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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

July 26th, 2012 7:35 PM

Healthcare, Migratory Waterfowl, Sparrows, Guns and Our Children

Most often, I am writing about healthcare reform and making our way to one single standard of high quality care for all under an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life system.  And certainly as I write this, I think every person facing physical or emotional injuries from the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, should be covered for care and not ever worry about financial consequences from getting that care. 

The fact that the lack of insurance and concern about healthcare costs has even had to be a part of the horrific events in this case or any others is morally wrong.  I am so glad that Denver area hospitals have stepped up and people from around the country are donating, but that should not be necessary in a civilized society that purports to value human life.  No one should worry about paying for care when they get shot.  Under a truly universal healthcare system, no one would.

I also have to wonder how many more troubled people would be able to access mental health treatment if we didn’t make it so expensive and difficult to do so as it is under our current, for profit system.  We can never know now.  It’s too late, again.

But somewhere along the line this week, as my husband and I spoke about that concern and all the other issues raised by the shootings at the Aurora movie theater, he mentioned he was pretty confident that migratory waterfowl are better protected in terms of the use of automatic weapons than human beings are.  I checked.  He is right.  For migratory waterfowl hunting in Colorado, no one can use a firearm that holds more than three rounds in the magazine and chamber combined. Here are the Federal regulations that say it.

That made me think more about how we apparently value migratory waterfowl more than we do one another or our children.  And it makes me angry and sad.  I know gun ownership isn’t the whole problem, but no matter how I try to figure it, I cannot think of good reasons for automatic or assault weapons to be available for purchase by the general public – on-line or at Bass Pro Shop or Gander Mountain or at any of the other gun dealers where this week’s killer amassed his stash of weapons. 

Lots of people who love guns in America also claim to love God.  So, then I remembered a passage from the Bible that used to offer me some comfort in times of stress. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows,” Matthew 10:29-31.  Well, I guess we have subverted that passage just a bit by protecting those tiny birds more than we protect each other, and that makes me sad and angry. (I know, sparrows are not migratory waterfowl, but you get my point.)

The damage done to so many people in Colorado this week is just beginning to unfold.  If you doubt that,  please talk to any other victim of violent crime in our society or talk to a soldier who endured combat or one of the 9/11 first responders who survived or read the piece ABC news published today about another massacre that left innocents damaged.  My son, Russ, was one of those left bruised.  These are traumatic, horrible occurrences in life. 

So, what now?  Should we let migratory waterfowl be mowed down like we let one another be slaughtered or should we consider trying to create the conditions that better protect human life?  And perhaps we might want to start by allowing ourselves to at least have a rational conversation about what sort of weaponry is appropriate for in-home use and out in our neighborhoods. 

And back to healthcare: If we’re going to do so much shooting and killing before we find ways to heal this society, perhaps we might want to make sure we advance our healthcare system to a place where we humanely treat the wounded without financial barrier.

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