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Many dead in Connecticut primary school shooting
December 14, 2012 2:19 PM   Subscribe

The BBC is reporting that police arrived at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut soon after 09:40 local time today, answering reports that a gunman was in the school's main office.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "...according to State Police spokesman Paul Vance, the gunman entered the school and fired at students and staff in one section – two rooms – at the school." Lt Vance later said 18 children were pronounced dead at the school, and two died after they were taken to hospital. Six adults were also killed. The gunman died at the scene. The Wall Street Journal reports state police saying another victim was found dead elsewhere in Newtown, putting the total toll at 28.

Early reports named 24-year-old Ryan Lanza as the gunman, but officials later said his brother Adam, 20, was the suspect. Ryan Lanza was being questioned by police, the Associated Press and New York Times reported.

There is a currently rapidly evolving wikipedia page on the shooting.
posted by Wordshore (3142 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Note to all: we discussed this and are going to go with this as the topical thread. Thanks everyone for being patient while the news did its thing. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 2:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2012


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posted by tykky at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2012


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And then !

!!!!!
posted by RakDaddy at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2012


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posted by curuinor at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2012


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posted by tonycpsu at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2012


My heart goes out to the families of the children and of the teacher killed by her own adult child.

Newtown is as peaceful a place as I can think of in Connecticut. And for a person to enter a K-4 elementary school and kill children ... it just speaks to incredible illness.
posted by zippy at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


A transcript of President Obama's address to the nation earlier this afternoon.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by radwolf76 at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2012


I don't usually think of the cops in these kinds of situations but that would have to be a crime scene that would haunt you to your grave.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [84 favorites]




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posted by marimeko at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012


"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." -Fred Rogers
posted by Blasdelb at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [341 favorites]


This is good. Thank you for setting it up this way.
posted by Auguris at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012


It's disturbingly similar to the Dunblane primary school massacre that prompted the UK's handgun ban.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2012


Fred Rogers' advice on how to talk to kids about things like this, Tragic Events in the News [Coral Cache Backup Link], helped me with my feelings about this, and I'm a grown man.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [40 favorites]



I don't usually think of the cops in these kinds of situations but that would have to be a crime scene that would haunt you to your grave.


I had a neighbor who was a cop who responded to Columbine. He confirmed your supposition.
posted by caryatid at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is heartbreaking. I was already upset about the knife attack on 22 children in a school in China earlier this morning, and now this. My heart is filled with poison and my head is drowning in evil.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]




A thorough Washington Post story. A story from the Hartford, Connecticut Courant.

The home at 36 Yogananda Street was the propert of Nancy Lanza and Peter J. Lanza. Nancy Lanza is confirmed dead at the school.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2012


MetaTalk thread about how best to handle this topic. There are also people using the chat server for real-time discussion.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2012


If there is a sign of hope in the world today, it's that we broke Mr. Rogers' webpage.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [53 favorites]


As a new parent, I have noticed a difference in my reactions to any tragic news involving children (Syria, Sandy, Bopha, and now Newtown). It's much, much more visceral and I find myself almost frozen in an indescribable state of terror and guilt.

. for the victims.

. for the lack of words to accurately describe my feelings.

! for my imminent action to donate to the Brady Center and any other organization dedicated to helping make sure this cannot occur again.
posted by CancerMan at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


Nobody died in the Chinese knife attack so far. Guns, they are part of the problem.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [63 favorites]


My employer is local news site Patch.com. People from all over the world are leaving condolences on the Newtown Patch facebook page. Also on the local site there is a list of memorium prayer services in the area if you want to help in some way. Personally I'm really busted up over this. It's a bad day.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2012


The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed
There are already a good number of public figures and organizations today (nevermind internet commentors like us) who have made it publicly known that they don't seem to notice or care about the first three words.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


If Guns Do Not Kill, Tax the Bullets
“These mostly simple machines last forever,” Mr. Moynihan said.

But he wasn’t through.

“On the other hand, we have only a three-year supply of ammunition.”

His solution: Increase the tax on bullets. He wouldn’t raise the tax on ammunition typically used for target shooting or hunting. But he proposed exorbitant taxes on hollow-tipped bullets designed to penetrate armor and cause devastating damage.

“Ten thousand percent,” Mr. Moynihan said.

That would have made the tax on a 20-cartridge pack of those bullets $1,500. “Guns don’t kill people; bullets do,” said Senator Moynihan, a Democrat who died in 2003.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [111 favorites]


They were interviewing a fourth grade boy on the radio who described what they heard from the gym and how they all hid in the supply closet before being evacuated by the police. They saw a guy facedown on the ground, handcuffed. I had to switch stations after that because I started crying, even though the kid sounded calm, but jesus fuck. No one, let alone an 8-year-old, should have to go through that.
posted by book 'em dano at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fred Roger's Advice for talking about Tragic Events in the News
"In times of community or world-wide crisis, it's easy to assume that young children don't know what's going on. But one thing's for sure -- children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They're keenly aware of the expressions on their parents' faces and the tone of their voices. Children can sense when their parents are really worried, whether they're watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a “crisis,” it’s especially scary for children to realize that their parents are scared.

Some Scary, Confusing Images:
The way that news is presented on television can be quite confusing for a young child. The same video segment may be shown over and over again through the day, as if each showing was a different event. Someone who has died turns up alive and then dies again and again. Children often become very anxious since they don’t understand much about videotape replays, closeups, and camera angles. Any televised danger seems close to home to them because the tragic scenes are taking place on the TV set in their own livingroom. Children can't tell the difference between what's close and what's far away, what's real and what's pretend, or what's new and what's re-run.

The younger the children are, the more likely they are to be interested in scenes of close-up faces, particularly if the people are expressing some strong feelings. When there's tragic news, the images on TV are most often much too graphic and disturbing for young children.

“Who will take care of me?”:
In times of crisis, children want to know, "Who will take care of me?" They're dependent on adults for their survival and security. They're naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to hear that people in the government and other grownups they don’t eveen know are working hard to keep them safe, too.

Helping Children Feel More Secure:
Play is one of the important ways young children have of dealing with their concerns. Of course, playing about violent news can be scary and sometimes unsafe, so adults need to be nearby to help redirect that kind of play into nurturing themes, such as a hospital for the wounded or a pretend meal for emergency workers.

When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. Whining, aggressive behavior, or toilet "accidents" may be their way of asking for more comfort from the important adults in their lives. Little by little, as the adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children probably will, too.

Turn Off the TV:
When there's something tragic in the news, many parents get concerned about what and how to tell their children. It's even harder than usual if we're struggling with our own powerful feelings about what has happened. Adults are sometimes surprised that their own reactions to a televised crisis are so strong, but great loss and devastation in the news often reawaken our own earlier losses and fears – even some we think we might have "forgotten"

It's easy to allow ourselves to get drawn into watching televised news of a crisis for hours and hours; however, exposing ourselves to so many tragedies can make us feel hopeless, insecure, and even depressed. We help our children and ourselves if we’re able to limit our own television viewing. Our children need us to spend time with them – away from the frightening images on the screen.

Talking and Listening:
Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, major fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, "What do you think happened?" If the answer is "I don't know," then the simplest reply might be something like, "I'm sad about the news, and I'm worried. But I love you, and I'm here to care for you."

If we don't let children know it's okay to feel sad and scared, they may think something is wrong with them when they do feel that way. They certainly don't need to hear all the details of what's making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.

Angry feelings are part of being human, especially when we feel powerless. One of the most important messages we can give our children is, "It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to hurt ourselves or others." Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can help them find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we'll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the worlds' future peacemakers -- the world's future "helpers."

Helpful Hints:
  • Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
  • Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
  • Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
  • Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on their familiar pattern of everyday life.
  • Plan something that you and your child enjoy doing together, like taking a walk, going on a picnic, having some quiet time, or doing something silly. It can help to know there are simple things in life that can help us feel better, in good times and in bad.
  • Even if children don't mention what they've seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don't bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be really surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
  • Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers. It's reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help others in this world.
  • Let your child know if you're making a donation, going to a town meeting, writing a letter or e-mail of support, or taking some other action. It can help children to know that adults take many different active roles and that we don't give in to helplessness in times of worldwide crisis.
  • posted by Blasdelb at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [197 favorites]


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    posted by likeatoaster at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2012


    I picked my grandson up from his bus stop this afternoon. I guess I won't have the radio on in front of him for the forseeable future. Only partly because I don't want him hearing any of these details-he's only a kindergartener-but because I can't listen without bursting out into tears.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    They were interviewing a fourth grade boy on the radio

    The news stations have been interviewing a lot of the kids. I could make more sense of it when it was high school kids after a shooting but with kids this young I don't get why the parents are letting it happen. Go home and be a family together, leave the news to the press conferences.
    posted by Drinky Die at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [52 favorites]


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    posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2012


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    (and so tragically counting)
    posted by raztaj at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    When I met my husband-to-be on line, he lied to me. He told me he was a baggage handler at the airport rather than a postal worker because he was embarrassed by the term "going postal." In the 12 years that we have been together I don't think any postal workers have gone berserk-- it seems to be schools, malls, and movie theater shootings.

    This sort of news is so ubiquitous now yet it is the elementary school shootings really haunt me. I still think about that Jewish community Center shooting in Los Angeles sometimes. Elementary school children. Fuck. That people in our society should take out their anger on these sweet, innocent little ones makes me weep.
    posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    White men from prosperous families grow up with the expectation that our voices will be heard. We expect politicians and professors to listen to us and respond to our concerns. We expect public solutions to our problems. And when we’re hurting, the discrepancy between what we’ve been led to believe is our birthright and what we feel we’re receiving in terms of attention can be bewildering and infuriating. Every killer makes his pain another’s problem. But only those who’ve marinated in privilege can conclude that their private pain is the entire world’s problem with which to deal. This is why, while men of all races and classes murder their intimate partners, it is privileged young white dudes who are by far the likeliest to shoot up schools and movie theaters.
    Interesting essay that looks at mass shootings from a different cultural angle than most.
    posted by tzikeh at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [141 favorites]


    If any of the reporters are shoving microphones in the kids' faces without full parental consent and participation, I, as a member of the media, would like to offer said reporters my most sincere dick-punchings.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [56 favorites]


    ESPN has asked its staff to refrain from using the word "shooter" and basically stop tweeting altogether. Good move.
    posted by troika at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


    It's disturbingly similar to the Dunblane primary school massacre that prompted the UK's handgun ban.

    Frankly, the disturbing record of exactly none more even remotely comparable shows the bankrupt folly of this brazen overreach.
    posted by dhartung at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Good move.

    I would love to see significantly more of this restraint in the news media honestly.
    posted by jessamyn at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [26 favorites]


    > Frankly, the disturbing record of exactly none more even remotely comparable shows the bankrupt folly of this brazen overreach.

    Trying to parse that sentence...
    and...
    can't do it.
    posted by spock at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [93 favorites]


    We are that much more horrified, and grieving en masse, because this happened as a single incident--and maybe because of the demographic and location--but we suffer this loss over and over and over again as a nation every. single. year.

    Title: Protect Children Not Guns 2010

    Publication Date: August 2010

    What does it say?

    This annual report from the Children’s Defense Fund documents the impact on children and teens (0-19) of weak gun laws and easy access to guns. The report is based on the latest information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007) and includes information on gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shooting deaths by age group, race/ethnicity, and state.

    Key findings:

    In 2007, 3,042 children lost their lives to gun violence and an additional 17,523 suffered non-fatal gun injuries and the emotional aftermath that followed (p. 1).

    The annual number of firearm deaths of white children and teens decreased by 54 percent between 1979 and 2007, while the deaths of black children and teens increased by 61 percent (p. 8).

    The number of children and teens in America killed by guns in 2007 would fill more than 122 public school classrooms of 25 students each (p. 2).

    The 3,042 children and teens killed by gunfire in the U.S. in 2007 is comparable to the total number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and four times the number of American combat fatalities in Afghanistan to date (p. 1).

    More preschoolers (under age 5) died by gunfire (85) than law enforcement officers (57) killed in the line of duty (p. 2).

    posted by availablelight at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [59 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Looks like someone's setting up a run for 2016.
    posted by zombieflanders at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


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    posted by Han Tzu at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2012


    How the media ID'd the wrong guy: http://theweek.com/article/index/237888/connecticut-massacre-suspect-how-the-medianbspided-the-wrong-guy.

    Think about that next time you are trying to be quick on the Twigger/Tritter.
    posted by spock at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


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    posted by absolutelynot at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2012




    I suppose for me the thing that transforms this from terrible to maddening is a sickening sense that, once again, nothing will be done, and nothing will change, and this will happen again. I hope Obama meant it when he declared that something must be done, but this is the third mass shooting this year alone, and what has been done?

    Fine, gun enthusiasts. You want gun control off the table? Give me an alternative. Make a suggestion, and an honest one, backed up by real data and research. Give me an answer that will make something like this so anomalous as to be unthinkable, instead of what it is now, which is inevitable.

    Because it is, for me, as though fate had aligned to make the point as clearly as possible. There were two attacks on schools today, one in China, one in the U.S. In China, the attacker had a knife. In America, a gun.

    In China, there are no dead. In America, more than 20.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [132 favorites]


    Yeats, via Pierce

    Where dips the rocky highland
    Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
    There lies a leafy island
    Where flapping herons wake
    The drowsy water-rats.
    There we've hid our fairy vats
    Full of berries,
    And of reddest stolen cherries.
    Come away, O, human child!
    To the woods and waters wild
    With a fairy hand in hand,
    For the world's more full of weeping than
    you can understand.

    posted by hap_hazard at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


    Jesus fucking wept.
    posted by octobersurprise at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


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    posted by saturday_morning at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2012


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Oh, go to hell, Huck. Do the Amish not have enough God in their community too? I better not hear Fox News whining about people talking about gun control. If they are gonna blame the first amendment I can blame the second.
    posted by Drinky Die at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [34 favorites]




    @BorowitzReport on Twitter:
    If laws controlled guns the way the NRA controls politicians, the US would be the safest country in the world.
    and
    Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.
    posted by spock at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [63 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Looks like someone's setting up a run for 2016.


    What an utterly clueless sack of shit.
    posted by Ratio at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [51 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Because if there's one thing we know for sure, it's that prayer makes you immune to bullets. Remind me where I've heard that one before?

    But seriously, what with all the gun-nuts running around demanding that we not "politicize the tragedy" by having an honest national discussion of the circumstances that brought us to where we are today, trust Mike Huckabee to find a way to really politicize it, and in the most callous and insensitive fashion imaginable to boot.
    posted by fifthrider at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


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    posted by Defying Gravity at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2012


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    posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2012



    This is heartbreaking. I was already upset about the knife attack on 22 children in a school in China earlier this morning


    Yeah I don't know if it is just bias confirmation but yesterday my husband and I noticed independently that here in Raleigh we seem to have seen a spike in the number of firearm murders just in the last couple of weeks. A mom and two kids. A husband and wife. An Indian restaurant owner. A young man. On and on. Nothing ties them together, just guns and death.
    posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Schools aren't the only place we need more God in. Let's talk about all the people who desperately need some kind of mental health care, who we just call "loony" or "evil" and Other and ignore, grateful that we're not one of Them, hateful that They exist. Doesn't God want us to love one another? Shouldn't we start loving each other BEFORE the guns come out?

    What's happening here is a tragedy, but the tragedy runs deeper than any mainstream media outlet will acknowledge. Or any fucknut Republican ex-candidate, for that matter.
    posted by Rory Marinich at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


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    posted by lord_wolf at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2012


    Gun control proponents have been gathering at the White House, but I think they're on the wrong side of the river to do any good. The NRA headquarters are down the road in NOVA.
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Newtown and the Madness of Guns

    I figure if we can post about Huckabee's bloviating, then this is fair game.
    posted by RakDaddy at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I got an email from my kids school about this - we're in Wahington, so it's really just boilerplate stuff, they are award of the situation, general safety, how to talk to children about it, and so on. Still, you NEVER want anything from your kids school with the word "shooting" I'm it, and that's the second one this year.

    I am not sure what the hell I am doing in a country where that sort of thing is necessary.
    posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Drinky Die writes "Nobody died in the Chinese knife attack so far. Guns, they are part of the problem."

    This is anecdote not data.
    posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    troika: "ESPN has asked its staff to refrain from using the word "shooter" and basically stop tweeting altogether. Good move."

    Related: Syfy Pulls 'Haven' Episode in Wake of Newtown School Shooting
    posted by brundlefly at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012


    If today’s shooting won’t prompt action on guns, then nothing ever will
    After these massacres our public officials regularly vow that a “conversation” — whatever that means — has to take place about guns. After which they throw up their hands and lament that “political reality” dictates that no actual discussion about gun policy could possibly go anywhere. And nothing happens.

    This time I want to believe things may be different. This seems like a level of horror that belongs to a whole different category, one that has the potential to shame our public officials into action, as long as we insist that there is no other moral alternative.

    There was a hint of this in President Obama’s remarks today. Choking up with emotion, he said: “The majority of those who died today were children. Beautiful little kids between the ages of five and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Kids of their own.”

    “As a country we have been through this too many times,” Obama added. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

    Let’s believe he means it, while simultaneously insisting he prove it. Obama’s statement rose to the occasion emotionally, but the unique horror of today’s events demands that Obama and other public officials rise to the occasion politically.

    You’re not supposed to say this on days like today, but political action is exactly what’s needed. The usual voices will try to shut down the debate by warning against “politicizing” the tragedy. But we should “politicize” it, if by that we mean undertaking a discussion about how our elected officials can act to stop this madness.

    Gun violence is one area where something approaching a bipartisan consensus has formed among commentators and observers that reform is imperative, even as the only people who continue to refuse to act are those in a position to actually change things. This time, our public officials — the president included — simply must start an actual policy discussion about the appropriate response to the slaughter caused by the easy availability of guns. Not just a “conversation” about how screwed up our culture is or the usual argument over whether Evil and/or mental illness are the real culprits (as the gun rights advocates tell us) that require addressing. It’s easy access to guns that translates the darkest of human impulses, whatever their cause, into the massacre of innocent children.
    posted by zombieflanders at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [26 favorites]


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    posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012


    .

    Work was anything but silent after we heard about this (New Haven CT). Everyone wanted to talk about it--we had a lot of people watching and spreading the most up-to-date news (as well as "news"). I'm not sure how much of it was the excitement of gossiping about a massive, tragic, fairly local, ongoing event. Hopefully most of my coworkers were just trying to parse it or recognize it in their own ways. I'm not sure what's an appropriate reaction to something like this.
    posted by Baethan at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Gun control proponents have been gathering at the White House, but I think they're on the wrong side of the river to do any good. The NRA headquarters are down the road in NOVA.

