Questions I ask myself about Connecticut School Shooting

I ask myself, “Why?”

Why do US cable news networks intensively cover these mass shootings, making it the only story for a day or two and prying into every detail of them, when they aren’t interested in preventing them from happening again through banning semi-automatic weapons? Is it just, like, a natural disaster to them?

Why don’t the news anchors or discussants ever bring up the simple fact that between 1994 and 2004, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: The Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited assault weapons? The prohibition was not unconstitutional. Congress foolishly put in a 10-year sunset provision, and of course Bush and his Republican Congress allowed it to expire.

Why doesn’t anyone blame George W. Bush for these mass shootings? He’s the one who led the charge to let the assault weapons ban expire. Why aren’t the politicians in Congress who take campaign money from assault weapons manufacturers ever held accountable by the public?

Why don’t the news programs bring up the reported moves of Sen. Diane Feinstein to prepare new legislation banning assault weapons and their accoutrements? Are they so afraid of the NRA that they can’t even discuss the legislative process in public?

What in the world does the 2nd amendment have to do with these incidents? Do they look like a “well-regulated militia” to you? Semi-automatic weapons are the 18th-century equivalent of artillery in terms of their ability to kill. Do you think people should be allowed to have artillery pieces in their back yards, too? Is this some sort of sick joke, that you are telling us our children have to die because the Founding Fathers wanted madmen to have high-powered weaponry?

Why does complaining about semi-automatic weapons (and the means to make them fully automatic by attaching e.g. ammunition drums) being freely available always devolve into an argument about gun control and hunting? No one minds if people buy rifles to shoot deer with in the countryside. An ordinary, non-automatic rifle can’t produce a mass killing like that in Connecticut because it cannot get off so many rounds so quickly. Nobody hunts with an automatic pistol, and if they do, they should be publicly shamed by, like a group of hot girls calling them wusses as they set off in their hunting jackets.

Why aren’t there more class-action lawsuits against the people responsible for the proliferation of high-powered weaponry in our society? Lax gun laws and inadequate security checks in Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky and 7 other states meant that they supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states in one recent year. The guns aren’t randomly acquired, and they aren’t used or Saturday night specials. They come disproportionately from specific states.

Likewise, a relatively small number of corporations produce and market semi-automatic weapons for the civilian market. Why aren’t they named and shamed?

Why doesn’t anyone on these news channels ever mention that firearms are used in 300,000 crimes a year in the US?

Why doesn’t anyone on television news ever simply give this statistic: In one recent year, there were 39 murders by gun in the UK, but 9,000 in the United States? Why is it wrong to let Americans know how peculiar is the situation Americans have to live in?

80 Responses

  1. Thank you, Juan. Please keep beating this drum. The news coverage does indeed talk as if this was a natural disaster.

  2. A big why for me is the state of mental health in this country. Lack of funding and consequently will or vice versa, has left us unable to do the type of preventive mental care/intervention that should and must be the foundation of any modern industrial state. There was a time when I blamed other factors, but it is clear to me that we are living with a basically unhealthy population mentally and physically. Our money is spent on big and hungry projects with lobbyists up and down every Capitol, but the stuff that we really desperately need is kicked down the road if not totally off it. We need one brave mayor, governor, or president to put his or her foot down and then maybe maybe…

    • Cy,
      Ronald Reagan closed the state hospitals first in California and then in the nation. Funding for mental health is disappearing as is funding for mental health counselors in the schools.

      Furthermore, as a college professor I had a delusional student and hostile student in my class and was able to do nothing unless he harmed someone.

      I also had a student having a manic episode and I managed to walk her to the health center. Both instances might have turned violent had the student had a gun. Thankfully they did not.

    • As a mental health professional I can tell you that this we need more services etc. argument is completely unrealistic. To begin with some of the shooters did have treatment. It is not possible to predict accurately who will become violent. You can’t incarcerate or force treatment on anyone with mental health problems. Many people with mental health problems do not become violent. What we can do is ban the kinds of weapons that enable someone to act out that violence in a way that kills so many people at once. We also need to ban full body armor.

  3. But Juan, guns don’t kill people, PEOPLE kill people. This is why every country on the planet should have nuclear weapons—because nukes don’t kill people, PEOPLE do! Simple, right?

    • Joseph,
      People always kill people. Guns make it very easy and impersonal. Without a gun, i doubt this crazy man would have killed even one person. With a gun, he could kill dozens in no time, especially with a semi-automatic weapon.
      So, once again, people do kill people. Without guns, it is a damn difficult task to kill another human beings.
      If crazy guys had nuclear weapons, they would kill millions in no time.

