Our View: A long-needed change, a little too late

DKS Editors

Since 20 children and six adults were killed in an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, the gun control issue in the U.S. has reached a new level of urgency. Schools across the country are beefing up security systems, and supporters on every side are fervently advocating their opinions. And although there is fervent debate on both sides about whether or not to limit the sales of guns, most people seem to agree that something needed to be done.

Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama addressed the nation to announce the most significant proposal to curb gun violence in several decades, urging Congress to pass new laws that would require universal background checks, bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He vowed to use his weight as president to press lawmakers to support his $500 million plan, which also includes measures to improve school security, put 1,000 police officers in schools and train more health professionals to deal with childhood mental disorders.

We support Obama’s plans to tighten gun laws in the United States, as well as his measures to increase security and improve the state of mental health services in this country — unfortunately, a Republican-majority Congress might not be so receptive.

But while we wait for Congress to take action that might never come, there are things we, as students, can do to increase the safety of our own campus. Mental health, still today, has such a stigma that many people are afraid to talk about their issues or seek help from professionals. If you or someone you know shows signs of mental distress, point them in the direction of one of the many mental health services on campus:

  • The Counseling and Human Development Center in White Hall, which provides free personal and group counseling for students, focusing on issues of adjustment to college and studying and career counseling. The counselors are graduate students in the counseling program.
  • Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall, which offers a range of free confidential psychological services, including neuropsychological assessments. The counselors are graduate students in the psychology program.
  • Psychological Services in DeWeese Health Center, which includes services for crisis intervention and psychological testing. The counselors are licensed, professional psychologists.

The time to think about mental health issues and security shouldn’t be after tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting occur, but when they do happen, we can’t let the government be the only proactive voice.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.