    They're out in the exurbs, which in all likelihood is precisely to prevent this kind of action from taking place as often as it does in DC.
    posted by zombieflanders at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I heard Obama speak on the radio; if you read or heard it, you might find it worth watching too.
    posted by insectosaurus at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's disturbingly similar to the Dunblane primary school massacre that prompted the UK's handgun ban.
    The children murdered at Dunblane were almost the same age as the suspect in today's killings. I don't think that's meaningful, but it's something which struck me as so saddening.

    .
    posted by Jehan at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    From last week's Daily Show on the response to the Javon Belcher shooting:

    Jon Stewart Tears Into Fox News For Arbitrarily Deciding When And Where People Can Talk About Gun Control
    posted by homunculus at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    I am completely removed from my emotions right now. I'm in shock, I completely do not get this in any way. It does not compute in my mind how this is possible.

    .
    posted by roboton666 at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This boingboing post was interesting in the context of the gun control discussion.
    What science says about gun control and violent crime

    The part that I saw that made the most sense was the quoted thingy about tribal affiliation. World view and tribal affiliation matters more than science of facts.

    It also brings to mind a whole slew of things I've read recently about the phenomenon known as "running amok" and how it is considered a culturally linked reaction. The things people have linked to above about what kinds of people are more likely to act out in this manner is interesting in that line of thought as well.

    No solutions, but commentary at least. Hopefully some understand will come out of it, eventually.
    posted by daq at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    How the media ID'd the wrong guy:

    Would that be libel, slander, or defamation? At what point can you sue the media for the tremendous damage to your reputation they caused?
    posted by ceribus peribus at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This is anecdote not data.

    You want data on guns being better at killing people than knives? Is the gradual falling out of favor of swords as the primary tool in modern warfare data or anecdote?
    posted by Drinky Die at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [118 favorites]


    Also, a gem of a video that got buried when the other thread got folded in:

    Charlie Brooker, on the perverse consequences of the way we report shootings.
    posted by fifthrider at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [42 favorites]




    ESPN has asked its staff to refrain from using the word "shooter" and basically stop tweeting altogether. Good move.
    I don't think I understand. Is there some question as to whether or not there was a shooter? I understand things like refraining from putting out the name of the person alleged to have done this at least until the cops confirm it, but "shooter"?

    Or is there perhaps some other reason for not saying "shooter" that I'm just missing entirely?
    posted by Flunkie at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2012


    The 10th Regiment of Foot: "Gun control proponents have been gathering at the White House, but I think they're on the wrong side of the river to do any good. The NRA headquarters are down the road in NOVA."

    Gun control proponents showing up at the NRA HQ does not sound like something that would end well.
    posted by tonycpsu at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2012


    My daughter's schoolbus will be dropping her off in a few minutes. She's about to get the biggest hug of her entire life.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


    I am still just in complete shock. I can't believe I live in a place where these kinds of mass shootings happen so regularly now.
    posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Unfortunately, love is not always enough to help the mentally ill. What is?
    posted by Melismata at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]




    fifthrider, I think of that every time.

    How awful that "every time" has to be the way I refer to mind-breaking atrocities like this.
    posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Flunkie: "Shooter" is a basketball term, someone who "shoots" the ball into the net from a distance. ESPN reports on basketball and thus the request to not use any terminology related to guns.
    posted by CancerMan at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Sometimes counseling. Sometimes medication. Sometimes institutionalization. And sometimes nothing.
    posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2012


    You want data on guns being better at killing people than knives? Is the gradual falling out of favor of swords as the primary tool in modern warfare data or anecdote?

    Believe it or not, I just got out of a rather flabbergasting argument on /b/ with a number of individuals who were thoroughly convinced that one would be safer fighting a man with a gun hand-to-hand than a man with a knife, because you could "deflect the barrel," and who believed firmly that the average person would have a harder time killing with a gun than with a knife because it apparently takes more skill to use a pistol than a knife effectively... (An argument that I thought was settled since about the dawn of the Meiji Restoration.)

    If anything, this proves that this nation desperately needs a pro-knife lobby to balance things out.
    posted by fifthrider at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    Tell me why I don't like Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
    posted by perhapses at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I've been hearing from friends and family members who have called today just to check in and say "Hi Mom." It's a sad day for all of us who work in schools.
    posted by Lynsey at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Or is there perhaps some other reason for not saying "shooter" that I'm just missing entirely?

    While reporting sports news, ESPN is more likely to use the word shooter in a different context than referring to today's tragedy.

    (on preview, what CancerMan said)
    posted by ceribus peribus at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012


    BBC: "Dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest, the gunman is thought to have had several weapons at the school, although it is not clear whether he used more than one."

    NYT: "Law enforcement officials said the weapons used by the gunman were a Sig Sauer and a Glock. In addition to the two handguns, the police also found an M4 carbine at the scene that they believe belonged to the gunman."

    Assuming for the purposes of discussion, these two reports are true, two inferences are probable: 1) there was premeditation and 2) the assailant will likely be found to possess considerable right-wing political literature.

    It's statistically likely. These events look more and more alike, the more you study them in detail.

    It will be several days at least before we start seeing reliable information on the assailant's background.
    posted by warbaby at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Or is there perhaps some other reason for not saying "shooter" that I'm just missing entirely?

    I imagine not to use 'shooter' in the sports sense (shoot the puck, shoot hoops?) as to not collide with tweets relating to the shooting and risk being taken out-of-context as insensitive.
    posted by mazola at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Oh, wait, maybe ESPN wants to temporarily avoid referring to basketball players who take shots as "shooters"? Rather than wanting to avoid referring to the person who did this as a "shooter"?
    posted by Flunkie at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Unfortunately, love is not always enough to help the mentally ill. What is?

    Well, like, I meant the kind of love that leads to us deciding to invest in a much more effective mental health program across America. Maybe start by acknowledging that mental health is a serious thing, the mentally ill aren't just punch lines to jokes, and that we have to treat it as seriously as we treat physical illness? It's embarrassing, the way this country talks about this issue.
    posted by Rory Marinich at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


    The thought foremost in my mind whenever one of these happens is 'Surely this will be the one that prompts some sort of action'. Then the next one comes around, and everyone once again starts talking about shooting sprees as if they're an inevitable part of American life.

    Maybe it's because I never lived in the USA long enough to absorb the culture, but I don't understand why this is considered such a hard problem to solve. How about a 10-year gun ban, just to see what happens? Ten years without any handguns or automatic weapons to play with is surely worth it if it might drastically reduce killing sprees like this.
    posted by anaximander at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I feel really terrible for poor Ryan Lanza. First the media fingers him as the killer, then he learns that his mother is dead, his brother having killed her, two dozen other innocents, mostly children, and then himself. And I'm really wondering about the other murder in town - the father in this family seems currently unaccounted for.
    posted by maryr at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [58 favorites]


    In addition to Brooker's observations above, Roger Ebert once offered this telling anecdote of how NBC interviewed him the day after the Columbine Massacre about how movies could inspire this kind of violence. He disagreed and went further:
    "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."
    NBC did not use the interview.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [205 favorites]


    They were interviewing a fourth grade boy on the radio who described what they heard from the gym and how they all hid in the supply closet before being evacuated by the police. They saw a guy facedown on the ground, handcuffed. I had to switch stations after that because I started crying, even though the kid sounded calm, but jesus fuck. No one, let alone an 8-year-old, should have to go through that.


    What is weird to me is that all of the kids they are interviewing seem so completely calm. I watched an interview of a third grade girl earlier, and she was almost eerily serene throughout. Are these kids just in shock, or what?
    posted by SkylitDrawl at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012


    availablelight writes "Title: Protect Children Not Guns 2010"

    Note that the report includes anyone under the age of 20 as a child. Many of the children killed in that report are soldiers in the drug war which is one of the reasons why poor (IE:black) children are over represented.
    posted by Mitheral at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Drinky Die writes "Nobody died in the Chinese knife attack so far. Guns, they are part of the problem."

    This is anecdote not data.


    If guns aren't more effective at killing than knives, then what is the argument in their favor?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    Nobody who thinks that their precious killing machines are worth these casualties has anything to say to me today.
    posted by Phire at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    The Onion: Fuck Everything, Nation Reports
    Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported fuck everything. Just fuck it all to hell.

    All of it, sources added.
    posted by Rory Marinich at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [100 favorites]


    Let's put the message of the Brooker video right here in the thread again: Mass shootings come in clusters because seeing news coverage of shootings -- NOT Batman, NOT Grand Theft Auto, NOT Ice T or Marilyn Manson or other fictional work -- may convince fragile people that their voices will be heard if they shoot up a school. This is one of the reasons I personally am not surprised this is happening so often.

    I am mulling today how feasible it would be for news outlets to not report the name or picture of a killer, as the psychiatrist in the Brooker video suggests. Social media would clearly make an end run around them, so that would be a problem. Or what if, as suggested, the coverage was limited to a local area? Would that squelch copycat killings?
    posted by gusandrews at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    the assailant will likely be found to possess considerable right-wing political literature.

    And if he doesn't? Like few mass shooting incidents do?
    posted by lstanley at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]




    I've been listening to the radio and reading about this all day. I can't tear myself away, but I wonder if the reporting is part of the problem. Yet, when something like this happens - how can you not report on it?
    posted by insectosaurus at 3:02 PM on December 14, 2012


    Believe it or not, I just got out of a rather flabbergasting argument on /b/ with a number of individuals who were thoroughly convinced that one would be safer fighting a man with a gun hand-to-hand than a man with a knife, because you could "deflect the barrel," and who believed firmly that the average person would have a harder time killing with a gun than with a knife because it apparently takes more skill to use a pistol than a knife effectively...

    This does not surprise me at all, considering the type of people who tend to post on /b/.
    posted by SkylitDrawl at 3:02 PM on December 14, 2012


    Drinky Die writes "Nobody died in the Chinese knife attack so far. Guns, they are part of the problem."

    This is anecdote not data.


    Saying 'there was a similar attack in China where a guy used a knife! Gun control won't stop people from going berzerk if they are going to do it' is an anecdote.

    Saying 'the Chinese attack both had zero (0) guns and zero (0) fatalities' is data.

    Saying 'availability of guns has no effect on fatality rates' is idiocy.
    posted by FatherDagon at 3:02 PM on December 14, 2012 [56 favorites]


    I've told this story a few times before, but it has never felt more relevant.

    The night of 9/11 I was out on a fire escape of a friend's apartment in the east village. Everything was surreal that day, no way to process any of it, and the streets below me were completely empty.

    And then I looked dow to see the image that will remain probably the most striking thing I will ever see in my life: a mother and daughter dancing hand in hand down the empty street, the daughter (about 4 or 5, I'd guess) laughing while the mother cried.

    Today's tragedy struck my sister's family's community, though thank, well, everything they are all okay. These are the days parents suit up for.

    My thoughts are with every parent doing the equivalent of dancing with their young children tonight, and especially with those who wish they could be.
    posted by Navelgazer at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [63 favorites]


    Maybe it's because I never lived in the USA long enough to absorb the culture, but I don't understand why this is considered such a hard problem to solve.

    Because you need a Constitutional Amendment to ban (all) guns. That's extraordinarily difficult.

    How about a 10-year gun ban, just to see what happens?

    See above. It's unclear exactly where the constitutional line lies in terms of reasonable gun control. But a blanket ban would unquestionably fail the test. Even just a handgun ban rather than an all-gun ban is on extremely shaky ground.

    I'm not sure I have a good answer here, but a blanket ban is not possible.
    posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Are these kids just in shock, or what?

    Kids rarely act as you expect them to. They are not adults.

    In some ways kids just kind of act as if everything is normal but the trauma can reveal itself in other ways that may be harder to detect and not immediately visible.

    IANAD.
    posted by mazola at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    I think that the most distressing thing about all of this is how there have been enough mass school shootings in recent memory for "school shootings" to be a genre that people can comment about with some expertise.
    posted by LMGM at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    As I mentioned in the deleted thread, year 2001 me never thought he'd see 2012 me write this, but The Onion really needs to back the hell off of this story for the time being.
    posted by item at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    And for me, The Onion is, just now, saying the most honest and true things about this event. Maybe just don't read the site for today?
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [92 favorites]


    I got into an argument today with someone who insisted that a sufficiently motivated person will find a way to kill, with or without guns. He claimed that it would be just as easy to run an SUV through a crowd of people, so there is no point in trying to regulate guns any further.

    Apparently, in his world, mass vehicular homicide is just as real of a threat as mass shootings. When I tried to point out that this is fairly ludicrous and not even a thing that actually, you know, happens, he insisted that it is.

    I have no idea how to counter that type of willful ignorance and obstinance, but it runs deep in this country.
    posted by malocchio at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    If Guns Do Not Kill, Tax the Bullets

    Someone just saw Chris Rock's bullet control bit.
    posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    As I mentioned in the deleted thread, year 2001 me never thought he'd see 2012 me write this, but The Onion really needs to back the hell off of this story for the time being.

    Why? This is what they do very, very well.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    His solution: Increase the tax on bullets. He wouldn’t raise the tax on ammunition typically used for target shooting or hunting. But he proposed exorbitant taxes on hollow-tipped bullets designed to penetrate armor and cause devastating damage.

    A very great number of the bullets used for hunting are hollow-tipped and they do not penetrate armour.
    posted by atrazine at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    zombieflanders: Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They're Wrong

    Honestly, and I say this as a major proponent of gun control, that article is as fact-free and intuition-heavy as any of the pro-gun arguments I've been hearing.
    posted by invitapriore at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    .
    posted by annsunny at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012


    .
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012


    Bless those teachers who took such good care of the children in their care. They kept their cool huddled in closets and did not add to the stress the kids were already feeling, doing what they could to allay the children's fears. They were the true heroes of the day.

    My heart breaks for all involved. I can't imagine what those families are feeling.
    posted by NoraCharles at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    While I agree with Ebert, I'm still a bit angered whenever I see the poster for the new Red Dawn movie.
    posted by perhapses at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Guns are not ever going to be banned in the US. Many people rely on hunting for a significant part of their food, even today. Farmers and ranchers need guns to put down injured animals and to hunt predators.

    Even without getting into the whole self-defense question or the Constitutional question, guns are tools many people in the US need and use responsibly.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    A very great number of the bullets used for hunting are hollow-tipped and they do not penetrate armour.

    Yeah, somebody confused hollow-point and armor-piercing rounds. They're, like, kind of opposite.
    posted by Justinian at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Would that be libel, slander, or defamation? At what point can you sue the media for the tremendous damage to your reputation they caused?

    Ask Richard Jewell (in the next life).
    posted by dhartung at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The Onion really needs to back the hell off of this story for the time being.

    The Onion combines emotional accuracy with saying the shit real journalists aren't allowed to say because of this stupid fucking "objective journalism" crap that results in nobody saying anything honest. I wish they were large enough to report on every national story this quickly.
    posted by Rory Marinich at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [71 favorites]


    Ok fine. The Onion is an agent of healing and without it millions would be lost. I just am not among those millions, I guess.
    posted by item at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Why? This is what they do very, very well.

    It just really sucks that they've had so many chances to prove this.
    posted by yellowbinder at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


    If any of the reporters are shoving microphones in the kids' faces without full parental consent and participation, I, as a member of the media, would like to offer said reporters my most sincere dick-punchings.

    Fuck parental consent. They shouldn't be shoving microphones in those kids faces period.
    posted by kmz at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [46 favorites]


    Guns are not ever going to be banned in the US. Many people rely on hunting for a significant part of their food, even today. Farmers and ranchers need guns to put down injured animals and to hunt predators.

    Yeah, us being the only country that has hunting and farms, we are in a unique situation worldwide.
    posted by FatherDagon at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [117 favorites]


    I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.
    posted by flarbuse at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Even without getting into the whole self-defense question or the Constitutional question, guns are tools many people in the US need and use responsibly.

    What I generally hear proposed is a handgun ban which is different. That leaves hunters alone. But it's not clear that would survive a Constitutional challenge either.
    posted by Justinian at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Is BoingBoing the only place saying the killer was autistic? That's the first I've heard that.
    posted by Toekneesan at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    As I mentioned in the deleted thread, year 2001 me never thought he'd see 2012 me write this, but The Onion really needs to back the hell off of this story for the time being.

    the Onion honestly has been more cathartic and comforting to me than anything else today.
    posted by KathrynT at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    filthy light thief: " Someone just saw Chris Rock's bullet control bit yt ."

    Yeah, the Rock routine is mentioned in the piece.
    posted by tonycpsu at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    perhapses: "While I agree with Ebert, I'm still a bit angered whenever I see the poster for the new Red Dawn movie."

    Tell me about it. There are plenty of racist idiots salivating for my blood after they saw the movie. Doesn't exactly make me feel great about working in this country.
    posted by Phire at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    > I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled

    Are you joking?
    posted by The corpse in the library at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [53 favorites]


    I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.

    Are you saying we should home school all children because school shootings? Because...I'm sorry, what.
    posted by SkylitDrawl at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Reporter on NPR just talked about how kids in the school "knew what 'lockdown' meant" and had practiced for the eventuality. I can't get past my initial response of sadness to get to that actually being good news.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    While I agree with Ebert, I'm still a bit angered whenever I see the poster for the new Red Dawn movie.

    Speaking of movies, Gangster Squad is only a few weeks away from it's rescheduled release.
    posted by ceribus peribus at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012


    I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.

    What on earth? What is your point? That every child in America should be home schooled? That is hardly possible and that still leaves movie theaters, shopping malls, sports arenas, community centers, and many other places where large numbers of people including children gather.
    posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    "'The reaction is always the same: shock, disbelief, sadness, prayers, repression,' writes the [Berliner Zeitung]."

    Atlantic: The Rest of the First World Is Astounded by America's Enduring Gun Culture
    posted by ryanshepard at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


    Even without getting into the whole self-defense question or the Constitutional question, guns are tools many people in the US need and use responsibly.

    They aren't called assault rifles because they're made for hunting venison and plinking bottles off a fence.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


    This .gov petition on gun control - started after todays events - is fast approaching the required 25K mark.
    posted by piyushnz at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    mazola  Kids rarely act as you expect them to. They are not adults.

    In some ways kids just kind of act as if everything is normal but the trauma can reveal itself in other ways that may be harder to detect and not immediately visible.


    And adults frequently don't react to trauma or grief as you would expect them to, either. I remember that every time I hear someone say about a person found at the scene of a crime, "you can tell they had something to do with it, they didn't get teary or anything."
    posted by hat at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    .
    posted by evoque at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2012


    I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.

    ¯\(°_o)/¯
    posted by Rory Marinich at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [59 favorites]


    I'm reasonably certain flarbuse is being ironic.
    posted by Phire at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    item, I fully realize that satire may be an approach that is too difficult or too soon for you, but nobody is forcing you to follow those links.

