Readers, my heart is like yours: Shattered.
My perspective, however, may be a little different.
It’s impossible not to feel afraid, sad, sickened and deeply pessimistic when something like this occurs. However, “something like this” — well, there aren’t a lot of somethings like this, and that’s a truth I am desperately trying to remind my heavy soul. It may feel like “school shootings happen all the time,” but they don’t. They are rarer than rare. They are as unpredictable as anything can be. And if today we find ourselves making a mental list, “Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook,” that’s because they are few enough, in a country of 300 million, that we know their names.
This does not mitigate our sorrow, but it can — with some effort — mitigate our fear. It is not to dismiss the parents’ pain that I encourage you to turn off the TV. It is to keep some perspective. The perspective that almost dare not speak its name. The perspective that the vast majority of children in America will never encounter a psychopathic mass murderer at school, and to guard them as if they will is unnecessary.
Worse, it is bordering on ungrateful. – L
That’s essentially my reaction too, after the tears: http://kidsbusybook.com/reflections-on-an-elementary-school-massacre/
I hope, too, that people do not see this as a need for stricter access requirements to schools, or even more ridiculous fingerprinting and security measures for parents in our schools. The shooter in this case was a troubled young man who was the son of a teacher. The school itself did restrict access, have locked gates and made visitors and teachers wear badges. It did not help. And probably will not help the next time something like this happens. What will help is restricting access to guns, de-stigmatizing depression and mental illness, making therapy affordable and accessible to all, and – most important of all – building strong, loving, closely-connected networks in our communities, so we can reach out and support those who are troubled before they reach a crisis point and feel compelled to lash out like this. Safety comes from connections and community, not fear and isolation.
I have come to the conclusion, maybe wrongly, that things are in God’s Hands, so to speak. No amount of restrictions, protection and gun control could ever prevent something this horrific. That doesn’t, of course, mean we should throw all caution to the wind. But short of never letting our children leave their homes, and keeping everyone else out, what will happen will happen, and our kids still need to live their lives.
Thank you Lenora. I have not gotten any feelings of fear from today’s tragedy (thanks in part to deeply ingraining your perspective about how rare violence against children is in this country), only feelings sympathy for the parents and the children, those who lost their lives, those who were injured, those who witnessed it.
I typically agree with everything you say, but am unsure I’m in alignment today. Why? I love how you typically remind parents not to fixate on highly publicized, but still unusual dangers. Sometimes it’s sexual predators, other times it’s riding bikes to school. Yet this time, I feel like our country needs to see how these are PREVENTABLE losses. We have 100 times the gun homicides of the UK and Japan, who have stricter laws. I think the appropriate response here is not of fear, but of red-hot anger + determination to change laws that serve no one, even those who claim to be protecting their “rights.”
I see your point, but part of our engagement and outrage is our wish to build momentum on the consensus that gun laws could be better. (61% of Americans approve of an assault weapon ban.)
To protect our kids, we need to protect ALL kids.
I have already had to cite/quote your stats page 3 times today. The quacks are already out, the most fervent of them advocating that even parents and volunteers should not be a part of the school community, and barred from the building during the day. Metal detectors, friskings, etc-nothing is too much, of course.
The problem is ‘what’ is an assault weapon? There is no ‘type’ of firearm that is an assault weapon. A rock is an assault weapon. So is a stick, a pipe, a knife. A muzzle loader, a handgun, a bolt action-they are all assault weapons. How much of your Constitutional rights are you willing to compromise for a reaction? The guns this kid used are common, and were legal. They weren’t exotic or ‘military’ weapons.
I am a fan and usually agree, but it does seem like mass shootings are becoming more and more common, doesn’t it? Just not always at a school, sometimes it’s a movie theater, a mall, etc. Columbine seemed like that rare, “this never happens” event. But surely they are increasing in frequency in the US? Surely we should be talking about how to address this? John, above, makes a very good point about an assault weapon ban being common ground.
Thank you for bringing some common sense to this dreadful event. People try to find “reason” for evil actions. Evil occurs without reason. People are guilty of insane actions;not inanimate objects. You can’t legislate crazy. If the state wants to guarantee “safety” at all times they have to eliminate freedom. To me that is akin to death. Thanks again.
I am staying away from the television news in order to keep some perspective, like you say. I’m actually trying not to think about it too much. I could easily fall into watching all the horror and become a weepy, cringing wreck. (And I’m not condemning anyone who chooses to watch the news coverage. I’m just aware of my own limits.)
As horrific as this event was for those children and families in Connecticut, I have to remember that I have children right here that are depending on me and one of my responsibilities is to keep their lives as normal as possible.
Turning the TV off is the best thing a parent can do for their child(ren) at this time. We are adults and we know. There is no reason to put children through this and scare them.
@Maggie, I’m sorry, but you’re not going to tell me that stricter gun control would not help prevent shootings like these. Have you ever seen the figures on firearm related deaths in the US compared to other first world countries? It is quite telling. Unless you think that there are that many more psychopaths in the US than elsewhere, easy access to guns is largely to blame.
No, it still would not prevent all cases. Stuff like this happens in other countries. But if it’s rare in the US it is infinitely rarer in countries with strict gun laws.
To CS at 8:24.
Actually, there’s no problem, since there *is* a specific, legally defined type of weapon that is an “assault” weapon.
As you know, or should, this is a term that has been used in law for years, if not decades.
An “assault rifle” is something different but mainly in that it can be fired fully automatic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_rifle
Regardless, who cares. America needs to either better regulate the hundreds of millions of guns it owns or do a much better job taking care of its ctiizens’ mental health., or both. The status quo is clearly not an option.
And I sincerely hope you aren’t actually attempting to equate a large magazine semi-auto rifle with a pipe or rock.
I mean, come on.
The fact that this person acquired these guns legally is *the problem* not a way to argue that regulation isn’t the answer.
As for your question, no doubt intended to be at least partially rhetorical, I’m willing to dramatically modify the terms of the constitutional right to bear arms.
Where it stands now is a bizarre and extremist view that most sensible gun owners are themselves against.
My local news showed parents in a nearby county picking their kids up from school to hug them….here in Florida. Hmmmm. Mostly don’t think that the media should glamorize (normalize?) such a reaction.
@CS, please put in perspective that rocks, sticks, pipes, and knives are not the weapon of choice of mass murderers. It needs to be about controlling access to weapons (size of clips? or related equipment) capable of such destruction, not weapons (or associated accessories) for hunting or target shooting or personal protection. Any reasonable person understands the difference.
This is a horrible tragedy. I don’t know what could have been done to prevent it except by friends and family of the shooter who might have been able to notice warning signs. I am not placing blame on them, but saying that is one of the only things I can think of that could have prevented this. I don’t know how much gun laws can prevent this sort of thing, but maybe more control and licensing would help. At Virginia Tech, the shooter should not have been able to get a gun, but legally he could. I was a student there at the time, and I can only imagine what the parents of children involved in this tragedy are dealing with. My thoughts are with them.
@CS: I’m a gun owner. I work to teach people how to use guns safely. But your attitude a huge, huge part of the problem, not the solution, and it’s something I strive to work against.
No one should need access to a high-rate of fire, high capacity, rapid magazine change firearm. That is a war weapon. Not a hunting weapon.
