Gun Control and Mental Health Funding -- If Not Now, When?

President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary Sch
President Barack Obama pauses as he delivers a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

I know people want you to be quiet and reflect and not politicize this tragedy, even our president's spokesperson Jay Carney declared Friday was not the day to have those discussions. So I ask if not now, when?

Twenty children died Friday. Is that not enough to spark serious debate on curtailing military style weaponry and fully funding mental health services? If not, I ask how many children have to be shot in school before action is taken.

Far too many times pro-gun advocates call for time to reflect, which usually translates for time for the wave of public emotion to blow over. A tactic that allows the most cynical among us to return to our daily lives, while gun advocates return to advocating for more destructive laws. So advocates for gun controls and mental health funding wait until the furor dies down only to find themselves unable to get media coverage or traction. So they advocate again for the public to take notice which seems to occur at (what now is inevitable) the next tragedy to only be told again this is not the time to address the issue.

In a world where news and attention spans are judged by cycles not by priorities, I disagree with the reflection philosophy. Now is exactly the time to politicize it -- so maybe we won't ever have to see parents rushing to their local elementary school unsure if their child is among the senseless killed in this kind of horrific tragedy.

Thanks to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Chicago is likely to be flooded with personal handguns, which will do nothing to protect the carrier and will only elevate low level teen skirmishes to deadly gun levels. This, in a city that has prioritized closing mental health clinics while watching state funding for preventive mental health services continue to be slashed.

Now is the time for our elected officials to lead, not give eloquent speeches and social media comments on how they share in the grief of those who lost children today. One can only wish all of the heart felt outrage that is being manifested by elected officials, would translate into a serious discussion about mental health funding and sensible gun controls. Instead I am confident the tragedy from Friday, and what will inevitably happen in the days to come, will do nothing to bend the downward curve of defunding programs and increased access of weapons that gets to the core of why these tragedies happen.

No presidential tears will ever bring back those 20 children who had their futures stolen from them. Meaningful reforms, however, could help curb this kind of tragedy from occurring again. Your heart cries out for those children who are now deceased, to the parents whose children won't be coming home and the community and children who will forever have these horrific images engrained in their memory. You can grieve, but you cannot stand back while pro-gun, pro-cut advocates distort reality to ensure we learn nothing from this tragedy.

If not now, I ask when?