Will Newtown be any different by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. Check it out too.

How many times after a tragic shooting have we heard politicians say, in the guise of respect for the victims. ”this isn’t the time” to talk about gun control.   White House spokesman Jay Carney used the same language on Friday.  “There is, I’m sure, will be, rather, discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think that day is today.”

In the wake of the horrific slaying of 20 small children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, I say, there is no better time than right now.

Don’t give me the standard gun owner’s response, guns don’t kill; people do.  Don’t tell me that Adam Lanza was a nutcase, and the problem was his mental disorder not the weaponry.  The day before the Connecticut slaughter, 22 children and one adult were attacked by a crazy man in China, Min Yingjun.  It was a terrible incident, but he did it with a knife, and no one died.  No one. We simply have to limit the availability of assault weapons, be they handguns or rifles, to people who would do grievous harm to others.  Several bills have been filed but died. Yet this is a no-brainer.

In the wake of mass shootings, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Australia and Norway have all  moved to ban private ownership of most handguns or severely regulate other guns.  The reduction of mass murders has been measurable since the laws were passed.

There are now more than 300 million guns in circulation in the United States (an average of three per household), and for what?  Surely, we can move in the direction of gun safety, limiting ownership to sportsmen and people with legitimate security needs.  Banning private ownership of weapons of warfare.  Better background checks, waiting periods. Dan Kennedy suggests starting small, barring paranoid schizophrenics from gun ownership.  The Justice Department has shelved proposals for improving background checks. According to Nick Kristof, we regulate toy guns more than those with the actual power to kill.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said just before the Connecticut slaughter that “the time is right” to “consider” gun control.  Consider?  This statement was made on the very same day that the Michigan legislature passed a bill permitting, among other things,  concealed weapons in schools!  And I’m sure we’ll hear from the gun lobby that, if the teachers in Connecticut had guns, they could have stopped the killer from continuing his killing spree.

Gun control advocates talked about taking gun safety steps in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.  Nothing was done.  More recently there was a mass shooting at an Oregon mall.  Two other smaller scale killing events reported just last night.

American public opinion is generally  not encouraging. A Pew research study showed support for guns about the same before and after the Aurora shooting.  A Gallup poll tracking support for gun control over more than a decade has gone down from 60 percent to 20 percent.  Gun sales are at an all-time high.  But while the gun lobby can point to its success in achieving these dispiriting numbers, supporters of gun control (notwithstanding heroes like Boston’s own John Rosenthal and his Stop Handgun Violence campaign, outspoken mayors like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Menino) have been largely quiet.  Cowering before such statistics, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney took up the issue during the campaign.

Yet there is public support for gun safety measures.  Some positive signs include public support for certain gun safety measures, related to background checks, registration, banning high-capacity clips and semi-automatics.

Today, President Obama goes to Newtown, just as he did after shootings at Ft. Hood, Tucson and Aurora.  Where will he go from here?  Shrines, vigils, prayer services and tears across the country. We’ve become very effective at mass grieving.  We must become equally effective at changing our gun laws and better protecting public safety.  As others have rightly observed, hugs are not enough.

4 Responses to Will Newtown be any different by Marjorie Arons-Barron

  1. C R Krieger says:

    Wasn’t the Oregan shooter confronted by a man with a concealed carry permit?  Correlation isn’t causation, but I can see that someone might have intervened, an action otherwise not possible if we stop concealed carry.

    I do not favor piecemeal abrogation of the Second Amendment.  There is too much of the pecking at the edges of our rights supposedly protected by the Constitution.  People who want to ban guns owe the rest of us two things.  The first is a proposed Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Second Amendment.  The second is a proposed course of action if banning of hand guns does not significantly reduce our some 16 thousands homicides each year.

    What I would find totally unacceptable would be a plan to do a house to house search, across the fruited plain, looking for guns.  Without a further Constitutional Amendment authorizing such a thing it would be a total shredding of our Bill of Rights.