Yes I love shooting guns. But I draw the line at shooting guns at kids.
Your examples are silly and bordering on the asinine.
I can’t really go on without really getting emotional. We need effective gun control and effective health care in this country, otherwise we’re no better than some backwater impoverished nation with no law and order, and no compassion.
It helps to keep perspective when you remember that the worst-ever school mass murder, the Bath School Disaster, occurred in 1927–and the lawmakers & parents etc didn’t freak out & turn our schools into prisons.
Lenore, I agree with you. When I read that article, of course I felt badly for the kids and adults who’d been killed in the shooting, but another part of me thought, “Oh, crap, what ridiculous new security measures are going to be enforced now? Are some parents going to just start keeping their kids home from school altogether?” Now, I finished school (and university) years ago, and I don’t have kids, and I hated the public school system as both a student AND as a Practicum teacher (short-lived), so it might appear that this is none of my business, but really, it’s everybody’s business, when communities become more and more fragmented because of paranoia in the name of “safety.” When I can’t walk into a public school (even my old high school) to ask about an upcoming event, or put up flyers advertising my services as a private clarinet teacher, without having to sign in at the office, unless I have a criminal record check, then it becomes my business. When I have to go through multiple rounds of screening to become a Girl Guide leader, even after already having been one in Australia, then it becomes my business. When we read stories about men getting thrown out of bookstores for merely being in the children’s section without a child (possibly because they’re picking out a book as a gift for said child), then it becomes the business of every man in the world, and the women in their lives too, because now, whenever it’s time to buy a gift for a child, the men can’t do it without female-or-child “supervision”–sort of like the laws in certain developing countries where the Taliban government bans women from going out in public unescorted by a male relative. So, really…….do we want to go there? Yes, school shootings are horrible, but do we really want to let one mentally ill person’s actions affect how the rest of us live our lives?
If we actually want to do something to prevent these mass shootings, we need to recognize why they are happening. There’s nothing new about gun technology; all of these basic designs are over a century old.
So why the relatively new practice of mass shootings? Well, if we look at the shooters, a pattern emerges; they may be crazy, but they are not stupid. They don’t shoot up police stations, gun shows, or donut shops.
They always, always, ALWAYS pick gun free zones: schools, places of business, commuter trains, yes, even military bases that absolutely forbid the possession of firearms on the premises except by law enforcement, not even by trained citizens with concealed carry permits. The reason, and yes they are at least reasoning at that level, is obvious: they want to guarantee as much as possible that they will be only person present with a firearm until the police arrive.
If we want to stop or reduce their sick fun or at least give the victims a better chance at survival, we have to be willing to look at the world like they do. To a would be mass murderer a gun free zone
is a shooting gallery just waiting for him to take advantage.
We don’t need more shooting galleries for sickos; we need less.
Please look at this timeline. The 1927 incident was isolated by years. We now have mass shootings monthly – or weekly – or damn near daily.
Two days ago Clackamas.
We need to do something to control the violence in this country.
No, we should not turn our schools into prisons; I can’t believe some of the comments suggest that we arm our elementary school teachers. But we need to limit access to high power weapons and we need to fund our public health care system.
Laura, thank you so much for the reasonable reaction on this day. I heard the news early on..only small snippets and bits…and knew it’d be a horrible day to listen to the news. And I just hope many others can keep a level head on this..and not turn this into a reason to remove our rights to protect ourselves.
I’d go more in depth..but lets be honest..this is a page about keeping children’s childhoods properly free of too much outside meddling..not a page for other political discussions. And despite the reminder of how rare this sort of thing is..it’d also be a disservice to those children and their families..to turn this overly into such a discussion.
Fiirst, thank you Lenore, for having this site, and for reminding people that this is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I believe that the media hype is what is causing these tragedies to be – or at least to be perceived as – more common. If this man had a problem with his Mother, and shot her in her home last night, he would have been a blip on the regional news. He chose a school. Probably not, as has been supposed above, because it is a gun free zone, but rather because of the high profile it would garner. By playing this over and over again in our endless news cycle, what is happening is that other Crazies out there are learning the lesson: You want your 15 minutes of fame? Kill large groups. Kill kids. Take out a school. Instead of a regional blip, he has become a national and international news cycle. Turn the news off, people.
@FredTownWard–Interesting theory, but just because guns might not be actively BANNED in a certain place, doesn’t mean that people are automatically going to start carrying them there. For example, suppose guns weren’t banned in schools, universities, shopping malls, etc., and it was perfectly legal to go into those places packing heat. I don’t think it’d make any difference, because most people still wouldn’t do it. I’m Canadian, and most people here don’t even own guns, but even in the parts of the States where guns are more of a “thing,” I assume most people keep them either in their houses, or in their cars, and almost always under lock and key, right? So, the only way to prevent ANY place from becoming a “shooting gallery” for people who seek to hurt and kill others, is by giving EVERYONE a gun, and demanding that they carry them everywhere, to deter would-be serial killers. I hope that that never happens, because it’d be taking paranoia to an even more ridiculous level than it is now, and it’d be even MORE dangerous, because people could steal other people’s guns and shoot them with them (which happens to police officers all the time), guns could misfire upon impact against something else (which also happens all the time, when people mistakenly think that the safety is on), but more than that, it’d strip people of their right to NOT carry guns, which would be effectively stripping them of their right to trust the world, and engage with it in a peaceful manner. So, that’s why I don’t think that eliminating gun-free zones, or loosening gun control, let alone encouraging the use of firearms as a protective measure, is a good idea.
I don’t think that the violence in the US is caused by our gun ownership. I think there is a cultural legacy that we embrace that idealizes violence – and part of that has been the glorification of guns – but guns are not the cause of it. And changes need to be made to this legacy and what sorts of behavior we hold up for emulation, but stricter gun laws are not going to accomplish that. Changes also need to be made in our approach to healthcare and the treatment of mental illness, but stricter gun control laws aren’t going to accomplish that either. I don’t have an issue with an assault weapons ban – and I say that as a gun owner – but the danger is that by passing these laws, we feel like we’re doing something to address the problem and fail to take any action towards the real problem(s). I think the mass amount of media-produced violence – and the 24 hour “if it bleeds, it leads” news cycle is a huge part of this – has hurt us. We’re both desensitized and emotionally raw at the same time.
I’m still crying off and on about this and don’t feel ready to start debating with people on this, but for the record, Lenore, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you. And I was hoping to see such a reminder.
You mentioned three school shootings, but didn’t mention the amish one. Or the similar events, such as the the mall, batman movie, Arizona with Gifford, Virginia tech and other recent ones in the past five years. All still rare when looked at in a per capita basis, but in their growing frequency, they rattle parents everywhere. While perspective is necessary, there needs to be change, and fear can be a wonderful motivator.
300 million people plus instant dissemination of information does NOT equal more violence than years before. It just means we watch and read about it as it happens instead of finding out weeks, days, or hours after.
Hug your children tight tonight and let them outside to play tomorrow in honor of those that no longer can.
@Emily you are correct, merely permitting those with concealed carry permits to carry on the premises does not guarantee that anyone will be carrying on a given premise at a given time.
But it changes the sicko’s calculations completely.