    Is BoingBoing the only place saying the killer was autistic? That's the first I've heard that.

    I've seen it on at least two of the news blogs, attributed to the surviving brother (Ryan Lanza: "autistic or asperger's with a personality disorder"), but it must be said this is not something the police have formally said.
    posted by dhartung at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2012


    I realize that this is a controversial issue to talk about, but it is something that clearly needs to be talked about: none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.

    What the actual fuck.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    Jesus, this whole thing makes me ill.
    posted by OmieWise at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012


    A handgun ban through legislation (as opposed to Constitutional amendment) would absolutely not survive a court challenge. District of Columbia v. Heller made that point crystal clear.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Is there a way I can thank President Obama for his "meaningful action" speech, and to ask that he follow through? Is his twitter account still active?
    posted by CancerMan at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    piyushnz: "This .gov petition on gun control - started after todays events - is fast approaching the required 25K mark."

    Well that will certainly send sales through the roof.
    posted by the_artificer at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Is BoingBoing the only place saying the killer was autistic? That's the first I've heard that.

    Xeni Jardin (or anyone on BB) is the last source anyone should look to for any kind of fact-based reporting or balanced analysis. There is nothing in any of the articles linked from that post to indicate that the killer was autistic.
    posted by Ratio at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Over and over again
    posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    Since it is now looking like the media might have reported (read: guessed) the wrong dead parent at home (some outlets are reporting that the mother was not at school but was the body found at home), I would really appreciate not guessing things like where the alleged killer or his brother falls on some sort of spectrum yet.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Is BoingBoing the only place saying the killer was autistic? That's the first I've heard that.

    Newtown Patch:
    Patch exclusive: The man identified in media reports Friday as the shooter has told friends that he thinks his developmentally disabled brother may have committed the crime, Patch has learned.
    posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2012


    FatherDagon, someone was asking why the US doesn't "ban guns". That is part of the reason. I am myself an advocate of enhancing gun control in the US.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2012


    re:The Onion doing this well, see also the article "Nation Celebrates Full Week Without Deadly Mass Shooting" that was posted a little over a week after the shootings at the Sikh temple and Texas A&M... only to be (literally) updated just hours later with a brutal "Never Mind" after the shooting at the Empire State Building.
    posted by Rhaomi at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    I was already crying on the way home but I had to pull over while listening to the president speak.
    posted by theredpen at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    malocchio writes "Apparently, in his world, mass vehicular homicide is just as real of a threat as mass shootings. When I tried to point out that this is fairly ludicrous and not even a thing that actually, you know, happens, he insisted that it is."

    Happened at the my high school graduation bush party.

    FatherDagon writes "Saying 'availability of guns has no effect on fatality rates' is idiocy."

    I had this go around recently in another thread and I'm not really in the mood for it again so I'll sum up my opinion and bow out:

    America has a Violent Culture problem not a lack of gun control problem. Many of these crimes are committed with already illegal weapons (though it appears not in this case so far). Concentrating on increasing gun controls will, in America, be ineffectual and at best mask some of the symptom. Money and effort put into trying to bandage this symptom with gun controls would IMO be better expended on addressing the violent culture problem.

    piyushnz writes "This .gov petition on gun control - started after todays events - is fast approaching the required 25K mark."

    It'll have to get in line 'cause the petition to build a Death Star already passed the 25K
    posted by Mitheral at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    none of these children would be dead if they had all been home schooled.

    Later might be a good time for that, if there is in fact a good time for that. Now is not a good time.
    posted by jessamyn at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    They say, Presidents must be pushed to be great. Let's push Obama to be great on this issue.
    posted by angrycat at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [25 favorites]


    > Reporter on NPR just talked about how kids in the school "knew what 'lockdown' meant" and had practiced for the eventuality. I can't get past my initial response of sadness to get to that actually being good news.

    We do lockdown drills twice a year at the high school where I teach. Same scenario as Newtown, just huddle with students in bathrooms, closets and behind bookshelves and wait quietly until we hear someone at the door give the code word or until we hear an all clear over the loudspeaker. What was the "duck and cover" drill for my generation is now the "lockdown drill" for this generation.
    posted by NoraCharles at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


    Aside from talking about a reasonable approach to gun control, I would also like to see some approach to changing the angry male culture. Why do certain men feel the need to kill their children and their wives before committing suicide? Why do certain men feel the need to go to their ex-wives work place and kill everyone inside, customers as well as colleagues? Why do certain men feel the need to kill not just their mother but also everyone at their mother's workplace? I know it has something to do with control but how does our society address this problem and is it even possible?
    posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [82 favorites]


    Okay so question, because I'm young and only started really paying attention to politics in 2006/2007, and I want to know how quickly I ought to squash my idealism:

    This is the sort of the thing where, because it's Obama's second term, he gets to actually push for, right? Like, gun control, or mental health awareness, or generally trying to stop this shit from happening again? He can do that without meaningful political repercussion because he won't be voted in again? And he can, I dunno, use blackmail or scary faces or bribes to make the House stop being such lazy pieces of shit?

    Because I vaguely remember Bush doing a lot of shit in the second term when he could get away with it, and it would be cool if Obama could try and make this country less shitty in a significant way, like with fewer kids getting shot to death and stuff. And I feel like the whole country is sad/pissed off enough about this that maybe we could get behind a president we don't 100% love who tries to make progress here? Or is it just shithead presidents who ignore process and break rules who get to do that? Fingers crossed!
    posted by Rory Marinich at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    I suppose Fox News and the Right will gladly cut money from providing social services like mental health care, leaving that to prayer.
    posted by reiichiroh at 3:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    It's humiliating that one bunch of assholes and their money get to short circuit a reasonable and intelligent approach to gun ownership. Especially as their actions ultimately serve up nightmares like these.

    It's not that hard, doing it right. Look at, oh I don't know, most of the rest of the industrialized world.
    posted by From Bklyn at 3:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This is the sort of the thing where, because it's Obama's second term, he gets to actually push for, right? Like, gun control, or mental health awareness, or generally trying to stop this shit from happening again? He can do that without meaningful political repercussion because he won't be voted in again? And he can, I dunno, use blackmail or scary faces or bribes to make the House stop being such lazy pieces of shit?

    No. There are other issues to deal with and having to fight this huge battle would be distracting and use up resources that might be better used elsewhere.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    ! for my imminent action to donate to the Brady Center and any other organization dedicated to helping make sure this cannot occur again.

    I heard Obama speak on the radio; if you read or heard it, you might find it worth watching too .


    Made more poignant in that President Obama was speaking from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House.
    posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    @Rory Marinich: Bush had political clout. Obama is best at staying out of the way.
    posted by Ardiril at 3:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    flarbuse

    What tremendous insight! The true solution is even simpler, however. It is an undeniable fact that if the school had distributed handguns to those kindergarteners and trained them in their use, much of this tragedy could have been averted.

    But the fools insist on distributing textbooks and cheap plastic recorders instead.
    posted by The Confessor at 3:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Because I vaguely remember Bush doing a lot of shit in the second term when he could get away with it

    He tried to, anyway. The Social Security reform gambit failed miserably, and aside from the Iraq surge and playing whack-a-mole with scandals, he didn't have a very ambitious second term at all.

    Second terms are generally tough for Presidents in general, but it might be different since Obama was constrained throughout his first term in ways that others wasn't.
    posted by tonycpsu at 3:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    .

    I was volunteering at my children's elementary school this morning (about 45 minutes from Newtown) when a teacher pulled me aside to let me know about the shooting. There were no details available at that point ( who the shooters were, motives, how many there were) so the school went into a kind of semi-lockdown and police were posted outside all of the elementary schools in town. It was very calm but you could tell everyone was shaken up. It wasn't until I got in the car a hour later and turned on NPR that I understood the full horror of what had happened. I had just had lunch with my son's entire kindergarten class...all those wonderful, vibrant, jubilant little people...and in another town, not an hour away and not more than two hours earlier...all that was snuffed out. Just gone. I was yelling at the radio and crying...just so senseless.
    posted by victoriab at 3:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    No. There are other issues to deal with and having to fight this huge battle would be distracting and use up resources that might be better used elsewhere.

    I'm not actually worried that will happen, but I do relish the idea of creating more opportunities for certain scum to squirm under the glare of the immediate event.
    posted by dhartung at 3:23 PM on December 14, 2012


    Happened at the my high school graduation bush party.

    Mass vehicular homicide just doesn't happen at the same rate as mass shootings. If you can provide some evidence that it does, I'd be interested in seeing it.
    posted by malocchio at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Aside from talking about a reasonable approach to gun control, I would also like to see some approach to changing the angry male culture.

    This quote from Byron Hurt, which I still have not successfully sourced, sums it up:
    "Until we stop telling boys that they can not cry, or show emotion, or that they have to be tough and powerful, and in control of people and things; and until we stop sending men the message that we cannot show vulnerability, or express our anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, and rage in healthy way, we will continue to see this kind of hypermasculine aggression, which perplexes only those who do not make the connection between masculinity, violence, and guns."
    posted by restless_nomad at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [81 favorites]


    Also, the Republicans in Congress are much better at being obstructionist assholes than the Democrats are.
    posted by Phire at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    They say, Presidents must be pushed to be great. Let's push Obama to be great on this issue.

    He can cry if he wants to, but he needs to step up and be a leader on this. Let's hope he's up to it.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Pardon me if I am skeptical that any American politician, let alone Obama, can or will do anything to avoid future tragedies of this nature.
    posted by Apocryphon at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    @BorowitzReport tweets:
    When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the musket.
    posted by spock at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [26 favorites]


    Secret Life of Gravy: Why do certain men feel the need to kill their children and their wives before committing suicide? Why do certain men feel the need to go to their ex-wives work place and kill everyone inside, customers as well as colleagues?
    This was linked in chat this afternoon, I believe by restless_nomad.

    Why Most Mass Murderers Are Privileged White Men, Hugo Schwyzer, Role Reboot, 23 July 2012
    posted by ob1quixote at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]




    A cynical/strangely hopeful part of me imagines that the White House is going to allow the republicans to make public asses of themselves trying to spin this event, use the fall-out to handle the "fiscal cliff" and then hopefully move on to sensible gun control and mental health care.
    posted by Navelgazer at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2012


    This is the sort of the thing where, because it's Obama's second term, he gets to actually push for, right?

    Because it's his second term, he's limited in the amount of armtwisting he can do of his own caucus, let alone the GOP. Gun control is a non-starter, just because of the house.
    posted by empath at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I remember my father telling me that when Korea started on its current strict gun control regimen, my grandfather was proud to hand in his hunting rifle to the authorities. He used to love hunting, my grandfather.

    According to the law then, he was still allowed to have his gun, but he was proud to hand in his gun. Because it meant that Korea was a more civilized place. It could be counted among other first-world countries which controlled these dangerous weapons. It meant that he trusted the police to protect him, which certainly wasn't the case during the occupation. It meant that he believed that other people would hand in their guns, too.

    To a great extent, Korea has become that sort of civilized place. I've literally never known any civilian in Korea who has a gun, even for hunting. The doors of Korean schools are not reinforced to withstand bullets. Gun are scary and are bogeymen from the movies. Even criminals don't usually use guns.

    I can't imagine the gun-owners of today's America handing in their weapons in the belief that it would make the country a better place.
    posted by curuinor at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [90 favorites]


    See above. It's unclear exactly where the constitutional line lies in terms of reasonable gun control. But a blanket ban would unquestionably fail the test. Even just a handgun ban rather than an all-gun ban is on extremely shaky ground.

    I understand that the majority consensus required to ban guns will likely never happen, I just don't understand why it will never happen. Because from where I'm standing, and from where a lot of other people are standing, any other course of action seems like utter insanity.
    posted by anaximander at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Yeah the right have worked hard to put out there the meme that Michael Moore is a hack liberal hack who never says a non-hack non-liberal thing about anything and so you shouldn't listen to him and put your hands over your ears and go LA LA LA when he's in the room. But really, watch Bowling for Columbine. Everything I could say here, he already said there.
    posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    What is weird to me is that all of the kids they are interviewing seem so completely calm.

    In 1995, a student pulled a gun in my high school's lunch room and ended up injuring two students after a chase through the school hallways. No one was killed.

    I was in the lunch room when the gun was pulled. I saw that the doors were blocked by stampeding students, so I crouched behind a metal counter. There was one other person hiding behind the counter, one of the cafeteria workers. I don't really remember how long we stayed there or what happened next. After the shooter was captured, the school was "locked down" but a lot of students just left. Eventually we were all sent home early. Media and police were all over the campus.

    This was before Columbine and other high-profile school shootings. There were no metal detectors or lockdown drills in schools. The media didn't really have a script for it yet, and it wasn't a scenario we had ever thought about. To me at age 14, it was something random and scary but also isolated and incomprehensible. I wasn't nearly as scared as I would be in the same situation today, because it just didn't... mean anything, I guess. I couldn't figure anything out about it. My parents were probably terrified, but I had no problem going back to school the next day.

    I imagine that's about how some of the children at these schools feel. These days people in general are much more aware of school shootings, but hopefully most elementary kids at least have been somewhat sheltered from all that. Third-graders (with some exceptions, I know) haven't yet spent much time watching the evening news or playing M-rated video games or watching R-rated action movies, so they don't have an internal script for how to react to something like this. It will probably take a lot more time for them to figure out what to feel or do about it.
    posted by mbrubeck at 3:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States

    “long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States. “
    posted by bonefish at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    .

    Shortly before learning of the attack, my boss and I were having the usual political back-and-forth. It gets heated most days. One of my coworkers said it would be cool if we could dig up Reagan and have him be president. I said that I'd prefer to put Reagan's head on a pike. We're desecrating the body anyway, was my idea. Here my boss withdrew to his office, joking that the liberal was the angry one in this conversation.

    He saw the news when he sat down at his computer and opened his browser.

    I'm regretting the violence of my remark right now.

    Jesus God, those poor children. Their parents and siblings. Jesus.

    .
    posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2012


    Well, Hugo Schwyzer should know, having attempted murder himself. Jesus wept.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    America has a Violent Culture problem not a lack of gun control problem.

    If this is the case, what is the solution? Because Ireland arguably has a comparatively violent culture problem, and yet the amount of gun deaths in the country is minimal (1.28 gun deaths of any sort per 100,00) and compared to the United States (2.98 gun deaths per 100,000 from homicides; 5.75 gun suicides per 100,000, and 0.27 per 100,000 deaths by accidental shootings).

    What is it about the American character that makes it uniquely violent, what is it about that uniquely violent character that leads to so much gun violence, and what can be done to stem this? Aside from the fact the the U.S. has 88 guns for every hundred people, and Ireland has 5.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


    NBC BREAKING NEWS: Guns in massacre belonged to shooter's mother.
    posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2012


    The Republicans have 234 in the House; they only need 218. They have 45 in the Senate; they only need 41 (because cowardly Democrats have unnecessarily conceded that you need 60 votes to pass as much as fart in that body, not the 50 that the Constitution suggests). Nothing will happen. Except more shootings, of course.

    On the other hand that petition just got over the hump. I wonder if it's the fastest ever to do that.
    posted by Fnarf at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    NBC BREAKING NEWS: Guns in massacre belonged to shooter's mother.

    If I wasn't sick to my stomach before, I am now.

    It's "responsible gun owners" who are to blame.
    posted by Fnarf at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    because cowardly Democrats have unnecessarily conceded that you need 60 votes to pass as much as fart in that body, not the 50 that the Constitution suggests

    They're in the process of trying to change that, and they nearly have the votes.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [32 favorites]


    Unspeakably sad. I'm so sorry.

    As it happens, I'm just about out the door this morning to do the annual "Kurisumasu-kai" (Christmas presentation) at the kindergartens (3 of them) that I teach English and music at. There are about 20 to 30 kids, aged 2 to 5, that I teach once a week at each of the schools. I love those kids. Their parents (and many grandparents) will be there to hear the kids sing Christmas (and other) songs.

    You can't imagine how thankful I am to live in a nation where gun control is very, very strict, and, conversely, my great sadness at the horrible state of affairs regarding guns and "gun rights" in the US. You couldn't find two more different societies in the world, in this particular regard. God, I hope the US at least begins the move toward a sane gun policy soon.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Christian Radio Host Bryan Fischer: God Didn’t Stop CT Shooting Because We Took Prayer Out Of Classroom.

    I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
    posted by Ratio at 3:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’

    Christian Radio Host Bryan Fischer: God Didn’t Stop CT Shooting Because We Took Prayer Out Of Classroom.


    @dpleasant: So, @GovMikeHuckabee and @BryanJFischer, explain to us Dr. George Tiller's assassination in his church during a service?
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


    Gun control doesn't have to be a non-starter unless you let it... says this could-be-married gay dude who remembers 2004. The quickest way to allow something not to get done is to continue to let your elected representatives off the hook because it's "too hard."
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    Guns are not ever going to be banned in the US. Many people rely on hunting for a significant part of their food, even today. Farmers and ranchers need guns to put down injured animals and to hunt predators.

    That's true, but I have legally owned a rifle and several shotguns in European countries with strict gun control regulations. More or less anyone over the age of 16 can get a shotgun in the UK. These weapons are designed for hunting and they are available. Less available are weapons designed for shooting people.

    Happened at the my high school graduation bush party.

    I don't doubt it, but I'm guessing the number of fatalities was relatively small.

    Why do certain men feel the need to kill their children and their wives before committing suicide? Why do certain men feel the need to go to their ex-wives work place and kill everyone inside, customers as well as colleagues? Why do certain men feel the need to kill not just their mother but also everyone at their mother's workplace? I know it has something to do with control but how does our society address this problem and is it even possible?

    It seems that it's often men who are raised with the culture of middle-class male entitlement but who have not been able to take advantage of that to actually succeed in life. They feel that the universe owes them certain things, often see their peers achieve those things and just end up totally unhinged with inchoate rage.

    Well, Hugo Schwyzer should know, having attempted murder himself. Jesus wept.

    Oh yeah, he's a massive creeper and I wouldn't care to meet him in a dark alley, but if I wanted to know what Al Qaeda thought, I'd ask a former terrorist, you know?
    posted by atrazine at 3:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.


