Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter

Advertisement

United States

Dec 18, 2012

Sandy Hook massacre pivot point in wretched gun debate

The massacre of young children in Newtown was so nihilistic and meaningless that it has exposed the empty rhetoric and false illusions of the US gun lobby. From Connecticut, our writer-at-large braces for a long fight.

User login status :

Share

With the first funerals from the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre being held today, the gun control debate has started swinging around for the first time in decades. After two days of mourning, small but active protests have begun, with an Occupy-organised crowd marching on the NRA headquarters in DC, Senate majority leader being joined by “Blue Dogs” such as nominal Democrat Joe Manchin from West Virginia in calling for legislative action based on assault weapons.

Former Mitt Romney advisors, GOP congressman-turned-broadcaster Joe Scarborough, and other have crossed the line to say that a real debate is required on what action to take. The pilot wave of this new movement was provided by the President, addressing the bereaved community of Newtown, telling the nation that “we’re not doing enough … and we will have to change”.

But change is far from certain to come. As Nate Silver detailed in a piece on his blog, the gun control debate has shifted sharply towards “second amendment rights” in the past decade, with a proposed ban on assault weapons dropping in op-ed and commentary mentions by more than 90% in the past decade, while “rights” has risen remorselessly.

Intensive lobbying by the NRA and others has all but nobbled any attempt to have a debate on guns, and ramrodded the fatalism by which massacres and gun frequency remain uncorrelated. The NRA has gone silent in the wake of Newtown — there’s been no tweeting since 14 December (“Florida nears one million permits for concealed weapons!”) and has taken its Facebook page down. None of the pro-gun lobby would appear on the Sunday morning talk shows this weekend, leaving the field clear to opponents.

That would suggest a movement about to cash in its chips, but of course it has one ace-in-the-hole — the second amendment, and a Supreme Court determined to take the broadest possible interpretation of the “right to bear arms”. Several years ago it struck down a handgun ban in DC, and it has dealt the same way with a range of similar laws in several states.

Even a law passed with thunderous acclaim in both houses could be thrown out by the court. That would leave things as they are — there are currently 10 gun control bills held up in the Senate — and waiting for the next massacre. That would put the country into a cultural-political crisis that might begin to suggest the most audacious possible move yet — a campaign to modify the second amendment (repeal is beyond the realm even of political stunts).

There is no doubt that something has changed with this massacre, for obvious, if irrational reasons. This was the first large-scale primary school massacre in the US by a young person (rather than a disgruntled teacher), and the pull of guilt at a society’s failure to protect its own children has become a powerful force against the homilies of the gun lobby. There was a similar sort of feeling at the time of the Columbine massacre, but less strong, even though the prospect of a teenager facing a violent and immediate death — with the full knowledge of imminent extinction and a life missed out on — seems equally horrific.

To continue the old “guns don’t kill people, people do” shtick in the wake of all this, now seems not clever or persuasive, but obscene and obtuse. Subsequent events seemed to confirm that society was, in this respect, spinning out of control; on Sunday, a morning church service in Newtown’s St Rose of Lima church had to be abandoned when bomb and gun threats were phoned in. The Huffington Post is now running a whole series of reports on individual murders here and there, to show the absolute carnage in a country, where nowadays you have to hit double figures to make an impact.

“The funerals will continue at Sandy Hook into — well, into Christmas. The new fight against a gun culture of symbolism and psychopathy has begun.”

It was inevitable that someone would come out in favour of guns in the wake of the tragedy, and in the US that was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who suggested that the massacre would have been stopped in its tracks if the head teacher had had an M4 with which she could have “taken the shooter’s head off”.

In Australia, commentator Tim Blair echoed the call: “The first thing people do when some maniac begins firing a gun is to call for help from other people who carry guns. Just a thought, but it might be more efficient if those closer to the scene carried guns in the first place.”

The logic that the number of gun deaths in the US is going down, as the number of guns rises, has become part of the argument for “concealed carry” laws, which allow people to carry concealed weapons. In some limited circumstances these reduce crime. But gun murder has also fallen in areas where no such laws exist, as part of a general fall in overall crime.

Indeed a lot of the arguments that “there is nothing to see here” are spurious. It’s argued that the number of massacres hasn’t gone up since the ’20s. But in the ’20s many of these massacres were “rational crime” — they were either large family or clan feuds, gangsterism or the like. Much of this stuff now goes unreported. What passed for a massacre in the 20s, is Saturday night in Philadelphia now.

What has come out of the blue are stranger and semi-stranger massacres, which were almost unknown before World War II. Since Charles Starkweather, the killing of whole classes of people simply because they are co-workers, McDonald’s patrons or school students has gone through the roof. In their rush to defend guns, the gun lobby ignore this important shift.