A “gun free zone” GUARANTEES success to the sicko, unless he’s unlucky and Officer Friendly happens to be giving a lecture that day, or Mrs. Grundy decides to risk automatic termination and keep her pistol in her purse (and if she does, does she dare draw it?). Absent bad luck Mr. Sicko is going to be able to kill dozens.
But if the sicko knows someone COULD be legally carrying, maybe it isn’t even worth the risk. Our news media tends to ignore such stories, but the attempted mass shootings with the lowest death tolls are invariably those in which somebody races out to their car and retrieves the gun they weren’t allowed to bring in. Most of the time this other person doesn’t fire a shot. It isn’t necessary. Merely that person’s armed presence freezes the killer in place and allows potential victims to flee.
It is no longer theory; it is proven fact: concealed carry LAWS reduce crime rates everywhere they are implemented. Merely the POTENTIAL that a given victim (or passersby) is armed changes everything.
Besides, our children deserve more of a chance than they have now. Though such school shootings are extremely unlikely to happen, when they do they are extremely likely to succeed,
because those of their teachers inclined to defend them are prevented by law from doing so.
I’ve already gotten three different emails (one from each school, one from the superintendent) about how to talk to kids about the shooting.
How about we don’t sit and watch every second of news coverage? How about we don’t pull up picture after picture after picture of grieving families and such? If my kids want to talk about it, we will. But seriously, why traumatize every other kid in the nation by exposing them to this? I don’t have any intention of watching anything about this, ever. I read the basic facts in one news article online. I don’t need to watch the media profiting once again off someone else’s pain. Watching the news and wallowing in tragedy helps no one. What might help is to make it just a *little* harder for crazy people to get guns. I’m not saying ban all guns (although I certainly wouldn’t mind living somewhere that did), but as someone said up thread – ban the ones clearly designed for war, and put some real teeth into background checks. Make people have to work for it, and prove they know about gun safety and all that. Makes more sense than turning schools into prisons and arming the wardens, I mean teachers.
School shootings are rare, but SHOOTINGS ARE LESS AND LESS RARE. Have lost a husband to guns. Have lost friends in the Aurora shooting.
I am raising free range kids, but I am RAISING THEM. Turn off electronics and listen. Open your ears. Open your hearts. Open your souls.
Reduce the number of guns in this country. Concealed carry doesn’t reduce violence. Guns don’t reduce violence. FredTownWard is a fucking idiot.
And I need to be left anonymous because my husband didn’t die to guns…he’s been threatening lives with guns…including mine. I lost him to guns in a terrible, terrible way.
Maureen Exactly. And remember the Bath School Disaster as it was the worst-ever school mass murder & it happened in 1927.
I know I’m repeating myself but I think it’s a helpful thing to remember history & keep perspective.
I’m a VT alum but graduated years before the massacre there. I was there my freshman year watching Columbine unfold with my dormmates. Why are guns so easy to get for people who should not have them?! Found this link interesting: http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation?page=1
I’m also upset by the number of.friends on Facebook who think they want to homeschool their kids now because of this tragedy.
As a very wise woman said to me tonight, “I’m afraid that we can’t stop crazy. Crazy will always find a way.”
FredTownWard- I would have serious concerns about elementary teachers carrying guns in the classroom. Sure, a gun could be used to stop an assailant (although it would by no means be a sure thing), but a loaded weapon in a situation where you’re perpetually trying to wrangle a couple dozen kids?. No.
I agree we’re overdue for a serious discussion about the gun culture in the U.S- guns are an issue for everyone, kids and adults alike. But, as Lenore said, perspective is necessary, turning off the media coverage too. When my 11-year-old niece came home from school today, having walked home with her 6-year-old brother, she expressed concern about walking alone, bringing up the shootings. I said the first thing that popped into my head: “The kids weren’t shot when they were walking home.” Which, well, isn’t precisely the point, but people do have a way of extrapolating fears, expanding them in a way that causes more damage than it prevents.
@Elizabeth Fuller, thank you for your eloquent comment. I feel like forwarding it verbatim to our principal who has, yes, already emailed all the parents with a plan for stepping up security measures at our elementary school.
Lenore, I love your site and agree with your overall message. But I wish you hadn’t used the opportunity to get on your soapbox right now. It’s just not the time.
I live in Connecticut having a cousin teaching in that school system but for a different grade. That makes others less likely to pay attention when I point out how rare these things are.
The increase in the coverage and the area reached by 24/7 news lets us now hear repeatedly about every incident from halfway across the country. The constant non-stop coverage has been too much. It would be one thing if it was limited to what happened. But any facts are buried in the reports with all of the speculation. Many early reports said there was another gunman. Like most in a newscast, the result is not very informative but only serves to scare people more than necessary.
One DJ told people to avoid stressing out the kids by shutting off the TV and radio but then continued to rehash unconfirmed rumors.
As for guns, Just after a tragedy is not the time to make laws, policy or rules because they tend to be very flawed or one sided. A future date allowimg tempers to cool down and have a sane discussion can be set.
Amen. If someone wants to go and shoot up a place that doesn’t naturally have lots of security, it will happen no matter what precautions are taken. Turning all our school into locations with prison-like security isn’t the solution.
One more outcome we couldn’t control.
Did it teach us anything?
Maybe it will teach us grace, and show us meaningful ways to bring about safety and peace.
I’m saddened, sick, and angry all at once.
I agree with Lenore. Turn off the TV! Fear hysteria has become part of our normal life. This helps to;
Raise the â€œI don’t trust anyoneâ€ attitude
Tear down community.
Increase the desire to bubble wrap children
Hinders children to develop social skills
Cripples their education on how to deal with problems
Increases anxiety and depression
Therefore the fear hysteria is partially what CAUSES things like this to happen.
The Connecticut massacre claimed the lives of 20 children. No doubt you will hear about this story 100 times. Therefore your brain will store this 100 times. Therefore it will be almost like 20 x 100 deaths. You can become as stressed as if 2,000 children were killed!
I hear people say all the time. â€œYou must watch the news. Don’t you care what happened? Don’t you feel their pain? How can you be so uncaring?â€
I feel like answering back. â€œIf my neighbors house burns down, I don’t burn down my house so that I can sympathize with them.â€
Joining the fear hysteria does not help the victims. It’s part of the problem.
First off, while I know a shooting occurred, I turned from the Big 3 stations when they put all their big-gun anchors to sit there and constantly rehash what happened.
Secondly, for those who advocate stricter gun control, it’s not going to solve anything. Great Britain restricts gun access but that still didn’t stop the killing of school kids in Scotland a few years back. If a person wants a gun badly enough he’s going to find a way to get one, legally or illegally.
FredTownWard has the most insightful comment on this post. Its hard to get inside the head of this sick boy (certanly I connot call him a man) because I am not mentaly insaine, but it’s obvious that he was looking for an opportunity to take as many innocent lives as possible. Gun control laws in Conn already prevented him from LEGALLY owning a firearms, the guns used were registered to his mom (who he killed). I’ve wished for some time now that they would post a police cruiser in front each school in my town in order to act as a deterant to people speeding, making illegal left turns, ect. In order to protect the children who bike and walk from traffic. A police cruiser parked outside of the Sandy Hook Elementary School would have absolutely been a deterant to this pshyco as well.
This is a highly emotional time that is wearing on all of us. No doubt you will also receive criticism that’s more emotional than usual.
