Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Negi: Practical solutions needed to curb gun violence

All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands have statutes requiring that the child’s best interests be considered whenever specified types of decisions are made regarding a child’s custody, placement, or other critical life issues, with the child’s ultimate safety and well-being the paramount concern. In U.S. litigation, parens patriae, Latin for “parent of the nation” refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child or individual who is in need of protection.

Are the states factoring the best interests of the child standard and providing adequate protection to our children in schools when every so often an individual enters school premises armed with an assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, opens fire resulting in the most severe form of child abuse which is death, and instills fear and guilt in the surviving victims for the rest of their lives?


Since 1982, there have been at least 97 public mass shootings across the country, with the killings unfolding in 34 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Forty-eight of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006, with 11 taking place in 2017. Generation X and iGeneration on whom our future rests are well-versed with massacres at Columbine High School, Shady Hook Elementary School, and Marjory Stoneman High School. The first two months of 2018 has thus far seen 35 mass shootings, resulting in 2,324 untimely deaths.

It’s a sad state of affairs that today’s educational institutions instead of providing a safe and enriching environment for our children are being linked to mass murder. When a parent bids a child goodbye every morning at the school bus stop, they expect their child to return home rather than experiencing an abrupt and violent severing of the parent-child relationship. In the natural order of things, parents are not meant to bury their children, yet through frequent acts of school shootings, a parent’s worst nightmare seems to be recurring all too often.


Mexico, Guatemala, and the United States are the only three countries in the world where the right to own guns for self-defense is protected in the constitution. Of the 97 mass shootings in the U.S. in the past 35 years, most of the killers got their guns legally. The U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population but holds 31 percent of global mass shooters. The U.S. Constitution ordains us not only to provide for the common defense, but also to promote the general welfare to ourselves and our posterity.

Parents of victims of mass shootings have been advocating for better gun control for a while. Several family members who lost loved ones during the Sandy Hook massacre have formed an organization called Sandy Hook Promise whose mission is to prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child. Tragically, since Sandy Hook there have been 35 mass shootings in the U.S.

With the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas there seems to be a glimmer of hope that we as a society are finally willing to make changes that possibly will result in our schools becoming safe havens for learning. This hope has been instilled by the iGeneration and not by politicians who have a pecuniary interest in supporting the National Rifle Association’s aims. Time and time again after a mass shooting, our politicians’ rhetoric suggests legislative soul-searching, albeit momentarily because they revert back to usual political wrangling once the hype dissipates. About a week ago, several traumatized students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas emerged as the most impassioned advocates for gun control legislation. Nearly a hundred students traveled to Florida's capital, met with legislators, aiming their opprobrium at the politicians who took money from the NRA. Survivors of the shooting have mobilized to launch the #NeverAgain movement, and the March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest on March 24 to protest gun violence. Thanks to living in a democratic society, we the people collectively have the capability to elect leaders who represent interests promoting the general welfare of our society and generations to come.

We as a society need to educate ourselves and think of practical solutions to curb this epidemic of gun violence. Time has come to dispel myths spread by organizations such as the NRA that we need to defend ourselves from marauding madmen. Research indicates that people with mental illness are three times more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence and only 4 percent of criminal violence in the U.S. can be attributed to people with mental illness. Social media is being utilized as medium to change mindsets of organizations that have infiltrated millions of American households. Brad Chase, a friend of a father of one of the shooting survivors of the recent Florida high school massacre has launched a petition on calling for Amazon to remove from its streaming platform. Finally, corporate America seems to be developing insight into this senseless act of gun violence that destroys families and communities forever. Chairman and CEO of Dick Sporting Goods Edward Stack recently announced that his company is taking steps to curtail the sale of firearms, including ending sales of assault-style rifles and banning the sale of guns to people younger than 21. Several corporations, ranging from Delta to Hertz to MetLife, have recently said that they will end discount agreements with the NRA or otherwise sever ties with the nation’s largest gun advocacy group. Let’s all of us cogently utilize the rights afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution, keeping in mind how gun-related technology has evolved since its ratification, and provide full-fledged support to the iGeneration, who, driven by a tragedy, has made it their calling to limit access to a lethal instrument of harm.

“How many have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys?” — Stephen King

Shobhit Negi is a board-certified child and adolescent, adult and forensic psychiatrist. He see patients in Carroll and Howard counties. Reach him at