When I first heard about the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it wasn’t until about noon on Friday, December 14, a couple hours after the horrific event. After lunch, I spent about three hours listening to the online reporting, first on NBC News, then ABC News. I figured if I kept following it, perhaps I’d discover they’d gotten it wrong. And they had – it wasn’t 18 dead children, it was 20. The wrong brother was initially named as the shooter. The basic framework, though, remained terribly the same.

Sometimes, when people don’t like a piece of entertainment, they’ll say, “I threw up a little in my mouth.” A crude reference, I think. But, following this story, I literally DID.

My sorrow over the particulars of the story, was made worse by the inevitable statements that we need to have a national “conversation” about gun control and mental health. Except that, for some, it’s not the right time; apparently, it’s NEVER the right time, because we’re always reeling from the last event. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said, correctly, “If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is.”

After President Reagan was nearly assassinated in March 1981, there was a “commonsense” limit on assault weapons, but that law lapsed nearly a decade ago. Even before then, we’ve ALWAYS been having “conversations” about these things; we TALKED after the 1999 Columbine, high school shootings in Colorado, and the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, and the Arizona shootings last year, and the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooters this past summer.

The “conversation” after this latest event thus far is more of the same. Why are mass shootings becoming more common? Some say we should have MORE people carrying guns. Yeah, right, against a guy in movie theater wearing body armor packing heat, in a dark theater, with smoke bombs; heard THAT argument rehashed Friday night on CNN. At least I didn’t hear anyone suggesting five-year-olds should be packing heat.

More noise: Mike Huckabee uselessly telling us that school “carnage” caused by having “removed God” from schools. Ultimately, I think the Onion got it right.

Here’s my position: the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no more absolute than the First Amendment right to free speech. One cannot yell “fire” into a crowded building; one ought not be able to fire into a crowded building.

I’m done talking about it. If we don’t DO something, I don’t want to listen to more of the same rhetoric when this happens the next time. And there WILL be a next time, with the number of guns in this country.

The one thing I’m still mulling over: how to tell my elementary school-age daughter. She’ll surely find out from her friends. I don’t want her to be afraid to go to school. How do I make her feel safe, even though I can’t promise her it couldn’t happen again?
***
Newtown shooting: Names, profiles of the 27 people killed.

Happy memories of Newtown, from the town children’s librarian from 1994-1996.

13 Responses to “Another day, another mass shooting”

  • Danielle says:

    Well said. As a mental health professional I profoundly struggle when ‘mental health’ is brought into the picture. These events are so much more than what is presented by the media..and that is all a matter of interpretation by the presenter and the one viewing. Taking action towards better mental health care and gun control would at least be moving us forward to a safer society…rather than talking which accomplishes nothing.

  • There’s absolutely nothing to say. Yesterday The Onion, of all places, spilled out a gut-wrenching rant that managed to hit it exactly. It starts out:

    “Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported f— everything. Just f— it all to hell.”

    I concur. Sometimes four letter words are the only appropriate language. (Can’t post the URL because it spells out the F Word.)

  • Demeur says:

    My thoughts exactly Danielle.

  • uthaclena says:

    I’ve been extremely annoyed by the right-wing “defense” of the Second Amendment after this massacre, that 1) we should be doing away with the separation of church and state and have Christian prayer promoted in school (because apparently only Christians have the “correct” morals that will inspire their deity to prevent these tragedies), and 2) If MORE people had MORE guns, they would have been able to defend the children against the shooter. Because nothing says “safety” than a lot of people having a shoot-out in a crisis. And yes, I’ve been chastised that “NOW is not the time or place to be talking about this.” This lot loves their Right to Bear Arms more than they love the rest of our Right to Life and Liberty. They also consistently spin or ignore that phrase “well-regulated” in the Second Amendment. They do seem to like the state of anarchy that passes for the hodge-podge of “gun control” laws across the States and Federal government, because REAL gun control means TAKING AWAY their guns. Their arrogance is stunning.

  • Jaquandor says:

    For years I’ve been of the opinion that I just don’t ‘get’ guns, but I don’t quibble with their legality, either. A ‘To each his own’ view, I suppose.

    I have now changed my mind. I hate them and want them to go away. And if that inconveniences hunters, well…oh well. I like venison, but not THAT much.

  • Steve says:

    In this instance, people are saying we should arm teachers to prevent such massacres, but I’ve always found it odd when proponents think more guns is the answer and preventitive measure against violence; even worse is when they say criminals will find a way. They overlook a country like Britain, where even the police don’t carry guns on a regular basis, guns are highly regulated, and they have far less violent crime than we do. They definitely don’t have mass shootings every month; their last one was 1996 and 1987 before that, and I think in the past decade only 3 British police have been killed by a gun…

    I’m not saying we should get extreme and strip everyone of their guns, but there is definitely something wrong with the current system and regulations if sick men such as this shooter, the one in Aurora, CO, and West Virginia (to name a few) are able to get their hands on weapons so easily. For me, arming everyone like the Wild West would only exasperate the problem…

  • Jaquandor says:

    There is an entire side of the political fence here in the USA that is utterly unable to grant that any experiences other countries may have in the public policy area can succeed here. Other countries have universal health care that provides as good care as the US more cheaply to more Americans, but if we try it here, it’ll fail miserably. Other countries have banned guns and seen a commensurate drop in gun-related crime and violence, but here in the US, if we did that it would fail miserably. I’ve never understood why so many are so convinced that trying to replicate the policies successfully executed by other countries is so impossible here.

  • I’m starting to get a little worried that everyone is so hyped for gun reform that if they include surveillance of US citizens (now known under the euphemism “threat assessment”) as part of a gun control bill it’ll be unassailable.

    If you try to say anything it’ll be “What? You don’t support gun control? We have to do SOMETHING!”

    So… yeah. Be prepared for “threat assessment.”

  • Roger says:

    And, of course, the greatest threat for these actions, historically, is single, white men. Not that I expect they’ll be seriously profiled.

  • I just don’t understand why “threat assessment” could be useful. And it’s not just something bantered around by the criminal profiling sites I visit. It’s even been on NPR.

    Let’s suppose that they watch everyone and they get a system that works. They find a guy that has a 95% chance of doing something like this.

    …Then what?

  • Roger says:

    What was that movie where they eliminated anyone for their future crimes? Last five years or ten years, I think, though I didn’t see it.

  • Minority Report was the famous one. Not terribly good. Equilibrium has a parallel theme (you’re arrested if you show emotion because you may commit a crime.) Also giant piles of books.

    But that’s what I’m saying. Even if they’re pretty certain that they guy is going to do something bad, threat assessment is totally useless unless they’re going to arrest or detain people based on things like their Facebook postings.

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