    How about "don't own assault weapons because they are very dangerous and 100% unnecessary"?
    posted by Ratio at 3:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [49 favorites]


    > ban guns will likely never happen

    We had an assault weapons ban. It was a weird law, covering aesthetics more than potential harm, but it was a step. I recently learned of Australia's gun laws which could be a model for the US-- they've taken a lot more steps which is probably expensive to administrate, but so is the DMV, eh?
    posted by morganw at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Sidhedevil: Well, Hugo Schwyzer should know, having attempted murder himself. Jesus wept.
    I thought the article was interesting. I had no idea about his controversial status until just now when you wrote that.
    posted by ob1quixote at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2012


    I've got about three conservative types on my facebook feed out of 150 or so, and yet there's almost never a time that I can't scorll down and find a load of pro-gun jizz sprayed all over my feed (hasn't happened yet today for some reason, but give them time). Given that our news distribution systems favor a vocal minority and almost never question faulty logic or made up statistics, I think Obama or anyone else's chance of accomplishing much on this issue are, saddly, nil.
    posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    To everyone complaining about Facebook & Twitter, I'll say this: some people make jokes, some people disappear, some will pray, some will say fuck it, there is no RIGHT way. There just IS.
    posted by Fizz at 3:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Why Most Mass Murderers Are Privileged White Men

    His argument is a little unconvincing, to me. He argues that white men expect to be welcomed in public spaces (true) and that this is why they are more likely1 to commit the sorts of mass killings that take place in such spaces.

    But I find it hard to believe that the reasoning goes in that order—first the decision is made to commit your crime in a public place because you feel comfortable there, and subsequently it becomes a mass killing. Surely, first the decision is made to kill a lot of people, and subsequently the choice is made to do so in a public place because that is where you find large groups of people.

    I think the question is a very interesting one, but his answer is unsatisfying.

    1. He doesn't actually cite any data on the relative incidence of mass killing by race of perpetrator, and I am wary of assuming that we get a reasonably representative picture of mass killings and their perpetrators in media coverage, but it seems plausible enough.
    posted by enn at 3:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    atrazine, I was trying to distinguish between "gun control" and "gun ban". I advocate stricter gun control in the US. The post to which I was responding discussed "gun ban".
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:39 PM on December 14, 2012


    Gun control doesn't have to be a non-starter unless you let it... says this could-be-married gay dude who remembers 2004. The quickest way to get something not done is to continue to let your elected representatives off the hook.

    It's just a matter of priorities. I'm not going to ask democrats to self-immolate over an issue that's maybe in my top 20, when I'm more concerned about a dozen other issues more than this. Realistically, the chances of you or your kids being a victim of a shooting are statistically insignificant, even at the rate random mass murders have been happening this year.
    posted by empath at 3:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    the chances of you or your kids being a victim of a shooting are statistically insignificant, even at the rate random mass murders have been happening this year.

    I suppose my concern is that I simply consider mass shootings to be the vanguard of all sorts of gun violence. I don't simply want a resolution to spree killings, which would probably involve turning our schools into prison-like complexes with armed guards and metal detectors. Because as soon as the kids left school, they would be back on the streets, and back to their homes, where gun violence still is a fact of life.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I've got about three conservative types on my facebook feed out of 150 or so, and yet there's almost never a time that I can't scorll down and find a load of pro-gun jizz sprayed all over my feed (hasn't happened yet today for some reason, but give them time).

    I have three American friends who are pro-gun. Two are libertarian (on the socially progressive side) and one is a Dem - they're no Tea Partiers, just people who hold different political opinions than I do.

    They're all pretty quiet today.

    I know at least one of the three will post at some point in the future how gun owners are a maligned minority, and that's it's gun-wielding responsible "sheep dogs" like him that are protecting sheep like me.
    posted by KokuRyu at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The Onion article is tactless, insincere and too soon, for these reasons.

    1. The Onion is an entertainment source that profits from pageviews. They are treating this event the exact same way that they would treat Mitt Romney slipping on a banana peel. Even CNN doesn't run ads on stories like this.
    2. The thought that anyone's first reaction to this event is "Quick, how can we spin this into parody" is dismaying. Treating this like every other news story trivializes and normalizes the event.
    3. The apathetic "fuck everything" sentiment is exactly what is not needed, either to help people grieve or to prevent these sorts of events from happening. "Fuck everything" is an utterly insincere sentiment that roughly equals "it's not my responsibility" or "there's nothing I can do about this so why even think about it." It is an expression of giving up.
    posted by oulipian at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    .
    posted by Buckley at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2012


    The Media is an Accomplice in Public Shootings

    This is known. What we're doing now? That's why this happens.
    posted by cmoj at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    I feel like mental health is once again the elephant in the room few want to talk about. I get it is easier to control guns than it is to discuss the wide range of mental health topics, but the longer we ignore it the more we're going to have problems.
    posted by evening at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [21 favorites]


    NBC is reporting the reason for the ID confusion was that Adam Lanza was carrying his brother's ID, and that he was diagnosed mentally ill.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The Onion's story was not a parody. It doesn't mock anything. Not even us.

    What the Onion's story came from was the despair that comes from dead optimism.
    posted by curuinor at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [57 favorites]


    The Media is an Accomplice in Public Shootings


    So we should limit the First Amendment because of shootings but not the Second... ummm, sorry "Forbes" blogger, but no.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    When my son, Sean, died at the age of 20, it was accidental. Yes, someone made a mistake, but it wasn't intentional, they didn't want anyone to die. 22 years later I'm still angry with a God I'm not sure I even believe in, because there really is nobody else to blame.

    Having experienced the accidental death of a child, and nearly not surviving it emotionally, I can not imagine the pain and grief these parents are feeling, and the anger, the all consuming anger, because there are people to blame for this, beyond the individual who pulled the trigger, whom I suspect was very, very disturbed, are those forces in this country that advocate for making it so very easy to bring this death to children...

    The fear, pain, anger, grief, outrage, and sadness we are all feeling now needs to be focused on facilitating a change in our gun laws.... When you're done typing here on Metafilter, contact your representatives, your senators, your president, and then contact your friends, and ask them to do the same....
    posted by HuronBob at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [112 favorites]


    That it's a constitutional issue is strangely irrelevant in a lot of ways. While Heller won in the SCOTUS case, the majority opinion (written by J. SCALIA) was long and unexpectedly sympathetic to gun control interests. He basically spent a long time explaining that, yes, a total gun ban, in a federal district, is contrary to the 2nd Amendment, here's how you can constitutionally get effectively the same results.

    So while Heller was seen as a loss for gun-control advocates, it actually opened the door for constitutionally allowing even very strict gun control, as long as it wasn't an outright "ban."
    posted by Navelgazer at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Regardless of everything else, I hope Ryan Lanza sues the fuck out of CNN and Fox news for splashing his name and facebook picture across their everything.
    posted by Blasdelb at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [32 favorites]


    Good move.

    I would love to see significantly more of this restraint in the news media honestly.


    ESPN, my employer is headquartered in Bristol CT, about 30 minutes away, so this literally hits close to home for us. It was a shitty shitty day on campus.
    posted by butterstick at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'll post this here too, because I think it's a pointed look at the mental health side of things: The Insanity Defense. (This is a friend of mine who I link all the time because she says many smart things.)
    posted by restless_nomad at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    I will not link to it because I am not totally clear on the self-linking policy (I hope that recapping someone's post is okay), but my husband (progressive/former soldier/gun enthusiast/law student with an academic interest in this topic) posted a thing to his blog that made me fall completely silent about all of this.

    Basically he says: whenever something horrible like this school shooting happens, his fellow liberals get outraged and demand that we finally have a serious national conversation about gun control. And of course this is natural. But then he systematically debunks all the gun-control notions liberals come up with at these times (and these are all the things I myself come up with) as essentially beside the point. It's not that they're bad ideas, it's just that they wouldn't matter. Because there are just too many guns in America for any of these ideas to have any impact at all. There are 90 guns for every 100 Americans, and, well-maintained, a gun will last for many decades. It does not matter what you ban - "assault" rifles*, certain types of ammunition, purchases at gun shows, etc. - the sheer number of guns already out there in the wild means that it just won't make a dent. If a dude who's interested in shooting up a school, or a movie theater, or a temple, or his workplace wants a gun, he will absolutely, 100%, be able to get a gun.

    So to reduce the amount of gun violence in the US, you would have to start from scratch. Round up all the guns. Make it completely illegal to own them. Then one by one, start letting people maybe re-register individual types of guns after a lengthy background process. Then maybe the ideas we always come up with ("Why is it legal for civilians to buy automatic weapons????"**) would have some impact. And how likely is that? We are prepared to go to war over raising taxes on the very richest Americans by a smidge. How likely is it that America will be able to agree that we have to round up all the guns and start over?

    It is an informative, grimly logical train of thought. Every time I wanted to argue - "But but but! Why do we let people buy these huge 100-round magazines? Clearly that would help!" - his post would knock my idea down. ("No 100-round magazine, no problem, you just tape magazines together.") It makes me feel like we have painted ourselves into a corner we are never going to get out of without massive, massive overhauls of a type we are really unlikely to see.

    Anyway. I am sad for the families and the community. I, too, drew an outsize measure of comfort from Fred Rogers today.

    *He also points out that liberal civilians tend to not understand anything about guns, and think that "assault rifles", which are black and scary and look like a video game, are somehow functionally different than "hunting rifles", which have nice walnut stocks and look like an LL Bean catalog. I thought this until the exact moment I read that, so.

    **I have said this so many times. I did not understand what I was saying. I know almost nothing about guns. I just know that I'm afraid of them.
    posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [45 favorites]


    I'm so sad for the parents, the teachers, America.

    The Ezra Klein link provides essential context for anyone offering a view about gun control etc. Public attitudes about stricter gun laws are not easy or clear cut. Events like this mostly seem to reinforce the views of both sides. Even though it seems obvious to many of us, any discussion on the issue needs about as much nuance as any politician can muster.

    But fuck. Dead children. Tell me it's not worth it to try.
    posted by dry white toast at 3:50 PM on December 14, 2012


    While Heller won in the SCOTUS case, the majority opinion (written by J. SCALIA) was long and unexpectedly sympathetic to gun control interests. He basically spent a long time explaining that, yes, a total gun ban, in a federal district, is contrary to the 2nd Amendment, here's how you can constitutionally get effectively the same results.
    How?
    posted by Flunkie at 3:52 PM on December 14, 2012


    The apathetic "fuck everything" sentiment is exactly what is not needed,

    Do tell us exactly what all humans need, oulipian.
    posted by Greg Nog at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


    Regardless of everything else, I hope Ryan Lanza sues the fuck out of CNN and Fox news for splashing his name and facebook picture across their everything.

    The media were incorrectly told by police that the deceased shooter was Ryan. I think it's too early to find the media at fault for this particular thing.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    What we're doing now? That's why this happens.

    Did you not even read the article you linked to? What we're doing--discussing roots, culture, addressing the problems directly--is exactly the opposite of what the media is doing. We're wondering why this isn't being politicized more and why more action isn't being taken by the people in charge, while they're interested only in pictures and statistics. The media will complain about politics and present both sides as being equally complicit in What Went Wrong. Gun supporters will be given the same (if not more) time to express how they're an oppressed minority constantly under attack and how this is all the fault of Godlessness and moral decay.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    The media were also told this initial information by police sources that requested anonymity, because they weren't authorized to comment on the case. So yes, the media aren't the only ones responsible for the wrong information, but they certainly didn't help matters by rushing ahead.
    posted by CancerMan at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    thehmsbeaglewhile the Australian culture is a little different, we did it after Port Arthur.
    And my husband, Army Officer, crack shot and very knowledgable about weapons including guns totally disagrees with much of what your husband says if you really want to play that game.
    posted by Megami at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [16 favorites]




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    posted by learnsome at 3:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Many of these crimes are committed with already illegal weapons

    This is a lie.

    More than three quarters of mass murderers use legal weapons. Most of the rest were eligible for all the necessary permits in their states, they just didn't bother to get them because the seller didn't check.

    The weapons used in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the Sikh temple shooting, the Aurora movie theater shooting, and this one were all perfectly legal.
    posted by miyabo at 3:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [37 favorites]


    *He also points out that liberal civilians tend to not understand anything about guns, and think that "assault rifles", which are black and scary and look like a video game, are somehow functionally different than "hunting rifles", which have nice walnut stocks and look like an LL Bean catalog. I thought this until the exact moment I read that, so.

    They always say that, it doesn't matter how much the person they are talking with does actually understand guns. It's condescending and annoying stereotyping.

    You can hunt without semi-auto, you can ban semi-auto hunting rifles if that is what you want to do.

    I'm not entirely sympathetic to the idea gun bans/control can't work. (even as I'll scream it at the top of my lungs for drugs and alcohol) Fully auto weapons have been effectively banned and never seem to be used in these incidents. You could do the same with semi-auto if you think it's good policy, it would indeed take decades, but it can be done.

    Many of these crimes are committed with already illegal weapons

    I can't think of any where the guns were not easily available in gun stores. Maybe it was illegal for this guy to possess his mother's weapons if that is what happened, but take them away from his mother and now he has a much harder road.
    posted by Drinky Die at 3:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Thehmsbeagle, I am 100% on the opposite side as your husband -- I am virulently anti-gun in every way possible. But I agree with him. With the vast numbers of guns floating around this country, it's going to be impossible to have any kind of meaningful restriction on them with the piddly little laws that people always talk about when they're trying to be "reasonable".

    And, of course, even the smallest, least effective gun control measure has no chance of passing anywhere. In fact, the opposite is the case; in most states, what few controls exist are being rolled back constantly. YESTERDAY, both Ohio and Wisconsin legislatures loosened their concealed-carry regulations.
    posted by Fnarf at 3:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    1. The Onion is an entertainment source that profits from pageviews. They are treating this event the exact same way that they would treat Mitt Romney slipping on a banana peel. Even CNN doesn't run ads on stories like this.

    You might want to tell CNN that. I'm seeing an AT&T ad on their live blog and a Subway ad on their front page right next to the headline, in addition to an ING Mortgage ad on the bottom of the page.
    posted by vibrotronica at 3:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    Time to hang this crap all over the NRA. I'm sorry but they use events like these and gang related shootings all the time to advocate for looser gun regulation. All while being propped up by a bloated gun industry.

    This is what they want! They feed off of events like these to stoke paranoia to boost gun sales. It's not about self defense it is all about gun sales.

    And then you have self centered VAIN has beens like Nugent who equate their entire self worth with how many guns they own speaking up about "freedoms" they don't even understand.

    THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT this is exactly what they promote. Every time the NRA and ALEC push for easing gun regulation, and why the fuck does ALEC have a seat at the table in this anyways, THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT.

    Gun sales are going to go through the roof. Another win for the NRA.
    posted by Max Power at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Many of these crimes are committed with already illegal weapons

    Every illegal weapon was a legal weapon once, before it was stolen, or "borrowed", or driven across a state line. The legal gun trade supplies the illegal one.
    posted by Fnarf at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [28 favorites]


    What's fascinating to me is how there's apparently a constitutional right to own a handgun because somehow that falls into the 'arms' class that's constitutionally protected. Yet somehow a tactical cruise missile doesn't apply? Aren't arms arms?
    posted by mullingitover at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    the sheer number of guns already out there in the wild means that it just won't make a dent.

    While I get what he's going for, many of the large massacre-type shootings were not made with "Oh I just had this gun lying around and..." weapons but were done with guns specially procured for the events. Today's horrible instance seems to be an exception to that.

    He also points out that liberal civilians tend to not understand anything about guns

    I'm aware that Vermont is more like Canada than it is like the rest of the US but up here most people know a lot of things about guns no matter what their political persuasions are or whether they are gun owners. Guns are super legal up here (less so in Canada, but still legal) and the gun violence is very very minimal, so I just point out that it's not the legality per se that is at issue, it goes deeper than that into the culture. I'm really not in the mood to discuss ins and outs of this more than that, and I'm not against more legislation, just saying that it's complicated, and all too easy to parody the people on whatever the other side of your argument is.
    posted by jessamyn at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    We make laws that are intended to have consequences over long time frames rather than short ones all the time.
    posted by Flunkie at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    There are at least three elementary schools in Newtown, maybe four. Head-o-Meadow, Hawley and of course Sandy Hook are the ones I remember. I went to Head-o-Meadow when it was new. All of us ended up in the Newtown Middle School and Newtown High School. The high school is maybe five minutes away from Sandy Hook Elementary. You take a right out of it, after passing Bruce Jenner "stadium," and then another right after you go under the highway and you're pretty much there.

    Its a red brick school will some trees and a brook behind it. I don't know that I'd put it on a postcard, but it looks like New England. I mean, if you saw it, you would say "Oh yeah, that looks like New England."

    Newtown has three prominent landmarks that every kid knows about. The flagpole in the center of town - which is smack in the middle of Main Street, creating a safety hazard and a traffic obstacle. The rooster weather vane on the top of the meeting house. The bee weather vane on the top of The Newtown Bee building - a little red building that looks more like a shoe store than the home of a newspaper.

    There are others, but those are the three that I think we all remember most. Silly small town stuff, but there you go.

    In elementary school, at this time of year, we did pretty much what you probably did if you grew up in a place that has winter. We arrived at school all bundled up, left our wet boots and coats by our cubby holes, made snowflakes out of construction paper to decorate the classroom and wrote very important theme papers on our families or pets or favorite sports teams.

    I'm 45 now. My nephews and nieces are 4, 8 and 10 and go to school in Bethel - one of Newtown's neighbors. They were on lockdown today. All of the local schools were on lockdown today. My mother volunteers at the Newtown library. She was on lockdown today. They told her only three people had been injured - because that's what everyone believed - and it wasn't until she got home and turned on the news that she - and everyone who'd been locked down - heard the news. She's inconsolable.

    My brother drove a co-worker whose kid goes to Sandy Hook to the firehouse. The co-workers' child was ok, though there was a period of frantic time where he and his wife couldn't find their kid. All around them were other failies playing out similar scenes and awful, awful scenes.

    You could walk right into any school in Newtown and go straight to the office or anywhere without anyone stopping you when I was growing up. Why would anyone need to stop you? My understanding is that security hasn't gotten much tighter since then. Why should it?

    The Newtown Flagpole is, of course, at half mast today. I imagine it will be for a very long time. There are vigils and memorials. My fellow Newtown High alumni are posting an image of the town's Rooster weather vane with a black ribbon next to it on Facebook.

    My town - my silly, sometimes backwords, beautiful, boring hometown - is going to be synonymous with unthinkable tragedy for a generation. Newtown has always been in my heart and it feels like that's where this tragedy took place. That's a little selfish of me, though, because I was lucky and didn't lose anyone today.

    There are some things now that I'm starting to understand that I didn't understand before this morning. I don't know that I'm ready to write about those things yet, but I bet other people have - people who had similar things happen in their communities.

    I hate that I'm living somewhere else right now. I want to go to that stupid, dangerous flagpole that everyone in Newtown knows and hold every person I see.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [128 favorites]


    But then he systematically debunks all the gun-control notions liberals come up with at these times (and these are all the things I myself come up with) as essentially beside the point.

