Tragedy in Newtown: A Similar Situation Almost Happened Here

Friday’s massacre of 26 kindergarten students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, was shocking to every American. But it was not surprising.

Mass murders of innocent American citizens, young and old alike, have become routine in the United States. There is not one place where Americans gather, whether they be churches, schools, shopping malls, public rallies, or movie theaters, where American citizens are safe from a person, deranged or merely hateful, who is armed with a modern military-grade weapon of mass lethality.

We have seen some pundits label the National Rifle Association as the equivalent of a terrorist organization. Although we will not engage in such hyperbole, the reality is that no group has done more to ensure the proliferation of hundreds of thousands of high capacity weapons of mass murder than the NRA, which opposes gun control in any form and which made sure that the assault rifle weapon ban which was passed in 1994 by a Democratic-controlled Congress was allowed to expire under a Republican-controlled Congress in 2004.

We profess our fear of foreign extremists and terrorists and spend hundreds of billions of dollars annual to thwart terrorism. But the simple facts are these: 30,000 American citizens die annually from guns, which is 10 times the number of Americans who were killed on 9/11; more of our people are killed on our own soil by gunfire every six months than have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan together; and firearms claim a life in America every 20 minutes.

And how about this statistic: Children ages 5 to 14 in the U.S. are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as are children in other industrialized countries.

Some argue that the only reason that would-be mass murderers go to our schools, churches, and shopping malls is because they know that they will not run into gun-bearing opposition. But, even if it were feasible, do we really want to arm our school teachers so that there is a loaded gun  in every classroom in America? Can it even seriously be argued that this is a sign of a civilized nation? This is Archie Bunker-mentality: Archie argued that the best way to stop plane hijackings (which came into vogue in the early 1970s) was to give every passenger a gun as they stepped onto the plane, “Because that way, when the terrorist pulls out his gun, every passenger would pull out theirs and get the drop on him,” Archie said. We laughed at the absurdity of Archie Bunker’s logic a generation ago, but the NRA says it makes perfect sense now.

And to those who say that, “Guns don’t kill, people do,” let’s consider the example of Australia, a rugged-individual sort of country like ours: After a mass killing of 35 people in 1996, Australia  banned rapid-fire guns, buying back 650,000 such weapons guns and imposing tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands. This law reduced the number of the kinds of firearms most likely to be used in mass shootings. In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings, but there has not been one in the 14 years after the law took full effect and the murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent.

In the nearby town of Winthrop, there was a makings of a mass shooting in the mid-1960s. The neighbor to a house where a high school graduation party was being held got fed up with the noise, pulled out his .22 caliber rifle, and started shooting at the teenage youngsters from his adjacent back porch. He had a single shot rifle and his aim was poor, so fortunately no one was hit as the teens scattered. But let’s fast forward 50 years and let’s suppose this shooter had a weapon that could fire 100 bullets a minute   can one imagine how many young people might be killed?

The time has come for us to get serious about guns and use some common sense in the regulation of firearms and the types of firearms we should allow in private hands. Unless we do, there will be more tragedies of the kind that have become all too commonplace in America.

4 comments for “Tragedy in Newtown: A Similar Situation Almost Happened Here

  1. Gordon501
    December 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Blaming guns or the NRA for this tragedy makes about as much
    sense as blaming the knife and fork for obesity. This is clearly a case of mental illness that wasn’t properly treated compounded by the influence of violent video games. If he didn’t have a gun he would have found other means such as knives, a machete or explosives to kill the children.

    All of the recent mass shooting incidents have a clear common theme of untreated mental illness. What is needed is an objective review of the facts and solutions that address the actual cause. Applying a far left agenda of gun regulations that bear no relationship to the cause of the problem won’t solve anything. We already know that “assault weapons” bans don’t work, we had one for 10 years that multiple
    studies concluded didn’t reduce gun violence, this is a big part of why it was allowed to expire. What purpose does it serve to pass a law that we already know doesn’t work? Applying simplistic knee jerk solutions that don’t get at the real cause will guarantee that there will be more of these incidents.

    Guns do kill far too many people in this country but gun murders are a minority of all murders, the remaining 60% are done with
    other types of weapons. There are many reasons for the murder rate in this country including liberal judges that allow offenders off too easily and a general lack of basic values and personal responsibility.

    Those on the left always seem to advocate for “solutions”
    that reduce freedom and curtail the rights of law abiding citizens. Gun control laws will only remove registered guns from the streets this means that law abiding citizens will be disarmed while the criminals will continue to have their unregistered illegal guns.

  2. Me
    December 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    The assault rifle weapon ban that expired in 2004 would have kept the rifles used in the school shooting legal. A person with the intent to kill will not follow gun control laws. A gun-free zone is basically an inviation to unarmed victims.

  3. January 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    A guns is not to killing as a knife and fork are to obesity. This a straw-man argument. A gun is a much quicker kill, and much more effective tool at killing than a knife and fork are at helping someone become more obese – that being the fundamental difference in the comparison.

    Mental illness was the cause, of course. There’s no doubt that this individual, and those that commit similar atrocities, are mentally ill. However, doesn’t it stand to reason that one should make something dangerous much less available than it would otherwise be? You don’t give a child a marker with clean white walls; you don’t give a chimp a hand grenade; you don’t give a mentally deficient human a mass-murder-capable weapon.

    Self defense is perfectly fine. There isn’t a soul that would suggest that one does not have a right to defend themselves, or family, from fatal harm. The problem is that automatic weapons are hardly justifiable – in any hands. When was the last time that anyone had to rattle off 25 shots in a few seconds in order to defend themselves? Moreover, when was it needed when slower shooting solution wasn’t enough?

    If you take note to history, as it seems you have (bravo). You’ll also notice that these mass killings as of late are not committed by lifelong criminals, but rather the same law-abiding citizens who are no longer in control, or no longer capable of the thought process that would prevent them from shooting up a school, a mosque, a church, etc. Those who do not follow the law will do as they do. There’s no question there. However, just because that stands as fact, does not mean that doing nothing is somehow a better solution.

  4. Gordon501
    January 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I never suggested that we do nothing to prevent additional shooting incidents, I did indicate that the usual reflexive liberal solution of more gun control won’t work because it never has in the past. The solution is in how we deal with mental health and getting people that are obviously ill off the streets and into treatment. Another part of the solution is to look at the effect of violent video games and movies and to start teaching our young people values and the difference between right and wrong rather than the simplistic “non-judgemental” crap that they are being taught today.

    You need to learn the facts about what you are talking about with regard to guns. Civilian ownership of automatic weapons has been illegal at the Federal level since the early 1900’s. None of the recent shooting incidents involved automatic weapons, all of the weapons used will only fire a single shot each time the trigger is activated. All of the weapons used would also have been legal under the ineffective “assault weapons” ban that was allowed to expire several years ago. Getting your news from fact based sources rather that the liars in the major media outlets would help you learn the facts.

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