      • Pavan, guess what? Crazy guys DO have nuclear weapons. Likud has maybe 400, and if you believed all we were told about the Dirty Commies, the Rooskies were all ready to blow up the whole northern hemisphere (and sundry other places, given how many thousands they had to play with). And of course our Bomber Loonies, who were ready to nuke Korea, nuke Vietnam, nuke the whole northern hemisphere (and sundry other places, given how many thousands they had to play with). There’s still about 3,000 on hair-trigger alert, here and there.

        And for the whole deterrence thing to work, it was well established that “our leaders” had to be certifiably insane: No sane person would end the whole species and much of the rest of the biosphere in the name of nationalistic pseudo-doctrine, so some wag was wise enough to invent the acronym “MAD”, a sick joke, standing for “Mutual Assured Destruction,” undergirded by the notion of “Massive Retaliation,” where if you poke me in the eye, Leonid, I will kill all your cities and do my damndest to incinerate and neutronize you, personally…

        Guns, on the other hand, are sexy and affordable and just plain FUN! link to youtube.com Here in FL, we just went past the one million mark for concealed-carry permits, out of a population of about 27 million. link to youtube.com That’s a nice start! Don’t leave home without one!

  4. What’s the best course of action? Do people need to call or write their senators, congress members, or governors? What can we do to help Feinstein?

    Thanks Juan for your blog.

  5. The US mentality is so different from any other country I know.Individualism, exceptionalism, extreme religiosity, hatred of anyone different, assumption that might is right. I have never seen anyone grabbed, thrown against a car and frisked, or any of the other scenes typical of parts of the USA, or people imprisoned for long sentences for what any normal nation woul consider petty crimes (or non crimes eg returning to the USA when you are tossed out, criminalised a few years ago). Assuming anyone you do not know is an enemy,or those who you do not like to be therefore worth killing, is not a “regular’” reaction in mentally rational people in a democracy.

  6. As mental health professional I am all too aware of how the psychological well being of our citizens remains under attended and underfunded. This country’s attitude towards mental health remains abysmal. So, while gun legislation is essential and incontrovertible ,meeting the needs of those who remain invisible demands just as much if not greater attention.

  7. The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the product of outrage over the killings of JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcom X. The bill had been introduced prior to the deaths of MLK and RFK and those incidents spurred passage by Congress and its signing by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22,1968.

    The rifle used in the JFK assassination was legally sold by the retailer(although Oswald did violate federal law in purchasing it by using an alias). The 1968 law barred interstate sales of firearms except between licensed dealers to prevent a recurrence of similar sales.

    The Iver Johnson .22 handgun used in the RFK shooting was legally purchased by the shooter at a retail gun dealer.

    However, the handgun used in the Reagan shooting in 1981 was also legally sold to the assailant in Dallas – the 1968 law did not prevent or ban such a sale.

    No matter how harsh any legislative enactment may seem to restrict gun traffic in America – those who desire to acquire weapons will find a way to obtain them – including resort to the black market.

    Rampant, irresponsible, and violent gun use in the U.S. is a product of a violent culture. In addition to Britain you could have cited Japan as another example where gun-related murders are a small fraction of the rate of the occurrence of those homicides in America. The problem is not so much easy access to firearms as the lack of training, respect, and attitudes of that segment of the public who may be inclined to misuse them. Americans love violence in their films, their sports, and glorify weaponry as part of the historical success story of the U.S. as a world power. The heroes of the silver screen like John Wayne, Robert DeNiro, Gene Hackman and Arnold Schwarzenegger all have brandished guns in their most cherished roles. Guns are a source of power and respect for inner city youth who would otherwise be powerless.

    Guns are an integral part of our collective identity as Americans. Gun violence is a corollary of that equation.

    • I can’t recall a better, simpler or more complete indictment, maybe all unconscious of the irony inherent in it, of the sickness and weirdness and futility inherent in the net US psyche. Unless it was intended not as an excuse for what is, in support of the gun-man mentality, and I missed the snark tag.

      The problem is not so much easy access to firearms as the lack of training, respect, and attitudes of that segment of the public who may be inclined to misuse them.

      Just how would “America” go about doing that training, that inculcation of respect, that correction of attitudes on that segment of the public? Given that the “heroes” mentioned here, more often than not, are coming from the Dark Side, as in “Scarface,” “The Quick and the Dead,” etc. One would think that “the military” would be successful at that training and respect thing, but the stats on gun violence by GIs, outside the approved killing of “the enemy,” are pretty appalling too.

