The advocacy group Gun Owners of America, which claims a national membership of 300,000 people, knows exactly how the Newtown massacre in which 20 children were murdered in cold blood might have been averted: Guns in schools.
And in the hours after the tragedy, this sorry excuse of a human being Larry Pratt, the group’s executive director, called on state and federal lawmakers to overturn any bans on guns in schools. More hauntingly, he suggested gun control advocates “have the blood of little children on their hands.” In a statement he said:
“Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.”
On the same day of the shooting, Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee attributed the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in part to restrictions on school prayer and religious materials in the classroom:
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News, discussing the murder spree that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, CT that morning. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
Dear Mr. Pratt, Please Go and Fuck Yourself
…taking Mike Huckabee and all religious people who claim Jesus on the one hand and advocate gun ownership on the other hand with you. The last thing this country needs are armed, religious nut jobs.
I think even those people who agree this is a tragedy and are sad yet still believe that a person’s right to own a gun is more important than the safety of the citizenry – or in this case children – need to go fuck themselves – in addition to being deeply ashamed.
The problem in this country is that most of its citizens are running around with their heads in the sand mainly outwardly demonstrating compassion and understanding in the from of politeness and decorum while in actuality going about advocating for contemptible and literally murderous polices and legislation that are part of the problem.
One example to the point is the complete lack of a social safety net in this United States; a policy direction which is mostly supported by the majority of the population. People who might, in person, give you the shirts off their backs, will nonetheless go to the polls on Election Day and vote affirmatively for a candidate who would use any shirt you gave him to shine up the rims of his luxury car in his gold-plated car elevator. And they’ll feel good about that, because at least their shirt didn’t go to some poor, hungry, uninsured, destitute individual.
The same thing is true, more or less, with guns and gun-ownership: everyone wants to hold hands and pray and in person may in fact abhor the use of violence and guns, but no one wants to talk about the underlying policies, or lack thereof, behind gun ownership laws in this country and thus the true reason as to why the Connecticut school shooting and before it Colorado and before that Arizona – just to name a few – took place, claiming the lives of countless innocent people.
No one wants a scientifically rigorous, statistically accurate, critically considered analysis of the role of guns in America becasue such things apparently offend their delicate sensibilities.
Instead, platitudes of the “people kill people, not guns” and hateful, ableist crap of the “he was mentally ill and we need better health care reform” are being thrown around, conflating mental illness with abhorrent violent behavior and sociopathic behavior.
The underlying cause for such behavior is deflection and with it the shaking of responsibility, because if people were to actually acknowledge that in fact their apathy on this issue and thus indirect (or direct) support of gun usage is the problem, they would then actually have to do something about it and maybe admit to themselves that their continued support of gun ownership may have something to do with the deaths in the school shooting in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 27 people, 20 of whom were Kindergarten aged children.
Everyone is always so very quick to assure themselves and everyone around them that it’s ‘so impossible‘ to predict what ‘those people‘ will do, thus rendering the situation a cosmic event no one has control over (and thus not even those who advocate gun ownership) because after all, one cannot prepare for or prevent cosmic, random events and the actions of “others”. It’s such a compulsive and incredibly unhelpful response, however, because it closes the door for meaningful debate and analysis and with it change. It is an attempt to stick our fingers in our ears and shout loudly while avoiding any and all blame and responsibility. It’s almost as if people were afraid to be blamed, so they have to be quick to deflect responsibility.
The truth is that we do have power to change things so that such situations can be prevented in the future. “Shit happens” and “there are a lot of crazy people out there” does not open the door toward meaningful change for the better or even allow for any meaningful analysis and discourse as it implies that not only mass shootings and gun violence happen at random, like a hurricane or snow storm, but because such assertions lead to inertia and inaction, reinforcing the false belief that we, indeed cannot do anything about it. It also means that ultimately we do not have to take responsibility for such things as a nation and society since by definition one cannot take responsibility for something that is out of one’s control. The devastating result is that innocent people end up paying the price.
