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Brunswick News: Tougher penalties needed for firing a gun in public

Georgia legislators need to consider stiffer penalties for any person who is charged and found guilty of discharging a gun in public. Such incidents are getting out of hand in this community, as well as elsewhere around this state and nation.

Not every incident results only in the peppering of an exterior wall or automobile with bullet holes, but even in these incidents, the penalty should be high. One can only assume the intent was something more than inciting fear or damaging property.

Penalties must be more than a mere pat on the wrist or a plea bargain deal that requires the accused to pick up litter along the roads and highways on Saturdays when available. It should include a lengthy prison sentence, one that lasts longer than the next parole board hearing. This is not the Wild West where shooting up a vehicle, house, business or neighborhood is looked upon as just a bunch of good ol’ boy rowdies letting off a little steam or frustration. Guns in the hands of people who couldn’t care less where the bullets go can kill and often do.

Just in the past week in the Peach State alone there was a shooting at a graduation party in Thomaston that ended in the death of an 18-year-old and the injuring of two teenagers, a 17-year-old and a 15-year -old. In a separate incident, a 17-year-old and a 30-year-old were killed when a gun went off during a music festival in Sandersville.

Brunswick also has its troubles. Just recently, a shooting at the Waffle House on Altama Avenue left two people injured. Another on L Street also left two injured, including a 14-year-old girl. They are just two of many recent gun-related incidents that have residents of this port city on edge.

What penalties the state currently has on the books are apparently not working. The frequency of these incidents demonstrates that clearly enough. They need to be tougher, a lot tougher. A felon imprisoned a first time for using a gun during the commission of a crime who is in caught in the possession of a weapon once released ought to be locked up indefinitely.

Keeping people in prison for a long time might sound inhumane, but it is not near as inhumane as taking the life of a child, parent or other innocent victim with a deliberate or errant shot.

Rome News-Tribune: With empathy we can overcome

Tulsa. Uvalde, Chattanooga, Buffalo … there have been over 18 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2022. The violence never seems to stop and there is no simple answer, but there’s something we can all do about it.

We can listen and we can try and understand the trauma our children are experiencing as these vile incidents — many at schools — continue to happen.

We haven’t experienced the world they’re living in as adolescents and each of these incidents is close enough to home that it’s very real to them.

As a country we have a mental health problem. We also have easy access to firearms driven by a glut in gun manufacturing over the past two decades.

By putting those two things together we’ve armed a group of folks who should never had been armed.

There’s a lot of political false equivalency rhetoric and woulda, shoulda, coulda arguments. The real question is where do we go from here to stop this violence — because we’re already here and this is a problem.

Until we find an answer we need to support our children. We need to make and keep mental health a priority for our population, and as parents we need to recognize that it’s a different world now.

Our children need us to listen and really, really need our help. They see the news and what’s happening around them and many of us, as adults, aren’t listening. We’re stuck in our job, on our phone, in our own world while kids are suffering.

The isolation brought on by the pandemic and resulting backlash took its toll on everyone, especially adolescents. We’re seeing mental health struggles all around and it’s especially evident in our schools.

It’s easy to write off depression, anxiety, anger or separation as just something that happens in teenagers, but now — especially now — we need to be paying attention and doing our best as parents and caregivers.

“Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said recently.

Even before the pandemic, we were seeing a growth in mental health challenges, and suicides, in young people.

With busy schedules and an online world that’s constantly shouting for attention experts are seeing that kids are getting less sleep, and exercise, than previous generations. Social media exacerbates the issue and creates a virtual world that could be a fun, exciting place but often turns into a bitter, angry world where adolescents are exposed to anything and everything.

It’s often too much for an adult. Imagine what happens to a young person who hasn’t learned to discern what is fantasy and what is reality. To be honest, we’ve seen that many adults haven’t learned that skill — how can they teach that to their children?

We need to listen to our children, to our youth, and get engaged.

We need to be present in their lives.

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