      I agree wholeheartedly that guns and gun violence are an ineradicable part of our collective identity. Kept there because of the sickness that corporate greed and ancient enmities keep on the simmer-to-boil. One more reason why we are a dead-end imperial culture. Sumus quod sumus…

      • Yes, my thoughts exactly on that section you cited. I see little hope in the future for this situation. I was born in the US but have lived in Canada for a long time now, and the difference is stark, even despite our current right-wing government spawned from our oil-rich, most pro-American province, Alberta.

      • I may have a very different background, my father bought me a hand gun when I turned eight. He enrolled my brother and I in hand gun safety course and hunting courses. He also taught us to respect our guns.

        I learned to fear their power so much that I couldn’t shoot them properly, violent shaking. Maybe safety courses should be required for those the purchase guns?

      • I may have a very different background, my father bought me a hand gun when I turned eight. He enrolled my brother and I in hand gun safety course and hunting courses. He also taught us to respect our guns.

        I learned to fear their power so much that I couldn’t shoot them properly, violent shaking. Maybe safety courses should be required for those that purchase guns?

    • Pardon me for being ashamed of that partmof our identity and wanting to change it. Note that none of the killings you give as examples here would be considered “mass” killings. After Australia passed an assault weapons ban in 1996, they went from 13 mass killings over 18 years to ZERO mass killings. Bans work, and the NRA knows it, because they fight to block the science about it. If bans didn’t work, the NRA would want to trumpet the science about it.

      • ZIMC,you are a bonehead.I was living in Oz during the time of the Port Arthur shooting.The Ar-15 carbine used by Martin Bryant had been confiscated in a raid on a Biker club facility by the Police,listed as destroyed,somehow walked out of police custody and ended up across the Tasman in a gunshop in Hobart(?).Agreed,he might have found another weapon but in this instance the authorities were a bit complicit and it is embarassing for them.A proper cock-up….

  8. The reason why the media doesn’t mention gun control, except in passing, is that the media is controlled by large corporations, some of which are gun manufacturers. Corporations, as codified in US law, have one purpose and responsibility; to make as much money as possible. They have no social obligations. As long as this is allowed to continue these tragedies will occur. This man will be called “crazy”, “a lone gunman”, etc., the usual tripe. Nothing will be said about the social conditions in this country that cause people to resort to these crimes. There are simple answers to all these “whys”. Unfortunately, only a few marginalized voices will dare to mention them.

  9. I had no idea how horribly easy it is to buy these deadly weapons!!
    here’s a link which tells readers you can buy online and get shipping “free”…..
    link to tinyurl.com …I have no association with the sellers or website but only posted this as an example of how proliferative the problem. THanks Juan for the other article that compared the UK with the US….

    • Miriam, Read the fine print. To ship the rifle it has to go from one FFL (federally license firearms licencee) to one in the destination state. All it syas is they pay for the FFL at their end. The purchaser sill has to pass the NICS check and make the purchase under the sate laws after filling out a 4473 form.

      If you think all that is easy its because you do not know the laws that are in effect.

      Eck!

  10. “the means to make ordinary guns semi-automatic by attaching e.g. ammunition drums”

    frankly, this doesn’t even make sense. whether or not a firearm is semi-automatic is not something that happens when a magazine is attached.

      • frankly, i think it indicates that a lot of anti-gun people are not even that familiar with the topic they’re talking about. but that might just be me.

        • Thanks, I don’t want to be familiar with guns, and I still want to comment about them, K? And this probably makes me some kind of coward to the testosterone driven mind?

  11. In my life I can recall two occassions when I was enraged so much that I literally saw a red haze before my eyes.

    Both in my school years and both times I threw furniture around me and the second time comically attacked a much bigger boy than I who easily brushed me aside.

    I can easily imagine in a place where one could be so angry and have easy access to firearms a similarly enraged person killing.

    Though I don’t think such rage survives the time required to plan and travel to enact an attack. That requires a disassociation from considering consequences no healthy person would achieve.

    But both situations would be ameliorated by less access to weapons.

    However the U.S does have a constitutional gaurantee to weapons useful for defence of home and hearth. It seems to me no cultural and legal change is possible without the nation choosing to modify that gaurantee.

    • Fentex, here’s the text:

      “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.”

      And here’s a relatively dispassionate discussion of what that language might mean, especially that “A well regulated militia,”:

      link to civilliberty.about.com

      American English is a “living language,” so words like “sophisticated,” which used to mean something fairly negative, like “adulterated” or “spoiled,” now means something really, like, you know, “cool!” Same, in my mind, as the 2d Amendment.