Stay strong and remember
You’re quite a role model for your son. That’s important. That’s most important. That’s where they do the most learning. Kids don’t always take the advice of their parents. However, they never fail to mimic them – good and bad. They mimic them on how to bounce back or how to be afraid of the world.
On the day that you became the worlds worst mom, the world jumped all over you in a big way! It affected your column. I imagine that the paper wondered how many of your readers would drop off. Things were stressful emotionally and financially.
Fast forward a few years
You wrote a book.
You have a blog.
You have a TV show.
I’m not just blowing smoke. I have a great interest about how people can take a bad situation and turn things around. I’ve studied this for years. That and how the brain works are what I’m dedicated to the most.
I think that one of the best things a parent can give to their children is to teach them how to pick themselves up after a fall. That’s also why I’m so much against helicopter parenting. Falling is part of adulthood. It use to be part of childhood as well. Kids use to be able to practice picking themselves up before going through the pitfalls of adulthood. Some of those falls can get very serious.
Bubble wrapped kids know that the day is coming when they won’t have their protective bubble anymore. They also know that there are some serious pitfalls in adulthood that they’re going to encounter. This can be VERY scary knowing that they have little training on how to ‘bounce back’. This is a big reason why anxiety and depression is on the rise.
THEREFORE, THE FREE RANGE MOVEMENT IS HELPING TO PREVENT TRAGEDIES SUCH AS THE CONNECTICUT MASSACRE!
Hang in there. We need you.
I wish there was a ‘like’ option on these threads. I would like quite a few posts including Sarah and Donald right before me.
My children were scheduled to stay at my mom’s house tonight because we had a Christmas banquet to attend and I was in the choir so I didn’t feel that it would be in anyone’s best interest for me to bring them. It also made sense for them to sleep at her house because we were done later than their bedtime, and why wake them. I’ve been reading so many facebook comments about hugging our children a little tighter tonight, and I started to feel a bit guilty that I had sent them off.
And then I realized that I truly believe in the “it take a village” mentality, and that it’s really good for my kids to spend time with other people. So I’m going to go to bed tonight and I choose to be thankful that other people matter to my children and that the highest probable thing to happen is me giving them a big hug tomorrow like I normally do when I pick them up safe and sound. And if that’s not what happens, I’ll be the same kind of overwhelmingly sad as I would have been if something tragic happened to them when they were at home.
Things happen in life that suck no matter what.
I sure am praying for the families all around the world today who have lost someone they love or have watched terrible things happen. May God give us renewed hope, compassion for our brothers and sisters (globally), and perseverance to work toward a brighter future!
The way I have been framing it in my own mind is as a horrific, unimaginable *personal* tragedy for everyone involved. But that is not the same thing as a *national* or *political* tragedy. I have personally known several different parents roughly my age who lost their children to diseases, and they carry that sorrow with them every day, and I feel that haunted mixture of compassion for them and fear lest it happen some day to me. But I’m not demanding that Barack Obama do something about it. It isn’t “news.”
Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That is the ultimate political, world-wide, something-ought-to-be-done-about-it tragedy.
@Jill. Each time that a tragedy such as this happens, too many people say that now is not the time to discuss it. If not now when? I am not saying to override the need to mourn, but to take this moment and move forward with reasoned debate, not the usual rhetoric. The time to strike is while the iron is hot.
Lenore. Thank you for continuing to be a voice of reason
I teach. We had an event last evening. Several of us went out to eat before. A member of the public came up and asked us about school security. She started in on the “if we only had prayer in school this wouldn’t happen” tract.
I smiled. My coworkers rolled their eyes and braced themselves.
I sweetly said you do realize the 2 largest mass killings in schools in the US happened decades before Murray V Curlett ended school prayer in 1963.
The largest mass murder was when a tax protesting school board member murdered his family, set his farm on fire (luring cops and fire out of town), blew up the school, got school board members responding to the explosion to stand near his car which he blew up. 38 kids, 6 adults, and the mass murder were killed. That was Bath in 1927.
The largest disaster was in 1937 with 295 students and staff killed in a natural gas explosion at the New London School in Texas. (That did result in strict laws about what training a person using the title engineer must have in Texas and the addition of the “rotten egg smell” to odorless natural gas)
The lady who expected us to say yes we need school prayer gulped air and retreated.
Well, count on Americans to politicize the grief of parents of a roomful of murdered five-year-olds.
Turns out, last I heard, this man did not own the guns he used. Connecticut has relatively strict gun laws, and he didn’t qualify to own one. His mom (apparently a responsible Kindergarten teacher) did. Son first shot mom in the face and then killed all those kids after a gap of time.
This was not about gun laws. This was about an extremely sick young man who did NOT own a gun but was determined to kill.
From what I heard, the guns he took into the classroom were two pistols he had to actually reload in order to kill as many people as he killed.
What gun laws would have prevented this? Only a complete ban on all guns in civilian hands. If we’re willing to consider that over 20 child deaths, we must first ban automobiles, because they kill a lot more children every month.
This kind of incident (involving a roomful of young children) has NEVER happened before in the USA (though it has happened in other countries). Why would we think it would ever happen again? Why would we think we need a law to prevent any other human from being deranged enough to do this?
If this country needs to change any laws in response to this, it’s the way we handle mental health, not guns. I’m as conservative as the day is long, but even I believe we don’t prioritize mental health services enough in this country – not even close. Would a better mental health program have prevented this tragedy? I don’t know. But as far as making this country a better, safer place to live, it would be a good start.
And this one person in one fell swoop harmed more children than all the high profile sex abuse cases combined, and is still rarer than rare.
agreed, turn off the tv. period. the radio too. unfortunately, my middle schooler came home yesterday to announce that their bus driver told everyone about it on their ride home in the afternoon. sick.
I’m all for free range parenting, I am. But please take that photo down. Am I the only one that’s irked that the media keeps using this photo/video of other people’s kids? The scariest moment of their life and the photo of it is now everywhere.
You don’t have permission to use that photo from either the photographer or those children’s parents. Whether you think this is a rare incident or not, have some respect for the families.
China recently had a incident where a mentally ill man stabbed 22 people, mostly children. China is calling for more attention on helping the mentally ill, while the US is re-visiting the gun laws. This is exactly why our kids will NEVER be safe. Not while they are being raised by such paranoid adults who refuse to focus on the REAL problem and prefer to focus on blaming an OBJECT rather than the person who committed the crime. All it takes is a little common sense, but obviously few people have that in this country. The weapon is not the problem. Our ignorance of the mentally ill and focusing on the wrong thing all the time is what keeps these things happening. Doesn’t matter how much we make our schools like prisons or whether or not we ban guns. If a person wants to harm/kill…they will. People really need to wake up and admit the truth of that. The number of people who refuse to see the real problem and work to fix that is what scares me most. As a person who has struggled with mental illness in the past I know exactly how most view them and know exactly how isolating and alone and angry a person in that state of mind can feel. Most would not and do not harm others…but there are thousands of people in need of help and support in a country that is shutting down mental health hospitals left and right and ignoring the ones in desperate need of help. Casting them onto the streets. That is the problem, or at least part of it. It is so obvious, yet ignored beause the agenda to ban an inanimate object is the “answer” to so many blind foolish people. That sickens me just as much as the crime itself. We can truly only blame ourselves for it all.