The public doesn’t. They know that it is not merely the death but the meaning of it that matters, and the terror that goes with it. Newtown is so dominating, so unarguable because not the slightest rationality or purpose attaches to the crime, and hence to the deaths. It is a rip in the fabric of the universe, and most people — Americans included — don’t want to live in a world where that is as expectable as a car crash. The reality of Newtown is that the primary school has ceased to be a safe place in the everyday imagination. One massacre impacts tens of millions. The answer that more people should be armed simply takes society further in the direction of atomised war of all against all, that people are coming to stand up against. The Right don’t get it, because guns are a fantasy object for them. They render everyone less safe and less free, but they give the illusion of a pre-modern free society.

The funerals will continue at Sandy Hook into — well, into Christmas. The new fight against a gun culture of symbolism and psychopathy has begun. It will go well beyond the last interment, but it will be won.

There was never any doubt that it would take something special to create a pivot point for the US gun debate. I always thought it would be, say, three massacres in one week, double-figures jobs tripping off one on top of each other, the next one starting before the last had cleared. A change in the quality of the debate would come about from a change in quantity, the sheer number of dead. But in the end it was the reverse. It took a killing so atrocious, so nihilistic in character to open the floodgates of protest.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle

Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle is Crikey's correspondent-at-large. He was co-editor of Arena Magazine for 15 years, and has written four hit stage shows for Max Gillies, two musicals, numerous books and produced TV shows including Comedy Inc and Backberner.

Get a free trial to post comments
More from Guy Rundle

Advertisement

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

57 comments

Leave a comment

57 thoughts on “Sandy Hook massacre pivot point in wretched gun debate

  1. Liz45

    @Will – The US Constitution? It was written in a different era. I find it most interesting that in the 21st century the capitalist push for having sophisticated technology that is awesome in its capacity to assist human beings is lauded, but on these matters groups like the NRA still want to keep these outdated aspects that clearly display their negativity in the pursuit of liberty and human happiness! A real conflict.

    I wonder how many shares etc the NRA has in the manufacture of these deadly weapons? I’m continually amazed by the fact that not enough so called journalists question them or even do some research. The head person had a press conference but from what I saw, nobody ‘pressed’ him very seriously at all!

    There’ve been at least two massacres since the awful school tragedy. Four deaths is a massacre, and in the second one, four were shot, only two died. I’d suggest that not enough members of the NRA have had acts of violence committed against their loved ones. Perhaps that will have to happen before they wake up. I almost feel like a criminal myself for even mentioning such a thing, but I find their out of touch and destructive determination even worse. Most depressing indeed! Their attitude is, who cares, our family members weren’t killed so we don’t want anything to change. 30,000 dead people murdered via a gun in the US every year is obviously a price they’re willing to pay – with other peoples’ lives, of course!

    My gut reaction to the NRA chief was – he’s an ugly person, and the ugliness is ‘inside out’ if you know what I mean! First impression! Wouldn’t like to meet him on a dark night!

  2. Liz45

    @Mark – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvzDwvMmUTM

    The site of Judy Small’s song about the women in Montreal – 14 were murdered – for their sex! Judy makes the point that ‘gunman’ sounds so familiar but “gunwoman doesn’t quite ring true” She also makes the point that ‘women go crazy too’ but she hasn’t heard of a woman killing 14 men – and neither have I!

    How many times have you heard the word “gunwoman” or read it?

  3. Liz45

    @Mark – You were the one who rushed in started with the assumptions and prognosis. I DID say that a sane rational person does NOT go out and kill 26 people – go take a look! I repeated the comment via others in the neighbourhood and the police that nobody was aware or there was no record of him having a DIAGNOSED mental illness. Of course he was ‘disturbed’ at least! I’m not that damned stupid!

    I repeat the obvious and so does Kaye – That almost ALL violence is committed by males? The sexual assaults, DV are relevant to add weight to that statement. Your defensive attitude only shows your intimidated by the truth. MEN have to start acknowledging this component of their make up. Until they do, nothing will change!

    IF you wish to live in denial, then blokes like you will just keep on perpetuating this horror. Don’t take my word for it listen to the news, monitor the police reports for a month!

    I very much doubt that you have qualifications in psychology. If you did you wouldn’t have made the damned stupid comment about his mother, home schooling and her alleged “paranoia’?

    I keep going back to the male violence thing because it’s a fact, and it has as much relevance as his mental health! You find a massacre where a woman did it! And I’ll be the first one to acknowledge my error! There was another mass killing today in the US – 4 people this time!

    There was a massacre of women at a University in Canada in 1989 – 19 I think and more injured. Judy Small, a folk/political activist singer/songwriter even wrote a song about men and mass killing. The perpetrator in this instance was ‘angry’ at affirmative action policy or similar? He separated the men from the women and then killed them. In 1991 on that anniversary the male students wore white ribbons, and that’s how White Ribbon Day started. Now it’s an event every year on November 25 and is the first of 16 days where the UN advocates an end to violence against women. That’s not just me or several other women, it’s a day designated by the United Nations. It’s also gathering momentum here – but obviously hasn’t reached you yet!

    Why didn’t you respond to Kaye’s posts? She agrees with me!

