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Sandy Hook parent searching for 'middle ground' on gun issues

Posted October 4, 2013

— It has been almost 10 months since the massacre of 26 students and school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a tragedy that reignited the national debate on gun violence as well as treatment for the mentally ill.

The North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness held its annual conference at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh this week, with a special focus on the need to rebuild the mental health system in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.

The conference, which continues Saturday, is about reforming mental health services in wake of the school shooting - and that means addressing issues surrounding gun violence.

“If we capitulate and say this is all a polarized political debate and it’s going nowhere, then we are going to be where we are and it will happen over and over again,” said Dr. Jeffery Swanson, a Duke professor.

A keynote speaker at the event is Nelba Marquez-Green, whose daughter, Ana Grace, was executed during the Sandy Hook shooting while hiding in the tiny bathroom of her first-grade classroom.

Marquez-Green was a mental health professional before the tragedy. Now, she fights full time for mental health reform and common sense gun laws.

“Nothing in our government is done overnight,” Marquez-Green said. “We’re talking about incremental steps,” she added.

Almost a year after the shooting, little has changed. Marquez-Green is often asked if the problem can be solved.

“I think of other people who face insurmountable odds, like Rosa Parks, like Dr. Martin Luther King,” Marquez-Green said. “I think what if some had asked them that and they said, ‘Oh OK,’ and stopped trying. We won’t stop trying,” she said.

Max Mattia is an ammunition manufacturer. He believes there is a third choice between pro and anti-gun groups.

“I firmly believe there is a middle ground,” Mattia said. “There has to be a middle ground,” he said.

The hope for middle ground is what brings groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness together.

“We find middle ground and we keep going,” Marquez-Green said.


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  • akdavis1 Oct 7, 2013

    I do have sympathy for her. I have stood by the casket of my 4 year old son. I have lost a child. My child was not killed in the horrible way that hers was and my heart does go out to her. When you try to advance an agenda on the body of that child I have a problem with that. I have owned guns all my life and never hurt anyone. The 2nd amendment was put in so the people of this country could stand up to a government run amuck. It has nothing to do with hunting or anything else. Please don't give up the rights we have America. Too many people died for us to live in this land free. If you want to do something get tough on criminals that commit crimes, but don't punish the law abiding.

  • A person Oct 7, 2013

    After the Secret Service feels safe enough for the president that they can give up their guns, then maybe I would feel the same way. If guns are good enough for them, they are certainly good enough for the rest of us. They are not above us

  • A person Oct 7, 2013

    Really does it matter to anyone else what they think?? Of course they have a biased opinion. It really dose not apply, because they are the victims of a freakish act by a freak.

  • katzpauz Oct 7, 2013

    There's no middle ground....I'm sorry for her loss though.

  • rocket Oct 7, 2013

    "I'm pro-gun but also of the belief that it should be way harder to get one, especially if there's ANY doubt of mental stability."

    That's all great until some government appointed shrink questions your mental stability because you already own more guns than they deem necessary.

  • saturn5 Oct 7, 2013

    No. They ask for "middle ground" and we give in. Then later they come back and do it again, and again, and again. We long ago reached "middle ground." No more concessions.

  • Monkey_Joe Oct 7, 2013

    If we are going to strip anyone of rights, it should be the criminals. The 8th ammendment needs to go for people who hurt children.

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Oct 7, 2013

    @glarg, her 1st grade daughter was shot while cowering in a school restroom and you don't think she has a right so speak her mind? You want her to "shutty"? I'm a conservative right-leaner and I think a lot of gun control arguements (and other arguements for that matter) from the left are far fetched and unconstitutional but people like you sure make it hard for the rest of us

  • glarg Oct 7, 2013

    Whats the "middle ground" in asking/demanding innocent people to give up their constitutional rights?

    As a good faith gesture Jeffery Swanson and Nelba Marquez-Green should give up their First Amendment rights and shutty.

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Oct 7, 2013

    I'm pro-gun but also of the belief that it should be way harder to get one, especially if there's ANY doubt of mental stability. I don't think stripping the guns out of every law abiding, mentally stable person will fix anything but I'm also not shallow enough to dismiss the efforts of anyone trying to work towards compromise. All left or all right is ALL WRONG!