      I personally read that text as what I would consider a plain-language statement of how things work in Switzerland, where most males are in some part of the military, active or reserve, and keep their individual shoulder-fired gas-operated selectable-single-burst-full-auto assault rifles at home. Most early Colonists and initial Americans really did not need a firearm for “home defense,” and didn’t have one. They were expensive, after all. But of course the gun industry and all the other marketing that plays off of it has gone way beyond that interpretation. My S&W 9mm with a 15-round magazine, and no safety, cost just $250 and requires no license. Nor does my own .223 rifle with its 30-round banana clips. Or the short-barreled “home defense” stainless 12-ga pump gun with the reinforced plastic grips.

      So now, it’s a matter of FAITH ™, for Jesus’ sake! that God, Guts ‘n Guns made the US what it is today. “You can take my guns away when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.” “Take my wife? Sure! Take my dog? Maybe. Take my guns? NEVER!” People who are into guns have transmogrified that 27-word text into a kind of YWH phrase — their god is described by caliber, muzzle velocity and cyclic rate of fire, and there can be no limits on what a “citizen” can hold in the way of firearms and other “arms,” including cannon of various sizes.

      Here’s what we have to deal with, those of us who might own some guns but are not “gun lovers” who get off on the whole cock-feed-chamber-lock-fire-extract-eject metallic big bang sex simulation: link to civilliberty.about.com It’s a totally losing proposition. The Gun Lovers won a long time ago, and the rest of us now get to worry about shit like what’s currently in the news. There’s no putting the djinn back in the bottle.

      Because hey, right up to the moment that young man came onto school property with guns loaded and locked, he was hey, just another “law-abiding gun owner.” After that, magically, he was an armed, crazed criminal. Most of these loose cannon are, right up to the moment they kill their wives and kids or shoot up the church or post office or law office or whatever. Remember this other tenet of the faith: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Or some idiocy like that.

  12. A few days ago, after the Oregon Mall shooting, I posted this on my Facebook page, being sarcastic:

    “Another mass killing, another person who’s mind has snapped, another person with a semi-automatic weapon firing indiscriminately in a crowded public place. The NRA says: ‘guns don’t kill, people kill’. I say: Let’s make hand grenades legal so everyone can carry around a live hand grenade because: ‘Hand grenades don’t kill, people kill.’ Let freedom ring! Let’s make America a more fun place in which to live.”

    My son-in-law, Mike, responded (again being sarcastic): “If only everyone else at the mall had weapons, this tragedy could have been avoided…

    The NRA and the Republican Party have excessively embraced the freedom principle: encouraging gun ownership and vigilante type self-protection, and in some instances armed rebellion if they don’t like the outcome of a democratic election. George W. Bush, coming from the wide-open spaces of Texas with its gun mentality, allowed the assault weapons ban to expire—again, taking freedom of the individual to extremes. Just as the Republican Party has gotten on the wrong side of history with gay rights, women’s rights, and Hispanic and immigration issues, so, too, will this issue eventually backfire with their siding with the NRA and the expansion of the gun culture as a means of dividing the country and getting votes.

    Today’s mass murder of little children and teachers in a peaceful school setting may provide the needed spark for change, but I’m not so sure…

  13. Simple solution:
    1. No private individual should have a semi-automatic weapon!
    2. To acquire a gun legally, one should pass a written weapons safety test and a short shooting training course followed by a test which insures the ability to properly use the weapon.

  14. Juan: How many MASS or MULTIPLE MURDERS by firearms in Britain in each of the last twenty years?

  15. Thank you for these questions, Juan. I think they are all very original, but I particularly liked the one about the relevance of gun control laws to the 2nd Amendment. That of course is the defense of those who want no gun control laws in place at all – because they would be unconstitutional – and would violate our individual rights.

  16. Juan – In most all of Africa where hunting safaris are promoted and the game are large — elephants, cape buffalo,rhinoceros,lions etc — automatic and semi-automatic weapons are NOT permitted. That pulls the rug out from needing automatic weapons for our much smaller game here in the U.S.

    • On the other hand, the poachers, many in current or ragged “uniforms” supplied by various Great Game players, find it really handy to unload a full 30 rounds of 7.62 or an RPG into an elephant or rhino, which kills the otherwise valueless-to-them critter pretty instantly. So they don’t have to stroll very far to unlimber a battery-powered chain saw to extract the horn and tusk that the fUUUing kleptocrats in the Mid and Far East are more than happy to pay huge dollars for, in order to “get it up and get it on.” Myth meets money, and it ain’t pretty, is it?