    With those as outer boundaries, and the bringing in of data on the crime rate before and after the emptying of our mental health facilities, I think there may be room for an honest debate.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. Renee Aste says:

    Like everyone else, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. I tried to sleep last night and just couldn’t, thinking about this incident leaves me with a pit in my stomach that make my gag reflexes kick in. At Mass this morning, Father Rossi at Saint Michael’s had a hard time celebrating. My husband says everything seemed off at the 7am Mass as well, our minds were on Newtown.

    The murderer was a coward, he knew not to just shoot at a random gas station, because someone as big as him could take him down. He went to pick on 6 year olds, I think they had to make a new room in Hell for him.

    But I don’t agree with more gun restrictions, and here is why.

    Why the Sandy Hook Shooting Feels So Close

    “In the end there were 38 children dead at the school, two teachers and four other adults.

    I’m not talking about the horrific shooting in Connecticut today. I’m talking about the worst school murder in American history. It took place in Michigan, in 1927. A school board official, enraged at a tax increase to fund school construction, quietly planted explosives in Bath Township Elementary. Then, the day he was finally ready, he set off an inferno. When crowds rushed in to rescue the children, he drove up his shrapnel-filled car and detonated it, too, killing more people, including himself. And then, something we’d find very strange happened.


    No cameras were placed at the front of schools. No school guards started making visitors show identification. No Zero Tolerance laws were passed, nor were background checks required of PTA volunteers—all precautions that many American schools instituted in the wake of the Columbine shootings, in 1999. Americans in 1928—and for the next several generations —continued to send their kids to school without any of these measures. They didn’t even drive them there. How did they maintain the kind of confidence my own knees and heart don’t feel as I write this?”

  3. C R Krieger says:

    UPDATE:  From The IHT we have a story of China calling for “no delay” in US implementing gun control.  The story also had a note on the recent stabbings of 22 children, plus this:

    China experienced a spate of attacks on schoolchildren in 2010, with almost 20 deaths and more than 50 injuries.  In the fourth of the assaults, a crazed man beat five toddlers with a hammer, then set himself on fire while holding two youngsters.

    In another of those attacks in 2010, Zheng Minsheng, 42, stabbed and killed eight primary school students in Fujian Province.  Five weeks later, after a quick trial, he was executed.

    And, I don’t think we want to emulate five weeks from crime to execution.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  4. Greg Page says:

    I agree that the standard shibboleths about gun rights and gun control aren’t going to help us.

    I’ve heard lots of people talk about the need to “do something” over the past few days, but am yet to hear anyone explain how the “something” they’re advocating would’ve stopped this tragedy [I’m no better…I have no specifics to offer].

    Another angle I’ll throw into this is the way we (I’ll use a very royal ‘we’ here, to cover the entire news media as well as anyone who uses social media) respond to these incidents. How many of us can name the Columbine killers, the Aurora shooter, or the Arizona shooter? Many of us in RH nation can probably rattle off those names. But what about their victims? Not as easily, right?

    The coverage sends a signal to an unstable, unbalanced teenage boy who feels like he is a “nobody” that he can become a “somebody” in this manner, esp. if he can top the previous perpetrators. I get goosebumps when I think back to that line from the groupie/fan in Natural Born Killers: “Mickey and Mallory are the best thing to happen to mass murder since Manson.”

    Again, I’ll admit I don’t have the answer — should major news media voluntarily agree not to show the likeness of or discuss the name of the perpetrator of this violence? Probably not, because then they wouldn’t *really* be doing their jobs. And social media could still be used to publicize and discuss the perpetrators.

    Someone is watching all of this. Maybe it’s the crazy guy in California who just fired 50 shots into a parking lot (he didn’t injure or kill anyone, thank God). Maybe it’s someone in Newtown phoning threats to buildings (similar to what happened in Littleton, CO after their massacre). But maybe it’s someone willing to do something even more horrific in order to achieve some deranged vision of notoriety…