Cathy all the kids survived in China because they were attacked with knives. Now is the time to talk about gun control and why we outpace everyone else in the civilized world with gun deaths.
@MBS, when you are out in public, you are subject to being a part of press film. That’s freedom of the press, a recognized right in this country. I was recently on the TV for a story having to do with those funny little mini cars. Not the coopers, the smaller ones. They didn’t get my best features, I looked silly gawking and pointing at the little car. I wasn’t asked for my permission, it was there anyways.
People use article pics all the time on their blogs. This is how the 1st Amendment works, so deal.
Kj131-love how you completely ignored the fact that 20-50 people have died during the epidemic of school attacks(with knives) in China…also the Fact that the UK where guns are banned has more violent crimes than the US. I would respect anti gun folk more if they had the intelligence to educate themselves. But of course they are far too busy trying to “fix” things by banning guns…yeah that has worked for others(um nope it hasn’t) but since you think it will I guess that is what makes focusing on that the “right” thing to do #facepalm
Ignoring the mentally ill will not make them go away…but you all have fun in you magucal fairytale world where banning guns fixes everything. The crime rate won’t change, but at least you will “feel” safer. And that is the only thingbthat matters to most Americans. The feeling of safety, not the reality. The shear stupidity of it all gives me a headache
I didn’t find out about this massacre until I came home from spending a wonderful day at my children’s elementary school- the heritage day celebration. I walked in (no locked doors) with “strangers” and helped them sign the book to get their guest stickers; They were grandparents of one of my daughter’s classmates. I met many more extended family members while we ate bratwurst, pizzelles, homemade pasta, pavlovas and learned about the many diverse backgrounds of families in the community.
Compare and contrast that to the news reports of this insane man and what he did to this school. Most of the news stories focused on school security (even though the Conn. school had a locked door policy) which baffles me. This was a random act of a madman in a gun free zone. Prison-like security could not protect these kids. I feel sick to my stomach for what these parents of the victims must be going through. But I don’t think the answer is to build our elementary schools like fortresses.
According to the news reports I’ve read, he shattered glass to get in. So should we build schools like WWII bunkers?
My first guess, just based on what has come out, is that the shooter hated his mother for some reason and wanted to destroy both her and something important to her. So he killed her and then tried to kill all of the children to whom she gave time and attention and her coworkers who tried to stop him.
This is not a school security issue. There are not copies of this man lurking in every school bus zone waiting to get in. If she had been a 7-11 clerk we would now be mourning 7-11 workers and shoppers.
I have friends swearing they’ll homeschool and so terrified they’re watching their children sleep.
I’m heartbroken for those children and families that were affected by that mad man.
After my initial urge to go get my children, I realized we were across the country and they were fine. And Monday I’ll send them back to school.
We had a mall shooting here this week, but today we’ll be going to a mall to finish christmas shopping. You can’t allow the lightening strikes prevent you from going out in the rain.
I do think the gun culture in this country needs to be revised. Why exactly did what appears to be a housewife from an upscale suburban neighborhood have 3 guns, including a semi-automatic weapon, in her home? Gun control laws don’t really get us anywhere but we do need a change in our gun-obsessed culture. And we need to stop the irrational fear that likely causes a suburban housewife to feel that she needs semi-automatic weapons in her home
Our mental health system needs help, but there is no indication that it failed here. Clearly this man was mentally ill, but there is no indication of any prior mental health treatment as yet. He is right at the age where these things start to become apparent. There may have been indications that people identify in hindsight, but hindsight is 20/20.
However, now is not the time to discuss either. I have yet to see a discussion, and resulting laws, tied to tragedies bring good. Laws named after cute kids are some of the worst on the books. They are reactionary and do nothing to really address any of the problems that exist in the US.
I think we need to let the people who have the evidence to sift through it and try to understand it before we jump on the gun control or mental health or whatever the cause celebre bandwagon of this tragedy will end up being.
. . . I agree about the gun laws; I’d also like it better recognized that marriage involves children, and child raising, and people should not be married until they do some kind of serious advance preparation. Our society has an interest in sound marriages.
I would very much welcome a one-page schematic noting the similarities and differences between these kinds of terror attackers.
Right now, my impression, impression that it, is that these characteristics are:
4.) socially disconnected, often due to broken homes
5.) affluent enough to afford expensive guns and toys
6.) socially backward (i.e., called a “loner”, although this mistakes the symptom for the cause)
My GUT on this is that these characteristics may also obtain:
1.) watches too much screen (TV, computer)
2.) enjoys violent video games (yes, Captain America is very anti-violent movies and video games: America has a distorting and sickening glut of sex and violence)
3.) has not been given increasing responsibilities in childhood as he’s grown up
This “snapping” also seems to happen to wives of a certain age; the past month of so we have seen several instances of women killing their children.
Where’s this pressure coming from? What is it? Does our society no longer provide the necessities for family life?
How many gun-owners did not shoot up schools yesterday? For what purpose are they to be punished?
For that matter, how many people died in car accidents yesterday?
FredTownWard & Cathy, thank you. And please keep up the good work.
My husband mentioned this morning that he thinks that all the crazy are comming out right now because they think that the world is ending (the whole Mayan apolocolyps thing.) I think he is right. When you have a physco who feels that the world is ending I do not think that any law is going to stop him. I live in California and we have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, including an assult riffle ban. Of course that does not stop me from hearing a story at least weekely of some innocent child in the LA area being caught in the crosshairs of a gan shootout. Of course none of those weaopons are legal. If humans/ drugs can be smuggled over the mexican border certanly weapons are just as easy.
School violence is not new. Years ago I was doing family history research and came across a story of three brothers poisoning a school well with arsenic, in the early 1900’s I believe. Thankfully no one was hurt. But school violence isn’t new. What’s new is our vast access to instant news.
Gun ownership is not the problem. And I don’t think that carrying a weapon makes me a paranoid freak. I do believe that trying to restrict access (more so) to guns will not fix the problem of violence in our country.
I strongly believe that the only way to stop the violence in our country towards children is for parents to get off their phones/iPads/television, spend a little less time working toward a perfect life for their children and start TALKING and SPENDING TIME with their children. Too many kids have been stuck in front of tv, expected to raise themselves without the support they so desperately need from adults.
I don’t think you can “fix” violent tendencies in adults…you have to prevent them in childhood. Spend some time with your kids….everyday.
I don’t think it’s helpful to blame parents (or overgeneralize about parenting) either.
I firmly believe that some kids are born with extremely faulty wiring.
“4.) socially disconnected, often due to broken homes”
Well they are socially disconnected, but not usually from broken homes. This is what I mean by jumping on some bandwagon with one little tidbit of facts. The news mentions divorced parents and suddenly he is a product of a broken home. It is my understanding that his parents just divorced a couple years ago – when he was an adult or damn near one. Unless they were separate for many years prior to divorcing, he was not raised in a broken home. And to my recollection all the other mass killers that I can think of off the top of my head – Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora – all came from intact families, not divorced.
SKL- faulty wrining is correct. This country has a huge mentail health problem.
