Fact based reporting
by Kenneth Jameson Jr.,
research by Amanda Chen, edited by Rob Roman
A 4-part series by a Sandy Hook Elementary alumnus on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. An overview of Newtown from the inside, a description of what is now known about what happened on December 14, 2012 (Including a possible motive), an analysis of the different sides of the issues, and what the prognosis is for slowing the rate of mass killings and gun violence in America are all discussed.
Part 3: The Aftermath
- St. Rose Church Vigil (click to enlarge)
First of all, when discussing firearms, don’t mistake the word “clip” for the word “magazine”. A magazine can be external or integral to the firearm. The difference between a clip and a magazine is the presence of a “feeding device”. Of course, some law abiding gun owners and gun enthusiasts believe that if you don’t know about firearms, you are not qualified to opine on how to reduce gun violence or save the lives of future gun victims. They have a point, except for one small problem. Too many law abiding gun owners and gun enthusiasts, clever as they are about such things as caliber and rate of fire, offer zero solutions.
Of course, the landlord in Vermont who shot the unarmed young couple to death over a parking space and the man in Georgia who shot an unarmed young man dead because he mistakenly pulled into his driveway, were both “law abiding gun owners”. They were law abiding at least until they lost control and murdered people so easily with guns.
The young man pulled into the driveway by mistake because of a G.P.S. error. The homeowner who shot him dead probably did so because of all the far right hype he was hearing on TV and over the internet about the government coming to confiscate his guns.
“A father of a Sandy Hook Elementary School student testified on January 28, 2013 in a Working Group Public Hearing at the Connecticut State Capitol on gun violence prevention. While Bill Stevens’ fifth grade daughter was not harmed in the incident, she was one of the children that were in “lock down” during the shooting and following it. However, Mr. Stevens said that his daughter’s friend’s little sister was one of the children that was murdered “when 911 and ‘lock down’ were not enough to protect her from an evil person, not protect her from an ‘assault rifle’ or some type of an inanimate object, but from an evil person.”
“He then stated that he was not there to quote statistics, the number of lives saved with a gun or even the economic impact. He also said he wasn’t there to discuss “asinine legislation” gun control laws that were being talked about.”
Bill Stevens, whose daughter Victoria was in 5th grade lock down in another school during the Sandy Hook shooting, and knows someone who knows one of the victims, said that the laws on the books are good enough if enforced, and personal responsibility and enforcement are the key.
He went on to say that his constitutional right to own firearms and to protect his daughter comes from God and not from the government. He said at home if there is a break-in, he will call 911 AFTER security has been restored in his home. Bill Stevens said you will have to pry his gun and the ability to protect his child “from his cold dead hands”. Fair enough.
I guess Bill Stevens wins the Newtown Golden Cock award for January, 2012. Adam Lanza was under no obligation to seek treatment and the firearms in the Lanza Household were legally purchased and some (the most dangerous) were properly stored in a gun vault. Actually, no laws were broken that day besides driving without a license and trespassing. Oh yeah, and mass murder. That’s against the law, too.
And, Billy, no one ever threatened to take your gun away, so relax.
We should be tired of hearing this tired lie over and over.
Victoria Stevens may be a cool kid, but Bill Stevens, who seemed to be some corporate big shot, cold and lifeless as an inanimate object, like the Newtown cock at the top of the meetinghouse in February, did not lose a child and is no different than any other citizen of the USA. Some how, a simple fact such as gun ownership has fired him up and makes him feel like a man. His idea is to do nothing. He wants every law on the books enforced, but he would not vote to pay for this enforcement, because that’s part of his “core values” – translation: Let’s do nothing.
My sister’s daughter was also on lock down that day, and she doesn’t even live in Newtown. That’s because they have a very good system in Fairfield County so that when there’s a shooting alert, all the schools in the surrounding area are locked down, too.
My sister would have just as much right to speak at the Connecticut hearing as Bill. Does she own any firearms? Maybe, but I don’t know. It’s not the prime subject of conversation. It’s not her life, it’s just a firearm. That’s the difference. My sister would say to do anything you can to reduce the chance that another mass shooting will happen. Maybe that’s what God would want, too, not just letting Bill Stevens have a gun.