      Makes you wonder who the warlord or potentate will be who gets to dose himself with the last few grams of powdered rhino horn, because he believes in all his craven being that it will make him MORE potent-ate. There’s not enough free Viagra or Cialis or Levitra to touch the belief structures of these all-too-humans and the people who make a living satisfying their desires. link to steadyhealth.com

      Any questions what it’s all about? The marketing types know:

      link to youtube.com

  17. Great post Juan! Tonite Piers Morgan did emphasize the 9,000 gun deaths repeatedly. Also, don’t forget that today’s shooter was reportedly autistic/learning disabled.
    Mental health for someone like him is “funded” by the states and has not been a priority for 40 years.

    I suspect that his mom did the best she could for him (which included buying all the weapons) but was woefully incapable of helping him. There will be lots more of these as long half the country thinks this is a war against sportsmen.

  18. The purpose of a gun is to stop an opponent. The professional gun user – a soldier – is not trained to minimize the damage done to a foe but to stop that foe as quickly and completely as possible, the death of that foe being no drawback. The tool the soldier uses is engineered to be highly effective in the work he does.

    In most cases, police forces were originally armed with clubs, even though guns were in circulation, because of the desire to prevent needless injury or death through too much force (a bullet) being applied.

    Yes, one can shoot at targets with guns but target shooting does not require a gun. You can use a bow and arrow, darts, sandbags, a ball, any object that can be thrown can be used for target practice. A tiny, high velocity, very dense projectile is superfluous unless one is trying to simulate shooting a living thing to bring it down, therefor practicing with hardware appropriate for the real task. But what a gun possesses that is so very attractive to many is that very power which is so far beyond necessity for anything but killing.

    Any gun is potentially deadly, even the smallest revolver is far more dangerous than a non-firearm, so the call for laws on assault weapons is no panacea, but for one factor in the kind of shootings we’ve seen. It is the fantasy factor; the imagery that assault weapons can bring to the mind of a disturbed person who plays out a scene of glorious power in command of the victims whose obvious fear and helplessness is no small part of the climactic end of a very troubled life with one person definitively in charge of everything – even if only for 15 minutes of wanton destruction.

    It isn’t the killing that is the real high, it is the unquestionable power of the moment enabled by the status of the equipment being used – with which even a mouse can be god. The high is by definition brief because there is justice awaiting its due, where the god of the moment will be demoted to the cellblock. Suicide is almost always the signature closing act.

    Evaporating the fantasy is the top priority, so going after the “oh wow!” weaponry is job one. It won’t stop gun enabled slaughter but it will put a dent in it while leaving those who wish to have a pistol for self protection to the ability to have it.

    • Excellent post. If they were always called ‘long-range killing devices’ we might have more sanity in legislation.

    • You’re on the mark here. I think that there is a dark shadow on our society that goes back to its origins, and that is the American meaning of the word “freedom”. I think that far too much of our history shows it to mean “the power of life and death over inferior creatures”. Crazy people just categorize who is inferior and who is superior differently than “patriots”, corporations, and fundamentalists. But the gun manifests that power for everyone who lusts after it.

  19. Thanks for the insightful posting Juan.

    We live in a world created and controlled by the global inherited rich that has been devolving for quite some time. We seem to be reaching a tipping point where the “civilization” they created is self destructing.

    Because the global inherited rich have such total control over money and governments it is going to take total breakdown to occur before we have the chance to rid ourselves of this class based, inheritance fed and accumulated private ownership of everything stupid social organization.

    Lets hope that some remnant of our species can evolve beyond this stage in our history.

  20. Good questions Juan. One I’m asking myself is why do we think as Americans we can export violence with our worldwide military presence and international arms trade by US suppliers and be bewildered when the violence returns to or emerges within our own shores. I’m not blaming the poor souls in CT, they have enough horror to bear, but we as Americans have to begin the deeper introspective inquiry. I agree with your stance on automatic weapons but I think the real issue is deeper and more horrid. Thank you for asking the questions.

  21. Until some nut starts targeting high level Republican politicians nothing much will happen. If that were to happen, I’ll bet change would come in hours.

  22. Why do NPR and PBS hosts dutifully report that gun ownership in the US is falling, and is at some recent low point? With 300 million guns in the country?

    • Maybe because they’re political eunuchs, that, as you say, are more dutiful than aware. They’re ensconced, comfortable with their status quo.

