According to the New York Times,the Sandy Hook shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza, was a gun enthusiast with at least five guns registered to her name. A friend of Nancy Lanza told a reporter for the New York Times that Nancy Lanza was “a big, big gun fan.” The manager of a restaurant and bar that Nancy Lanza frequented said that she loved to talk about her gun collection. It is also emerging from various reports that her son had severe difficulties socializing. Relatives described him as “troubled.”
Nancy Lanza exercised an utter and appalling lack of judgement. Why would a mother make guns available to her son, when by most accounts he was troubled and difficult young man? Why would she allow her passion for guns to cloud her sense of reason? She became a victim, but she also made this crime possible. We now know that the shooter attempted unsuccessfully to purchase at least one gun in the days leading up to the attack. He was turned away. But the easy access to multiple firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, in his own home was the defining factor in this tragedy.
Why should any individual be allowed to own so many weapons, and why should anyone outside of law enforcement be able to legally purchase and own large-capacity clips andassault weapons?
There are those who would say, murder after senseless murder, that we shouldn’t ask these questions. But I believe we must ask these questions. I believe it is utterly irresponsible to act as though our national love affair with guns has nothing to do with this tragedy. The shooter was a troubled young man. His mother made sure there were many guns in the home. She made sure that he knew how to use them. The shooter took four of his mother’s beloved guns to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children, mostly ages 6 and 7, are dead. Six adults are dead. If the shooter had not had guns, those children and teachers would be alive.
Nancy Lanza’s fellow gun enthusiasts love to say that someone who wants to kill will find a way to do it. But a knife-wielding killer simply cannot cause the same degree of carnage as can a killer with a gun. On the same day as the Sandy Hook massacre, a man attacked 22 children in an elementary school in China. All 22 children survived. In Sandy Hook, every single one of the children who were attacked died. The hospital staff waited for patients who never came. All of these little six and seven year old children had been shot multiple times with a semi-automatic rifle. Do not tell me that guns are not the problem. The gunman needs no real planning, no particular expertise. He doesn’t have to take the time to make a bomb. All he has to do is pick up a gun and start shooting.
Congress doesn’t want to talk about it. Every time innocent people die, Congress shouts, “Let’s not politicize it.” According to the NRA and those in Congress who have allowed the NRA to buy their votes, it is never appropriate to talk about gun violence. It is never appropriate, according to them, to talk about the dead. So when a massacre occurs, as they do with alarming frequency, the right-wing politicos, instead of mourning the innocent lives lost, go on the attack and say, “Guns aren’t the problem!” But guns are the problem. Just look at this list. This is what guns do. I am angry, and I am disheartened that so many of my fellow Americans believe that their “right” to a closet full of guns is more sacred than the lives of those children.
This isn’t political. It is personal. It should be deeply personal to all of this. These were children in a first grade classroom.
Names on a List
“As news of the shooting spread, frantic family members were taken to a nearby firehouse, where teachers and students who had been evacuated from the school had been taken by the authorities. Some clergy members were also there. The teachers wrote down the names of all the children,’’ said Msgr. Robert Weiss, the pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. “The ones who were unaccounted for, those parents went to another room and wrote their names on a list. It was around, obviously,” he added, “the number that passed away.”
If these few sentences from the New York Times’ coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre do not illustrate the need to seriously revamp our national relationship with guns, nothing does. We have become far too familiar with the term “massacre,” because it just keeps happening, over and over again. Yes, guns are the problem. The issue is complex, of course; we desperately need better ways to deal with mental health. But we also need to make it more difficult for mentally ill or simply evil people to kill.
After Columbine, we did nothing. After Aurora, we did nothing. Because we did nothing, twenty first grade children died horrific and senseless deaths in their classrooms in a “nice school” in a “nice American town.” Now is very much the time to do something.
Mayor Bloomberg calls on the President to do something now instead of bowing to the NRA
We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again.
For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year-olds.
President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem.
Calling for “meaningful action” is not enough. We need immediate action.’
Update, Dec 16:
via The New York Times blog :Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stepped us his call for tighter enforcement and stricter gun laws across the nation on Sunday, challenging President Obama to “stand up and lead and tell this country what we should do.”
Appearing on “Meet the Press,” Mr. Bloomberg expressed exasperation at what he characterized as political inaction motivated by an unfounded fear of the power of the gun lobby.
“It’s so unbelievable, and it only happens in America, and it happens again and again,” Mr. Bloomberg said of mass shootings, citing an assault-rifle rampage at a hospital in Alabama on Saturday. “We kill people in schools, we kill in them in hospitals, we kill them in religious organizations, we kill them when they’re young, we kill them when they’re old, and we’ve just got to stop this.
School shootings in the last decade
- Virginia Tech – 32 dead plus the shooter, 16 April 2007, Blacksburg, Virginia
- Red Lake High School – 9 dead plus shooter, 21 March 2005, Red Lake, Minnesota
- Amish schoolhouse massacre – six dead plus shooter, 2 October 2, 2006, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania
- University of Arizona – three dead plus shooter, 28 October 2002, University of Arizona
- Oikos University (a private Christian college), Oakland, CA April 2, 2012, 7 dead
Update, 12:24 p.m. EST, 12-16: Dianne Feinstein announced today that she will introduce a bill in the Senate next month to ban assault weapons. The federal assault weapons ban has been defeated in Congress time and again. There is so much blood on their hands. Will this time be different?
The senator said she’ll introduce the bill when Congress reconvenes in January and the same legislation will also be proposed in the House of Representatives. We’re crafting this one. It’s being done with care. It’ll be ready on the first day,” she said, adding that she’ll soon announce the House authors. “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession. Not retroactively, but prospectively. It will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets,” she said. “There will be a bill.”
She added, “”You know, all of the things that society regulates, but we can’t touch guns? That’s wrong.”
Now it is up to members of the Senate and Congress to stand up to the gun lobby. It is up to President Obama to make good on his call for meaningful action. And it is up to all of us to make our voices louder and stronger than the voices of those who believe that their right to own assault weapons is more sacred than a child’s right to life.
NOW IS THE TIME