    "Debunking" is refuting. If he says they're beside the point they haven't been debunked, they've been ignored. And really, this just seems like the Next Argument the right is using in their strategy to make sure that everyone can have all the guns forever. Fuck them, and fuck that.
    posted by JHarris at 4:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    thehmsbeagle: my retort would be that we are, in these recent, tragically numerous incidents, talking about madmen. Not generally people with a grand scheme.

    Look at suicide data. People who are prevented through one method or another from killing themselves are hearteningly less likely to attempt it again. And these shootings are a particularly horrific form of suicide, have no doubt.

    Just a smidge tougher access to assault rifles and the like is enough to curb a lot of this shit. Yes, the beltway snipers would have still found a way. And likely anything one did would have had Tim McVeigh and his cronies find a way to blow up a building full of innocents. But most incodents aren't like that.

    A twenty-year-old wanted to kill his mother and so decided the best way to do so was to shoot up a kindergarten classroom. That doesn't happen without guns and access to them. Someone might say that he could have bombed the school, but that's difficult to pull off, involves knowledge and strategy and a lot more planning. NRA activists and the like often like to say that a determined murderer wouldn't need a gun, as if that means anything. No, a determined murderer wouldn't. Most murderers, I'm guessing, aren't determined.
    posted by Navelgazer at 4:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    NBC BREAKING NEWS: Guns in massacre belonged to shooter's mother.

    Gunman's mother owned weapons used in Connecticut school massacre.
    posted by ericb at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2012


    Because there are just too many guns in America for any of these ideas to have any impact at all.

    Waah public policy is hard and I can't possibly think of any other incentive-based approaches to getting people to hand over their guns voluntarily and if we can't solve it in the short term let's not bother doing anything at all PS herp derp liberal civilians I'm tots in teh army?

    Got it.

    Tell your husband he lost me at 'yeah, some kids are dead, but'.
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [66 favorites]


    Why is it legal for civilians to buy automatic weapons?

    The 2nd Amendment was put in place for the following reasons:


    deterring tyrannical government;
    repelling invasion;
    suppressing insurrection;
    facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
    participating in law enforcement;
    enabling the people to organize a militia system.


    You can't exactly defend yourself very effectively from, say, a government official with an automatic weapon if all you have is a single shot rifle.

    That's not to say that what happened here today wasn't devastating, it was. And I completely agree with you. One of the issues with gun control is just how deeply embedded guns are in our society. It would be impossible to round up even a tiny fraction of them all, and you can bet that only a few would voluntarily give them up.

    Maybe there's something else that can be done.
    posted by Malice at 4:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    >So to reduce the amount of gun violence in the US, you would have to start from scratch. Round up all the guns. Make it completely illegal to own them.

    This is a total straw man and a false dichotomy to boot.

    Now I realise that the US will not allow itself to learn on this issue, but Australia's managed to put quite a dent in mass shooting stats with some sensible gun control legislation.
    posted by pompomtom at 4:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Perhaps American children should be armed. I figure if you are old enough to hold a doll, blocks, or a crayon, you have enough motor skills to wield a pistol. Effective arms control in the USA is a pipe dream. The Renoroc proposal involves arming everyone at all times, practically from cradle to grave. An armed society is a polite society, after all.

    God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America!
    posted by Renoroc at 4:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I wonder if it would be easier politically to limit coverage of these incidents and restrict the naming of killers and publishing if their photos over restricting access to guns.
    posted by humanfont at 4:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    No, but how about don't own guns because it increases the risk of members of your household dying in a gun-related homicide or suicide?
    posted by naoko at 4:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [33 favorites]


    You can't exactly defend yourself very effectively from, say, a government official with an automatic weapon if all you have is a single shot rifle.

    You would probably need nukes to protect yourself from US tyranny.
    posted by Drinky Die at 4:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


    I wonder if it would be easier politically to limit coverage of these incidents and restrict the naming of killers and publishing if their photos over restricting access to guns.

    Security through obscurity is not a valid approach. Information stifling is not more effective or desirable than working towards fixing the actual problem via any of the myriad gun control solutions that pretty much every other first world country on the planet has figured out some time ago. You can't make the first amendment fight the second, that's just silly.
    posted by FatherDagon at 4:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]




    You can't exactly defend yourself very effectively from, say, a government official with an automatic weapon if all you have is a single shot rifle.

    Nor can you defend yourself from a bomb dropped by a government drone with an AK-47. Or a government official driving a tank -- you might have a shot with an RPG.

    Your argument appears to favor leveling the playing field of armament between government and citizen. How about a tactical nuke?
    posted by chimaera at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    People caricaturing other people's stances is not helping in this thread.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


    To put things in another way, the percentage of law-abiding gun enthusiasts who will be "determined" to hold onto their guns no matter what legal hoops or waiting periods that involves will be much greater than the percentage of potential killers who will wait and seek other means for mass destruction.
    posted by Navelgazer at 4:12 PM on December 14, 2012


    Security through obscurity is not a valid approach.

    It's not security so much as defusing the copycat effect, which is fairly well-proven. I find it reprehensible that the media take no responsibility for this, personally.
    posted by restless_nomad at 4:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The 2nd Amendment was put in place for the following reasons

    The 2nd Amendment says none of that.
    posted by zombieflanders at 4:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    What's fascinating to me is how there's apparently a constitutional right to own a handgun because somehow that falls into the 'arms' class that's constitutionally protected. Yet somehow a tactical cruise missile doesn't apply? Aren't arms arms?

    Not really. The spirit of the second amendment pertains to arms readily available and supplied by the individual soldier in a militia during callout. This would mean personal weapons that each soldier is expected to know how to use, maintain and be proficient in without special training. The kind of thing you are talking about is artillery and is supplied by the larger army organization. Handguns, Rifles, swords, axes and so on are what the members of a militia are supposed to have ready and a sufficient supply of ammunition for.

    BTW the definition of militia (at the time of the writing) was every able bodied man of military age willing to serve to defend his community/nation when called. (the founders were actually pretty big on the idea of conscientiousness objector).

    And Fuck, why the kids? I am a pretty pro gun guy but if there is some way to keep guns out of the hands of the crazy without denying them to the non crazy I am all for it. I just don't see it.
    posted by bartonlong at 4:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You would probably need nukes to protect yourself from US tyranny.

    This is true. I think that's a whole other discussion that could be brought up in the gun control debate. "Can we even defend ourselves from the government if it came to that with the weapons we have now, and if not, then why have them at all?" might be an interesting question to raise.
    posted by Malice at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    The 2nd Amendment says none of that.

    These were the viewpoints at the time.

    From Wikipedia.

    (And actually, it does on some points.)
    posted by Malice at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The 2nd Amendment says none of that.

    The thing is, you can't just ignore the second amendment because you don't like the policy implications. You either have to repeal it or pass laws which are consistent with historical interpretations of the amendment.

    But as someone pointed out earlier in the thread, the Supreme Court has indicated those laws can actually be quite broad depending on how they are worded. They just can't be a blanket ban.
    posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, after the Denver shooting

    The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country—Canada, Norway, Britain—has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do—as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue.
    posted by lalex at 4:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    "Can we even defend ourselves from the government if it came to that with the weapons we have now, and if not, then why have them at all?"

    To cosplay someone who might be able to, as near as I can work out.
    posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


    It would be impossible to round up even a tiny fraction of them all, and you can bet that only a few would voluntarily give them up.

    i know that's right - the simple truth is much of america would rebel if we tried to get rid of the guns

    but here's one positive thought - why couldn't we require firearms to have gps style locators in them - yes, people have the right to own guns, but WE (and our government) should have the right to know where they are and who they legally belong to

    if a gun's stolen, it could be located

    if it was used in a crime, we could know which gun was used and identify it and the owner

    if it was brought into a place where it really doesn't belong at all, such as an elementary school, alarms could go off, warning everyone

    there may be technological problems with this, but it certainly seems to be worth a look
    posted by pyramid termite at 4:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    To me, the Second Amendment is about as relevant as slavery. There are 20 pairs of parents who may have to wait days to recover the bodies of their children who were gunned down this morning.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


    These were the viewpoints at the time.

    Need I remind you of the many viewpoints of the time that no longer apply?
    posted by zombieflanders at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    But as someone pointed out earlier in the thread, the Supreme Court has indicated those laws can actually be quite broad depending on how they are worded.
    I'll ask again: How?
    posted by Flunkie at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2012




    I am in favor of much stricter gun control in the US. I am in favor of sweeping policy reform on health care access, including access to mental health care.

    It is not clear if these crimes could have been prevented even if I got all my wishes, policy-wise. The suspect in this case appears to have used legally registered firearms; he seems to have been from a prosperous family, was still young enough to be covered by a parent's health insurance, and was near some of the country's top mental health treatment facilities.

    More will come out in the days and weeks ahead, but making the assumption that he killed people because he didn't have access to mental health care on the basis that obviously he couldn't have had access to mental health care seeing as he killed people doesn't seem to help advance discussion.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    I fail to understand how people can misunderstand the purpose of the Second Amendment; it's the only Amendment that lists its purpose in the same sentence.

    The 2nd dates from the period between the dissolution of the Continental Army and the establishment of the United States Army, when it was considered a serious possibility that the nation might be defended by regional militia. Essentially, it guarantees a right to take a weapon and serve the common defense of your community.

    The establishment of a proper, centralized army, of course, made the point somewhat moot. Now, in its place, we have a historical dinosaur that people seem to believe guarantees their right to collect rifles and vaporize groundhogs.

    God Bless America.
    posted by fifthrider at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


    I've been ruminating on school shootings lately because of Dec. 6th memorials for the Montreal Massacre, so when I heard this as a breaking news bulletin, it was like a punch in the gut. So many tiny children and their teachers. I actually said "Oh nooooooo" out loud as they reported the (then unconfirmed) numbers. Just overwhelmingly sad and heartbreaking. Perhaps it's a vain hope, but would that this kind of thing didn't happen anywhere, ever.

    .
    posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2012


    These were the viewpoints at the time.

    Need I remind you of the many viewpoints of the time that no longer apply?


    This true but also the viewpoints about the 4th amendment, the first amendment and the fifth amendment are also irrevelant because the technology has changed?

    I think not.
    posted by bartonlong at 4:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The thing is, you can't just ignore the second amendment because you don't like the policy implications. You either have to repeal it or pass laws which are consistent with historical interpretations of the amendment.


    Then let's do it. Everybody who wants to do something should quit trying to be reasonable and talk about amending the Constitution to overturn the 2nd Amendment. Then maybe an actual compromise would be possible.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    "gps style locators" - Confiscating them all would be easier.
    posted by Ardiril at 4:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I don't have kids but I can't stop crying every time I think of the Christmas trees in those homes, and the presents underneath that those parents will have to face. I imagine there may be single parents who feel like they have nothing left to live for anymore. What is more horrible than the pre-meditated murder of children as young as five? Nothing. Nothing.
    posted by Glinn at 4:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


    It's not security so much as defusing the copycat effect, which is fairly well-proven. I find it reprehensible that the media take no responsibility for this, personally.

    It's when the shitbag leaves some kind of manifesto behind and they treat it like it might contain some kind of deep and meaningful message that pisses me off.
    posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    "Can we even defend ourselves from the government if it came to that with the weapons we have now, and if not, then why have them at all?"


    I'm also thinking along those lines. When the second amendment was written, how powerful were 'arms', and how powerful will 'arms' be in 20 years, 50 years, 100 years?

    The second amendment references technology in a vague way ('arms'), and technology changes.
    posted by memebake at 4:20 PM on December 14, 2012


    Flunkie, here is District of Columbia v. Heller. Here are the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's resources on it.

    The CSGV is an organization I support strongly.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I really wish I could go back in time and leave in a final paragraph in my above comment about how my husband is not Ron Swanson or someone who thinks we should all own lots of guns, but instead someone who occasionally likes to go target shooting (with a gun he rents from the range, because he does not own one and is unlikely to do so in the future).

    Anyway, I tried to be clear that my husband was not saying "We should all have guns! Guns are awesome!" but instead was going through the way some people talk about gun violence and pointing out the reasons why, barring massive change, we are unlikely to see a significant drop in the amount of gun violence in this country. As one of the people who talks about gun violence in exactly those ways, I found it illuminating. (And I was not trying to be rude about gun-control arguments, because, again, I am that person. Those are my arguments.)

    (He also concluded with a lengthy critique of pro-gun arguments, but I was trying not to post the longest comment in the world.)

    For people arguing that Australia was able to move toward gun control and so I should stop "playing that game", I just- I don't understand what you thought I was writing? Do you think I am opposed to gun control? I am terrified of guns. I think they should all go away. I think my husband wishes most guns would go away.

    But I still find value in attempting to understand why guns repeatedly do not go away, even after horrible events like this, and also in attempting to understand what a real solution would look like in American culture.
    posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    My cousin had her first baby two days ago, but I didn't find out until just this morning when another cousin posted her happy "Look I'm a new auntie" picture on facebook. For a couple hours this morning I was a little miffed that no one in the family thought to tell me sooner.

    Then I learned that the world was saving that news for me so I'd have something else to dwell on today instead. And oh, it has helped.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    thehmsbeagle, you are allowed to self-link within a post if it contributes to the conversation.
    posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    why couldn't we require firearms to have gps style locators in them

    The government is already surveilling me enough to keep me safe, thanks.
    posted by Egg Shen at 4:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    There's pretty strict gun control in courthouses and government offices, isn't there? Public safety is more important in some places than others.
    posted by ceribus peribus at 4:25 PM on December 14, 2012


    thehmsbeagle, if you say anything even remotely toward the idea that you or someone you know might not like the idea of a total gun ban you'll be faced with snarky comments like the one above. Don't take it to heart, it's just knee-jerk when someone's passionate about something to attack like that.
    posted by Malice at 4:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country—Canada, Norway, Britain—has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do—as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue.

    Someone on Facebook suggested the President should keep that speech in his pocket — he'll likely need it again before his second term is up.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I just- I don't understand what you thought I was writing? Do you think I am opposed to gun control?

    I thought you considered that a reasonable argument against attempting to reduce the number of firearms in the community - which it is not.

    (and Malice: your 'total gun ban' stuff is also a silly false dichotomy).
    posted by pompomtom at 4:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    You can't exactly defend yourself very effectively from, say, a government official with an automatic weapon if all you have is a single shot rifle.

    I'm sympathetic to feeling threatened by the government, but the facts as far as I can see them are that if you're threatened by a LEO, soldier, or national security agent, your problem is not that you have a less powerful firearm. It is that you're now in a conflict with a well-funded, socially legitimized, state agency that has massively more manpower and funding than you do, unless you're with another state agency and/or a Bond villain.

    Even if you have an automatic weapon, if you use it to successfully injure or kill a cop/soldier/agent, your problems are most likely to get bigger. Unless you are lucky plus connected or skilled in disappearing, you will either be captured, tried, and sent to prison, or you will be killed. And if you are those things, you've got better odds of getting out of whatever situation you've landed in OK *without* shooting somebody first.

    Our law enforcement orgs, military, and national security apparatus are all big and powerful enough at this point that individual 2nd amendment rights don't and can't protect us. If anything does protect us from oppression on these fronts, it's (a) the commitment of individual members of these organizations to respecting civil/human rights and maybe to some degree (b) separation of military power into somewhat compartmental branches (I might believe a state guard organization could serve as a check on federal oppression in a pinch).

    Individual 2nd amendment rights are really only good for defending against other ordinary citizens at this point.
    posted by weston at 4:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


    Thanks, Sidhedevil, but is there a summary of the specific question? That is, in what ways could a gun control law be formed such that it would satisfy Antonin Scalia as being constitutional? As opposed to a link to the opinion and a link to a bunch of stuff which may or may not be directly related to the question.

    I don't mean to seem ungrateful for the links, and I hope I don't seem that way; I'm just hoping for a summary of the answer to that particular question.
    posted by Flunkie at 4:27 PM on December 14, 2012


    (and Malice: your 'total gun ban' stuff is also a silly false dichotomy).

    My comment was referencing this quote:

    Waah public policy is hard and I can't possibly think of any other incentive-based approaches to getting people to hand over their guns voluntarily and if we can't solve it in the short term let's not bother doing anything at all PS herp derp liberal civilians I'm tots in teh army?

    Which I think falls in line with what I said.
    posted by Malice at 4:29 PM on December 14, 2012


    'The Game' I was referring to was the 'my husband has military experience & knows about guns so he knows all about this'. Same as anecdata as far as I am concerned - doesn't actually add much to the point at all, easy to refute with a counter example. Which was my point. If you want to discuss your husband's arguments on this point, go ahead, and I am sure there could be merit in them. I just thought the implied 'he knows more about it than us civilians' framing was not adding to it.
    posted by Megami at 4:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    There are 90 guns for every 100 Americans

    This is a bit of a straw man in terms of the practicality of controlling guns. While possibly numerically accurate, putting it this way makes it seem like 90% of the American population own guns. Which is not the case.

    From a CNN story in July 2012 ("Fewer U.S. gun owners own more guns."):

    "A study published in the Injury Prevention Journal, based on a 2004 National Firearms Survey, found that 20% of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65% of the nation's guns."

    So controlling the existing supply of firearms does not mean having to keep track of virtually all Americans.
    posted by soundguy99 at 4:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Flunkie, I don't know what Justinian and whoever else were referring to, so I can't tell you. The CSGV is in my opinion the best gun control advocacy organization in the US. Sorry you didn't find their resources helpful.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2012


    thehmsbeagle:
    But I still find value in attempting to understand why guns repeatedly do not go away, even after horrible events like this, and also in attempting to understand what a real solution would look like in American culture.
    Could it be that the reason is that no one in the position to do so is doing anything to make guns go away? Seems more plausible to me than mere speculation about the effects of possible policies.
    posted by simen at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2012


    The whole "hunting rifles" this is sad to me because while there are hunting rifles that are like assault weapons, they are unnecessary and not used by all hunters. Scandinavia manages to still have hunting without having the type of weapons we have in the US. Living part-time in a rural area, I understand a lot of ruralites have been deceived and think that if we had gun laws like northern Europe's they would not be able to defend themselves from coyotes raiding their hen houses or wouldn't be able to hunt. I guess the NRA has done a good job scaring them.

    But I agree with Mr. thehmsbeagle that the saturation of guns in this country lessens the impact of gun control. Where I live in Chicago is a perfect example. The gun laws here are very strict, but gun violence is endemic. People go outside the city to buy guns and bring them here.
    posted by melissam at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The government is already surveilling me enough to keep me safe, thanks.

    they wouldn't be surveilling you - they would be surveilling guns
    posted by pyramid termite at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    fifthrider: "I fail to understand how people can misunderstand the purpose of the Second Amendment; it's the only Amendment that lists its purpose in the same sentence."