  23. Every citizen of Israel has a semi-automatic weapon. They don’t go on killing sprees.

    While I am not opposed to gun control, own no guns myself, am not a strong supporter of second amendment, and utterly loathe the NRA, I think the problem goes deeper than guns. A sickness is creeping over this country and a symptom of that illness is an ever growing worship of violence and death.

    We use assasination as an instrument of foreign policy. Our president used “Osama bib Laden is dead” as a campaign slogan; one which was received with great cheers. We have reached the point that we worship our military. We strongly support the raining down of Hellfire missiles into villages of nations with which we are not at war, targeting people whose names we do not even know. Our president meets weekly to manage the “kill list.” We imprison more people than any nation in the world, do so in inhumane conditions, and use capital punishment.

    Government and the media endlessly warn us of terrorists, foreign and domestic, lurking everywher waiting for the moment when they can deploy their weapons of mass destruction and kill us all. They make dramatic presentations of mass death and destruction which they have prevented with their “stings” here at home, and write news items of the “suspected militants” that were slaughteres by Hellfire missiles overseas.

    We do not have discussions of differing ideas, we spew intolerance and hatred, regarding those who disagree with us as evil and calling them terrorists. We advocate the victimization of the common man, one side painting government as the evil party, and the other demonizing big business and the rich, but both portraying the vanishing middle class as the powerless and helpless party being preyed upon by others.

    The fear and frustration, the sense of helplessness, turns all too often to anger. Perhaps we should be grateful that this much anger does not get unleashed more often.

    • I generally agree with your statements, however Israel is a good example of a nation that is similar to America in its addiction to weapons and violence.

      Remember the Dr.Baruch Goldstein shootings in the Hebron mosque. He was glorified as a hero by many in the Israeli settler community.

      Israeli federal judge Adi Azar was shot to death by assassin on a motorcycle several years ago. It was later learned that the shooting was ordered by an Israeli gang leader who had been angry at the judiciary due to adverse rulings.

      Yigal Amir, a young law student, shot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in anger over the Oslo Accords.

      Then there was the Israeli army reservist who shot a mosque in Jerusalem some years ago.

      Israel has its share of violent firearms incidents. However, Israel also has universal conscription in which all serving citizens receive significant training in the safe use of guns.

  24. Clif, that was a very impressive post. Spot on. I would only add that there is also the question of easy suicide. I just saw a scientist who studies suicide on The Young Turks. She said most suicides are planned and executed within ONE HOUR. If someone can’t find the means for committing suicide within that one hour, it usually doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, with guns in our homes, the means is usually right at hand.

    • I recently watched my father die a painful, slow, cancer death. Before I go through that same sort of thing OR before I allow myself to lose my marbles to Alzheimer’s or other debilitating or painful disease I would absolutely kill myself. If I can’t do it cleanly with drugs, I would do it quickly with a gun. Suicide is NOT always bad.

      • You don’t need a semi-automatic for that purpose. And by the way, terminally ill patients who are lucid and want to check out can just decline liquids for three or four days.

  25. Good argument, Juan.

    This event should also be an opportunity to get Americans — who have such a kindly reservoir of concern for the psychological health of children — to contemplate the effects of the USA’s 10 years of recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, on the children who live there and experience “Newtown” events repeatedly, sometimes daily.

    Newtown was the one-off effort of a madman. The wars and their daily carnage are the policy of our elected government. This carnage is very bad for the psychological health of small children, too young to respond by proper and health-promoting anger against the USA.

    And Israel does very much the same in Gaza and sometimes in Lebanon. And the USA supports this carnage. It is very bad for the psychological health of small children, too young to respond by proper anger against Israel and the USA.

    I don’t really expect to see this sort of response, however. Americans do not “see” the victims of our wars, nor do we (mostly) see our wars as crimes.

  26. The easy answer is not THE answer. It rarely is. Assault rifles: there are SO many out there (I own one) that even if you actually banned them tomorrow, they would all still be there (mine wouldn’t magically disappear due to a law passed…and I’d be protected by grandfathering). The original Assault Rifle ban did NOT ban assault rifles. You could STILL buy them, you could STILL own them. What would happen if a new ban goes into effect is this: each one of those weapons out there that would then be “banned” would SKYROCKET in value. My own rifle would double, if not treble, in value. My cheap $10 20-round magazines would also likely treble in value at least. Over time their value would keep climbing. Now, I don’t own crazy 50 rd or higher magazines. Why would I want that? My rifle was made to use a 20 rd mag so 20 is what I want with it. High capacity beyond that is just ridiculous and silly. Perhaps even crazy.

