It's been a week, now, since the horrible mass murder of 20
young children and 7 adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, armed with a .223 Bushmaster
AR-15 semi-auto assault rifle, multiple 30-round high-capacity magazines, two
pistols, and a bullet-proof vest, first shot his mother to death in her sleep,
then stormed the Sandy Hook Elementary School, murdering 6 adult staff members
and 20 children, ages 5 and 6, before killing himself.
It's been a week of worldwide shock, a week of mourning, a
week of burials, and a week of nationwide discussion about gun violence like we
haven't had since the Columbine massacre.
It's also been a week of discussion about what could be done
to reduce the danger, by keeping guns out of the hands of madmen before they can act. The President, for instance, suggested
strengthening background checks and banning assault weapons again, visited
the mourners in person, and appointed
Vice President Biden to form a task force to find solutions. There have been so many articles written from
so many good viewpoints, about what could be done, that I've hardly had time to
read even a fraction of them. If
anything good has come of this horror story, it's that the country has finally
opened their eyes and ears to the overwhelming problem of guns getting into the
wrong hands. It's a shame it took the
death of 20 innocent elementary kids to do it, but now is the time to discuss the problem.
It's also been a week of cowardly silence from the NRA and
the NSSF (National Sport Shooting Foundation) which has its headquarters in
Newtown, ironically!). The NRA even shut
down its Facebook page during that period, and silenced its Twitter feed. It's like they stuck their fingers in their
ears, shut their eyes tight, and hollered, "Lalalalalala!" After all, the death of innocents is too
inconvenient for their "more guns in more places" rhetoric.
And the NSSF? When
they finally recover from the shock I wonder if they will still claim, as they do on their website, that "groups
wanting to ban these rifles have for years purposely or through ignorance
spread misinformation about them to aid their cause." If by "misinformation" they mean
our claim that assault rifles are purpose-made for killing large numbers of
people quickly, making them unnecessarily dangerous for civilians to own, then
I think the bodies of 20 small children and seven adults at their doorstep
should be enough to validate our claim.
Will this make them admit it, finally?
"CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD RENEWED," reads
a disgusting ad for these weapons.
Apparently Adam Lanza's "man card" is very active. Bushmaster must be so proud.
And so, after
a week of shameful silence, the NRA's finally unveiled what they consider a
plan to help reduce shootings on school campuses. Basically, it boils down to this: put armed guards on every school campus
across the nation, and the problem is due to "gun free
zones," the old scapegoats of violent movies, music, and video games -- Oh,
and it's the media's fault, too. The
problem doesn't have anything to do with guns and their availability,
apparently. Don't believe me? HERE
is a transcript. An excerpt:
LaPierre: Now, the National Rifle Association knows
there are millions of qualified and active retired police, active, Reserve, and
retired military, security professionals, certified firefighters, security
professionals, rescue personnel, an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained,
qualified citizens to join with
local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every
We could deploy them to protect our
kids now. We can immediately make America’s schools safer, relying on the brave
men and women in America’s police forces. The budgets -- and you all know this,
everyone in the country knows this -- of our local police departments are
strained, and the resources are severely limited, but their dedication and
courage is second to none. And, they can be deployed right now.
That's right, you read it correctly. The NRA wants more people with guns to solve the problem. Shocker!
And they weren't willing to take any media questions, either (no
surprise, given that they blame the media for not towing the line of their
Nowhere in their "plan" is strengthening of
background checks, or getting rid of assault rifles, or mandatory safe storage
of guns. And nowhere in their
"plan" is there any mention about guns being too easy to get into the
wrong hands. The problem couldn't
possibly be guns! Guns are just
inanimate objects no more dangerous than staplers, right?
He then pulled out one of the NRA's top lapdogs from
mothballs, former Congressman Asa Hutchinson from Arkansas, to lead their
"plan, " who added:
Whether they’re retired police, retired military,
or rescue personnel, I think there are people in every community in this
country who would be happy to serve if only someone asked them and gave them
the training and certifications to do so.
And, according to Hutchinson, these "watchdogs"
will be 100% volunteer!
That's right. In
other words, they're going to get citizens with conceal carry permits to voluntarily
carry guns around schools, looking for someone suspicious. Sorta like George Zimmerman did for his apartment complex. I think we all know how that turned out.
Training in classroom lock-down techniques is
valuable, but passive. Classroom lock-down procedures alone fail to protect the
children and adults who continue to be murdered before the police arrive. A
police officer in every school is not the answer; a police officer would be the
first target of a shooter and the cost would be prohibitive for most school
Lives would be saved by stopping the shooter.
Seconds count when the police are five minutes away. It would be simple,
inexpensive and enable immediate response after the first gunshot in a school
was fired if two or three volunteers in every school (administrators, staff
members or teachers), were encouraged to obtain additional training and
practice in the use of firearms and were encouraged to have a firearm concealed
on their person or locked in their desks. ....
In short, having armed and trained personnel in
every school would enable immediate response with lethal force if and when the
lives of our children and teachers were endangered by a mass murderer.
If this procedure had been implemented, the number
of children killed in every school massacre from Columbine to Sandy Hook would
have been greatly reduced.
Did you catch that? They don't want police. They want to arm teachers and school
staff. Because, you know, it's not
enough that they teach our children all day for minimal pay. They should be school security, too! For free, no less!
After the Aurora massacre, I posted
about the pro-gun fantasy of the "conceal carry hero." Pro-gun guys, like Ted Nugent and Glenn Beck,
were sputtering on about how they wished they had been in the theater, to take
on the (armored, assault weapon-armed) bad guy with their little concealed
handguns. It's a common fantasy of the
gun guys. They always consider
themselves to be more cool-headed and better aiming than the police or the bad
guy, no matter what the odds. Now they
want to extend that fantasy to classrooms, too.