I was called names and shut down and dismissed because I mentioned gun-control in the OFF TOPIC section of a discussion forum of a collector’s club that I belong to. The header for the off topic section reads: “post anything that is on your mind.” That sentence is immediately followed by “within reason” in parenthesis. Apparently, this political hot topic is totally not within reason of even off topic discussions and to discuss gun control is “off limits” “while the nation is grieving.” It is apparently never the right time to discuss the issue: it was not the right time after Aurora, Colorado, or Wisconsin, or Arizona in 2011 and it is also not the right time today. Ironically, the people in said discussion forum are the same ones that repeatedly reassert their devotion to “God” and “Jesus Christ”.
Republicans and the ignorant, religious nut jobs and minions that support them will protect their darling NRA at any cost: go to church on Sundays and pray to Jesus and God, then spend the rest of the week advocating policies that go directly against the teachings of their lord and savior. Under the guise of “let us mourn” and “the nation is grieving” religious hypocrites (as if there were any other kind) and gun ownership advocates will distract, project, and cut discussion off at the knees.
Not having this discussion is not going to make the issue go away, however, nor will it help answer questions as to the underlying causes of such massacres. Insisting on this false sense of decorum will lead to nothing but us gathering together in five months, or two months or six months from now and do the exact same thing when another person mass murders people in a crowd with guns that are easier to obtain than candy.
As Gary Younge at The Guardian stated “It does not honour the dead to insist that there must be no room in that space for rational thought and critical appraisal. Indeed, such situations demand both. For one can only account for so many “isolated” incidents before it becomes necessary to start dealing with a pattern. It is simply not plausible to understand events in Connecticut this Friday without having a conversation about guns in a country where more than 84 people a day are killed with guns, and more than twice that number are injured with them.”
Guns and Assault Rifles Are Instruments Designed to Kill
It is a sad state of affairs when one has to point out the obvious, which is that guns are tools designed to kill. Period. Nothing else. The AR-15 – which is a very popular and also preferred weapon of gun owners as well as the weapon the Newton shooter Adam Lanza used, is an assault rifle. Assault rifles accommodate a more lethal payload. An assault style weapon is used to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away in order to achieve maximum lethality. What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve? And more to the point, why do American citizens believe that they need to own such weapons of mass murder; weapons obviously designed for combat because they do take down a large number of people in a short amount of time without having to reload. The AR-15 was the same rifle that James E. Holmes used in the carnage in Colorado.
Semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15, the civilian version of the military’s M-16 and M-4, are a logical choice for anyone whose goal is to kill a lot of people in a short time because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds. In addition to firing multiple rounds quickly, they have a higher muzzle velocity than traditional rifles.
Gun advocates quibble over semantics trying to justify the ownership of such weapons, arguing that the AR-15 is a very “misunderstood weapon” and that unlike the AR-15’s military counterparts, the civilian models are almost all semiautomatic, not fully automatic, and so should not be classified as assault rifles. As if semiautomatic weapons where then, therefore, a much better choice for civilians.
AR-15s are not the only weapons used by rampaging shooters. Semiautomatic handguns are also frequently employed. In Newtown, in addition to the Bushmaster M-4 carbine, two handguns were found at the scene, a 10-millimeter Glock and a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer, although the rifle is what Lanza used, pumping up to 11 bullets into each victim’s body, according to the medical examiner. At the Sandy Hook shooting, authorities said they found multiple 30-round magazines and hundreds of bullets at the school, enough ammunition on to carry out significant additional carnage. In Colorado, Holmes carried two Glock handguns and a shotgun, the authorities said, as well as the AR-15. A Glock and a Walther were used by Seung-Hui Cho to kill 32 people and injure 17 at Virginia Tech in 2007. Semiautomatic weapons, including the AR-15, are increasingly being used in the killings of police officers as well, whose vests often provide little protection against such firearms.
The Problem of Access and Availability
The nature of the gun used is only part of the problem. The real problem is access to and availability of such guns. The more of them float around in society and are easily obtainable, the more likely are they to fall into the wrong hands. it is common sense really. When you make the acquisition of such weapons illegal, less of them will be floating around in society. Lanza took his mother’s weapons, which begs the question of why she had an AR-15 and a bunch of guns in the first place and which also emphasizes the point that availability and access are an issue.