    I’m a hobbyist and former military. I LIKE guns. Part of my blood. Some people like stamps, some like ceramic trinkets, etc. I like certain guns. I am not a whackadoodle. I am not in any way inclined to shoot people up. I shoot targets, not people (not anymore…military remember?) and I do not shoot non-human animals. I don’t want to kill anyone or anything. So no point in trying to take my weapons from me and people like me.

    • Have guns all you want. But if you insist on arming civilians with semi-automatic weapons, you are causing the rest of us a substantial tort. You might like to smoke, too; you can’t escape that in that case you’re harming people with second-hand smoke.

      So I’m suggesting a compromise. You can have guns, just not semi-automatic ones.

    • The number of assault weapons already possessed isn’t an issue because in almost all cases the weapon used is recently purchased, usually no more than a week before the crime, not one used after being owned for years. It is the ease of purchase that is the problem.

    • So we all have to suffer the frequent carnage so you a can have a hobby??

  27. A few things on the term “well-regulated milita”. US v Miller (1939) defined the term as “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense”. The key term is physically capable, and this is the basis for Scalia’s opinion in DC v. Heller, which reads, in part, ” Congress is given the
    power to “provide for calling forth the militia,” §8, cl. 15;
    and the power not to create, but to “organiz[e]” it—and not
    to organize “a” militia, which is what one would expect if
    the militia were to be a federal creation, but to organize
    “the” militia, connoting a body already in existence, ibid.,
    cl. 16.”

    Interestingly, though, Miller does distinguish between the citizen’s right to possess a firearm and the ability of the federal government to regulate which firearms are legal. In other words, Miller does in part suggest that regulation of which firearms can be sold and possessed is constitutional (part of why the 94 Assault Weapons Ban was not overturned).

    I am not saying I agree or disagree with either opinion. I’m merely posting this to clarify how the courts are obliged to interpret the term.

    Necessary caveat: I’m not a lawyer, so YMMV.

    • Ah, but would only apply to NEW gun purchases, not guns already owned. Can you imagine the uproar if the government banned “assault weapons” and then actually tried to confiscate those already owned? You WOULD get civil war. There is ALWAYS a grandfather clause. Those who own them when law is passed are cleared to continue owning them. You’d certainly not coax me into handing mine over, regardless of the law. Not my semiauto pistol and not my semiauto assault rifle. I already own them so they cannot be taken. Also, the run has already started. ANYTIME gun control comes up in the general discussion, gun sales ALWAYS spike. It would take a while before any new control legislation passed through all the hoops and in that period gun sale would shoot to the moon.

      • I addressed these issues.

        1. Used guns aren’t typically the ones used in mass shootings.

        2. You could have a government buy-back program. Nobody is advocating confiscating anything.

        • How is this sort of buyback program not an act of confiscation? You’re being forced to forfeit property regardless of your consent. Buyback programs are voluntary in nature. What you’re suggested is confiscation concealed under a friendly name.

          I’m not an AR advocate nor a gun-owner, but I agree with Praedor that if we confiscate guns from current owners, it seems likely that an uproar of some kind will occur. Current gun owners would probably say that the reason they own these automatic guns is for the very reason to prevent their freedom to property from being violated.

        • I read today somewhere a suggestion of forcing gun owners to buy insurance for each and every gun they have and raise and lower the rates based on training, gun capabilities, owner history, etc.

          I think it is an idea with merit

  28. A couple of quick notes. First, blaming Bush for yesterday is a bit of a stretch. Connecticut still has an assault weapons ban, and the Bushmaster .223 that is being referenced in the news is NOT an assault rifle under either the state ban OR the Clinton-era federal ban. Secondly, the idea that there is “no reason” for anyone to own any semi-automatic weapon is just ridiculous. I live in CT. I own a bushmaster rifle myself, and I use it to protect my home and family from the coyotes, wolves, bobcats, etc that are commonly seen here. Finally, from all the information coming out now, the rifle was left in the shooters vehicle and all of this carnage was the result of two handguns. Glocks and Sig-sauers are common self defense pistols. If you are going to go to that point of banning them just say you want to ban all guns altogether if all that is left are 200 year old muskets and revolvers.

    • What is wrong with revolvers and shotguns for the purposes you cite?

      It is illogical to argue that semi-automatic weapons shouldn’t be banned because they are common or because you have them.

      They aren’t common anyplace else in the world.