Never mind that ...
- around one-third
of schools already have campus security.
- two different studies (HERE and HERE) have shown that
armed guards in schools make students feel less
secure, possibly affecting their performance
- in the Columbine shooting, a sheriff's deputy who was
patrolling the grounds, and another who arrived immediately, both
of whom shot at one of the shooters, failed to stop the gunmen.
- in 62 mass shootings over 30 years that Mother Jones could
one of them was stopped by a conceal carry permit holder. In the recent Clackamas Mall shooting here in
was a conceal carry holder with his gun trained on the shooter when the
shooter's gun had jammed, but he didn't shoot.
Why? Because he wisely realized
there were too many innocent bystanders who could be hit if he fired. He instead hid in a store while the gunman
escaped (then killed himself minutes later), and the gunman apparently never
noticed that he had a gun trained on him.
- even John Lott, the only "researcher" that the NRA
always dusts off to spout discredited statistics backing the NRA's "more concealed
guns in more places" argument, actually says
the NRA's plan won't work.
- conceal carry gun owners are all-too-often responsible for leaving
loaded guns where children find them (even
in schools!), sometimes resulting in injuries
discharge their gun in public or leave
it behind in public, or, yes, purposely use their guns to murder people.
Just because someone has a conceal carry permit doesn't make them sensible, well-trained, or safe (here in Oregon, for instance, you don't even need to fire a single bullet to qualify for a permit). And stepping onto school grounds won't magically
change basic human failings.
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called the NRA's remarks
"very haunting and very disturbing."
"I don't even know where to begin,"
Steele said on MSNBC after the NRA's statement. "As a supporter of the
Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, even though I'm not a member of
the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now
that are talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms. I
do not believe that's where the American people want to go."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters in Newark Friday
morning he doesn't agree that placing armed guards in schools would effectively
deter violence, according to a Bergen Record report.
"In general I don't think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in
my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at
every classroom," he said. "Because if you just have an armed guard
at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door?
There's many doors in and out of schools."
his comments were not specific to the NRA's proposal as he had not yet seen the
Outspoken gun-control advocate New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg called the statement "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing
"Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped
create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and
violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe," he said.
"Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics."
Mark Kelly, a
retired astronaut and husband to former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords who was seriously injured in a shooting in Tuscon last year, expressed
disappointment in the NRA's remarks in a post to his Facebook page.
"The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast
majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on
deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that
aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents," Kelly
But what about the people of Newtown? How do they feel? After all, this horror occurred in their
town. Given that their town is also home
to the NSSF, surely they feel armed guards in every school is a good idea,
right? Nope. From one
Democratic congressman and senator-elect Chris
Murphy, whose congressional district includes Newtown, tweeted a sharp reaction
from Connecticut after the group's comments: "Walking out of another
funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf
statement I've ever seen."
“How dare they?” fumed Elizabeth Murphy, 42,
who lives in [Newtown]. “We are all still grieving. This is the wrong time to
discuss their goal of putting more guns on the street . . . The bodies haven’t
even all been buried yet.”
Also, the parents of one of the slain
children in Newtown, Chase Kowalski created
a fund in their son's name, which will
be used to foster gun control, after his mother had a vision of her son
visiting her (bolding added):
Becky takes a deep breath on Wednesday in the
funeral home and says, “Okay, the best day of my life started on Sunday morning
when my son came to me in a vision. He came to tell me to explain to my husband
that the scope of this event was so large and that there were so many people
around the country and the world we were touching. I felt that my son was here
in this vision to tell me that the not-for-profit scholarship organization that
we are starting in Chase’s honor will save lives, change building codes, demand gun and ammunition control, and
that in Chase’s name I would like to bring God back to America. These are the
first starting goals of the organization.”
And the American people want gun control. Poll after poll have shown very high support,
even among gun owners and NRA members, for gun control measures such as
mandatory background checks, mandatory training and certification, assault
rifle bans, and waiting periods. They've
started 32 petitions for gun control on the White House's "We The
People" site, which have garnered
nearly 200,000 signatures. And the
President has responded to this huge outpouring of support:
I am also betting that the majority -- the vast
majority -- of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first
to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from
buying a weapon of war. I'm willing to bet that they don't think that using a
gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas -- that an unbalanced man
shouldn't be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily;
that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone's criminal
records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to
keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities
like the one in Newtown -- or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit
small towns and big cities all across America every day.
Teacher organizations, too, are quickly releasing statements
against this NRA "vision."
Federation of Teachers called the suggestion "irresponsible and
dangerous," while the National Education Association
described it as shocking and based on the "delusional assumption that
everything other than guns contributes to these tragedies."
|One of the CodePink protesters|
Wayne LaPierre should have gotten his first clue about the
negative reaction to his statement when, twice during the speech, he was
interrupted by protesters from CodePink, one of which held a sign stating,
"NRA KILLING OUR KIDS" and another saying "NRA BLOOD ON YOUR
Sorry, Wayne, but militarizing our schools isn't the answer to
gun violence. More guns doesn't equal
less crime. If it were true, we
would be the safest nation on earth.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true.
Instead of some cynical response to arm teachers or conceal carry
"volunteers" on school grounds, let's focus on the root of the problem:
the ease by which the wrong people are able to get their hands of guns.
Only then can we make a new trajectory for our communities away
from gun violence.
ADDENDUM (12/31/12): Occasionally you hear the pro-gun guys give an "example" of a conceal carry hero stopping a mass shooting. But the cases they mention aren't valid. Here are the examples they give, and the truth behind them: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/armed-civilians-do-not-stop-mass-shootings