February 17, 2018

I spent a lot of time this week trying to write about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I kept coming up short, and last night I finally realized why.

Words are too weak.

Words can’t capture our grief, our outrage, our sense of horror. They can’t bring a loved one back to life. And they can’t make us safer; only action can do that.

There are plenty of actions we could take to reduce the risk of gun violence. Yet Washington has resisted even common-sense reforms.

Now many politicians—some well-meaning, others eager for a distraction—are pointing to a different solution. Let’s address mental illness, they say.

If they’re serious about expanding services, we welcome their support; in fact, we desperately need it. What we’ve seen instead are cutbacks.

Here in Colorado, roughly half a million people go without the mental health care they need, and even more would benefit from prevention and early intervention. We’re determined to close those gaps, but we don’t want to suggest that doing so will end this crisis.

Nor do we want to perpetuate the myth that most people with mental illness are violent. They are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.

No single step can stop every tragedy. But that’s no excuse for doing nothing.

So where do we go from here?

Contact your state and federal lawmakers. Ask them what they’ll do to improve public health and public safety. Find out how they vote.

And make sure you can tell the difference between their words and their actions.


-Andrew Romanoff