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Columnist: Isn’t 20 Children and 6 Adults Enough?

What will it take for reasonable conversation about changes to our gun culture? Writer asks if Sandy Hook is finally reason to say, “Enough.”

I’m tired of the rhetoric, from all sides. I’m tired of the pro-gun statistic fight against the anti-gun statistic fight.

There comes a point where ‘this’ quote citation to defend constitutional originalism and ‘that’ quote citation to defend constitutional interpretation is basically like arms buildup. I’ll see your statistic and absolute proof that the Founding Fathers wanted us to keep our guns, and I’ll raise you my statistic and historically empirical evidence that they never could have imagined semi-automatic, rapid-firing reloading guns in the hands of citizens!

Quite honestly, I can’t decide if I’ve intentionally used that ‘arms buildup’ pun or not. Because I just don’t know what makes it through the rhetorical barrage anymore.

On each side, we find our numbers and quotes to defend our position and we’ll continue having the same argument unless we say, “Enough.”

Can we consider the possibility that a document that is almost 226 years old might need us to legitimately reconsider the context of 2013 when figuring out how to move forward? Can we consider that the unfathomable slaughter of 20 children and 6 adults in a school, a place once considered a safe haven, is a price too high to pay to ignore that?

Because while we may debate the certainty of what the framers of the Constitution really did want when it comes to the Second Amendment, what I think we can all agree on with absolute certainty is that the individuals who wrote it did respect thoughtful consideration, reasonable debate, and discussion without absolutist decree. If they were content with failure to change, we never would have had found ourselves independent of England’s rule to begin with.

The closest thing I’ve found to even begin to approach reasonable discussion about the gun rights debate is an article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg — a link to which was posted in one of the 110-plus comments of a Wilton Patch article I wrote last week about a local group that met with state legislators to talk about the issue. (I’m sure the reader who made the comment and link will be surprised that I’m citing it here, as he and I stand, by and large, on opposite sides of the debate.)

The Atlantic piece asserts that there are steps which could be taken to reduce access to guns and ammunition “for the criminially minded, for the dangerously mentally ill and for the suicidal, and that measures could be taken that sensibly restrict access to weapons and ammunition that “have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.” However, he concludes, these efforts would be noble but “too late” to have any meaningful impact on the rate of gun violence.

He writes that it’s too late because of the number of guns — 280 to 300 million — in private hands in this country.

While I disagree with much of what the Atlantic writer asserts — from an emotional standpoint — I have to give the writer credit for speaking to experienced people around the country on both sides’ frontlines of the gun discussion: victims of gun violence, researchers, law enforcement officers, gun enthusiasts, and lobbyists and activists.

It’s a step toward acknowledgement of what each side believes; it concedes that each side has some ground, at the very least; and it starts to establish a foundation for how pro and con advocates might be able to stop ramming each other and start listening, if not conceding, to each other, “You’ve got a point.”

I acknowledge that I tend to come at this issue from my own, emotional perspective. Even this opinion column has to take a side, by definition, if not just by its headline. But the emotional arguments of gun-control crusaders that get belittled by the gun-rights activists are just as outsized as the fear-mongering assertions made by those same extreme gun-rightists meant to stop anti-gun advocates in their tracks.

But I suspect there are plenty of people in the middle who would like to figure out a way to move toward this rational discussion about how some changes can be made.

Haven’t we had enough of the killings to try? I guess not when some people think we don’t have enough guns, as if the solution to gun violence is more guns. Or that it’s too late to do anything about it because there are too many guns out there already, so why try anything at all?

We can keep headed the wrong way down the road, where more deaths are sure to happen, and just continue going the wrong way because we’ll eventually get to where we need to go. The world is round so all we have to do is circle the globe, we’ll get there eventually. But by then, there won’t be enough of us left on either side who say, “Enough.”

The Atlantic piece ends with Goldberg writing about gun-control advocate Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign, who asked, “’In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?’ Do we want to live in one ‘in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?’” Goldberg adds that in a nation with 300 million guns, it’s an irrelevant question.

That’s exactly why my initial question — “Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?” — needs to be seen as anything but irrelevant. It’s become the most relevant question of all.