  4. Liz45

    Oh yes! (further to my post that is still awaiting the moderator)I went to a forum only a few weeks ago about the effects of violence to a foetus in the womb. When a baby inutero hears violence their pulse rate quickens. The brain is the only organ that is incomplete at birth. It ‘grows’ from the bottom up – only that required to sleep, breathe, suckle, swallow etc is functioning at birth. 65% of calorie intake goes to the developing brain. If the baby is exposed to violence the brain reacts in a ‘fight or flight’ manner which can last a lifetime? It’s this phenomena that can create kids with behavioural problems etc. From birth to 4-5 years, the brain is undergoing the most important development of its life – that’s why love, nurturing, physical touching of a loving kind, education by reading to a baby and other positive actions are vital to the brain’s development and the child’s important responses. Babies smile because we smile at them – one of nature’s most beautiful sights I think? My little possum could change the whole world with her gorgeous smile! Children in war zones or who are hungry don’t smile – hardly if at all. An awful number of kids in Afghanistan and other places are psychologically damaged by their surroundings? How will they grow up? I suggest, too many will have violent tendencies, and in many cases it will have been our fault!

    The male brain is not fully developed until mid 20’s, the female brain a few years earlier. Everything that is violent, confronting etc affects the developing brain and can determine future behaviours. It can be ‘re-taught’ once detected, with patience, compassion and care. This could explain so-called ‘kids with behavioural’ issues – people who end up in jail? people who end up killing others; kids who are cruel to animals etc? Who knows, it could also be responsible for the ‘development’ of some or all mental illnesses? Further research and understanding is happening all the time. I was amazed by what I learned, but when you think of it, it’s just common sense isn’t it?

    Stats show that 80% of inmates in jails have a mental illness of some kind. 80% of them are addicted to drugs, alcohol etc, and even more of them haven’t finished their schooling. Dollars spent on the developing child in and outside the womb save heaps more dollars down the track. 1,000 kids in Australia are in detention/jail on any given night. None of them have been convicted sometimes even charged of any crime! We’re just breeding very angry and traumatized adults. We never learn!

    Responses to loving environments is well known. My daughter in law loved a beautiful Archie Roach song called, ‘My Mother’s Heart’ (I think)and she’d play it often when she was pregnant. When her baby was born, she’d put this song on and the little one would go off to sleep? External influence? Fascinating isn’t it? If we’re serious about stopping the horrific and violent behaviours that were obvious via these awful mass killings, we need to embrace all that we know, and ensure that children don’t have a diet of violence and other forms of aggression – and we should start before their birth! Makes sense to me!

    I would NOT allow my kids to use any forms of violence. I’d separate them when they were ‘fighting’ and reinforce the proper way to solve conflicts – by talking about them. I advocated time out etc while still allowing for them to have the right to be angry or sad or irritated, but violence was never the answer to anything, except self defence! I had sons, and didn’t sanction the ‘boys will be boys’ stupid and damaging attitude. I did NOT buy so called toy guns, and promoted non violence and no wars! As they grew older, they were challenged if they mouthed sexist/ageist/racist comments etc. They had to pull their weight. Being a male did NOT mean that they could sit on their bums while the only female(me) did all the work. I taught them to cook, clean, wash and iron and sew on buttons etc. They learnt that women aren’t put on this planet for their benefit, and sexual maturity didn’t mean their automatic rights! No meant no, and fertility was their responsibility too! All three are good cooks, even being the main cook in their family. They’re hands on fathers and support their wives goals, aspirations and dreams for their own development, occupations etc. They’re different from their father in almost every way – that was my plan! I didn’t have access to all the information available today. I just followed my gut instincts and common sense to what I needed to do to ‘create’ positive, interactive and mature adults with a social conscience.

  5. Liz45

    @Kay Uiterwyk – I heard one of the representatives from the NRA this morning rabbiting on about the need to have armed guards at every school. A woman from the Democratic party who is going to campaigning for assault weapons to be banned answered with the comment that there were two armed guards at Columbine (massacre – at least 12 shot dead from memory) and they didn’t prevent that horror.

    There are many people with a mental illness who never even have a hint of violent characteristics? In contrast, there’s thousands of so called ‘sane’ men who bash their wives on a regular basis, or who use financial, social, sexual violence and oppression against their wives/partners.

    I live in a complex of six units. One neighbour, a lovely bloke suffers from a mental illness. The only violence I know of in respect to him was done by the police when they took him to hospital. I wasn’t here at the time, but I would’ve reported them, and/or intervened/objected.

    That crime you mentioned also included the fact that there were two children who were witnesses, in fact the 9 yr old daughter of the murdered woman made the phone call, and a 1 year old was found in the car, while the perpetrator had attempted to kill himself nearby. How long that baby was alone, traumatized, hungry etc wasn’t mentioned – poor baby must’ve been in a state. Now there’s two little kids who may exhibit signs of trauma for a very long time!

