colleges since the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Many of our Wisconsin state legislators insist that our country’s gun violence top ranking in the world is due to the shooters and not the ready availability of firearms. Does that mean they will heed Governor Ever’s call for at least $500 million to expand mental health services in the next state budget?
Of our country’s 2,275 K – 12 school shootings recorded since 1970, 59 % were committed by people under age 21. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings since 2018 have been carried out by those in that young age group.
Wisconsin K – 12 public schools are attended by 86% or about 830,000 of our children. These schools miss significantly the recommended ratio of both social workers and psychologists to students. We are not currently meeting our children’s mental health needs.
Will those legislators who tout mental health as the main cause of gun violence support increased funding for our public schools where the most students with mental health problems can be identified and helped? Or will they pursue their stated goal of increasing funding for private school vouchers serving a very small number of students, draining public school coffers, and placing an unfair burden on thousands of taxpayers and their children living in areas where private schools are not geographically or otherwise accessible?
Polls show a majority of Wisconsin citizens support stricter firearm laws than currently exist in our state. Our legislators need to act according to the sensible voices that know we can maintain our reputation as a state friendly to sportsmen and women, while passing gun legislation and a budget that will bolster our reputation as a state that cares about the safety and full well being of our children and families.