I just wanted to mention something positive here. My school district superintendent sent home an amazingly sane and intelligent letter to parents, urging them to: 1) stay away from the media, 2) stay calm because their kids are taking cues from them, and 3) to help their kids realize that this incident is not a reality for them. He did also offer help/counseling for those that need it, but that was not the main focus of the letter. I was so impressed! Especially since I was expecting something completely different. Every school district needs a great leader like this!
Maybe school shootings don’t happen all that often, but crazy people with guns in crowded places happens all too often in this country. Here’s a list of 27:
This doesn’t even count events such as the one in my home town where the police shot the guy outside a combined elementary and middle school campus.
Other countries do not have this problem to this degree. Treating these events as “rare” and “unlikely” implies that it’s not worth taking action to better treat and monitor our mentally ill, or to control access to hundred-round-ammunition clips, or to have an honest discussion about the effects of gun culture on our society.
I don’t want to propose a new gun control law on this forum, and like other readers of this forum, I believe there is a difference between acting and over-reacting.
But, we don’t have to be helpless. This should not become the “new normal.”
Thank you Lenore for your comments.
I think everyone’s initial reaction is to try to prevent tragedies like this. Of course we feel if we can find a way to prevent them we can be in control, and it won’t happen to us. But a major part of the free range philosophy is that we can not prevent these tragedies. We can use common sense, but we have to accept the fact that we are not in control, and we can’t keep our kids 100% safe no matter what safety measures we implement.
I homeschool and I already here people in the homeschool community saying, They are glad they keep their kids home. Of course they feel in control. But madmen break into homes and murder families as well. If you think you can do anything to prevent such a tragedy from happening to you, you are deluding yourself. Still it probably won’t happen to you.
In addition to the horrible school tragedy, a beautiful young mother I know died of cancer yesterday. A friend of mine is a week from the first anniversary of her 4 y/o’s death from a freak infection that resulted from common stomach flu. We are not in control.
My heart breaks for those suffering as a result of this. But my heart also breaks for those who are wasting the precious time they have with their kids worriying and trying to keep them safe at the expense of letting them enjoy life to the fullest.
I would really, really like to see this as the start of a mental health education campaign.
Parents, teachers, coworkers and employers need to know the signs of when something is wrong. They need to know how to get help for a person who may be a danger to others.
I would also like to see more people come forward about mental health issues to get rid of the stigma, both for the individual and for families. Getting help is not something that should be looked down on.
We will probably never know if the mother saw signs of this coming. It does sound like the young man was perhaps getting help. Certainly people who want to hide things can do so. But perhaps if more people had been out in the open about their own issues, much like Brook Sheilds was with her postpartum depression, maybe this could have prompted him to talk to someone first.
I disagree. I’m from France and in my 39 years I can only remember this happening ONCE in France with a couple people shot and that was a radical Muslim killing Jewish kids. Kids in France do not need to have drills for mass shooting, it only happens here. One of the main reasons is the availability of fire arms, it’s close to impossible to own a fire arm in France other than a hunting rifle. Here we say people kill not guns, it is utterly stupid and the antiquated constitution that was designed for a “frontier” country desperately needs to be updated to work in the 21 st century realities.
Yesterday morning before all this happened hubby and I were driving around doing some shopping with our 2.5 year old. She’s going to be starting daycare soon and that got me to thinking about kindergarten and such, and I turned to hubby and said “I don’t know how I’m going to feel about putting her on the school bus one day. Who’s taking care of them once they’re on the bus, and when they get to school. How do you know they’re okay?”. I’m trying not to let this prey on my fears. I just keep reminding myself that millions of children went to school yesterday and came home find, and millions more will do so tomorrow. When we live in fear, evil has won.
I cried like a baby reading the news reports. Those families whose kids didn’t come home yesterday…All I can do is hold my own baby a little tighter and remind myself that everyday with her is a gift, not a given.
I heard about this when I was headed out of work to pick up my daughter. I turned on the radio someone was introduced by name, who I did not recognize. He started talking about numbers of children and others killed, secondary sights, and the bomb squad. I held my breath (and stopped the car) my brain kept screaming WHERE??? WHERE??? I remembered how the kids got it the worst during the Oklahoma City bombing. How my daughter’s daycare was at the base of a sky scrapper, filled with… well I don’t know but lots of uniformed military personnel walk around those buildings.
I remembered what Lenore says about everything felling local, so I changed the station, same conference. Now my heart was pounding, I turned onto the main road and could see no flashing lights, no bomb squad. So then I worried about my husband, he was on a base, across the street from a school. Finally I switched back and found out it was in Connecticut.
At synagogue I lingered a bit on the readings preceding the Mourner’s Kaddish. The first starts… “When I die” near the end it say “remember me by hands touching hands, and by giving freedom to children who need to be free.” Reading 5 was all about the dangers of living in our grief instead of our joys. A caution not to mourn too much because grief can overwhelm us all if we allow it to.
I love the teacher, who in the midst of something horrible happening, told the children she loved them all very much and that they would be okay. She wanted that to be the last thing the kids heard, rather than gunfire. I hope that people who are feeling afraid to send their kids out of the house realize there are more people like THAT in every school who would treat other people’s children as their own. The world is not entirely safe, but we have to trust each other to take care of each other.
CS, on December 14th, 2012 at 8:24 pm Said:
How much of your Constitutional rights are you willing to compromise for a reaction?
The real question is:
How many of your children are you willing to sacrifice in order to uphold your Constitutional rights?
Would you like to have a mentally disoriented citizen to enforce his Constitutional rights on you?
In a country of 300 million and a world of 7 billion people, there are sometimes crazy people who kill others and today we immediately hear about it repeatedly and look for answers.
The immediate knee-jerk reflex — ban bad things forever.
Intentions are one thing and reality is another. Banning guns for bad people is neither an answer to America’s problems nor even a possibility. There is less violence today, percentage-wise, than ever in history, although when bad things do happen, it’s huge news. But when there is violence, most of it is state-sponsored.
Is there an answer when horrible things happen? Maybe the best we can do is keep making things better. We already are.
Hi. My boyfriend’s sister worked at the school complex
next to the school shooting. They shared the same playground. She taught some of the kids last year
that were murdered. We may be driving up there tomorrow.
Please e-mail me, I’d like to discuss this with you.
PS. I’ the one who sister was denied the field trip with her child if she did not have the background check. I gave her your book to read. Thank you.
As all of the country is numbed with this tragedy, only a few days after the shooting at my local mall, I sought to give everyone in my circle that while this crime is a travesty it is not all that common. All those I talked with said I was wrong.
Imagine my delight when a discussion group on a PBS radio show contradicted the host by giving statistics about how few people were killed by shooters who kill more than three at a time. He compared that by saying in one year alone over 15,000 people are killed by gun toting assailants (those who don’t kill en masse).
Unfortunately, there is still a “end-of-the-world” mentality stomping around.
Then this morning there were two different internet articles about a kid who was arrested for planning a school shooting and another shooting killing two people in a hospital.
I must keep reminding myself this too is only temporary. CM
Okay, some real world evidence instead if ‘we all carried guns no-one would get shot (!!!!!)’ speculation.
First, it is entirely possible that what happened was a copy cat crime of sorts. The week before a man in China attacked 22 grade school children with a knife. It being a knife none died and only 5 needed hospital attention, for those of you who cling to ‘guns don’t kill people, people do’.