Ken January 10, 2013 at 02:27 PM
I do not feel a gun is necessary to protect against crime. Bad things happen to people, and they have to deal with that experience, but at the end of the day they are alive. There are worse things...like being shot dead.
John M. Joy January 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Just deal with it ??!? Poor old granny will be just as dead from a gunshot wound as from having her skull crushed with a piece of rebar. Or perhaps you think granny should be able to disarm a rebar-swinging, three hundred pound monster. Unlike you, I'm concerned about the crime, not unduly preoccupied with the weapon.
Citizen X January 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM
As soon as you tell me how many crimes you've stopped with your 6 shooter.
Ken January 10, 2013 at 02:39 PM
It seems you are now assuming all crimes labeled violent crimes end in death. Far from true.
Ken January 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
And trust me, the last thing I want is an elderly person with weak muscles, poor eye sight, and bad memory (I generalize here) with a gun. Let's really watch those accidental shooting numbers go up!!
John M. Joy January 10, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Okay, then. So you'd rather see granny raped, then beaten into a coma? That's... extraordinary. Breathtaking. And quite telling.
Dave January 10, 2013 at 03:38 PM
If removing the gun free zones in our schools could save 1 child's life , would it be worth it?
Ken January 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM
You really think everyone is out to get you huh? Simple assaults accounts for ~70% of all violent crimes. People are not being beaten into comas by the millions. Personally, my grand mother isn't alive anymore, but would I have wanted her, in say her last 10 years of life to have a gun in her possession, absolutely not! But there are far more people in this world who I would not trust with a gun than just my grandmother. AN average of 230,000 guns were stolen each year between 2005 and 2010. 80% of which are never recovered. That's a lot of guns not being secured....let alone handled properly...
John M. Joy January 10, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Your quote: "Bad things happen to people, and they have to deal with that experience, but at the end of the day they are alive. There are worse things...like being shot dead." I fail to see how this can be interpreted as anything other than being dismissive towards victims of "lesser" violent crimes like rape and assault. I must be blunt: that is beyond contempt. I will not address the matter of your late grandmother, since I did not know the woman. I DO know plenty of older people who are quite capable of handling firearms properly.
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 06:50 PM
We can see that not having protection at the school did make a difference unfortunately.
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 07:17 PM
This gun debate is good but its always on forums and not in the minds of those who can take away our rights to protect ourselves. Gun free zones work about as well as restraining orders. Nut cases obviously do not pay attention to paperwork and laws laid out on them. So what to do to stop a school killing every couple of years: recognizing a kid or even an adult who is nuts for one thing and check out the situation. Relitives of the nuts have to open their eyes and look around in their computer and invade their privacy a little bit. Now we are on the right to privacy area but then again, I think by now we know what kind of radical thinking distinguishes the difference between somewhat normal or teenage radical compared to an introverted gun and knife collector who cuts the heads off frogs for fun. Its one definition but open your eyes folks and point fingers when you see it as long as its not a witch hunt. Doctors are handing out depression and ADD drugs like candy. I am not sure yet about the Sandy Hook killer but the others are well known to be on one or more of those drugs. What ever happened to actual healing and examination?
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I do feel there should be a few armed teachers and/or principles at each school. While it does cost money, a good start can be, "who wants to volenteer for this kind of training?" My guess is there are many out there that will either give these lessons free or maybe give a discount to the teachers. Its good to know anyway if one has their permit to carry. To many have their permit after shooting a peice of paper. No one is attacked by a paper with a target on it. Common sence usually is part of this kind of training. Training the kids like they do in firedrills. I own a martial art school in Waterbury and I have been training Law Enforcement and Military in various parts of the world so I have a few good ideas for drill the kids can practice. Will it save them all? No, there is no guarantee but what the teacher did having them all together up against the wall is not a good decision. That has to change. I can make it so either less children can get shot and to make it harder buying more time. Its an idea I plan on approaching the board of education with.
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 07:18 PM
The bottom line is, this gun debate all over the web is stupid. Every time there is a problem with something they take it away or if there is a money problem, tax the people. Its stupid because it is a short cut to nothing though it makes politcians look like they did something when it causes side effects later one. Get to the source of the problem for a solution. Taking away guns makes people vulnerable. Don't you think criminals are waiting for gun control? Gun control should be simple, a background check which they do here in CT. I feel if there is a mentally deficiant problem in the household then the guns should be locked up or not have them at all till he or she leaves the nest. And getting real help for them not pills. Better health through chemistry is not working.
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Sorry folks, living here in Oxford and having this in our backyard has got to me as much as the rest of you. Its a decision Americans have to solve and do it with common sence by thinking of the BIG picture. Both sides of a gun debate sometimes blows my mind where neither on does actually think of that big picture.
Ron Kosakowski January 10, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Oh, one more thing, remember the same day as the Sandy Hook killings, in China, a nut case stabbed 22 children and teachers on top of that with a butcher knife. Ban butcher knives then they will use other tools of mass destrction.
Dave January 10, 2013 at 09:32 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/obama-signs-law-giving-himself-bush-lifetime-secret-184305122--politics.html
Ken January 10, 2013 at 10:38 PM
You're calling me dismissive.... Your quote from above "...and it's tragic whenever it occurs; however, crass though it may sound, in a country of more than three hundred million souls, those numbers pale in comparison to other causes of accidental injury: " That was your response to my statement of fact that 600 people are killed and 14000 injured by accidental gunfire every year? That is not dismissive? A statement worthy of comtempt one might think... 8 million people are injured every year in unintentional fall, that's injured, not killed. I do believe 600 deaths is more serious that 8 million injuries...at least those 8 million people got to go home...
Citizen X January 10, 2013 at 10:39 PM
What have guns protected you from? You just assume that because criminals think that anyone they try to rob or kill has a gun that keeps them from robbing or killing people. How does that then explain why people are still getting robbed or killed? Guns do not work as a deterrent. Also this idea that people will become opportunistic, lawless thugs 'as soon as guns are banned' is preposterous. If America & Americans are so great, but without guns America becomes some sort of post apocalyptic land then one would have to question just how great America & Americans are (you can't have it both ways). This argument about the mad Chinese man & his knife is also ridiculous & clouding the truth. Kitchen knives are exactly that. Guns are designed, manufactured & marketed to kill. If banning guns saves one child, is it worth it? Self defense is great, martial arts are fine. I hope we can live in a world where we don't have to be paranoid & start marching our children around learning jiu jitsu for if & when 'the bad guys come'. Drills for emergency situations of course are both normal & necessary. I'd also like to know how we are making this jump & mixing mental health with guns. Do you mean to imply that only people with mental health issues cause problems with guns? That is both preposterous & another (albeit new) line straight from the NRA's handbook.
Ken January 10, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Last article I saw about the knife attack in China said that no one died. Big difference between a knife and a gun attack.
Dave January 10, 2013 at 10:45 PM
citizen x I'll ask you again. If removing the gun free zones in our schools could save 1 child's life , would it be worth it?
Will Wilkin January 10, 2013 at 11:18 PM
The fact also stands that the presence of multishot guns in the home of a private citizen allowed it to happen. Adults rushing towards him were killed when one of them would have been able to disarm him if he had to reload every shot. Obviously legal gun owners cannot be trusted to store their guns properly (as in this case and thousands of others every year), nor can they be trusted (in many other mass shootings every year) not to be the one to use them to commit mass murder. Considering that practically every single gun in America was originally purchased legally, we do need to come to grips with how it still eventually results in over 10,000 gun homicides every year in America. I propose a return to the Constitution, wherein the right to bear arms was explicitly connected to membership in a well-regulated militia, regulated by Congress, under officers appointed by the states, subject to Presidential command in emergencies and to court-martial for breaches of discipline. Any one who will not submit to such discipline should turn in their multishot guns in a national gun buy-back offering high price to entice criminals with more than they can steal with such guns. Hunting weapons excepted, meaning single shot rifles or shotguns.
Will Wilkin January 10, 2013 at 11:34 PM
http://www.businessinsider.com/most-mass-murderers-arent-mentally-ill-2012-12 EXCERPT: Mass murderers are not, according to statistics, mentally ill in the psychiatric sense. That is to say they are not living outside reality. Serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are the source of disordered behaviors. Whereas a mass shooting requires organization, preparation, being able to acquire and make proper use of a gun as well as defining a strategy to gain access to the site. The reason why they are commonly labeled as insane is because they are not perceived as normal people, given their personality and character disorders. Actually, statistically mass murderers possess some common characteristics. The most common characteristics are social isolation, introversion, withdrawal and a relative deficit in social skills and relationships. At the same time, signs of paranoia can also be observed. These people often believe that people are after them, bullying them or ignoring them. These features of course do not make someone a murderer.... END EXCERPT
Citizen X January 11, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Dave I ignored your question because it is illogical. Since you've asked twice, I'll explain. I will raise your 1 child to 100 children. By following your logic, we have to accept the facts they stand today, which is that over 30,000 people die from guns every year (10,000 murders, 20,000 suicides). Let's assume that suicides continue at the same pace, although I doubt that they would. What you're saying is that to save 1 child (or the 100 that I've given you) we have to accept 9,999 deaths (or 9,900) plus the delta of having killed the perpetrator of attempted crimes. In a country with no guns, not only are we saving your one child (or the 100 I've given you) we're also saving the remaining 9,999 or 9,900 who were murdered by guns. So no, to save 1 & sacrifice 9,999 (or to save 100 & to sacrifice 9,900) just to say that we have guns to me is not acceptable & is in fact ludicrous.
Citizen X January 11, 2013 at 02:20 AM
One final set of points. Helmets, bullet proof vests, ear plugs, & goggles are all meant for protection. Guns, swords, bows/arrows, those are meant to cause harm & kill. Kitchen knives, chainsaws, hatchets, are all meant to be tools that can be dangerous if used with bad intent. These are non-debatable facts. I'm 100% fine with posting a trained professional (a cop) in schools who is armed. That solves a number of issues, not just gun/violence related. What I find astounding is that if our schools are so dangerous, why don't we require students & teachers to wear bullet proof vests & helmets in schools if we so worried about protecting them? Not only that, make it required every time you're on school property. If you were REALLY concerned about safety, then SAFETY is what you should focus on. But bullet proof vests & helmets somehow seem excessive, and arming a teacher and/or principal who has no experience with firearms somehow contributes to safety? They'll have had the training & nerve to go after someone with an AR15 & clips of ammo? Wouldn't you rather leave safety up to people who know what they're doing & have the training (& get paid) to deal with violent criminals? If you find the idea of requiring bullet proof vests & helmets excessive, which is 100% pro safety, & you're in favor of arming teachers/principals then what you're really after is not safety at all, but instead some crazed notion of living in the Wild West.
Citizen X January 11, 2013 at 02:34 AM
John 'Wild Bill' Joy would have saved the day with his trusty 6 shooter at his side, as he did on numerous other occasions (0) per his lack of response to my question. Who needs facts, all we need is more guns. Train teachers in military tactics (per another suggestion). Why stop there? Let's arm the 6 year old students also. Then the gun manufacturers could come up with child size guns, maybe with triggers that are easier to pull & you could have them come in all different colors. We could put holsters on backpacks, then we'll be completely safe, the government would never dream of becoming tyrannical, no country would dream of invading the United States, & we'd live in the safest country in the world. Unfortunately, the data & facts point to a completely different result.
Ron Kosakowski January 11, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Ken, there is a big difference? Where is that difference? These kids are all psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives. Their parents are as well. These kids are crippled in mind and body. Up close and personal, a knife causes far more damage. Sorry but that was a statement made that had no thought behind it.
Ron Kosakowski January 11, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Citizen X, I am sure our ancestors did not predict the population to grow like it did and still doing. When the population of good people grows, the population of nut cases grows as well. Time to recognize these nuts even if its within your own family. School shootings are rare, Shootings by normal people with permits are even rarer. More killings are done with steak knives and screw drivers and even baseball bats than there is with guns. Look at the FBI stats. What do we add to the ban? Wild West? Really? Or is it what we call prevention being the best medicine? No one said anything about bullet proof vests, but arming a few well trained school employees sounds appealing to me.
Ron Kosakowski January 11, 2013 at 03:17 PM
I have to get a kick out of the gun free zone sign people want here. I find the thought of it humorous. As an example, the 55 MPH sign really changed the 80 MPH people tend to normally travel in CT, and I will assume 90% of them are law abiding citizens. Signs are sooooooo powerful, huh?! <---sarcasm on that last sentence in case it went unnoticed.
John M. Joy January 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Personally, I kinda like this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008SCT12K/
Ron Kosakowski January 13, 2013 at 07:10 PM
John, even if a person does not own a gun, those signs are quite the deterent. heheheh

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