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1975 - Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital opens with 100 beds [story]

The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Feb 21, 2015

JenniferFischerEvery once and awhile, wisdom comes from unexpected places – like, say, a comic book movie.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

– Uncle Ben in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man”

I learned, thanks to Wikipedia, that those words in the world of Spider-Man originated in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 as a narrative caption: “With great power there must also come – great responsibility!” I further discovered that the quote is originally attributed to Voltaire, a 19th-century revolutionary and writer who was sickened by the abuse of power by the privileged while so many of the masses suffered in poverty.

That line has rumbled through my head a lot lately, particularly in relation to some key local events, namely recent gun homicides (and suicide) in our valley.

It’s no news to anyone that gun violence in the United States is staggering – so staggering, in fact, that some international politicians consider the U.S. to be an unsafe travel destination because of the percentage of people killed each year in mass shootings.

Typically, the types of countries that receive travel warnings are those that are actively at war – think Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan. So it’s telling that some consider the U.S. to be an unsafe travel destination.

But let’s consider that just in our valley over the last couple of weeks, there have been two shootings, resulting in three deaths – in one of the safest cities in America. A murder-suicide in one case, and in another case, a young woman allegedly killed her brother, wounded her father and shot at another person.

While I understand the roots of the Second Amendment, and that the right to bear arms is seen by many as a key freedom promised in the Constitution, I keep hearing the words of Uncle Ben – I mean Voltaire – echoing through my head: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Guns are powerful. They are deadly, and if a society insists on defending its citizens’ rights to bear these powerful items, then I think that same society should also insist on making sure it fosters the type of society and builds the type of citizenry that can handle such a responsibility.

Mental health is a major issue in our nation. Estimates are that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness or struggle with mental health issues. In all likelihood, the number of Americans struggling with emotional instability or true mental wellness is probably higher, since there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Our society has not and does not prioritize mental health. It goes unrecognized. We don’t provide quality mental health treatment at affordable rates, nor do we prioritize it in our workplaces where overwork is not just common, but all too often expected.

It seems to me that if, as a nation, we want to maintain our commitment to the Second Amendment, which so many people fiercely seek to defend, we need to have an equally fierce commitment to building a society that is mentally and emotionally healthy, where holistic wellness is honored and mental illness is no longer stigmatized.

If we want the power that comes with bearing arms, we need to make sure we are equally committed to a society that is responsible enough to handle that right.


Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

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  1. dennis says:

    The founding fathers knew that governments kill people!!Some 300millon in the twentieth century and the first thing they did was take there guns and the criminals still had there guns.In order to keep our government in the checks and balances we have THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS AND THAT RIGHT SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED UPON!!So if any one doesn’t understand this your stupid and Brian dead!! get off my guns and what part of the kings English dont you understand ??Shall not be infringed upon!!

  2. Javi says:

    What about all those car accidents? Using your logic, nobody should have a car either, they might hit a pedestrian or another car or drive off a cliff. Lady, if you don’t want own or use firearms, then exercise your freedom and don’t. But don’t tell the rest of us what we can or can’t do. Take your nanny state ideals to someplace where they are appreciated, like England or Australia.

  3. Dave Warburton says:

    Dennis puts a nice exclamation point on Jennifer Fischer’s essay, doesn’t he? Thanks, Dennis. I hope Brian isn’t dead, after,all.

  4. Rmg says:

    Interesting. Maybe if the liberals hadn’t destroyed the moral fiber in this country we wouldn’t have so many mental cases. Children today are raised with no values and believe they are entitled.

  5. Thank you for writing this article. I am a law-abiding gun owner and I fear for this great nation! Mental health is a HUGE issue and I think it should be a top priority. Instead of spending countless tax dollars to fund the anti-gun campaigns, they should be funding a mental health initiative!

  6. Harold A. Maio says:


    Whenever someone asserts a “stigma”, I sense immediately their malevolence.

    Whenever someone repeats a “stigma”, I sense immediately their naiveté.

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

  7. Abraham Collins says:

    A vote is also a powerful thing. Predicating a condition on whether or not you can vote would violate your right to suffrage.

    Arms are the same thing as votes: rights. You can’t predicate conditions on rights. Sure, you can revoke rights through due process of law, but you can’t burden the exercise of a right to the law-abiding.

    You can’t put a psychological examination before any rights enumerated in the United States Constitution. That would render them to privileges.

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