Another day, another mass shooting

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.

When I first heard about the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it wasn’t until about noon on Friday, December 14, a couple of 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 a 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.