And further re. copy cat crimes, there is great deal of hard to argue with evidence that the media coverage these appalling events attract encourages other deranged folk to seek their 15 minutes of fame in the same way.
Second, in 1996 in Australia there was a mass killing involving assault weapons, in which 35 (about) people died. There had been 11 mass killings in the decades before. The Prime Minister, John Howard bit the bullet (awful pun), selflessly took a political hit and banned all assault rifles and pump action shot guns.
In the 16 years since there has been not one mass killing in Australia and overall gun deaths have declined, as has the murder rate generally because people who couldn’t kill others with guns didn’t use anything else to do so (like rocks and sticks and the other stuff the rusted-on guns for everyone crew like to offer as alternative murder devices).
So, the bad guys with guns didn’t have a field day either, which advocates of putting weapons mass murder in anyone’s hands like to maintain will happen if we aren’t all armed to the teeth.
Sorry if someone else posted this already. Haven’t read all the other posts.
I know you can’t reason someone out of what he or she didn’t reason his or herself into in the first place, so what actually happens in the real world won’t impress most of the people who have absorbed gun ownership as a central pillar of American identity.
I hope everyone has been following the advice of turning off the TV. And I recommend that everyone watch Bowling For Columbine which isn’t that much an anti-gun movie, it’s and anti-fear movie.
I hope our schools aren’t turned more into prisons or bank vaults than they already are. We don’t need to try to harden every target, we need to build strong interconnected communities that can project power outward to solve these problems rather than restrict our freedoms with bureaucracy.
And we need some revision of gun laws. No one needs a gun specifically designed to kill large numbers of humans at medium to short range. And we need to track gun sales better, and even ammunition sales.
As for those paranoid types who stockpile weapons in fear of an Agenda 21 takeover, you do not need your guns as much as you think you do. Nonviolent resistance can be surprisingly effective. Just look at the cases of MLK or Gandhi. And if you simply have to do something crazy, just look at the CIA sabotage manual distributed in Nicaragua in the 1980s, or study the Danish resistance to Nazi occupation. You don’t need your guns.
I can’t imagine what the parents who lost their children are going through. A good friend of mine lost her child when he was eleven when because of his health problems it was not really unexpected. The loss was still profound, and this must be so much worse.
Can’t let any of that pass.
Re knife attacks in China here’s the real picture:
As to the UK having a higher crime rate, in some categories it does but in the most salient one – murder – it is eclipsed by the US
Murders committed by youths UK 139 (Ranked 29th.) US 8,226 Ranked 3rd. 58 times more than United Kingdom
Murders with firearms UK 14 Ranked 29th. Ranked
US 9,369 1st. 668 times more than United Kingdom
DEFINITION: Total recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm. Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence.
SOURCE: The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2002) (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention)
For really up-to-date figures have a look at this:
I’m in favor of gun control. However, I also recognize that it won’t do very much. We need to address the problem of WHY so many have such a strong appetite for personal protection.
We talked about pedophiles, kidnappers, stranger danger, and the few incidences that get reported so often that many are afraid to let their kids play in their front yard! It’s the same with home invasion. The real cases are rare but it’s a great storyline for a TV drama. It get’s so much airtime that you’d think that it WILL happen to you. That’s why there is such a demand for a Mac 10. It’s a fully automatic that can be carried in a purse! (few people buy them for duck hunting) I’m embarrassed to say that I wanted one 30 years ago when I had a chip on my shoulder of monumental proportions!
Again, I’m in favor of banning assault weapons. However, targeting that without targeting the fear hysteria is like trying to cure the common cold by banning Kleenex tissues! It’s only a knee jerk reaction, a vote chaser, and a scapegoat.
I don’t blame the media either. They only supply what the public demand. Why is our appetite so strong for violent tv? Why do we demand NEWS to report things that we know are fake? Why do we love ‘yellow journalism’ so much?
I really love the fact that so many people are saying â€œTURN OFF THE DAMN TV!â€
My oldest son is about to join the USAF. And my husband served, too. And my father. And many other people in my life.
So the question “How many of your children are you willing to sacrifice in order to uphold your Constitutional rights?” frankly offends me.
Here is an interesting article on reactions to the shootings which includes a reference to Lenore Skenazy. http://reason.com/archives/2012/12/15/4-archetypally-awful-reactions-to-sandy/singlepage
Most psychotics do not hurt other people but research has revealed that most mass murderers are men in their late teens or early twenties, the peak time for the onset of psychosis, and that many of them showed signs of the sort of thought disorder typical of psychotics.
As a registered psychologist I am touched by the belief that people have that somehow we could pick the people who are risk to themselves and others. In actuality diagnosing mental disorder is very difficult and often different experts will give the same person different diagnoses.
It’s also very hard to tell the difference between the far end of normal teen issues and the onset of mental illness. When do messiness, slovenliness, inability to fulfill ordinary life expectations, grumpy withdrawal etc stop being teen on a bad day and turn into the precursor of full blown psychosis? I don’t know. Does anyone?
And part of the definition of mental illness is that people lack insight and may not be aware that they are the odd one out, instead of the rest of the world being the problem. They are scarcely going to ask for help if they do not think that they have problems.
As for ordinary folk being able to pick the signs of mass murder in the making I am sorry but that is just plain unreasonable. I have lost count of the number of times that the neighbours of someone who has done something dreadful say he seemed a normal person, good neighbour, a bit quiet maybe.
And parents tend to put behavior that’s an issue down to a phase their child will grow out of. They rationalise, they make allowances. They certainly don’t expect their child to do something unutterably dreadful.
Attempts to train people to recognise the danger that a young person will attempt severe self harm have been failures. That is because the act is very often the result of an impulse and you can’t predict an impulse. In fact impulsiveness is a better predictor than the usually cited depression.
Training the whole of America to be able to spot someone about to go off the rails big time is implausible. Best to make sure that the best the person can do for a weapon is a rock, pipe, stick or domestic appliance, as so often offered as a gun alternative by gun lovers.
Instead of arguing over gun control why not argue FOR better access to mental health resources?
@Jenn – I think Catherine Scott might have answered your question. It is simply more practical to limit access to guns, particularly automatic weapons, than it is to expect us to always recognise signs of mental illness.
Having been hunting a few times myself, I personally find it much easier to shoot something than to put a knife into that same thing, even once it is dead. Knives, clubs etc are very personal weapons – you have to get up close and very personal with the person/animal you intend on damaging. A gun is much more remote.
Limit guns, limit death. Not completely eliminate, but at least limit.
Mr. Seiner, so am I. Military trained, actually. The point of the rumbling about banning ‘this’ weapon or ‘that’ weapon is that they are ALL weapons, and most of the laws proposed are based on a bunch of cosmetic attachments that in no way change the functional aspect of the weapon itself. I don’t mind banning weapons or access to weapons, what I mind are asinine definitions like ‘assault weapon’ that do nothing but create a mythical difference between one type or another. As a firearms instructor you know that as well as I do. This young man used two commonly available, legal to own, legally owned, unmodified handguns. Not ‘assault weapons’. The guns he used would not have been covered had the AWB been in effect. It’s not the gun that is the problem.