    A gun aficionado once told me that the bit before the comma is a reason not to limit "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" and isn't the only reason or context in which it's true.

    To be clear, I don't support that interpretation and I don't know if it's just what one guy thinks.
    posted by brundlefly at 4:33 PM on December 14, 2012


    We're not going to have a rational conversation about any of this. Ever.
    There is a very powerful voting bloc that has already decided that their hobby and their childish fantasy of standing down the 101st Airborne with an assault rifle is more important than the lives of those 18 children.
    Think about that for a second. Like really let it sink in.
    Beyond the semantics, beyond the obfuscation, beyond all the word games and constitutional conjuring it really is that simple: my hobby, and my underdog Red Dawn fantasy are more important and more worthy than those dead children's lives.
    You dont even have to figure in any of our other many, many gun tragedies. And god knows we have enough to choose from this year alone.
    So when people tell you they are against gun control, understand what they are really saying.
    posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [89 favorites]


    What is weird to me is that all of the kids they are interviewing seem so completely calm. I watched an interview of a third grade girl earlier, and she was almost eerily serene throughout. Are these kids just in shock, or what?


    Kids process these things differently. Oddly enough I think the interviewing might be empowering for them.

    I AM concerned for the kindergardeners. How awful to associate school with such horror. Parents and teachers are going to have their hands full nationwide, I think.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    So beyond horrible. And yet I bet nothing changes in the States after this, not the way mental illness is treated, not the way guns are regulated, not the way media covers events. America has become the Titanic of countries, a political entity too cumbersome, too set in its ways, too much a victim of its own excesses to avoid danger or react to disaster in anything like a timely and wise fashion.

    I hope I'm wrong.
    posted by orange swan at 4:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Oh, and like one of the posters above I too have noticed a troubling uptick in gunviolence the past month or so in Fayetteville. And I am not the only one who has noticed it.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:36 PM on December 14, 2012


    Oh, FFS, Huckabee and all those like you. This horrifying tragedy did not occur because God was taken out of schools. It occurred because guns were taken into them.
    posted by ilana at 4:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [45 favorites]


    This true but also the viewpoints about the 4th amendment, the first amendment and the fifth amendment are also irrevelant because the technology has changed?

    I think not.


    Given that there are automated systems reading all my E-mail and listening to all my phone calls, I think you're way off base here.
    posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:36 PM on December 14, 2012




    .
    posted by The Michael The at 4:38 PM on December 14, 2012


    I think much of the credit for calm children goes to the teachers who acted so quickly. It heartens me how many of them had the children leave the school with their eyes tightly closed.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Oh, FFS, Huckabee and all those like you. This horrifying tragedy did not occur because God was taken out of schools. It occurred because guns were taken into them.

    As I saw pointed elsewhere, other things that didn't exist before "God was taken out of schools": Desegregation, Bryan Fischer, Mike Huckabee.
    posted by zombieflanders at 4:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    We don't know whether the suspect was diagnosed with mental illness, if so what his diagnosis or diagnoses were, and what kind of treatment, if any, he was receiving. We don't know.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Sidhedevil, I believe we do know for a fact that the shooter was mentally ill.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:42 PM on December 14, 2012


    Show of hands: Who wrote to one of their Representatives or Senators today asking them to initiate a Constitutional gun control amendment?

    /raises hand

    Anyone else? Bueller?
    posted by Ardiril at 4:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    This is the fourth time that I have re-posted this quote in the past five years. It is depressing:

    "Amok is a Malay word for the homicidal sprees occasionally undertaken by lonely, Indochinese men who have suffered a loss of love, a loss of money, or a loss of face. The syndrome has been described in a culture even more remote from the West: the stone-age foragers of Papua New Guinea.

    The amok man is patently out of his mind, an automaton oblivious to his surroundings and unreachable by appeals or threats. But his rampage is preceded by lengthy brooding over failure, and is carefully planned as a means of deliverance from an unbearable situation. The amok state is chillingly cognitive. It is triggered not by a stimulus, not by a tumor, not by a random spurt of brain chemicals, but by an idea. The idea is so standard that the following summary of the amok mind-set, composed in 1968 by a psychiatrist who had interviewed seven hospitalized amoks in Papua New Guinea, is an apt description of the the thoughts of mass murderers continents and decades away:
    "I am not an important man... I possess only my personal sense of dignity. My life has been reduced to nothing by an intolerable insult. Therefore, I have nothing to lose except my life, which is nothing, so I trade my life for yours, as your life is favoured. The exchange is in my favour, so I shall not only kill you, but I shall kill many of you, and at the same time rehabilitate myself in the eyes of the group of which I am a member, even though I might be killed in the process."
    The amok syndrome is an extreme instance of the puzzle of human emotions. Exotic at first glance, upon scrutiny they turn out to be universal; quintessentially irrational, they are tightly interwoven with abstract thought and have a cold logic of their own.

    From How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker"
    posted by AceRock at 4:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [127 favorites]


    Ardiril, I did last time around (Aurora shooting) and the responses I got from my elected officials -- the ones who bothered to write back -- were utterly vacuous. I'm not going to bother this time.
    posted by Wordwoman at 4:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Good idea, Ardiril.

    (goes off to do just that.)
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 PM on December 14, 2012


    Start here.

    Let's make the next 100 comments here a show of hands.
    posted by Ardiril at 4:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Obama ordered all federal American flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Tuesday.
    posted by argonauta at 4:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    roomthreeseventeen, even granting the "no mentally well person would have done this" argument, my point is that he may have been diagnosed and under treatment at the highest standards of care and still have committed this crime.

    And I don't grant the "no mentally well person would have committed this crime" as someone who is living with mental illness. But that's an argument I'm not having in this thread at this time.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 4:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    for my imminent action to donate to the Brady Center and any other organization dedicated to helping make sure this cannot occur again.

    All of today's online donations to the Brady Campaign will be matched 100%.
    posted by ceribus peribus at 4:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    My boss and his kid are in America right now. He decided his son would be better off claiming his US citizenship by turning 18 in the States.

    I'm guessing he might be coming back on Monday and I couldn't blame him.

    America is fucking insane.
    posted by bardic at 4:53 PM on December 14, 2012


    .

    Newtown, Conn. Happy Valley, Ore. Oak Creek, Wisc. Aurora, Colo. Those, and at least 12 other mass shootings so far this year in the U.S. So damn sad and unnecessary.
    posted by limeonaire at 4:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Just sent to all my congresscritters:
    Currently I am one of your constituents in New York, but I grew up in the state of Connecticut. As you can imagine, I was shocked and horrified to hear of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning; I have long referred to Connecticut as a nearly idyllically safe place to grow up, and it is heartbreaking that these other children have lost the ability to make that claim.

    Towards that end, I urge you to ensure that no other child in my home state will ever lose that right; I urge you to take action against the gun lobby in this country and tighten gun control. It's time to tell the gun lobby that the abuses of the 2nd Amendment they've been claiming are NOT more important than the lives of the 18 children who were lost.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    When you write to your representative, be sure to ask them about any NRA money they might be the beneficiary of as well. How much would they care about their precious 2nd amendment if there wasn't some money on the table for them for their fealty.
    posted by marylynn at 4:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Sorry if this was posted before upthread, but the quote from this Tom Tomorrow/This Modern World cartoon comes to mind:
    Barring some seismic realignment in this country, the gun control debate is all but settled and your side won. The occasional horrific civilian massacre is just the price the rest of us have to pay.

    Over and over again, apparently.
    posted by jazon at 4:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    Ardiril, why bother?

    Neither of my (liberal Democratic) Senators even has "gun control" on their list of approved contact topics. Neither does the President. Amendment? Most Americans oppose it, even when it's their own kids getting shot in the head. We love our guns too much. We love our guns more than we love our kids.

    But yeah, I wrote all four today, and signed the petition.
    posted by Fnarf at 4:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    they wouldn't be surveilling you - they would be surveilling guns

    By this reasoning, if the government mandated GPS trackers in shoes - and why not? shoes are used in violent crimes even more frequently than guns - they wouldn't be surveilling you; they would be surveilling your shoes.

    But this is all moot. What difference would it have made to today's killings if a cop sitting at a monitor somewhere had been alerted by GPS tracker that a gun had been brought onto school property?
    posted by Egg Shen at 4:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Restless_nomad: This quote from Byron Hurt, which I still have not successfully sourced, sums it up:

    "Until we stop telling boys that they can not cry, or show emotion, or that they have to be tough and powerful, and in control of people and things; and until we stop sending men the message that we cannot show vulnerability, or express our anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, and rage in healthy way, we will continue to see this kind of hypermasculine aggression, which perplexes only those who do not make the connection between masculinity, violence, and guns."


    It's a good quote for a good amount of male culture, but does not really address the problem of psychopaths, and the ease at which they can obtain deadly weapons. For a psychopath, they would simply lack the ability to feel empathy. A lot of the quote above would not make much of a difference in their world...as they would simply absorb thoughts of violence from our media and other parts of culture and play it out like a video game or movie. There are tests for this sort of thing, but nothing that is generally accepted as a catch-all for all psychopaths, otherwise we would be using them in prisons all the time to determine whether someone was safe to return to society. The implications of using such tests for obtaining fire-arms is also a very likely debate, and not all psychopaths are driven to murder. But we've seen more and more, that with mass shootings, it's more often a factor (besides the guns) than not.

    (Also we kind of went down this road with the Aurora shootings: Let's not loosely use the phrase "mentally ill" to describe mass murderers...sociopath or psychopath would be more direct. "Mental illness" is too broad in definition and is off-putting to those who have diagnosed mental illnesses much more benign, like eating disorders. I know that sounds silly and I realize it's not done with that intent of course....just wanted to mention it because I was called out before on it too...so more of a friendly PSA here)
    posted by samsara at 4:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    The argument that "there are too many guns, we can't control them now" is, as far as I'm concerned, not so much an argument as capitulation.

    I, for my part, refuse to capitulate.
    posted by Archelaus at 4:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    America is fucking insane.

    America is Popolac, from Clive Barker's short story In the Hills, the Cities. We have become the mad aggregate giant, and we are rampaging the hills in our grief and our madness. Eventually we will die of exhaustion, but at what price?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    By this reasoning, if the government mandated GPS trackers in shoes - and why not? shoes are used in violent crimes even more frequently than guns - they wouldn't be surveilling you; they would be surveilling your shoes.

    It's as if you know nothing of RFID.
    posted by Max Power at 5:00 PM on December 14, 2012


    It would certainly be very gratifying to see the NRA reminded that they lost the election and told to STFU.
    posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]




    "why bother?" - Voices. Multiple voices. Repeating. Berating.

    This is how pot got legalized and same-sex marriages recognized. One state at a time.
    posted by Ardiril at 5:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    Why not? If I give my car keys to a drunk driver, that's negligent. Why the hell can't people who leave guns where mentally unstable people can get them be charged with negligent homicide?
    posted by snickerdoodle at 5:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    I AM concerned for the kindergardeners. How awful to associate school with such horror. Parents and teachers are going to have their hands full nationwide, I think.

    A parent of an older (living) kid at the Newtown school was interviewed and said it was just a week ago that he had to have the conversation about the Oregon shooting and reassure his child that they'd be safe, that this wouldn't happen at their school, etc. I don't know what the hell he's going to say now.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 5:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Neither of my (liberal Democratic) Senators even has "gun control" on their list of approved contact topics.

    Ah, but they most likely have "children". That's what I did with one of my senators.

    Yeah, it literally turns you into one of those "think of the children" types, but this time it's used for good.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I lived in the CT suburbs all through high school. My family almost moved to Newtown, so this is a bit close to home. I also look at it from the point of view of being a teacher. I 've taught first year university students for many years now--not so different from high school really.

    For several years, it was my responsibility to meet with the "bad students". These were kids who were not attending, failing class, being disruptive, bullying, etc. Or, teachers had identified potential self-harm or domestic violence. At first, I dreaded this new job, but soon found it was one of the most rewarding parts of work. Not a few of these kids were 18 year olds entering periods of depression or much more serious mental health problems. Convincing these kids to get from the classroom to a qualified counselor and/or psychiatrist was often the most productive thing I did all week. Seeing some of them get better and get back to class was amazing.

    I never feared for my safety. Although I often feared for theirs. We had one student commit suicide on campus; probably others at home, but that was harder to verify. I could walk around campus with these students, meet them in a lounge or office, just talk with them and spend time. I could email with them and was never concerned that my home address would be easy for them to find as essentially public information. I never worried about myself because I live in Japan where guns are highly restricted. I don't think I would have been able to do that work in the States. The job of every teacher in the US just got that much harder.
    posted by Gotanda at 5:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Why the hell can't people who leave guns where mentally unstable people can get them be charged with negligent homicide?

    I am opposed to an all out gun ban, but I agree with this. If you bought the gun, you're the one responsible for it.
    posted by Malice at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Secret Life of Gravy: Yeah I don't know if it is just bias confirmation but yesterday my husband and I noticed independently that here in Raleigh we seem to have seen a spike in the number of firearm murders just in the last couple of weeks. A mom and two kids. A husband and wife. An Indian restaurant owner. A young man. On and on. Nothing ties them together, just guns and death.

    My husband and I attended the vigil last night for the restaurant owner in Durham, Mohammed Arfan Sundal. He was a beloved figure in this neighborhood; a truly decent, giving, and endearing man. His teenage son spoke at the vigil, and had some raw, heartbreaking things to say about guns, in the wake of his father's murder.

    It's so hard for me to deal with the gun true believers even outside horrible events like these, but I cannot freaking speak to them in the midst. I just want for once, when someone like this happens, for a bunch of people to not immediately squirm out of the woodwork in the defense of the proliferation of guns. It's like, that's the first thing they give a shit about.

    If you ask the world, "HOW does this happen, how can we prevent this from happening so damned often?", people respond, "The shooters were rogue crazy people who were total aberrations! Never mind how often this kind of thing happens, they're all rare deviant lunatics and that's that, totally unpredictable, no need to think about it any harder. Yay for free access to guns, fuck access to affordable and useful mental health care!"

    (Keep in mind that the fact that someone theoretically has the ability to obtain mental health care, does not mean they will, due to the shame and stigma and the godawful experiences you go through in mental health care until you find a therapist or psychiatrist who's not a fuck-up. IF you find them. IF you hold out that long. Also keep in mind that "crazy" is just a lazy label to put on a complex situation, and that you don't have to be mentally ill to go on a shooting spree.)

    I don't know why we're so uninterested, as a nation, in doing anything of consequence to stop this shit. We're interested in reciting sad words like "tragedy", "condolences", "unbelievable", etc, and then moving on to the next reason to mouth platitudes. I'm an idiot and have only the foggiest ideas of what should be done, but the fact that so few people appear interested makes me want to go to bed and not get back out.
    posted by Coatlicue at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    HuronBob, I am so sorry to hear about your loss -- thank you for sharing your experience. And also your call to action.
    posted by madamjujujive at 5:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Ah, but they most likely have "children".

    Ah, good thinking. I went with "Terrorism". This is terrorism, and the gun lobby is doing the real heavy lifting for the terrorists. I know I'm terrified. Until today I had never heard of Newtown, Connecticut, which tells me that tomorrow it could be right next door. With 250 million guns to go around, it's not like there's anything stopping anybody.
    posted by Fnarf at 5:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    What difference would it have made to today's killings if a cop sitting at a monitor somewhere had been alerted by GPS tracker that a gun had been brought onto school property?

    you forget that i had already proposed that an alarm would be set off - and by that, i mean something just like a fire alarm that could be heard by everyone

    i'm not aware of shoe killings being a national problem

    you should pay better attention to what i say and try not to be so disingenuous if you want to continue this conversation with me
    posted by pyramid termite at 5:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Seeing as the person who bought the guns in this case (as far as we know to date) was killed with one of her own guns, I don't see the relevance of penalties in other hypothetical cases?
    posted by Sidhedevil at 5:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This is just making me so sad. I think of parents who have Christmas gifts hidden on a high shelf for a child who believesd in Santa, or who have 2 more nights' of Hannukkah gifts for a child who has been killed by someone who watches too much tv, has guns, and is mentally ill. The American love affair with guns and violence isn't uncommon, we export our violent movies worldwide to eager audiences. I believe there's ample evidence that seeing the news of mass killings makes more mass killings more likely. Much as I think we have far too many guns, a culture of disrespect, a culture that tolerates violence, we have little in the way of resources for the mentally ill, and we've let our sense of community be fractured. The answer is for Americans to choose to create community, and stop letting entertainment producers create our value systems. And mental health care, and common decency.

    I can just barely begin to imagine the pain of these families; this is nightmare stuff. Parents fear car accidents, cancer, and other horrors, but I never thought to fear that my child would be gunned down at school. Every loss diminishes us, but this is loss and pain on an enormous scale.

    I'm not a believer, but the only thing I can imagine doing right now is praying.
    posted by theora55 at 5:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]




    killed by someone who watches too much tv

    Oh, let's not.
    posted by tzikeh at 5:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    "A study published in the Injury Prevention Journal, based on a 2004 National Firearms Survey, found that 20% of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65% of the nation's guns."

    I was suprised to note over Thanksgiving that my cousin had gotten a man-sized safe in which to keep his guns in. I refrained from making Dick Cheney jokes.
    posted by JHarris at 5:16 PM on December 14, 2012


    Mental illness does not de facto make you violent. You do not have to be mentally ill to kill others.

    Can we please fucking stop with this assumption. Lots of people dealing with their mental illness and not being violent would certainly appreciate it.
    posted by emjaybee at 5:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [48 favorites]


    Thanks, ColdChef. Brave ladies. Ms. Hochsprung's Twitter was linked in a bunch of places, and it made me cry. She did her best to protect those children.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 5:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    We need to reframe gun control as gun accountability. I don't want to ban guns, but I do want gun owners to take some damn responsibility for the damage they cause. I want them to think twice before leaving it in the nightstand drawer or loaded. I want background checks and psych evals. I want owning a gun to be a Big Deal, and one that requires some hoop-jumping and financial outlay. I want people to think twice about the cost and where they will store it and how they will keep it out of the wrong hands. There needs to be civil and criminal penalties up and down the chain -- from the manufacturer to the dealer to the buyer.
    posted by snickerdoodle at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


    The American love affair with guns and violence isn't uncommon, we export our violent movies worldwide to eager audiences.

    I don't think violence in movies is the cause of the problem.

    I heard just a few minutes ago that a local elementary school is planning on putting card-activated door locks on classroom doors in the near future. This is in Brunswick, GA, which is like one step above rural.

    Neither of my (liberal Democratic) Senators even has "gun control" on their list of approved contact topics. Neither does the President.

    APPROVED CONTACT TOPICS?!
    posted by JHarris at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2012


    Has anyone actually said that anyone who is mentally ill is necessarily violent? I've seen people say things that I've interpreted to mean that carrying out a murder like this implies mental illness, but that's a totally different thing.