    • Wouldn’t you rather live in a civilized society….without all the paranoid need for “protection”?

  29. Has Obama or anyone else in America ever shed a tear for the children killed by drone attacks?

    Has anyone in America ever read the part in the Bible about “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”?

    It started was the genocide of the Native Americans and continues with the imperial oppression of Latin Americans and now the whole world. Are Obama or any other American political leaders surprised that it never ends?

  30. It’s worth noting that the day before the Connecticut School shooting, a man in China went into a school and attacked children and teachers there with a knife. 22 people were wounded, but no one died. Private ownership of firearms is banned in China, if it was not, would the man have used a gun? If he had, would there have been fatalities? No one knows for sure, however, I think most would agree it would have been more likely in both accounts.

    I’m from the UK, although I spent over a year in the USA studying in San Diego. We have much in common, however there are differences in our cultures. Do they also contribute to the higher levels of gun crime and mortalities in the USA? Undoubtedly. However, I think it is common sense to assume that banning firearms in any country regardless of culture, OVER TIME, will reduce the number of weapons in circulation and hence, the level of gun deaths. Again, let me stress, it will take a long time to see significant results, perhaps even a generation or two, but inevitably if less guns are in circulation, less damage will be done with them.

    I am not an American, however I greatly admire and like your country, it’s culture and it’s people. It’s not perfect, but no country is and I believe the positive aspects greatly outweigh the negatives. Yes, I understand how the private ownership of firearms was written into your constitution, however the constitution was a product of its time. Everything changes and evolves, including the law, history shows us this repeatedly. I truly hope that in this instance, President Obama’s call for “meaningful action” leads to implementation of legislation that over time will bring an end to the pain created by days like yesterday.

    • Why settle for setting such a low bar? Why not work for the immediate end of the manufacture and distribution of all weapons? Yes, of course, it might take generations, but we should aim higher: world disarmament.

  31. Dear Professor Cole,
    I completely agree with your sentiments on the idiocy of large magazines married to rapid-fire mechanisms in firearms.
    But there is another aspect to this story the media perpetually ignores. Why was this individual so mentally and spiritually bankrupt in the first place? How is extreme individualism and materialism connected to this crime? What messages did he consume and internalize? Did he follow the satanic maxim, “Do as thou wilt” espoused by the music industry?
    -Azeez

  32. Another question, Juan: If right-wingers insist on the 2nd amendment’s provisions without any sense of its historical bearing now, why not make that very amendment require all said arms to be muskets?

  33. Give it up Juan.

    I’m a farmer and live in western Oregon. I will use a gun as a tool – it’s in my barn and is unloaded. It is a working tool to put injured animals out of their misery and to protect from predators and nothing more. Aside from licensed hunters, police and park rangers, there is no need for anyone else to have a gun period.

    When I brought the issue of guns up a few years ago with my progressive Democratic representative he just laughed at me and said the Dems have to drop the issue if they want to win elections.

    So, the gun lobby has won. And Newton is what their victory looks like. So let me ask anyone who wants to defend the NRA and gun ownership, How do you like how your victory looks? How do you like the empty rooms the parents now must pass? How do you like the empty chair at the holiday table? How do you like the presents bought for Christmas whose recipients bled for your weekend shoot fests – can you possibly imagine the grief of the parent or grandparent returning such presents?

    Question: Screw gun control and lets cut to the quick. When is the NRA going to be listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization and tried for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity? And a further question for this self-absorbed navel gazing, Narcissistic nation: Could you in any way find it in you to empathize with those whose children you’ve killed in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and a host of other countries in the past few years in the wake of this disaster? No, I didn’t f******g think so.

    Happy F*****g Holidays.

    • Outstanding comment. Yes, we’re this bad.

      The gun cult (which has sucked the casual users into its orbit with the fear of confiscation) views all the victims you mention as necessary casualties in a perpetual war to defend America’s manly soul. They wouldn’t flinch if they had to escalate to all-out civil war to crush deviance.

      Unfortunately, not only do we have all the guns we need to defeat every form of gun restriction, but we have all the guns we need to fight that civil war. It’s like when Saddam Hussein threw open the doors of his armories to ensure the incoming Occupation would be drowned in sectarian war.

      All that lies between us and that abyss is what we choose to believe about our fellow citizens. If that could be changed, the guns would be no more dangerous than they are in Canada. But the government does not have the power to change how we feel about each other. Usually, it is the war itself that changes that.

    • Agreed.
      The NRA should now be called the NAWA (National Assault Weapons Association), because they’ve graduated from hunting rifles.

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