On Friday, long-time National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre gave the official NRA response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Among other things, he called for Congress to appropriate funds to provide an armed police officer in every school in America. He blamed Hollywood and the American cult of violence as contributing factors to the shooting. He pointed to the need to separate guns from criminals and mental cases, and called for the creation of a National Shield School Program to protect the lives of students. Part of the program would be new designs for safer schools.
This was not at all what hard core gun control advocates wanted to hear. They wanted to hear the NRA finally say that certain types of weapons, notably assault rifles, should be banned in the United States. Mr. Pierre noted that the country already had enacted some 20,000 gun laws and a few more would not make any difference. He said that the only answer for a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was the perfect storm of gun violence. Adam Lanza, 20, was the stereotypical loner who had access to quite a cache of weapons legally purchased by his mother, a gun enthusiast who had purchased the weapons, including a Bushmaster XM-15 .223 caliber assault rifle, to protect her somewhat isolated $1.6 million dollar home from home invasion. Instead, she was shot by her troubled son, Adam, in her sleep, who then carried her weapons to the elementary school he had apparently never attended and went on his shooting spree.
Much has been made about the clip capacity of the assault rifle. Adam Lanza used 30-shot clips. The Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, carried two hand guns, a 9mm and a .22 caliber, with much smaller capacity clips, and killed several more people than Lanza.
The school and principal and other administrators were away from their offices at Sandy Hook Elementary, so if they had guns there in locked cabinets, they did not have time to get to them. Three women including principal, Dawn Hochsprung, heard the shots that shattered the locked glass entrance door to the school. Ms. Hochsprung and two other women, including the school psychologist, confronted the gunman, who promptly shot them, killing the principal and psychologist. Gunman Lanza, having already murdered his mother, was on a tight kill schedule before committing suicide, so he was in no mood to negotiate.
The teachers did as they were trained to do, shepherding their first grade students into their classrooms, locking the door and trying to hide them in closets. One teacher, Natalie Hammond, pressed her body against the classroom door to keep it closed. Lanza shot Hammond through the door in the leg and arm, for which she was later treated at Danbury Hospital. Mark Natalie Hammond as a hero. She actually accomplished her mission, however hastily conceived, by isolating her students from the gunman, even though wounded.
The principal and other adults acted bravely, confronting the gunman without carrying any weapons themselves, and were killed. Teacher Victoria Soto got her students to hide in closets and cupboards before the gunman came upon them. When asked where her students were, she replied, they were in the auditorium, which might have worked, except that some of the students betrayed her by running for it, and were immediately gunned down. Their actions got themselves killed and also their teacher. Their teacher has been hailed as a superhero, which is kind of comical inasmuch as we generally think of superheroes as comic book characters. She apparently faced the gunman with composure and courage, but died without stopping the gunman, although some of her students remained quiet and survived.
In fact, none of the adults stopped Adam Lanza, or significantly slowed him down. Generally speaking, in classical literature, a hero is noted for accomplishing something important. The hero wins the day, defeats the enemy. David slays Goliath. Yet, the hero “badge,” if you will, was liberally distributed that awful December 14th, as though it were somehow compensation for so many lives lost.
Mr. Lapierre’s call for police in every school would be very expensive to carry out. The Democrats will not support it, as it will appear that they are on the same side as the NRA. They want money to paint schools and hire back teachers laid off due to budget cuts, not put armed guards in every one of the thousands of schools in this country.
But the people are already ahead of Congress, in this regard. In some schools, selected teachers carry concealed handguns. There are schools in dangerous areas in New York City that are patrolled by city cops and are equipped with metal detectors meant to protect teachers and students from armed students; sad, but true.
LaPierre’s idea of designing safer schools architecturally merits consideration. If Sandy Hook Elementary had been constructed with a locked vestibule, Mr. Lanza would have been stopped right there. It would not be farfetched to have a guard post by the front door manned by a retired police officer or military veteran, who could sound the alarm in the school, put in a call to the police and repel the invader with armed force, if necessary. Parents will support measures that appear affordable and sensible to them.