The only sensible solution, therefore, is to severely limit access and availability. Moreover, why any untrained, private citizen believes they need to own such weapons in the first place, namely semiautomatic assault rifles of mass murder and why law makers believe they need to protect their alleged rights to own weapons designed to take down a mass of people in the shortest amount of time is what is truly beyond me. And it should be beyond any sane, rational person.
One Million Strong – Gun Ownership in Numbers
According to the New York Times, the day before the massacred of the 20 schoolchildren in their classrooms in Connecticut on Friday, lawmakers in Michigan passed a bill — over the objections of the state’s school boards — that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in schools. That same day, Ohio lawmakers passed a bill that would allow guns in cars at the Statehouse garage. Earlier in the week, a federal appeals court struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois. And Florida officials announced that they would soon issue their millionth concealed weapon and firearm license — or, as a state news release put it, the program would be “One Million Strong.”
Sure, people can be hurt and killed by all sorts of instruments, such as the knife attack in a Chinese school in which 22 children were wounded and injured. However, it is so much easier to mass murder people by pointing and shooting into a crowd than with knives. Note that none of the children in the Chinese school died and that the perpetrator was stopped and detained. Shooters, however, kill and wound dozens of people in a matter of minutes, with a tool designed solely for killing. The intensity of gun violence is just on a whole different level, and it is both insincere and shameful to not talk about that or to draw such false comparisons. As Jason Alexander stated in his amazing article on Salon, if it is really the case that guns don’t kill – people do, well then let them kill with tomatoes. Let them bring baseball bats, knives, even machetes — a mob can deal with that. But assault rifles?
If this assailant had only knives at his disposal he could have been apprehended and subdued much faster and he would not have been able to take down so many people with such ease by just pointing and shooting.
Shame on this country, its citizens and its legislators for placing the rights of a bunch of layman to own weapons of mass murder above the lives and safety of its citizens
How can any parent feel safe after something like that? This was a small town in CT, not some inner city school already plagued with violence. If it can happen there, it can happen everywhere. To pretend we had no control over it and that this was just something that happens is nothing but a comforting lie.
Mental Illness Does Not Equal Violence
And please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t conflate mental illness with violent behavior. It is ableist and it is insulting to the millions of people who have mental illnesses who would never do something like shoot a bunch of children and teachers. Mental illness does not equal the lack of human compassion required to commit a crime like this and such designations and finger pointing only contribute to marginalizing the mentally ill more than they already are. Mental illness alone is not a reliable predictor of violent behavior.
Fact is that the only use for a gun is to kill. Period. Nothing else. Why people living in a civilized country whose Constitution they respect and which is held together by the rule of law think that they need to arm themselves to the teeth with instruments of mass murder such as semi automatic assault rifles designed for combat is beyond me.
This country has a sick, pathological fetish and obsession with guns and violence. We celebrate our guns and violence culture and hold it in high regard. We love our wars and our military and think weapons are toys and sexy. That is a very pathological mentality to have and ultimately the only ones who end up paying the price are innocent people caught in the crossfire, literally, of such pathological behavior and mindsets.
A History of Mass Shootings in the United States
Mass shootings in America have become a sad, common place reality and somewhat akin to inevitable natural disasters people believe they have no control over. That is, of course, a comforting lie but people like comforting lies, because that is what keeps us going. That is, after all, also why we have religion as nothing is more comforting than the lie religion perpetuates.
This year this country has experienced mass shootings at an alarming rate. The horrific mass murder at a movie theater in Colorado on July 20, another at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on August 5, another at a manufacturer in Minneapolis on September 27—and now the unthinkable nightmare at a Connecticut elementary school on December 14— where 27 people, among them 20 children, were killed by a gun man who took his own life afterwards. This latest, most horrific and tragic event where innocent children were involved is the latest in an epidemic of such gun violence over the last three decades.
Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Mother Jones has mapped these shootings, including details on the shooters’ identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.
According to the article, of the 142 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns. Just as Jeffrey Weise used a .40-caliber Glock to slaughter students in Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005, so too did James Holmes, along with an AR-15 assault rifle, when blasting away at his victims in a darkened movie theater. In Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza wielded two handguns and a .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle as he massacred 20 school children and six adults.
Half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 19, respectively); the other 31 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases. Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old. (See Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998.) Mass murders represent only a sliver of America’s overall gun violence.