Sandy Hook Tragedy

December 17, 2012

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On Friday December 14, a young man entered an elementary school and killed twenty students and six staff members, before taking his own life. He did this after killing his own mother in their home. It will take detailed investigations to determine the why of this crime, all that any of us can do at this time is to pray for the victims and give the survivors the respect and privacy that they will need to heal.

One of the immediate responses to this crime was a call for additional gun control. Before continuing this discussion, I will say that I do not own a single functioning fire arm, although I do have several muzzle loading pieces that are dry loaded (that means there is a ball wedged in the barrel with no gun powder so it cannot be fired). There are already plenty of gun laws, additional paper will not make this type of horrific event go away. Disarming law abiding citizens will also not diminish this problem. By the logic of stricter gun laws, New York, Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest places in the world. Enforcement of existing law is what is needed to protect ourselves from people bent on senseless murder.

Something that has been overshadowed by the events in Connecticut is a similar attack on elementary school children in China. The assailant used a knife or sword to hack at and injure 22 children, some of them critically. In fact there has been a spate of attacks on school children around the world. It would seem that these criminals are looking for the most defenseless victims. It will take experts a long time and involve much debate to come up with an answer for the Why.

The response to these events should not be to find political advantage, either for more gun control or less. The response should be to grieve and provide solace for the victims and the survivors. We should also rejoice that this type of incident is so rare that it is national news. There are certain number of people who are going to commit heinous crimes, guns certainly make them more spectacular. We have witnessed even more spectacular mass killings with the various bombings around the world (including Oklahoma City) and airplanes (such as the World Trade Center). Let us all hope and pray that these events remain rare and that more are thwarted than succeed. May each one of the victims and all of the survivors find peace.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan
    Dec 17, 2012 @ 10:27:03

    Sorry, Martin, while we should grieve and provide solace, grieving and solace aren’t going to do anything to solve this problem going forward. We need action.15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States (next closest is Finland, with 2). Our death by assault rate is much higher than in other developed countries. Whether looking at states, or countries, more guns has translated into more homicides:

    Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but we can’t ignore this any longer. States with stricter gun laws have fewer deaths than other states:

    The surprising part (to some) was that higher populations, stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence.

    This must end. I guarantee that I love my daughter more than others love their guns. Hopefully enough feel the same way that we can get meaningful change on this issue.


  2. kosmo
    Dec 17, 2012 @ 14:20:33

    I have quite a bit to say about this, but I’ll save it until Wednesday.


  3. Zarberg
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 16:22:29

    Before I say what I have to say, I need to disclaimer …

    I grew up in the far eastern corner of Danbury, right next to Newtown. I’ve been to Sandy Hook Elementary more than a few times. I know the director of music at Newtown Schools fairly well. I have friends who taught at Sandy Hook. I have friends of friends who died this past Friday.

    I’m not going to march in here and demand a repeal to the 2nd Amendment. The genie is out of the bottle, the NRA side won, but I refuse to accept that a dozen dead kids every few years is the price we have to pay for a society that wants its guns so badly “pry out of my cold dead hand” is seen as a reasonable response to any gun legislation at all.

    Certain things CAN be done right now – every state requires a background check, yet most states use their own criminal background database. From what I know of how it works, if someone isn’t in that database, they pass – I.E. a positive entry gives a deny, a non-entry gives a permit. Theoretically a misspelling or incorrect address could allow someone to purchase (again, I don’t know the exact details). What I’m proposing is this – a federal law to supersede state laws and have background checks centralized through the FBI. As it stands right now, the car licensing system is more centralized and efficient than the gun licensing system.

    I also think penalties if your weapon is used in a crime (and you have not reported it as stolen) should be much, much harsher. A judge should be able to throw the book at a gun owner if his took took his weapon and shot up a crowd. Gun locks and gun safes are not an unreasonable burden if you own a firearm, it’s part of being a smart and responsible owner.

    Beyond that, I’m just not sure, but I am sure of one thing:

    We live in a world where we put a man on the moon 40+ years ago, where we can actually see individual atoms, we should be able to come up with a way to let those with guns keep them and little kids from having a lottery chance of being a statistic.


  4. No one in particular
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:39:31

    By the logic of stricter gun laws, New York, Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest places in the world.

    Sure you want to go with this argument? Because NYC is one of the safest large cities in the country, with a murder rate of 6.4 per 100,000 compared to gun heavy New Orlean’s 72.8 per 100,000. DC suffers from being a tiny district between VA and MD, both of which have very poor gun control. Baring a wall around DC, it’s hard to imagine that gun control can be enforced there.

    No one died in the attack on a school in China. 26 died in the attack on a school in Connecticut. The OKC and WTC attacks were the work of multiple people over years. The Sandy Hook shooting was a single disgruntled individual acting on impulse.

    We really have two choices: ban guns with high rates of fire or have more of these incidents. I’m ready to repeal the second amendment any time. It’s obsolete. No number of stockpiled rifles will protect us from a government that has tanks and nuclear weapons if it goes bad. (Voting and reminding the politicians that we can take them out of office when we feel like it will, but that’s a different argument.) We’ve had mass shootings at schools, theaters, malls, political events, on the streets, hospitals, and various other places. Sixteen in the US alone in 2012. It WILL continue if we don’t change our laws.

    Incidentally, the number of times a shooter was stopped by a member of the crowd with a gun…zero. Several reports mention bystanders shooting back, but none managed to hit the target and some appear to have killed or injured other bystanders.


  5. Peter Shaw
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 15:09:54

    Nice articles but those gun deaths include suicide, accidents, and self-defense (justified homocide). I think we can’t draw a conclusion with that article and gun ownership. This article is more concise.

    In 20 years all firearm related deaths dropped 44% despite record levels of gun ownership and more states than ever offering concealed weapons permits.

    @No One in Particular,
    They are most often stopped by police or armed citizens. If you haven’t noticed they usually committ suicide before getting into a gun battle. The Oregan mall shooting is one of many examples where when confronted with an armed citizen they choose suicide. If only police or armed citizens arrived sooner!!


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