It is not inconceivable that Congress will renew the Brady Bill and prevent the sales of assault rifles despite the popularity of these weapons. Congress would make it unlawful to order ammunition over the internet and ban the sale of high capacity ammunition clips that can be loaded with 30 bullets or more. It could require more in the way of background checks from sales at gun shows, limit the types of guns that can be sold at these shows, or ban the sale of weapons at the shows altogether.
I generally support these measures. I believe in the right of self-defense and the right to hunt, neither of which requires a military type of weapon. Of course, the assault rifle is more deadly that most other rifles and shotguns. I don’t like it because it violates the compact between the individual and society, that the individual must be mightily armed against society, that part of society that might harm him or his property. Society goes to great length to defend the citizen against harm. Though the heavily armed police that arrived at the scene in Newtown, Connecticut came too late to save the 26 slain students and staff adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, their arrival prompted the gunman to put an end to his rampage by shooting himself.
Before the assassination of President Kennedy, it was possible to buy a World War II surplus rifle equipped with a telescopic sight from the back pages of sports magazines. Lee Harvey Oswald ordered such a gun, an Italian 6.5mm carbine, and shot the president with it. Any kid could send in a postal money order, of $29.95, or such, to the post office box address and receive the weapon in the mail—simple as that. Not after the Kennedy assassination; a ban on mail order guns remains in effect today.
So, it is possible for the state to mobilize the resources and authority to limit the use of firearms in this country—but it must have the support of legally armed citizens to successfully do so. Unarmed gun control advocates do not have the moral high ground in this debate, in my opinion, because they are satisfied to cede too much power to the state, which someday might ruthlessly use it power against its citizens. A disarmed citizenry is the mark of a totalitarian state regardless of how you interpret the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. However dysfunctional, this is still a free country.
The state, however, is nearly bankrupt. It is conducting a war in Afghanistan and must remain prepared to fight other international bad guys if the time comes. It failed badly in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in which 1,800 Americans perished. People watched in disbelief as bodies floated by in the flood waters and asked “Is this America?” Police walked off the job. Actor Sean Penn armed himself with a shotgun when he came to New Orleans to help with the rescue.
Recently, the City of Detroit issued a travel advisory, to enter the city at your own risk. The center is losing its grip. The taxpayer has spent lavishly on the public sector, to the point that millions of Americans actually want to pay lower taxes. The government has allowed millions of illegal immigrants from countries with high murder rates into the U.S., and has not enforced immigration laws other than to occasionally bust inter-state Mexican drug chains claiming turf over thousands of square miles of the United States.
With diversity is coming disorder, and millions of Americas are arming themselves against it.
Are there too many guns in America? Yes. Is it in the best interest of the state and its citizens to limit the numbers and types of weapons available to criminals and mentally dangerous individuals like Adam Lanza? Yes. There were too many guns in the Lanza household. At the center of this massacre/tragedy, was Nancy Lanza, Adam’s divorced mother. She had armed herself against civil disorder should the center not hold, when the disorder was in her own son, whom she coddled and protected from outside scrutiny. America has given over too much of its soul to guns and gun culture.
We will probably never know at what point Adam Lanza crossed an internal line from being a merely troubled youth to youth hell-bent on murdering children and the adults trying to protect them. He smashed his computer’s hard drive. His secret self became his fatal self. Maybe one Mortal Kombat too many, one girl friend too few. Maybe he was bullied and teased as a child. He certainly planned the massacre and dressed in black combat gear including a bullet-proof vest (The purchase of this kind of equipment should set of a red flag). At some point, Adam Lanza gave up trying to live and planned how to die.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting caused instant shock and international response. The people of Newtown, Connecticut have been visited by celebrities and offers of aid and sympathy from around the world. The grieving has been heartfelt, lavish, and all too familiar. After the grieving—which will never end for those most intimately affected—comes the healing cued by the TV stations that must rush to the next tragedy. You the reader/viewer will move on too, perhaps back to older news like the after affects of Hurricane Sandy, twin star of hurt in our part of the country.
Are you feeling lucky today?
By Hudson Owen. All Rights Reserved.