    A implies B does not mean that B implies A, and I seriously doubt that anyone who said that this particular A implies this particular B additionally meant that this particular B implies this particular A.
    posted by Flunkie at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I just made a donation to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
    posted by HotToddy at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Mental illness does not de facto make you violent. You do not have to be mentally ill to kill others.

    and it is also true that being in treatment for mental health issues does not necessarily make you non-violent. I desperately want to see better funding for mental health care, but I doubt it is the answer.
    posted by Wordwoman at 5:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    snickerdoodle, I agree with everything you've said, and yet none of that seems like it would have stopped this from happening.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 5:26 PM on December 14, 2012


    I want to mention that Principal Hochspring had recently implemented stricter security measures at Sandy Hook Elementary than those I grew up with.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 5:27 PM on December 14, 2012


    We do need a more international perspective. Frequent mass killing is a relatively solved problem in many places comparable enough to the US.

    My friend posted:

    there is no reasonable way for us to regulate the fragile and often unpredictable mechanism that is the mind. What we can do is limit the weaponry that people have access to.

    I want us to have much better mental health services, because that's a very good thing. But I am under no illusion that having access to those services can prevent this sort of thing. They are typically voluntary-participation. They are not universally effective. And even they cannot control people's actions - not with talk, not with drugs. Mental health care is a basic necessity that we should certanily have. But it is not enough.

    We gotta wise up. No, it won't be easy. But because we have no stomach for the difficult discussion, we tolerate the situation. And because we tolerate it, we are complicit.

    Enough.
    posted by Miko at 5:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    I don't think violence in movies is the cause of the problem.

    So my Facebook friend the gun enthusiast just posted a link where some idiotic pundit posits that movie violence and reporting is a prime cause for these sorts of shootings. No mention of the ready availability of assault weapons etc etc.

    So suggest tweaking the First Amendment, but geez, we had better refrain from discussing the Second Amendment - not even relevant, people!

    As Kurt Vonnegut said:

    "I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be likened to a system of gears whose teeth had been filed off at random. Such a snaggle-toothed thought machine, driven by a standard or even by a substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy, pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in Hell."
    posted by KokuRyu at 5:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    zombieflanders:
    The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed
    There are already a good number of public figures and organizations today (nevermind internet commentors like us) who have made it publicly known that they don't seem to notice or care about the first three words.
    You know, I've never heard an argument that makes sense to me for why the second part of that sentence isn't dependent upon the first part.

    Thinking about it, I'd be perfectly okay with tying that whole sentence together instead of ignoring the first bit - if someone wants to own something other than a rifle or shotgun suited to hunting, and they pass whatever legal checks are in place to own it, they must become a member of a well regulated militia, as in: you're in a special "citizen militia" tier of the Army Reserve now and must qualify with your weapon every year, and you can be drummed out for anything a regular service member can be, forfeiting your right to own those special weapons. You can also be called to action in times of domestic emergency, etc, as a militia would.
    posted by jason_steakums at 5:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [25 favorites]


    I have a number of mentally ill relatives, and I teach a number of mentally ill children. None of them kills people.
    posted by Peach at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    this is nightmare stuff

    It is. Oddly enough, I felt compelled to pick up my 2nd grader from school today about the same time this all happened. We'd had a rough morning and I was feeling bad about it. I didn't see the news until later. I'll take a battle before school every morning over what the families of these children are having to endure.
    posted by PuppyCat at 5:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Thinking about it, I'd be perfectly okay with tying that whole sentence together instead of ignoring the first bit

    As I've said before; if you can conveniently interpret one of the amendments to come out with your preferred policy solution, someone else can conveniently interpret a different amendment (such as the 1st, 4th, or 14th) to come out with their preferred policy solutions. And they might not have your restraint and good intention.
    posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    .
    posted by luciernaga at 5:41 PM on December 14, 2012


    It's already being conveniently interpreted by ignoring the well-regulated militia bit.
    posted by jason_steakums at 5:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    barring massive change,

    Yes, that was also a strong argument against Civil Rights, if I've read my history textbooks correctly. Nobody wants massive change! Could also work against abolition and women's suffrage and gay marriage.
    posted by jacalata at 5:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    i'm not aware of shoe killings being a national problem.

    That is changing the subject.

    You have not countered my point that surveilling someone's possessions is tantamount to surveilling them. You have only argued - as best I can tell - that guns are so dangerous that we should tolerate being surveilled to be kept safe from them.

    I've heard the same arguments about terrorists. And despite the fact that I'm (slightly) more at risk from a mass shooting than I am from a terrorist attack, I'm still not interested.
    posted by Egg Shen at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    APPROVED CONTACT TOPICS?!

    JHarris, to give some credit to our congresscritters, I think this is more a matter of "making it easier for their staff to sort emails." Most times I've written to mine, they have a list of "Subject Topics" you can pick from which are usually related to pending bills or the ConressCritter's pet projects or of particular relevance to their constituents (i.e. "Jobs" here in Ohio.)

    I think there's usually an "Other" option, or you can use a creative interpretation ala EmpressCallipygos.
    posted by soundguy99 at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    snickerdoodle, I agree with everything you've said, and yet none of that seems like it would have stopped this from happening.

    The shooter was too young to legally carry a gun. Someone put guns in a place where he could get to them. It sounds like that someone was his mother.

    I'm from rural Michigan. I grew up eating hunted meat, and have done target practice. I am not anti-gun. I actually think shooting inanimate objects is kind of cool.

    But I've also gone to parties where a proud gun-owner took a gun off a wall and handed it over to me with complete nonchalance. That is batshit insane.

    Every gun should be treated as a weapon. There should be standards on gun storage and handling. Want a gun? Fine. Here is what you have to do to get one. Here's how you have to store it. Here are gun safety standards that have to be followed. And if you are found to be careless with your weapon, you lose your gun license and get your guns taken away. If you are negligent, you can go to jail.

    This isn't just about mass shootings. It's also about the stolen guns that wind up hitting innocent bystanders, and accidental deaths, and the idea that gun ownership isn't just a right -- it's a huge responsibility, and not one that every single person is equipped to handle.
    posted by snickerdoodle at 5:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [40 favorites]


    Yeah, I'm not sure why I have to get my driving license renewed every X many years, get my vision checked, take the test, etc. but you don't have to have gun license refreshers.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 5:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    Sure, I'm all for stricter gun control. But there will be a civil war if you ban guns. That is not hyperbole.

    I just really wish we could talk more about how difficult it is to get mental health in this country. Even severe and physically painful mental conditions take months to treat because it usually takes months to see a psychiatrist, who may or may not actually give a shit about you for your $50 per hour (with insurance).

    The availability of guns is a problem, but for fucks sake if this "change" the president mentioned in his speech doesn't focus on revamping our mental health care system and treating like an actually illness rather than a bitchy annoyance stemming from hypochondriacs, we would prevent a hell of a lot of these shootings.

    Tim McVeigh didn't need a gun to kill 600 people in broad daylight.
    posted by WhitenoisE at 5:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Words seem vain but necessary. It is impossible for me to understand what happened today. It is unreal. I felt nothing except bewilderment and a toxic resignation. Lying in bed I had to think about even how to think about this, and for a moment my thoughts were with the killer. How he must have imagined the reporting on his deed. "They will not understand," he must have thought. He must have fantasized about the confusion, the wantonness, the strange elation of surrendering to compulsion. The brand names of the weaponry, with their weird aura of cool ("Glock"), his bulletproof vest, the flailing attempts to establish a rickety framework of understanding... Better to be a cipher, a mysterious agent of darkness, than a nobody, better to replace the stories of humiliation and rejection and failure by a mindless river of blood. The reporters and news crews, bless they hearts, but their familiar faces and finely honed formats can't contain the reality of this event. Thank you, Joey Michaels, HuronBob. It took your words, the remembered detail, the grit of memory and conscience, to make this real for me.
    posted by deo rei at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    FelliniBlank...you do have to take gun "refreshers" about every five years in my state.
    posted by WhitenoisE at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Why the fuck did a kindergarten teacher own two semiauto 9s? And why did her mentally ill son have access to them?

    I hunt, shoot, enjoy guns and hang out in gun-owning rural communities on a regular basis. I've also lost two people I cared about to gun violence in the last few years. I favor radical new restrictions.

    I also think its time to restrict the romanticization of guns on tv and in movies. Come on fucking Hollywood, stop equating having a big gun with having a big dick.
    posted by spitbull at 6:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    You do realize the the right is screaming about how this wouldn't have happened if teachers had been armed?
    posted by telstar at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Fucking guns have been fetish-ised in American culture to point that they have become, to many, nearly religious symbols of self-reliance, freedom, virility, patriotism and personal power. The result is that any impetus towards gun control will inevitably be subject to arguments that are emotional, partisan, dogmatic and damn near impossible to resolve rationally. But if today's horrific events aren't enough to justify the effort to seek a resolution, I shudder to think what it will take.
    posted by islander at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    But also, I've watched people I love lose a child to gun violence, and the pain is excruciating even to watch powerless to console. I'm not saying its not time to talk politics, but we need to see this specific crime for itself too.

    I've stood at the fresh grave of a child I knew well with her parents, whom I love, who was shot dead by a jealous boyfriend. If you haven't, you cannot imagine how much it hurts.
    posted by spitbull at 6:06 PM on December 14, 2012


    snickerdoodle, we don't know if the late Ms. Lanza kept her guns in a gun safe. Maybe she did. Her son killed her. Maybe she left the guns lying around. Maybe she locked them up. We don't know.

    Gun safes are important. Gun safety is important. Gun safety training is important. None of that may have been able to help here.

    One of the guns the suspect is reported to have taken from the mother was a deer rifle. This was not a gun he is reported to have used, but it suggests that even a total handgun ban wouldn't have stopped this tragedy.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This study linking antidepressants and gun violence is making the rounds on Facebook.
    posted by KokuRyu at 6:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    If 30,000 people would be killed by bombs annually if we had reasonable gun control, I wold consider a Timothy McVeigh argument today.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    As I write this, I am beside myself with grief and sorrow, as well as shock and disbelief over today's events.

    I feel thin-skinned and hollow, trying together with my wife unsuccessfully to parse what happened and all the while thinking about our son who is the same age as the children who were killed this morning. While we delight in his innocence, we're struck by how completely unprepared these children were to understand what was happening, to react to the assault, to defend themselves.

    We think about last week's tour of our local elementary school, in a neighboring Connecticut town, and our deliberations about which kindergarten he will attend next year. I can see the darkened classroom we visited filled with children, and imagine how it might have tragically unfolded.

    We think about our close friends, residents of Newtown, whose daughter is a friend of our son. They had asked the Sandy Hook school if she could attend this year, even if she just missed the cutoff for kindergarten. Had the school not refused, she would have been in the classroom today.

    We think about the chain of children holding each other's hands, eyes squeezed tight as they struggled to leave the building, and the memories that will haunt them.

    We think about my former colleague and his wife who lost their only daughter this morning to a senseless act of violence. A little girl now collateral damage in a struggle that really didn't concern her. Her Christmas presents tucked away in a closet, her toys strewn throughout the house, her laundry waiting in a hamper. How will they manage to get out of bed tomorrow morning?

    The gun control debate is important stuff, and I've been inspired by all of you to donate to www.bradycampaign.org today. Still, I can't stop thinking about the wide community of people who will live with this for the rest of their lives.

    .
    posted by Otherwise at 6:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [41 favorites]


    You do realize the the right is screaming about how this wouldn't have happened if teachers had been armed?
    posted by telstar


    Most people would not be psychologically capable of acting rationally with a firearm in self defense against an aggressive armed assailant. They think they would because it looks so easy on tv. Armed teachers is just a recipe for more carnage.

    I know, how about we send kids to school in body armor? That should do the fucking trick.

    /sickened
    posted by spitbull at 6:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    One of the guns the suspect is reported to have taken from the mother was a deer rifle.

    Sidhedevil, where are you seeing this? So far all I've seen or heard about a rifle is a Bushmaster .223, which I'd hardly call a "deer rifle" - it's a civilian version of the military's M-16.
    posted by soundguy99 at 6:13 PM on December 14, 2012


    We don't know that the son had "access" to his mother's guns. He may well have attacked her with something else, taken the guns by force, then shot her (presuming the reports describing the crime scene at the home to date are accurate).

    I seriously don't see where this argument is going given the limited information we have. If what people are arguing is that public policy should be that no guns can be allowed in a home where anyone diagnosed with a mental illness (which we don't even know the suspect had been at this point) resides, that's going to be a hard battle to fight.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Aside from the event itself, the thing that upsets me most about these shootings is the inevitable response from some NRA rep or supporter that it could have been prevented if someone else present had been packing.

    I can't concisely explain why this upsets me so much, but it has the feeling of a reductio ad absurdum, "the solution to guns is more guns". It's never fewer guns, always more guns.

    Personally, I don't think we need to get rid of all guns, so much as we need to stop loving them so much.
    posted by hwestiii at 6:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I know people who use the Bushmaster for hunting deer. And moose, but I don't suppose they get moose in Connecticut.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    An argument that I thought was settled since about the dawn of the Meiji Restoration.

    Having seen a number of don't blame the tool, blame the person arguments (as if blaming the tool is actually what is happening, which isn't) I was reminded of this little chat between Lee and Braithwaite in Enter the Dragon.
    posted by juiceCake at 6:14 PM on December 14, 2012


    You do realize the the right is screaming about how this wouldn't have happened if teachers had been armed?
    posted by telstar at 6:05 PM on December 14


    Where are you getting this from?
    posted by space_cookie at 6:16 PM on December 14, 2012


    I have a friend who moderates comments for one of the biggest news sites on the planet and she has been seeing a lot of people ranting about idea of arming teachers. It's a real thing.
    posted by something something at 6:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    What could possibly go wrong?
    posted by space_cookie at 6:18 PM on December 14, 2012


    The 2nd Amendment was put in place for the following reasons:

    So my favourite bit of Second Amendment trivia is that a draft version included a right to conscientious objection. It was dropped, on the grounds that, in the absence of a standing army, conscription was absurd, so surely one didn't need a right to object. (That such a right was even considered probably speakers to how much larger a percentage of the population Quakers were at the time.) That ablative absolute at the beginning? It's all about not having a freaking army. Funnily enough, the situation has changed a wee bit since then. It's really not relevant what the people who wrote the Second Amendment were thinking, particularly because they were operating from a totally different set of assumptions.
    posted by hoyland at 6:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Earlier today a news anchor commented "this has become the worst elementary school shooting in history".

    And I thought to myself my god, I live in a country where elementary school shootings can be ranked.
    posted by Conductor71 at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [57 favorites]


    I know people who use the Bushmaster for hunting deer.

    Well, people fish with dynamite, too, but I would say it's disingenuous to call a stick of dynamite "my fishing rod."

    This is not what most people would think of when you say "deer rifle."
    posted by soundguy99 at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    The majority of people with mental illness are in need of people to talk to who aren't frightened by the way their mental illness presents.

    So linking up mental illness with rampage murder is exactly the kind of thing which increases that isolation by implying that any behaviour you don't understand might be a precursor to a murder rampage. As far as I can tell, violent nihilism is the strongest predictor of this kind of crime.
    posted by ambrosen at 6:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    If people want to read about public figures responding to this with calls to arm teachers, you can do so here and here and here.

    My own opinion is that it's so far from what's needed as to be ludicrous, but it is absolutely being called for in all seriousness.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:25 PM on December 14, 2012


    You have not countered my point that surveilling someone's possessions is tantamount to surveilling them.

    such as putting a license plate on a car so it and its owner can be identified by the police?

    such as superfast license plate readers that can read hundreds of plates in a minute?

    such as traffic cameras at every light and cameras at many businesses?

    you're already being surveilled plenty these days

    You have only argued - as best I can tell - that guns are so dangerous that we should tolerate being surveilled to be kept safe from them.

    no, i'm arguing that if you own a gun we should have the right to know where it is, especially when it's in public - this is something that is already done with gun registration - the government knows what guns you have and where you live - i'm merely proposing better technology and broader access to that knowledge

    you're already being surveilled plenty - why shouldn't we know if you're packing, too?
    posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    soundguy99, the people I know who hunt deer with a Bushmaster 223 aren't the kind of people who fish with dynamite. If anything, the .223 is underpowered to hunt deer, but a lot of short, slight people use it because it has less recoil than a .450.

    My point was that Ms. Lanza needed a permit to buy the Glock and the Sig Sauer, but likely not to buy the Bushmaster under CT gun laws.<
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:27 PM on December 14, 2012


    America has a Violent Culture problem not a lack of gun control problem.

    This is simply factually incorrect. Human nature is the same everywhere and a tendency to violence is part of that. But countries with greater access to firearms people who are having that violent moment are able to inflict far, far more and greater damage. This is clearly reflected in higher violent crime and murder rates in these countries.
    posted by flug at 6:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I work at a school, and work with kids from age 2 to 11. When I went to work, all I knew was that there was a school shooting, and a couple of adults were feared dead. I checked the news during the day, and especially after a text from my husband indicating that the death toll was 20 (at the time).

    I was numb, and shaking, and only not crying because I needed to be around the kids. Every one of my kids willing to be hugged got many many hugs today.

    Two 1st graders were playing with Legos, and building ships, and saying things like "Bang! Gotcha! I killed you!" and we told them "No guns, no shooting, no killing." Some of my afterschool program kids (one 5, one 3.5) were playing a game with a bad guy that they kept killing. The 3.5 year old would say "We killed him, he's dead." I said "How else could you stop him? Could you talk to him?" They said "No, he doesn't understand us." I told them "Well, we could hug him, that doesn't have words." I suggested they change him into a good guy. They tried that, but changed him back. I didn't tell them to stop playing, but I offered other suggestions. How do we do a better job of teaching non-violence, of peaceful solutions?

    There's going to be a lot of squirmy kids tonight, wondering why their parents are hugging them so hard.

    I don't even know if I'm making sense, I've got no comprehension of this shooting, I can't imagine what makes somebody walk into a classroom of 5 year olds and start shooting.
    posted by booksherpa at 6:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [27 favorites]


    Every gun should be treated as a weapon. There should be standards on gun storage and handling. Want a gun? Fine. Here is what you have to do to get one. Here's how you have to store it. Here are gun safety standards that have to be followed.

    This is pretty much the British system, post-Dunblane. It seems to work well.
    posted by Pallas Athena at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This is not what most people would think of when you say "deer rifle."

    Peoples mental image of a hunting rifle is not really relevant. One Bushmaster .223 for instance is explicitly marketed as the "Bushmaster Varminter" for varmint hunting.
    posted by Jahaza at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    "Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands." This does NOT reflect the views of the person providing the link.

