We could be two weeks away from some real progress on gun violence. First of all, Congress could pass universal background checks within the next couple of weeks. Yes, many of us Mothers would have liked to have seen a federal ban on assault weapons but the bottom line is it isn’t the gun but the mentally unstable shooter that Americans need protection from. Universal background checks will close the loopholes that make it so easy for guns to be bought legally than traded illegally and dropped into that tattered net that allows too many guns to end up in the wrong hands. 

Second, the National Rifle Association is expected to announce the details of its National School Shield Program tomorrow and in all likelihood, it will call for armed guards in our nation’s schools. The question is, “Is Sandy Hook far enough behind us, that the NRA will get a different response to its suggestion than the collective cringe Wayne LePierre got when he first brought up the idea?”  Slate.com  is running two articles to counter tomorrow’s NRA backed proposals. The first is a reminder that an armed guard wasn’t able to stop the shootings in Columbine; the second says we can’t afford to put armed security in our country’s schools because it will cost 5.5 billion dollars.  

In terms of what’s coming down the pike, we are really looking forward to seeing what Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri (R-Mo) is planning in terms of interventions and better treatment for the mentally ill.  Because, when all is said and done, that is the most frightening part of the gun violence equation, isn’t it? Here’s a look at what Blunt said recently about this being more important in many ways than background checks. 

From Examiner.com: 

“I won’t support any proposals that infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights or ultimately prevent two neighbors from trading shotguns,” Blunt said. “Instead, I’m focusing my efforts on improving mental health policies to ensure we’re spending federal dollars more wisely when it comes to identifying, treating, and caring for people who are mentally ill.”

Blunt is a co-sponsor of three mental health measures: the Excellence in Mental Health Act, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act “will help make communities safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment,” according to Blunt. “The bill also focuses on giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues, and includes a 5-year reauthorization of the ‘Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act’ (MIOTCRA), continuing support for mental health courts, and crisis intervention teams.”

In the meantime, all this gun talk is playing out against what has sadly become more background chatter than front page alarm, like the 4 year old shot by a 6 year old in Miami and the news that the shooter in the movie theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado last summer will face the death penalty. Regardless of where you stand on the second amendment and the death penalty, at the end of the day, it’s all part of the same conversation, isn’t it?  But the reality is the conversation is approaching a low din, at least according to the latest polls, as reported by the Wall Street Journal,  

“In a CBS News poll taken in late March, 47% of adults polled said gun laws should be “more strict,” down from 57% in December, shortly after the shooting. And yet, support for broader background checks remains strong. Roughly nine in 10 Americans support a universal background check, according to an ABC News poll taken in March.”

Something needs to be done but perhaps the most important thing is to keep the conversation going. It would be a sad result if nothing changes after Moms across the country made a collective promise that the 20 students and 6 staff members who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook shootings would not have died in vain.