    I don’t know the exact stat but something like one out of every 3 people will experience some form of depression in their life time – sometimes after a shock or trauma, such as loss of a loved one, a job or a relationship break up etc. The bloke from the NRA advocates having a list of every person with a mental illness? He just didn’t define what his idea of such an illness is. I’m with you. I’d suggest wanting to walk around with a lethal weapon is of itself a disturbing display? To give him some credit, he did refer to violent movies, video games etc. The President has also spoken of violent movies etc. The latest Tom Cruise movie has had its premiere stalled. Apparently its content is related to mass masacre? Guess who will NOT be lining up to see it, IF it’s finally released. Probably will though; can’t let this horror get in the way of making money can we? I rest my case!

    My ex husband knew how I hated guns and why. He used an air rifle to ‘dispose’ of about 10 kittens whose (stray)mothers (2) had decided our place was a good place to give birth. He made sure I could hear every ‘pop’? He could’ve taken them to a vet and paid a small fee for a humane ‘solution’ but that didn’t suit his sadistic and violent behaviour/s! I had to keep two toddlers occupied inside, and as far away as I could ? What sort of a mental condition is that? An abuser in every way at home – a pillar of the community outside! Sad thing is, his type of bloke exists in every 3rd or 4th dwelling, terrorising his family every day! The Marks of this world are part of the problem, not part of the solution. While they continue to live in denial, ignorance and patriarchal thought, the world gets even more of a risk for women and their kids?

    In India, a woman was gang raped on a BUS??Then she was bashed, kicked and thrown on the road. One man interviewed blamed women’s ‘attire’ as ‘asking for it’? I thought, wow! not so long ago Judges in Australia were making the same comments during r**e trials. A woman is r***d in India every 20 MINUTES!! In Melbourne several months ago, a magistrate hearing an AVO against a violent man who ultimately murdered his wife (not long after this court appearance) couldn’t understand why she was too scared to even face him in the Court – after all, there was “security” in the court complex? I couldn’t believe that a person, exposed to some of the most violent and oppressive males had NOT educated himself to the reality of these women! Unbelievable!

    @Mark M – In my area, police receive over 200 calls of DV every month? They are the ones that are reported? That’s about 50 a week? If the stats are true, that’s only about 10% of the actual reality. Kids are being ‘taught’ to be violent at a very early age by one of the people who should be protecting them – their father. You could start researching the effects of even hearing violence while still in the womb. Like me, you’d probably be amazed!
    Many women experience their first ‘bashing’ while pregnant! Charming stat that one isn’t it? Midwives faced with examining a pregnant woman with boot marks on her belly; and or other signs of violence! (Conversation Hour, ABC radio – look for the one with midwives as the guests). That’s one way of creating violent males – having easy access to guns is a volatile mix with disaster waiting to happen!

    One of the reasons why I mentioned age, is that if you’re a young man there’s hope that you can educate yourself and catch up with the 21st century and facts relating to crimes of violence.This is the worst time of the year for crimes of violence (DV) against women. Also, crimes of sexual violence against women? You could also take a look at the way baby boys are raised? The attitudes/perceptions of parents awaiting the birth. How we relate to each sex re culture and expectations, allowances etc. You just might learn something and raise your kids accordingly!

  6. Mark M

    @Liz. Once again the ad hominem attack. Once again the aggressor.

    The facts re violence are there to be researched if you’re not too lazy to spend the time. In the meantime, your stupid suppositions are just that – stupid! There’s a real ingrained culture amongst men that results in horrific crimes of violence. Acknowledge it and let’s have the conversation. While men keep on being in denial, it will continue!

    I was really hoping you wouldn’t say that you believe that this horrific act can be reduced to just another demonstration of male violence, but apparently you do.

    There’s been nothing so far that has shed any light on him having a mental illness or not

    No, there is Liz…. I suggest you look up the definition of a mental illness (disorder). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder) Liz, a person that can put between 3-11 bullets into a 20 little children is NOT sane or well, he has a severe mental illness and that illness is not his gender. He did not kill because he was introverted and secretive or male (FFS???), He killed because he had a severe personality disorder that was not given the appropriate treatment. You keep bringing this back somehow to acts of violence against women, rape, etc, but that, whilst terrible, is not relevant here.

    I’m just frustrated by your rushing to conclusions without any concrete information, skills or qualifications.

    You have NO idea what my skills or qualifications are Liz, so don’t accuse me of jumping to conclusions without the facts. I actually have formal training in psychology, but I think you would prefer me to be ignorant here. Fits better with your world view I suspect, particularly of men.

    And that is where this discussion ends for me. What a waste of time. Damn you internet.

  7. Liz45

    Mark, for goodness sake. The point is that your comments were not based on fact – only heresay evidence at best. My main urging was to wait for this to happen. It’s not rocket science – glad you’re not a police officer or a judge! God forbid! If you want to be acknowledged as an adult, act like one and wait for the facts. Obviously, sane rational people who have respect for human life don’t engage in mass murder? Who knows what his motivation was? Perhaps we’ll never know. The fact is, that if guns, all guns weren’t so easy to acquire people wouldn’t die from gunshot wounds! Simple! Unless you live in someone elses’ skin, you just don’t know? How many times have crimes of violence been committed and the neighbours are surprised if not shocked by the perpetrator’s actions? Many times!