A real Sandy Hook parent is the father of James Mattioli, 6, who actually was gunned down at Sandy Hook. He is also against any gun legislation. What he said, was that we need more civility and better parenting in this country and that the gun laws in Chicago did not save the 500 or so killed there in 2012. He said we need mental health legislation.
Mark Mattioli was smart in saying that we need some mental health legislation to help prevent mass shootings. The problem with that is that Adam Lanza didn’t drive over to the Sandy Hook School and expose himself or throw crayons at 1st graders, he took 3 firearms, over 20 magazines, 301 rounds of .223 hollow point rounds, and another 100 or so rounds of 10 mm and 9 mm ammunition. All that was required was that he point and shoot, and not care a fig about other human beings.
Mark Mattioli was wise to point out that it is partly a cultural problem. He’s correct that all the laws in Chicago did not save the lives lost to gun violence. But we were talking about mass shootings, not general gun violence.
Who knew that cities and states with the highest population have the most murders? Go figure. Maybe that’s why gun legislation needs to come from the federal government, so there is a uniform policy across all states and cities. Now, that wouldn’t be fair to suburban and rural communities because cities are different. Translation – Let’s do nothing.
While liberals were moving to re-impose a previous ban on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”, plus universal background checks for all firearms purchases, conservatives were recommending that all schools be protected by the police and that teachers and school staff be allowed to carry concealed weapons. “Gun-free zones” are an open invitation to shooters and should be eliminated, they say.
The “assault weapons” ban met with disapproval because people want to possess and enjoy semi-automatic rifles. They claimed that the difference between some of these rifles and others are merely cosmetic, such as folding stocks, grips, and muzzle fire suppressors.
The ban on “high capacity” magazines was scoffed at because, there are already so many of these in circulation. In addition it was claimed that a person could easily fabricate homemade magazines.
The Universal background check was viewed with alarm by conservatives because this would necessitate the government to create a database of gun owners and their purchases, and this could be used to forcibly remove arms from homes in a future government takeover in violation of the 2nd amendment.
Most of these are very good points and people who want to see more restrictions should listen to responsible gun owners on these points. But not all gun owners are responsible or reasonable when it comes to guns or the 2nd amendment.
The often repeated idea that some people in some states need high powered semi-automatic military style rifles with high capacity magazines to protect and defend their homes from multiple invaders is just laughable. I haven’t heard of any “Scarface” type home invasions happening anywhere in America.
Warning: Language and Violent Content
The idea that there will be a government tyranny conspiracy where the government military goes door to door and confiscates weapons is just absurd. Who thought that one up, Adam Lanza?
People who are against any further gun restrictions also point out that current laws on the books are not enforced. Of course, this is due to the limits of budgets of governments and the priority choices they are forced to make. The next thing they will say is that this is a mental health problem and not a gun problem. This sounds good and most people agree that mass shootings have a strong relationship with undetected troubles and untreated mental illness.
Some of these same people offer no solutions, however. The other thing pointed out is that again, areas where many people gather such as school, movie theaters, etc. are labeled as gun free zones. This draws the shooter to these places because there are no armed people who can fight back.
In Arizona, Colorado, and some other states there are currently attempts to pass legislation which makes it legal for anyone qualified to conceal carry on college campuses. The measure failed for now in Arizona but it has passed in Colorado. This “gun free zone” argument doesn’t seem reasonable. Shooters go to places like schools, malls, and theaters because there are large concentrations of people there. If some of them were armed, why do you think shooters would not go? Most of them want to die. They go to where they can make a statement. Why would people with weapons make a difference? By the time they realize what’s happening, most of the damage has already be done.
The damage is done in mere seconds or just a few minutes, and it takes time to react. The shooter always has the element of surprise. That’s why at Sandy Hook, even with all that firepower, 11 out of 18 survived in the first classroom because they heard the first gunshots outside and in the hallway and they had time to react.