Id rather hear about the irresponsible ownership of the mother possessing weapons in her house in an unsecured or easily accessible manner while knowing her son was legally barred from ever owning a weapon, not some blanket statement about how the Constitution needs to be re-written because of an anomaly.
I came to your post today to share a link
that points out that this kind of violence seemed to peak over 80 years ago, and that it’s fallen again over the last 20 years. It’s another case of the statistics being overwhelmed by the screaming media.
Yes, this is a tragedy, and it’s even worse when it happens to little kids like this. I’m so happy that most kids never have to deal with something like this.
We did have an incident like this in the 90s, close enough to where I lived that one young man with whom I worked called me, crying, because one of his friends had been shot (but lived, as I recall).
What we need to do is remember that this is a tragedy because it’s so rare.
Catherine Scott, I just want to say thank you for sharing you comments.
Catherine Scott, I will agree with you that diagnosing mental illness is difficult, even for the professional.
But if the reports are true, that this mother discontinued having bunko games at her house so that she could focus more on her son….that says to me that she knew that things were not right.
I don’t know if she was in the process of getting help for her son. But I do know, when my cousin, who was recently discharged from the military and living with my grandmother started behaving erratically and making odd threats, the hunting rifles were immediately removed from the home. A few weeks later, after other attempts were made and failed to get him to help himself, the issue was forced and law enforcement was called in. He spent a while in a mental hospital and had his ups and downs. About 20 years later, he is now stable and married. At the time no one thought that would be possible.
There are things that we can educate the public about mental illness. How to get help. Things that family can do at home – like remove guns and weapons from the house. Let people know what is going on. Do not be hindered by stigma in getting help.
Caring, attuned families can be of great assistance (and have been shown to help with full recovery).
But how many ill to the point of dangerous people live with such a family? How many left or were asked to leave when their difficulties became too much?
Or in the case of my own family, my uncle left the family home and moved to another state when the threats from his psychotic son, my cousin, got too much and too scary. Mental illness strains families to breaking point.
I like this quote about the gun as an object of almost religious veneration in American culture. Certainly the point about reason is spot on:
‘It has the power to destroy the reasoning process. It forbids making logical connections. We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. [ ] Reason is helpless before such abject faith.’
And harking back ot my words on ‘impulse’ you don’t even have to be diagnosably mad just under terrible pressure. I found this post of a website. Says a great deal, I think.
‘As one who has never owned a gun, and only fired a real one once, during military training, I recall that in my darkest days, even I once thought about going out in a blaze of glory. It was merely a narcissistic thought that I wasn’t sick enough to act upon, but it had its roots in the desperation and hopelessness of long term unemployment. When people see no way out for themselves, or no way up, they are capable of thinking strange thoughts and doing crazy things.
In a society in which winning is everything, and people are too soon branded as losers because they simply don’t have the skill sets, aptitudes, or interests that are currently in demand in the marketplace, and are therefore denied the means to survive, it isn’t so far fetched that many would have the same thoughts as I did, and a few would be nuts enough to act upon them. As a society, we cannot afford to condemn some to despair while making readily available to them the means to act out their desperate fantasies.’
This horrible event has absolutely nothing to do with gun control. And before people jump on that statement, let me state that I am not one to say what an individual should or should not own.
This was the work of a sick and deranged human being. And their is some truth and logic to the old saying “people kill people, guns do not”. Yes guns are the tool of preference for these maniacs, but stricter gun laws, or gun bans would not have changed a thing.
This individual would have killed no matter what, and would have just chosen a different tool. Friends and I talked about this last night, and one of the scariest thoughts was a car bomb at dismissal.
The public has to get past gun control, and deal with the real issues. Don’t go after the technology, go after the person using the technology.
My prayers and sympathy to all those touched by this horrible event.
I have learned a lot from Catherine Scott’s posting about mental illness, and I have been thinking a lot along these lines with all the calls for better access to mental health resources.
Yes, we need that. But, for one, the person or those around him/her need to recognize the need for mental health services, and two, the mental health patient needs to participate in his own care when taking advantage of those services.
All the resources in the world won’t matter if the patient doesn’t chose to avail himself of them.
I have thought of your blog each time I’ve heard the interviews about fear on NPR. This man was interviewed on Weekend Edition Saturday, and again here: http://www.npr.org/2012/12/17/167427990/why-tragedies-alter-risk-perception
Most interesting article I have seen about this:
Certainly, these things do seem to have become more common since 24hour news channels came along.
There is something I would like to add. We just had a shooting near me in Clackamas, Oregon on the 11th. What finally stopped the man was an armed civilian that pulled his own gun on the shooter. The attacker then committed suicide. Only two people died.
@Warren – if the ill individual who did the shooting did not have access to weapons that didn’t need repeated reloading, or indeed instead had used a club or other manual weapon, the chances of stopping him would have been much greater. I sought of see your point about the car bomb, but a car bomb would have required considerably more planning, and might therefore have also been ‘caught’ earlier. As it was, all this chap had to do was pick up readily available weaponry and put it to its intended use, i.e. the attacking of human beings. At least, with my admittedly limited understanding, the guns described didn’t sound like the kind you’d use for hunting, say, deer.
‘sort of’ – terrible spelling!
Even hunting rifles, and shotguns those just for hunting would have done just as much. For example a lever action hunting rifle will hold between 5 and 10 rounds, and can be fired quickly. Reload with a clip again and again. Shotguns are the same way. No they are not fully automatic, but in the confines of hallways and classrooms a shotgun would have done more damage.
This is not about gun control. If Americans let this be about gun control, the real problem won’t be addressed. How many men, women and children are killed every year by drunk drivers? their weapon of choice is a car, do we ban them as well? This is about deranged, sick individuals that do unpredictible horrible things.
And for the record, all those talk shows like Dr Phil, and Oz who ambushed Lenore, they are all doing special shows on this shooting to capitalize on the event. They should be ashamed.
Krista wrote There is something I would like to add. We just had a shooting near me in Clackamas, Oregon on the 11th. What finally stopped the man was an armed civilian that pulled his own gun on the shooter. The attacker then committed suicide. Only two people died.
Um, that is factually unaccurate. According to local news reports today, the armed civilian thought about taking a shot but realized he was likely to hit civilians. He never took a shot, and he took cover in a nearby store. “As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them,” he said.
Meli took cover inside a nearby store. He never pulled the trigger. He stands by that decision.
“I’m not beating myself up cause I didn’t shoot him,” said Meli.
Susan, why would he have to shoot the man to stop him? The attacker saw Meli and decided to commit suicide.
“I’m not beating myself up cause I didn’t shoot him,” said Meli. “I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself.”
Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2012/12/16/virtually-unreported-ccw-holder-likely-prevented-larger-clackamas-mall-d#ixzz2FNPrFMia
“I’m not beating myself up cause I didn’t shoot him,” said Meli. “I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself.”
Sorry for the double post, I didn’t mean to leave the link in the first one.
to missjanenc – Yes Scotland did experience something similar but shortly after gun laws were tightened even further (across all of the UK) and we have not had a similar event since – and it wasn’t a few years back it was 16 years ago
Norway in 2011 anyone?
By the way, I’m not so sure that getting help to people will prevent these things either – many of these mass shooters were taking SSRIs, which is a large part of what I expect that help would consist of.
More guns will help? Watch this: