Lessons Learned From Newtown

More than 80 gun deaths per day in America. What can be done?


20-year old Adam Lanza used a semiautomatic rifle on his rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday that killed 20 kids and six adults.

The military style weapon, along with two handguns and a shotgun were registered to his mom, also shot dead on Friday prior to the massacre. That was the argument I used responding to one of my oldest friends-- a gun advocate who said she owns firearms to protect her kids. 

During his first presidential campaign, candidate Obama vowed to push for reinstatement of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Act that President Bush had willingly allowed to expire on his watch.

But Congress, cowering from the long shadow of the National Rifle Association, refused to comply with his stated intentions.

Four times since he took office, President Obama has consoled communities grieving after bullets claimed the lives of innocent victims.

While the all-powerful Gun Lobby has asserted continually that Obama would send black helicopters in to take away citizens’ firearms, the President has not even attempted to deliver on his singular, meager promise concerning gun control.

Instead, he has signed laws allowing guns in national parks and on Amtrak and did nothing to block the import of semi-automatic weapons and multiple clips. He was mute when a number of state lawmakers allowed concealed weapons in bars, schools & churches, and after the Supreme Court struck down local bans on handguns. Neither has he enforced background checks or stymied the gun show loophole. Then there’s the Stand Your Ground law-- arguably the most extreme lapse of legislative judgment since the legend of Dodge City.

And for those claiming the adage, “if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns,” it is lack of regulation that allows outlaws to have guns in the first place.

Firearms have killed at least 240 additional Americans since Friday’s massacre. 

While legislation alone is not the answer, gun restrictions enacted by New York City Mayor Bloomberg have resulted in it being named the safest big city in America. Over the weekend Bloomberg warned that 48,000 more Americans would die from gun violence over the next four years if the President doesn’t use his power of office to address gun control.

It now appears that Obama has reached the so-called tipping point on the issue.

“In the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” the President proclaimed at the memorial service held in Newtown on Sunday evening.

“We will be told that the causes of such violence will be complex and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction,” he added.

And POTUS will finally have help. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says she will introduce a gun control bill on day one of the next Congress, in tandem with a twin House version to limit the sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

It took only moments for critics to meltdown over Obama’s statement. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) came out guns blazing on Fox News, wishing to God that the Connecticut principal had an M4 assault rifle.

The NRA, in lockdown mode since Friday, no longer enjoys the power it once had over the meek. Republican Pollster Frank Luntz documents that a large majority of gun owners-- even NRA members themselves, support common sense gun legislation and believe that personal freedom and public safety can co-exist.

The association clearly does not represent its members. It represents gun manufacturers-- the Sugar Daddies of right wing lawmakers. Yet even after spending millions of dollars to defeat President Obama and other Democrats in 2012, its influence was soundly defeated by fed-up voters. 

A recent study of Police Chiefs nationwide reports that 62% believe that the government should do everything in its power to prevent handguns from reaching criminals, even if it’s tougher for law-abiding individuals to purchase them. 

I understand that there is a Second Amendment, but it was written at a time when our founders deemed that the nation needed a well-armed militia. And slaves. 

Yet, there are ways of preserving the right to bear arms while still limiting who can have access to them, and the types of weapons and ammunition permissible under law. 

While Connecticut enforces tight firearm regulations, a proposed state ban on 30-round gun magazines failed last year after pressure from the NRA. Lanza was carrying such clips when he mowed down the elementary school last Friday.

However Connecticut is not entirely a fortress of Progressive thought. It is also home to extremist groups including the Connecticut 51st Militia, in Terryville. But they are not the only culprits.

Our violent media and ultra realistic video games used by kids with developing minds are also to blame for our ongoing national nightmare. 

Mental illness plays its role too, as evidenced by reports that Nancy Lanza kept her son under nearly constant surveillance due to his alleged mental disorder. The poor suffering with mental illness are at even greater risk of falling through the cracks once budget cuts in Medicaid are enacted. This will in turn endanger society at large. 

Despite our legendary culture of violence, the Wild West of yesteryear had stronger gun laws than America today. One of its most infamous gun battles ensued after the Marshal attempted to impose a law restricting firearms in public. 

Even back then Americans knew that the law of the gun was not the path to serenity. But we forgot. 

As President Obama stated Sunday evening, "Surely we can do better than this. We have an obligation to try." 

I hope that his words will resonate in the halls of Congress as well as with the American people.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

sinbad December 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM
"...gun manufacturers-- the Sugar Daddies of right wing lawmakers." That's it in a nutshell.
hillary chase December 19, 2012 at 02:09 AM
The piece sums it up pretty nicely. I always enjoy this author.
Alfred Gerteiny December 19, 2012 at 03:16 AM
This is a well-balanced article by MS Folsom on the tragic massacre of innocent children and devoted educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In bold brush strokes Chandra succinctly traces President Obama’s timid attempts, and therefore disappointing failure at prevailing over a legislature slavishly beholding to the greedy Gun Lobby and its cocky clients. Correctly, she spares nobody in her elegant criticism, suggesting a collective culpability in the national failure to interpret rationally both the fundamental reasons for the 2nd Amendment, and its historical intent. We hope that this unconscionable tragedy will, painful as it indubitably is, succeed in sowing the necessary grains of courage in the halls of Congress leading to laws consistent with the changed social climate in the urbanized United States. We all owe it to our sweet fallen angels and to their grieving families. Enough with lethal, legally available weapons in the hands of troubled insecure people, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
CHERYL WATKINS-JONES December 21, 2012 at 01:53 AM
How can more money be had with this latest school tradgedy? If this is a valid premise,then our socities are truly screwed. Don't blame PRES. OBAMA! He's had, like previous Administrationns, a lobby group too powerful for it's own good. This country's mantra should be, "Save The Chilren, no matter The cost". ...but for God":
Jordan Jancz December 21, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Thank you for an insightful article. The wisest among us will recognize that we, as a society, all bear responsibility for what has happened. - Jordan Jancz


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