If people in schools and malls are carrying weapons, the shooter will just adjust to this new condition to maximize the element of surprise.
As far as arming teachers and staff, have gun control opponents really thought this out carefully? The recent school shooting in Sparks, Nevada illustrates why this may not be such a great plan. “The 12-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, began by shooting a fellow student in the shoulder. Then he turned his gun on math teacher, Mike Landsberry, killing him before shooting a second student in the abdomen, Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras said.
After that, he shot himself to death with his pistol, which Sparks Deputy Police Chief Tom Miller identified as a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic.”
What happened was the math teacher was a combat veteran. He immediately and heroically tried to get the attention of the student and have the student concentrate only on the math teacher. This would allow other students to escape and find cover, while also preventing the shooter from entering the school where he could do even more damage. While trying to talk the shooter down, Mr. Landsberry was fatally shot. Now, had he been armed, gun-control opponents claim he could have just shot the student to death and ended the danger, as well as creating a deterrent for future shooters to consider. But what this “solution” doesn’t consider is the chaos and confusion of a shooting incident, as well as the ability of teachers and people who work with children to take a child’s life.
Up to the point that the math teacher got involved, only one student was injured in the shoulder. Could the math teacher then shoot a 12 year-old to death? How would he live with that? Would he be sued by the child’s parents? The only fatality would be the shooter and people would question why deadly force had to be used. What if a teacher mistakenly shoots an innocent student or a student gets caught in the cross-fire? What happens when students know that teachers and staff are carrying loaded weapons? Could they overpower the teacher and get hold of a weapon? These are some things to think about.
One of the Newtown teachers echoed the sentiments of many when he said if he were ordered to carry a loaded weapon, he would quit immediately.
This 12 year-old kid in Nevada wanted to and was ready to kill and to die. This was a mental health problem and could have had a solution, only he happened to have a weapon in his hand, which he probably got from a “law abiding gun owner”. What do you think would happen if the math teacher was armed and ordered him to drop the weapon? Most likely it would be “suicide by teacher”. Also, teachers with a spouse and children will think twice about walking into a live fire shooting and especially with high-powered weapons and large capacity magazines being used.
Because people were shocked and in fear right after the shooting, gun sales increased. Because people feared coming bans, restrictions and other legislation, gun sales increased even more. Gun manufacturers and the NRA ramped up the propaganda and sales increased even more.People were told that the government was coming for their guns, so they bought a lot of AR-15s .
The reluctance of many states and school districts to allow teachers and staff to conceal carry, led gun sales to increase even further. Political organizations have made it almost a right of passage for people of certain political persuasions to own and use guns, and this has led to even more gun sales. In Arizona and possibly other states, 2013 was Christmas for concealed carriers.
George Zimmerman would get strapped with his firearm just to go down to the local deli.
Adam Lanza’s weapons came from a “law-abiding gun owner”. Kip Kinkle’s guns came from a “law abiding gun owner”. James Holmes was a “law abiding gun owner”, until he took his weapons to the Aurora theater and started blasting away, shooting 72 people and killing 12. Yet the opponents of sensible gun control want you to know that this problem has nothing to do with guns, and that the proper solution is to do nothing.
People who are in favor of sensible gun safety legislation get angry because some people who own guns and call themselves “responsible gun owners” offer no reasonable solutions to gun violence or mass shootings. They show no responsibility for a problem which directly involves them. Also, the rolls of gun owners are increasing dramatically. Of course, a big part of the problem is mental health issues, yet it is the combination of a disturbed person and the ready access to firearms which are inextricably linked.
You can not address one without the other. Both these problems need to be addressed in a coordinated way.
In debating the issues, the first thing conservatives like to do is to join the two separate issues of mass shootings and general gun violence together. Now they will say “how can a ban on 30-round magazines or some semi-automatic rifles save the victims of gun violence, mostly killed by handguns? These proposed bans have nothing to do with general gun violence but are directed at slowing the rate and the lethality of mass shootings.
How did Adam Lanza kill as many people as quickly as he did? He had 30-round magazines. How did James Holmes shoot 72 people in a movie theater? He mail ordered a 100-round capacity drum magazine for his rifle. Why weren’t more people killed in Aurora Colorado? Holmes was a bad shot and the drum magazine jammed. Why weren’t more children killed at Sandy Hook? Adam Lanza took time or fumbled while changing out magazines and 6 children were able to escape.
Adam Lanza brought 10 30-round magazines and used seven, He had to reload six times. If he only had 10 round mags, he would have had to reload 14 times. Remember, Lanza also changed out mags before he ran out of ammo and at the most opportune times. He wouldn’t have been able to do that with a 10 round magazine.
The universal background check is aimed at both mass shootings and general gun violence. Some conservatives like to point out that places like Chicago have the most gun laws and also the most gun violence. This is the recurring theme that laws do not stop illegal gun owners and more laws, regulations and restrictions will do nothing. “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”. This is the same thing as saying that in Iowa, there are more laws, regulations, and restrictions on corn than in Alaska, but there is much more corn in Iowa. In Chicago, there is more gun violence, so more restrictions were put on guns. Guns still find their way into Chicago illegally due to lax laws in other states and districts.
Any argument which advocates doing nothing should be rejected. Any opinion which offers no solutions is not a constructive opinion. The starting point has to be that we want to do something to reduce the incidents and the lethality of mass shootings.
We want to do something to slow and reduce the rate of gun violence. If this can be done without further laws, regulations, and restrictions on firearms, then that’s wonderful, it should be tried. But gun owners and enthusiasts should not expect that the 2nd Amendment is unlimited and that the government should not be concerned about public safety. They also should not feel that they have no responsibility to help solve the problem.
A gun is not equal to a car, an axe, or a fork, which are necessities. Yes. All three can be deadly, but cars are heavily regulated and controlled, and they are not designed to kill people. A an axe and a fork can be as deadly as a gun, but you would be hard pressed to kill 26 people in 5 minutes with a fork or an axe.
Where do we go from here? First, for good or ill, we do have the 2nd Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. A firearm is as safe as the person operating it. But the idea that that right “shall not be infringed” can never be seen as an unlimited right. These firearms need to be safely kept in responsible hands and many people who want to own them need to be instructed on how to be responsible gun owners. There must be some sort of regulations on gun use and some restrictions on what weapons or “arms” can be kept and how and under what conditions people can “bear” them. Not to accept this is irresponsible and it weakens the 2nd amendment.
The full quote is: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Where is the “well-regulated militia”? Will you rise up and protect me if the country is overthrown by external enemies or by a tyrannical government? I bet you would.
“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of individual Americans to keep and bear arms, regardless of service in a militia. The right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of firearms and similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right. The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments comprising the Bill of Rights.
The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common-law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.””
Another thing is that at some point, Americans need to realize that the overwhelmingly high rates of violent deaths, gun deaths, and mass shootings compared to the rest of the world shows that it is in part a problem of our culture. Temporary conflicts lead to permanent solutions where someone must “win”. The way to win is to totally defeat or kill your opponent. When drugs and alcohol or mental illness are added into this mix, it becomes even more deadly. A conflict can also be, as the Chinese say, an opportunity to grow and to improve a situation. It depends on what your culture is and what your learned response is to conflict.
Let’s look at our culture
Highest-grossing films of 2013:
1. Iron Man 3
2. Despicable Me 2
3. Fast & Furious 6
4. Monsters University
5. Man of Steel
6. The Croods
8. Thor: The Dark World
9. World War Z
10. Oz the Great and Powerful
Doesn”t this tell you something? Think about it.
Our society is based on the supremacy of the individual, competition and aggression. This is what is taught from early childhood and is reinforced everywhere in our society. This needs to evolve into a society based on group advancement, cooperation,empathy, and kindness. We need to at least head in that direction. Because, if not, violent criminals and mentally ill people will take this ingrained competitive and aggressive culture to its extreme conclusion, and these tragedies will continue again and again. The frequency and scale of the attacks will only increase.
So a change in culture where children learn to look out for others and to respond to and help troubled people can help our society immensely. A change in culture where people see violence as a weakness instead of as a strength could transform America. A culture where the value of human life is enhanced rather than degraded is also needed. A culture where people cooperate together to solve problems and advance together is better than our culture of zero-sum games where someone must win all and all the others must lose all.
There are more and more articles in the news where teens are attacking and even murdering their parents because their video game or smart phone was taken away.
We should look into the extent by which our culture both induces and increases mental illness.
Look around at our society, our politicians refuse to respect each other’s views and will not compromise in the least for the greater good. We take teenagers who have gone wrong and we throw their entire lives away in prison. We prey upon the weakest among us, we compete at everything and we reward aggression. Our society teaches our children to devalue human life in so many ways. We cherish an absolute right to bear arms with no restrictions over the most basic and fundamental of all rights, the right to life.
Almost everyone agrees that there is a cultural element to the violence
On this, the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary atrocity, Zero has been done to address mental health issues and Zero has been done to address gun safety and sensible gun control.
To the State of Connecticut: Show some, not all and not most, but some of the photos from the Sandy Hook massacre. The people have a right to see what happened and the families will be strong and they will understand.
Show the world what Adam Lanza did, and what we can expect again soon. You are not protecting the wounded parents and families by hiding the full horror of this vile act. Actually, hiding this is nothing short of criminal.
Gun control opponents should be listened to and respected. Educate yourself on firearms, the NRA, and know and understand this point of view. Thr 2nd Amendment is here to stay.
Gun control proponents should also be listened to and respected. The right to bear arms is not unlimited and it can never be so.
Don’t let gun control opponents tie general gun violence and mass shootings together. These are two separate issues.
If you truly believe that armed security should be in all schools, are you prepared to help pay for it?
Don’t let gun control opponents tell you this is solely a mental health problem. The best way for mental health services to be available to all is for everyone to have access to affordable healthcare. Do they support affordable health insurance for all ?
Gun control opponents are right to say that eliminating certain high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons and high capacity magazines will not end violent behavior or mass killings. But in Australia, England, and Scotland, it has reduced mass killings.
It takes time to make bombs and to devise complicated plans. During that time, a person may have a change of heart. They have more time to deliberate. With guns, you take it with you and you point and shoot. It’s immediate and many times there isn’t as much time for reflection.
Gun control opponents are right to say that there are millions of high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons in use being operated carefully and legally right now. But, judging from many articles in the news, obviously not carefully enough
Gun control opponents are right to say that it’s not fair to restrict the rights of a large group because of a few hardened criminals and a few mentally disturbed people. Then these people need to be the ones to come up with a more viable answer to gun safety.
Don’t accept anyone’s view who is not offering an actual solution.
The vast majority of the people, including military veterans, police officers, NRA members, and gun enthusiasts believe there should be Universal Background Safety Checks for every gun purchase and transfer. There is no reason not to have this legislation passed. There must be some way to achieve this in a fair way that respects the Constitution.
The Constitution belongs to ALL of us, and is not the distinct property of a minority of people who enjoy owning and using high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons and high capacity magazines.
We need to think about making changes to our current culture, where bullying, gun violence, political intransigence, and school and workplace shootings are expected and have become all but routine. The Jewish Rabbi at the Newtown High School meeting had it right, we need to have classes for our children about how to treat people and behave in civilized society. We should also have classes about mental illness and how to recognize it and support those who exhibit symptoms. We should have mandatory gun safety classes and continuing education and training requirements for gun owners.
Mental health issues and gun safety are inextricably entwined.
Intransigence and bluster are found on all sides of this issue. We should try to see this issue from all perspectives. But intransigence and bluster is what caused the Sandy Hook Massacre in the first place. We are all one nation.
It’s time to get serious and to pass coordinated mental health AND sensible gun safety legislation to keep the mentally ill away from firearms and firearms away from the mentally ill, even if we have to step on a few snakes to do it.
Please see Part 4: Response
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