    As far as women are concerned, there’s still people in the community who think it’s OK to give your wife/partner a ‘biff’ to bring them into line. It’s changing, but there’s still a long way to go. There’s also men who think that ‘no’ really means ‘yes’? They’re slowly being educated too! There’s an ingrained culture that women are the property of? and therefore their ‘masters’ can act accordingly! This culture is usually one way, and often results in violence? The Provocation defence has allowed the pride of men or their outrage at being rejected by their partner as understandable,the Juries are asked if they could react in the same manner, and so killing a wife or partner is not deemed as serious as killing a neighbour or a stranger. In 2012, there are still too many people who agree with this, hence the campaign to get rid of this unjust defence. Yes, there are Laws about violence, but the question still is in the 21st century, are all victims equal?

    If you have to ask the questions, or make the comments that you have, then it’s very clear to me that you are ignorant of the facts, and so far haven’t shown any willingness to correct this.

    Mark, have you ever done any research into crimes of violence in this country? Any at all! Why it was only in the 70’s in some states and 80’s in others that made it a crime for men to rape their wives. The horrific stats re DV clearly show, that the greatest threat to the health and safety of women 15-44 is via their husbands/partners?

    NSW still has the defence of Provocation, mostly used by men when they murder their wives/partners? Even when they stab them in the neck 8 times and have body cuts totally 40 – or when they stab their partner in the back? Recent cases Mark. Please do some research!

    These slack attitudes re Laws protecting women from violence were made several hundred years ago for crimes of pay back by men about men, and during times when capital punishment was still part of the justice system.

    The facts re violence are there to be researched if you’re not too lazy to spend the time. In the meantime, your stupid suppositions are just that – stupid! There’s a real ingrained culture amongst men that results in horrific crimes of violence. Acknowledge it and let’s have the conversation. While men keep on being in denial, it will continue!

    As for the young man’s mental state? There’s been nothing so far that has shed any light on him having a mental illness or not! Being introvert and secretive is, as far as I know, not a mental illness. But you’re the ‘expert psychiatrist’ you tell me! How can you diagnose a dead person over the other side of the world? Oh the Journalist for the Guardian said so? No, he did not! And that’s made very clear in that paragraph I put in a previous post.

    I don’t really think it’s relevant who purchased the guns. I could be surrounded by 100 of these weapons and wouldn’t even pick them up let alone use them. Perhaps he killed his mother because she wouldn’t open up the cupboard where they were stored? With the slack Laws, he could’ve purchased them himself? We already know that the lack of checks etc is a major issue in the US?

    And, I’m NOT screaming, I’m just frustrated by your rushing to conclusions without any concrete information, skills or qualifications. We may never know why he did this? Maybe it’s as simple as wanting a place in history? Who knows?

    @Lynne – Heard on the ABC news/7.30 last night that there are several hundred thousand of gun shootings each year resulting in 30,000 deaths? I’d say this clearly shows that there are too many guns in the community, and the culture has been that they can be used – in fact, in one State at least you can virtually shoot first and ask questions after. This slack Law does NOT exist in Australia or the UK or???

    30,000 people have acquired a lethal weapons and successfully killed another person or persons!

  8. Mark M

    @Liz. Oh for the love of… Seriously???
    ok. Interesting (ironically) you seem to be the aggressor here, screaming at me for some kind of apology.

    You seem to have missed my point, even though I have admitted that my “offhand” comment is a result of news reports. I also stated that there is more to this story and have tried to elaborate on what I said to provide more detail about why I wrote what I did.

    I am actually interested in which part you really disagree with

    * Assuming that he was home schooled, would that be the right choice for a child like this, when he needs professional help? I have said that I have nothing against home schooling. Only in this instance… not a good idea.
    * Survivalist = paranoid. A bad influence on person that is “f**cked up” wouldn’t you think? (how is f**cked up not mentally ill Kaye?)
    * loads of assault weapons. Hmmm. I have noticed you have avoided that part of my offhand comment. Who’s guns were they I wonder?

    That said. I had to have a laugh at your profound insight:

    Do the research. Perhaps when men accept the reality then they may have the dialogue! Imagine if the stats showed women as the overwhelming perpetrators? My goodness! There’d be all sorts of ‘Laws’ introduced to stop this.

    I have not idea what on earth you are talking about. Society in general abhors violence Liz. We have laws to prevent it and the last time I checked, they were not gender specific. Who would disagree that men are the major perpetrators of violent crime. However, I get the impression that you seem to think that this horrific act of violence occurred because he was male, which is laughable really. Who’s guns were they Liz?

    You still haven’t answered my question about why my age matters here.

  9. Lynne Schultz

    I am an American, but I do not own a gun (except for the antique my husband inherited that is in a locked safe because we don’t know what else to do with it. There is no ammo & is probably too old to be operational.) Gun ownership here has gone down in the past 40 years even as the number of guns have gone up. That is because a small number of gun owners have large stockpiles of multiple weapons. Yes, we have a small number of gun crazy survivalists here, but they are not representative of the average American.

    The majority of Americans, while not in favor of blanket bans on all guns, are in favor of common sense measures such as a ban on military style assault weapons and extended magazines, mental health check requirements, and an end to the gun show loophole. This latest tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is different from the previous in a number of ways: it’s close in time to several previous ones, and it involved multiple deaths of very young children (6 and 7 years old). Yes there are those who have said “now is not the time to talk about gun control” but a lot of others of us are sick to death of hearing that and are pushing back.

    The major obstacle to change is the NRA (now beholden to the gun manufacturers rather than their members) and their lobbyists and money being thrown at our politicians. However, if you look closely at our elections you’ll see that money alone doesn’t always win out. In the 2012 election in particular, billions of dollars were wasted on candidates who lost! And many candidates who won were outspent by the losers. Some NRA members have openly revoked their memberships and the NRA is feeling enough pressure that they’ve announced they will make some sort of announcement on Dec. 21st. (Some say it’s an olive branch but I fear it’ll just be weasel words. Still, they must be feeling some pressure to make any statement.)

    And yes, we have the Second Amendment but even our First Amendment has some limits (no yelling fire in crowded theater, no defamation, no obscenity, time & place restrictions) so I don’t think we need to get rid of the Second Amendment in order to put common sense restrictions in place. The Supreme Court only said we can’t ban all handguns (as Washington DC once tried to do.) It didn’t rule out all forms of gun control or say anything about assault rifles.

    For all these reasons, I am hopeful that change is coming soon, regarding our gun laws. I’m a little less optimistic about expansion of mental health services, but I really hope we take care of that side of the problem as well.

  10. Liz45

    @mARK m – Why can’t you just admit to what I said and apologize? NO, you’d rather continue by turning the tables on me? Typical behaviour! SOME men just have a real problem with women, and then blame us for raising these assertions? You’ve admitted that you were just repeating what some journalist had written, or some off hand comment by someone searching for answers – someone who’s in a state of shock!

    I’m not saying that women are “better”? I’m saying that around the world the main perpetrators of ALL crimes of violence are MALE! Don’t turn that into some nonsense about being a ‘man hater’ and other rubbish! Be an adult who likes to think he’s intelligent! These are the FACTS – in Australia, the US and everywhere else on the planet!

    Isn’t it amazing how people like you raise the gender card against women responding to unjust off hand comments, clearly exhibiting a total lack of forethought or intelligence! Amazingly, how you STILL rebuke me!

    I know of a family in Australia whose kids were home schooled. They’re achievers, musical, intelligent (males and a female) and all productive young adults! I’ve known their father since he attended school with my three sons – a man I’ve had great affection for for decades! His wife is a lovely person too!

    As far as I know it’s not a criminal offence to home school in this country – I’ve never heard of any action taken against the parents I’ve alluded to!

    These crimes are a gender issue. You can’t deny the facts? IF you or anyone can point me to any whole scale slaughter of unknown innocents, then I’ll amend my comments. MEN are the ones who commit these crimes? They are also responsible for killing people they purport to love – one every 7-10 days in Australia. Don’t believe me, do some research! This awful slaughter was the 3rd (at least) this year alone in the US. There’s the bloke in Norway who murdered how many, 67 or so, Martin Bryant 35 or so and another 20 or more injured! That’s just off the top of my head without doing further research!

    Other crimes of violence – sexual assaults, pedophilia? Do the research. Perhaps when men accept the reality then they may have the dialogue! Imagine if the stats showed women as the overwhelming perpetrators? My goodness! There’d be all sorts of ‘Laws’ introduced to stop this.

    Why are we having a Royal Commission into the sexual assault of children? Who are the perpetrators in this instance? Why does it happen, and how can we stop it! I just want the conversation to commence, instead, all I get from people like you is a ‘shoot the messenger’ mentality – pardon that inappropriate pun! I should’ve said, ‘vilify the one who dares mention its name’? MALE VIOLENCE!

    These are the facts Mark – not just some feminist’s assertions – FACTS! I have to live with the knowledge that the chances of me being assaulted is much higher than yours. The chance of sexual assault is also higher than yours – and age has nothing to do with it. A few weeks ago a woman in her mid 80’s was such a victim. I think, on the FACTS I have every right to raise this aspect in this instance – I’m at more risk than you are! The realistic FACTS bear this out! I haven’t said one thing on the basis of some ‘reporter’ in a newspaper somewhere, who may or may not be taking advantage of this horrible tragedy.

  11. Liz45

    @Mark M – This is your comment – heavy with judgement and insinuations NOT based on fact. ” Because he was home schooled by a paranoid survivalist mother with loads of assault weapons in a society that believes that it’s every man for himself”

    You are amazing! You raised the issue of this young man’s mother with a very judgmental comment. Nobody else has blamed anyone except the lax gun laws and past history of mass shootings etc. Only YOU have hinted at blame. I responded! Now you’re accusing ME of being “very sensitive on these issues”? You mean, your jumping in too quickly to blame mothers when kids ‘go wrong’ etc? Amazing! I strongly suggest, that if this young man ‘lived at home with his single father’ you wouldn’t have made such a comment. Do you have the honesty to ask yourself that question.

    The fact is – the gunman was a lone male of approximately 20 years. Nobody, including the police, forensic pathologists etc have found anything that could point to motive or any other factor – at this stage! The gunman is dead, his mother is dead and most of those concerned are also dead. The two miraculous survivors haven’t been interviewed as yet. Police announced that they would not be ‘giving a running commentary’ while they continue their investigations. These are the facts. Let’s stick to them, plus the ridiculous availability of dangerous weapons – in anyone’s hands. The thought of these little people being shot several times by one of these weapons makes me want to be ill! Those conducting the post mortems deserve gratitude and understanding – they must’ve been gut wrenching to say the least.

    What “has been reported” is not fact but assumptions, opinions – just because they live in the area doesn’t mean they KNOW why this young man acted in such a horrific and violent manner. That is the only real fact we know about him – that evidence and the two survivors know that he did it then killed himself. I’m saying, let’s wait until the police finish their investigations which will include interviews with those traumatized survivors – who will need lots of counselling and privacy in the days, months ahead. Watch the media hound them though! The same media reporting comments that you allude to confirming your sexist assumption – it didn’t! It clearly stated that nobody knows of any motive. I’d add, and they may never know. Rumours? Certainly. Facts? Probably not!

    This is paragraph 6 of the link above which only reinforces my assertions;

    “With the main building blocks of any substantial understanding so far lacking, investigators will have to fill in as best they can. To that effect, detectives have already begun a systematic round of interviews with relatives, friends and neighbours of the Lanza family.

    There’s nothing in the article you recommended as your source that uses judgmental language against the mother of this young man. None!

    The men I feel sorry for in that family are his father and brother. Apparently his brother Ryan was informed while at work about this horrific act of violence. His mother and brother are dead, and sadly, he and his father will probably receive some ugly mail and behaviours – I hope not, but past situations point to this being a strong possibility. Apart from their shock, trauma and grief, their road ahead will probably be a sad one at least!I saw his Aunt interviewed and so far the community is not blaming her or her family. She is not responsible for this horror – nor is his mother – being related is not viewed by the justice system as guilt by association. Also, it’s easy to be judgmental against someone who’s not able to defend themselves. Sadly on too many occasions, it’s open season on mothers!

    What is more relevant than you’re quick to lay blame at the feet of his now dead mother, a real question of relevance is, why are males the main perpetrators of all violence and particularly mass murders? Name one tragedy of this nature, anywhere in the world where the murderer was a woman!

    “very sensitive”? you bet! It would be interesting for males to engage in a meaningful conversation as to why their sex uses violence as their ‘solution’ to issues, discord etc? Unlike your sexist comments, this question has more legitimacy and sadly enough history to add weight to it!

    I don’t know how old you are, but I’m nearly 68 and it worries me greatly. I’ve lived long enough to have witnessed the same horror as is now being felt around the world countless times – when will it cease, and more importantly why does it happen? And why don’t women with mental illnesses or who appear to be ‘strange and silent -withdrawn – reclusive – loners – unemployed – employed but unhappy – got the sack – broke off a relationship – a war veteran etc. don’t engage in this manifestation of anger, rage etc. This IS relevant!

  12. Kaye Uiterwyk

    I’m a little annoyed by this debate being deflected from the issues of gun ownership into one about mental illness. I suffer from an illness and one of the symptoms is acute psychosis. The first problem is the assumption that people like me are more dangerous than the general population. This isn’t supported statistically. Mental illness is demonised in popular culture. Stopping people who have mental illnesses buying guns could be seen as discrimination. I can’t see why I should be prevented buying a gun, if I wanted one. This assumption that mentally ill people are a silent minority who can’t stand up for their rights and are, indeed, incapable of standing up for their rights, or too embarrassed to stand up for their rights is wrong. But I don’t want a gun. I’m far too sane to be interested in owning a gun. Keeping guns away from the likes of me, is going to do diddly squat to prevent this type of thing from happening. Also there’s the well, to do this, it follows he must have been insane… why didn’t anybody see this was going to happen? Anybody can “crack”. Even “normal” people. Ultimately, you can’t predict human behaviour. The glorification of violence, the “copy cat” factor, the promise of eternal notoriety, the attention of the world-wide media, the temptation to commit an act so anti-social, so beyond-the-pale before you violently self-destruct. I suspect these kinds of things are the factors and nobody can foresee this kind of act. They might be able to predict what kind of personality is going to commit these acts. This kid most likely wasn’t mad, or insane, in the medical or the legal definitions. He most likely just fucked-up. The guns weren’t his they were his mother’s. I would say that if you really want these types of weapons, you’re probably fucked-up. And changing attitudes about guns, and gun control, is keeping this shit out of the hands of the fucked-ups, and more importantly, the kids of the fucked-ups. And, as a woman, and most of these crimes are perpetrated by men, it makes more sense to stop men from buying guns. I have a diagnosed mental illness, and would therefore be prevented from owning a gun. But some fucked-up, kill-crazy can buy as many as they want? Let’s apply a Catch-22. If you want guns, as in semi-automatics, pistols, high-powered assault weapons, you probably shouldn’t have one. Stop deflecting the debate to mental illness. Mental illness has its own issues. Removing the stigma and stopping the demonisation are two and this debate is not helping here. It’s about guns.

  13. Liz45

    @Mark M – It’s not a sexist comment – not in my experience? I did NOT say that all men leave, but I do believe that the women are all too frequently left to care for the child alone! How many men do you know who are caring for kids alone? Even kids without any health issues? Maybe I’ve watched more documentaries and listened to more people who have children with a disability than you? I am involved with a women’s health centre after all, which means I have my ‘finger on the pulse’ so to speak than perhaps you have. I watch and read a lot about children with special needs, and who are their main carers? I also have an interest in this area, and the plight of the carers of children with disabilities. Sometimes it’s the challenges of the child’s illness that breaks up the parent’s relationship!

    Any, How do you know the information you’ve alluded to? Unless you lived there or know the family etc, you’re only guessing out of the bits and pieces that traumatized people have said in small grabs in the media. I haven’t heard anyone in authority make those summations – that’s my point! Thankfully, our system of justice doesn’t operate via media information via people who are traumatized and looking for something that might explain their horrific loss! The people in that town are still in shock! Those who performed the post mortems would be too. so would many members of the police force etc. They’re human beings. The awful and brutal death of children is horrific and affects everyone, even the most professional person. That’s why they employ Counsellors/Psychiatrists in those fields.

    Adults deal with facts – not assumptions from an unreliable source! This was the same attitude that had Peter Slipper ‘done and dusted’ and calling for his head! A Judge, close to the issue had an opposite and damning view of the accuser! A good lesson I’d suggest! He didn’t have any ulterior motive or interest, only the evidence and what was put before him!

    Let’s just wait until those close to the issue can put all evidence etc together and come up with an adult assessment, not a Fox News running commentary!

    I’m waiting for that. In the meantime I just shudder to think of their pain and anguish at this time. They don’t need assumptions by people on the other side of the world!

    The young man was obviously troubled by something. Whether he was always thus is not known. For some to say now, that they’re not surprised doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Just because you’re reclusive or a home body or home schooled or even have a mental illness, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a psychopath? There are people who live full lives but have a mental illness – of many ages. There are young disturbed people, but they don’t go on a killing rampage! It’s too easy to compartmentalise and then make assumptions. That’s why I’d rather focus on the attitude to guns than anything else. That’s what has to change, keeping in mind that there MAY be people who could do such things IF they have easy access to guns.

    I’m sure, that if Ms Lanza had any idea of what her son would do, she’d have removed those weapons – she’d still be alive. It’s ludicrous to make a character judgement about her? It’s too easy and is unfair! Perhaps his father suffered from a mental illness? Perhaps he inherited that gene etc? It can happen! Let’s wait for more information from those conducting the investigation – that’s all I’m saying!

    Of course, unlike me, you may be a highly qualified person in the area of mental illness and the consequences of same. But, you’re here, not there! You’re only guessing, and your guesses are possibly/probably totally wrong!

  14. Liz45

    If I wanted to be really cruel, I could say that this tragedy is the fault of all Americans, including those whose children have been so horrifically murdered. When will they wake up? Get rid of these weapons. True, people pull the trigger, but if these weapons were not so readily available, without checks and balances at least, then this would NOT happen. Both Britain and Australia got these weapons out of the community AFTER such a horror – and there hasn’t been one since! (Sadly, I believe that Australia now has as many guns as were present when Port Arthur happened – need to tidy this up and soon!)

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve shed many tears since this horror unfolded! I should also add, that a similar number of children were killed in Afghanistan in recent days – without any sorrow from the West! I didn’t even know until a few hours ago! Hypocrisy rears its ugly head again!

    Anyone in the US can walk in and buy a gun. Laws have been lessened to the extent that in some States you can even take your gun to school, and have the right to shoot anyone you THINK may be a threat! Total and absolute madness! This has been borne out by the death in February of a young black teenager by a white ‘neighbourhood watch’ male? He’ll probably get let off scot free!

    A couple of sentences written down 200 years ago? The NRA have had the power – they’re the political arm of this prolific money spinner! Recent events appear to be removing some of their power – not one of their candidates was elected in the recent elections. Now’s the time for Obama to JUST DO IT! Get weapons of war off the streets, and make sure all applicants are scrutinised, and a law like ours, where weapons and ammunition have to be locked up in different places – and make sure police enforce these Laws! Only then will change be in evidence. Until then, we’ll all just wait until the next horrific tragedy!

    What price do they put on their kids? This god loving, god fearing country – the world’s biggest democracy, blah blah!

Leave a comment