    You have to admit the mother would probably have been one of the first teachers to be carrying a gun. Now, whether she would've been able or even willing to shoot her own son before he shot her... more than highly unlikely.

    Also, about shooters doing it to become famous. This one in particular killed himself before the police arrived, let alone the media. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and he killed himself. We have no idea what was motivating him, but it is likely to be something you could never pass a law to deter (the motive that is... the means is another issue).
    posted by oneswellfoop at 6:31 PM on December 14, 2012


    someone just linked me to this in chat: Battle of Blair Mountain

    I mean, I'm sure any kind of American disarmament program would focus firstly on private security companies and mercenaries, though, so there's really no need to worry
    posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Many people rely on hunting for a significant part of their food, even today.

    How many people are actually subsistence hunting? There are certainly some, but how many of them are not in Alaska? And is it really inconceivable that gun ownership could be severely curtailed while still allowing subsistence hunting?
    posted by hoyland at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    When the wife and I went to our new doctor today the receptionist was perky and cheerful. That was until she got a phone call from relatives about the shooting. It seems that her niece and nephew go to that school. They were okay, but she was in shock thinking about the whole incident. As were we. My heart goes out to all the people involved. I can't help but think how that phone call could have been so much worse.

    .
    posted by Splunge at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2012


    oneswellfoop: "You have to admit the mother would probably have been one of the first teachers to be carrying a gun."

    I don't actually think we can assert that with any degree of confidence, at all.
    posted by Superplin at 6:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ignoring whether or not someone should use a Bushmaster for hunting, I can't wrap my head around why someone would choose one - I haven't hunted since my early teens and I could care less about the hunting anymore, but I can still rattle off a list of guns much better suited to it and much cheaper. And it just so happens that most are bolt action, so a hell of a lot less effective at causing the same kind of carnage in active shooter situations.
    posted by jason_steakums at 6:39 PM on December 14, 2012


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    Actually "Create extremely strict controls on and strictly limit ownership of hugely dangerous things that can be stolen or mis-used resulting in massive harm to numerous innocent people" is a pretty good foundation for rational public policy.
    posted by flug at 6:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Just saying that if ANY kindergarten teachers would be bringing guns to their schools, it'd be those who already owned more than one.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 6:39 PM on December 14, 2012


    Do you know what varmint hunting is? There's a reason they use semi-automatics.
    posted by Jahaza at 6:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    oneswellfoop: you're either being really intellectually dishonest about your original assertion or you don't know what "probably" means.
    posted by absalom at 6:41 PM on December 14, 2012


    It does not matter what you ban - "assault" rifles*, certain types of ammunition, purchases at gun shows, etc. - the sheer number of guns already out there in the wild means that it just won't make a dent.

    That's the most ridiculously defeatist line of bullshit I've ever heard.

    The number of guns in America is finite. There's a really, really, really easy way to keep it that way: Just stop adding more guns.
    posted by Sys Rq at 6:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    My last comment in reply to jason_steakums.
    posted by Jahaza at 6:41 PM on December 14, 2012


    Can we agree, at least, that guns should be regulated as much as fertilizer? Is that too much to ask?
    posted by Cash4Lead at 6:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    you're already being surveilled plenty - why shouldn't we know if you're packing, too?

    Franklin... liberty... security... etc.
    posted by Egg Shen at 6:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    If anything, the .223 is underpowered to hunt deer

    But just powerful enough to hunt children, and you can buy one without a permit. Incredible.
    posted by robcorr at 6:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    hoyland, in my high school in rural Massachusetts, more than half of the people I knew ate mostly deer meat in the winter. Just a little more than an hour from Boston.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I'm from Canada where our gun culture is almost non-existent, so I honestly don't understand the reasons why any mention of gun control in America is instantly shut down as "wrong". I've heard some of the arguments for guns, but they all seem really weak when you consider incidents like this. I don't really get the "self-defense" argument because even if someone did break into your house, shooting them seems too excessive to be "self-defense", and if they didn't have a gun, you wouldn't be in as much danger either. I don't get the hunting argument either, because just because one can get guns for recreation doesn't mean that you need to have such lenient controls on guns (such as in Canada). I sort of get the "right to bear arms" argument, but the constitution is being amended and argued over all the time, so tradition barely seems like a proper reason why.

    So my honest question is (and I would really appreciate it if someone could answer me honestly, even though I know it's stupid), why is there so much resistance to not even greater regulatory controls over guns in America, but the mere discussion of greater regulatory controls? I don't want to just automatically chalk it all up to "well republicans are stupid", because I know there has to be some underlying reason for them to have such horribly strong opposition. So what is the driving motivation?
    posted by Conspire at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    How many people are actually subsistence hunting? There are certainly some, but how many of them are not in Alaska? And is it really inconceivable that gun ownership could be severely curtailed while still allowing subsistence hunting?

    No, it's not, as I've noted, Sweden and Norway still have hunting and have fairly strict gun laws. I would note that hunting there is serious business, you need to take a 30-40 hour class (to contrast I took a 3 hour class for mine) and pass a test. Through that process you may obtain a specific hunting rifle.

    Unfortunately it was true that Breivik had managed to get gun through a hunting license. But he was very very determined. Imagine how many disturbed people jumping through all those hoops must filter out? Sure, one got through, but still leaving Norway with a tiny amount of gun crime per capita.
    posted by melissam at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Cash4Lead: "Can we agree, at least, that guns should be regulated as much as fertilizer? Is that too much to ask?"

    And bullets should be as hard (or harder) to get than pseudoephedrine.
    posted by tonycpsu at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


    you're already being surveilled plenty - why shouldn't we know if you're packing, too?

    Franklin... liberty... security... etc.


    The semantic web is alive and well. You have already lost this battle.
    posted by Max Power at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2012


    .
    posted by pixie at 6:45 PM on December 14, 2012


    Peoples mental image of a hunting rifle is not really relevant.

    Well, actually it is. If you ask people "do you oppose gubmint bans on hunting rifles" you get a particular response. I'd bet you get a different response if you showed them some examples of the weapons that are covered by that innocuous-sounding term.
    posted by robcorr at 6:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    I know, how about we send kids to school in body armor? That should do the fucking trick.

    Bulletproof Backpacks
    posted by M Edward at 6:46 PM on December 14, 2012


    Do you know what varmint hunting is? There's a reason they use semi-automatics.

    I know it, and I've done it, for farm pest control purposes - and the reason is nothing more than simple convenience and plenty of wishful thinking: if you're faced with enough pest animals that you need that much speed and magazine capacity... you're still not going to get a lot of them, because they'll scatter before you can.
    posted by jason_steakums at 6:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    My point was that Ms. Lanza needed a permit to buy the Glock and the Sig Sauer, but likely not to buy the Bushmaster under CT gun laws.

    Ok, fair enough.

    Peoples mental image of a hunting rifle is not really relevant.

    Sure it is. If most people's mental image of "hunting rifle" is a bolt-action with a 4-round capacity, of course then most people could be have been convinced that all "hunting rifles" are (relatively) harmless and should be readily available & unlicensed.

    When that "hunting rifle" or "Varminter" can, to quote the review you linked to, "accept any AR-15 type magazine, including my personal favorite: the 20 round military magazine" - yeah, that changes the terms of the debate, and not in favor of the NRA.

    or (on preview) what robcorr said.
    posted by soundguy99 at 6:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Conspire, my sense has always been that most objections to gun control are a combination of toxic machismo, and anti-government paranoia. I personally don't think there is any correct, reasoned opposition to gun control (leading with my chin here, I know), but that it is almost entirely emotionally driven. That is with respect to "gun control", mind you, not "gun prohibition"
    posted by hwestiii at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2012


    "probably" was likely a bad word to use, considering I would assume the total number of concealed-weapon-carrying teachers would be VERY low if they ever were encouraged to do so, making the whole scenario unlikely, but if anyone would, it would be most likely those who were already gun owners.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2012


    Well, actually it is. If you ask people "do you oppose gubmint bans on hunting rifles" you get a particular response. I'd bet you get a different response if you showed them some examples of the weapons that are covered by that innocuous-sounding term.

    It's not legislatively relevant. It's like using any other kind of fearmongering to move legislation or public opinion. You may be able to influence public opinion that way, but its unethical. Legislation should be based on relevant criteria, not the appearance of weapons.
    posted by Jahaza at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    So my honest question is (and I would really appreciate it if someone could answer me honestly, even though I know it's stupid), why is there so much resistance to not even greater regulatory controls over guns in America, but the mere discussion of greater regulatory controls?

    The NRA is fighting a war, they aren't going to give an inch to the enemy. Every attempt to regulate guns is seen as the government overstepping their bounds and attempting to control the individual. They and their members will never give ground on this, because they don't believe that guns are the problem.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Franklin... liberty... security... etc.

    how is your liberty or security impeded by the fact that people would know you have a gun in your possession, in public?

    you are still free to carry it - you still own it
    posted by pyramid termite at 6:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Myth of the Hero Gunslinger
    posted by M Edward at 6:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Massachusetts, where I live, has to the best of my knowledge the US's strictest laws on rifle ownership. And a lot of people for whom hunting is an important annual source of food. So in addition to knowing how things can work in other countries, we know gun control and hunting can coexist in the US.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    This thread is growing rather long, so I may have missed it but does anyone have any thoughts on the original, mistaken suspect Ryan Lanza? I ask because he's lost his brother and mother today, yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression. I don't know what to make of this - his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.
    posted by blaneyphoto at 6:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Franklin... liberty... security... etc.

    Here, Franklin refers to the Constitution, not the Bill of Rights, but it is the same:
    I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 6:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    robcorr's point is a good one. I think of the Bushmasters as hunting rifles because I know people who use them to hunt. I would also not oppose a ban, or stricter limitations, on them based on their style of action being too potentially lethal to human targets. The way these questions are framed make a lot of difference in how policies are made.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I ask because he's lost his brother and mother today, yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression.

    I can't imagine anyone with more right to be in shock right now. Tied with the parents who lost their kids today, yeah, but Ryan Lanza is probably feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment, to say the least.
    posted by vytae at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


    ...his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    There is no manual for how a human being should deal with their sibling killing their mother, then 26 people and then himself.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 PM on December 14, 2012 [82 favorites]


    yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression. I don't know what to make of this - his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?

    I am pretty sure that no one, no one at all, has an adequate way to respond to news like this. It's not like there's some sort of training for how to react to finding out that your brother not only killed your mother but 20 small children.
    posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Blaney, people do not necessarily respond to events like these according to any of our expectations. To me, it indicates that our expectations are likely wrong, not that there is something wrong with the people that defy them.
    posted by Wordwoman at 6:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It's not legislatively relevant. … You may be able to influence public opinion that way, but its unethical.

    You're quite right; using the popular perception of "deer rifle" to generate opposition to restrictions on a much broader category of weapons is unethical and misleading.
    posted by robcorr at 6:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    I don't know what to make of this - his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    I'm sure that if he knew who you were, he'd be sorry his grief is not public enough for your satisfaction.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [30 favorites]


    It would come to civil war if we ever tried to take the guns away. It would be like banning the bible or going to church on Sunday. People worship their guns. When you ask them to point out what good a semi-auto handgun could possibly bring other than the death of another human they rear back and say but it's for protection!

    I have a handgun. I enjoy shooting at paper target circles, it's soothing for whatever reason. But if giving up my right to have that gun saves just 1 life that's a win for me. Other people feel it's a total loss.

    Gun control and climate change are the same damn thing. Powerful corporate interests have embedded themselves so deeply in our culture that we are completely and utterly fucked as a society. But hey, at least I look cool standing next to my H2 with my AR15.
    posted by M Edward at 6:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    The NRA is fighting a war, they aren't going to give an inch to the enemy.

    To follow up on your answer: The NRA is considered by many the most powerful lobbying group in the country.
    posted by Amanojaku at 6:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    ...his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    Most of our ideas about how people should respond to extreme events comes from tv and movies and has very little relationship to how things work in the real world.
    posted by billyfleetwood at 6:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I ask because he's lost his brother and mother today, yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression.

    first of all, he must be in shock - second, he probably doesn't want to share his innermost feelings with anybody who happens to own a tv, which is damn near everyone - third, he hasn't processed this and won't for a damned long time

    we seem to expect people to react and talk the "right way" when thrust in the public eye when they've had no experience of being there and no idea they were going to be put there - he's probably just shut down emotionally in the glare of the cameras and hasn't a clue as to what he should do or say
    posted by pyramid termite at 6:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The NRA is fighting a war, they aren't going to give an inch to the enemy.

    Too bad the defenders of the rest of the First Ten Amendments aren't nearly as determined. And it must be noted that the Second Amendment Defenders are not different because they have guns, but because they have a the financial support of an entire industry totally dependent on keeping that "right". The Communications Media may be much bigger but is in no way dependent upon Absolute Freedom of Speech... in fact, they are in a position to benefit from more restrictions, therefore their support of SOPA, etc.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 6:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    fourth, he was initially exposed to this situation in the worst way possible, thank you, CNN.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 7:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    - fifth, he may still be in police custody.
    posted by Ardiril at 7:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This thread is growing rather long, so I may have missed it but does anyone have any thoughts on the original, mistaken suspect Ryan Lanza? I ask because he's lost his brother and mother today, yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression. I don't know what to make of this - his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    Didn't CNN announce his home address?
    posted by NoMich at 7:01 PM on December 14, 2012


    Thanks, hwestiii. I suspected as much, and that really disappoints me that you agree with my original judgment because I was hoping that there was something I wasn't seeing. How can the majority of a country buy into such a toxic, paternalistic and ultimately, fatal myth like that? I really don't like believing the majority of citizens in a country as if not bad, extremely naive to the point that they put their children in the way of open harm. I sincerely hope that some good will come out of this incident, and discussion will finally open.
    posted by Conspire at 7:02 PM on December 14, 2012




    .
    posted by getawaysticks at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2012


    and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    Are you sure you've got the right guy? Apparently the press jumped all over a different guy with the same name's Facebook profile and he's been fending off media and public attention all day.
    posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    It's already being conveniently interpreted by ignoring the well-regulated militia bit.
    posted by jason_steakums at 8:42 PM on December 14 [4 favorites +] [!]

    Yes, and conservatives would retort that the other side conveniently and inconsistently contrues "the people" in this amendment alone to mean "the State." Who's "right?"
    posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    When you ask them to point out what good a semi-auto handgun could possibly bring other than the death of another human they rear back and say but it's for protection!

    Fairly weak argument there. I could do the same thing this guy did with a baseball bat, or a revolver, or my hands for that matter. At an elementary school who is there that is really going to stop you?

    I own guns, both handguns (semi) and rifles and shotguns. I shoot quite a bit at the range, used to hunt, carry when I am in Afghanistan under the premise of self protection. This will bring up the same arguments that get hashed and re-hashed every time there is an incident. Is the gun evil, or the person...
    My question has to do with his mother. Everything I have read so far says the weapons were hers. What is her background? Interesting assortment she has. And I assume no gunsafe?

    Too bad this asshole didn't start with himself. Would have spared a lot of families a whole lot of sorrow. The children that survived are going to need some help after all this too.
    posted by a3matrix at 7:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Because there are just too many guns in America for any of these ideas to have any impact at all.

    This idea comes up every time this discussion comes up. With apologies to your husband, it is both wrong and wrong-headed in these particular ways:

    1. Guns last a long time but they don't last forever. Like everything mechanical, eventually any particular gun will fall into dis-use or into the ownership of someone who doesn't care about or like guns. With the general U.S. population becoming far, far less likely to need or want to use guns on a regular basis, this is only going to accelerate in the future. We're playing the long game here. We're not going to totally fix this problem by tomorrow morning, but we could take steps that would dramatically improve the situation pretty much immediately and with good follow through we could reduce gun injuries and fatalities several-fold in the lifetimes of your children and grandchildren.

    2. Once guns are banned or severely limited, there are lots and lots of things you can do to work on reducing the number of guns out there--buy-back programs, gun turn-in programs, and that type of thing. If you cut off the supply of new weapons on the front end and then work, even slowly and gradually, to reduce the number of existing weapons it does indeed have an effect over the long term. Gun advocates like to argue that the only way to get guns out of circulation is the FBI doing house-to-house gun searches but the fact is in between doing nothing at all and heavy-handed FBI searches of every home in the country there many, many productive ways to reduce the number of firearms in circulation.

    3. To effect any major type of societal change like this, you almost always have to do it step by step. Each step you'll have people crying "That didn't do anything! Waste of time!" But take 5 and 10 and 20 and 50 steps, all in the same direction, each of which didn't do much of anything by itself, but the cumulative effect does add up. Cf gay rights, civil rights, reduction in drunk driving, reduction in smoking, and many, many other similar long-term campaigns. Step by step you complete a long journey and chip-by-chip you break down a huge wall.

    There is no magic instant solution, but there are real and realistic long term solutions.

    But we'll never get there if we give up before we even start.
    posted by flug at 7:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [68 favorites]


    robcorr, if you thought I was trying to rally opposition to a handgun ban by talking about how a Bushmaster is considered a deer rifle by many, including to the best of my knowledge the Connecticut government, I am either not being clear in my posts or you're not reading them carefully (which would be completely understandable in a thread moving this quickly, and on such a sensitive and upsetting topic).

    If I misunderstood your post and it wasn't referring to me, my apologies.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'll now be promoting a strict construction of the Second Amendment that will allow people to own as many muzzle-loading flintlock rifles as they wish.

    If the dinosaurs on the Supreme Court are going to ignore the first clause of the amendment, they should at lest be held to the original intent as to the type of arms that the founders intended to be borne.
    posted by mygoditsbob at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    The NRA is fighting a war, they aren't going to give an inch to the enemy.

    This is Sparta!
    posted by homunculus at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2012


    a3matrix, we can't assume Ms. Lanza didn't have a gunsafe. Her son is reported to have killed her; overpowering her and forcing a key to a gunsafe away from her could also have happened.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:13 PM on December 14, 2012


    Is it just the cynic in me that says that if you go deep enough, the strength of the pro-gun forces in the U.S. must be about money? Not to say that there aren't millions who would attest that theirs is purely a Constitutional concern, but haven't we seen how the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelsons and the the like, who simply want to get government out of *their* gajillion dollar businesses (e.g., eliminate taxes and regulation), have gained traction and political support for those ends by crafting messages to appeal to the fears and prejudices of--and therefore getting the votes of--the masses, by any means necessary: xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, abhorrence of anything Not ChristianTM enough, etc.?
    posted by argonauta at 7:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    George Szirtes, the English poet and fine translator of Hungarian literature tweeted these lines.

    There are moments the heart stops,
    and the temperature drops
    to that icy pain.
    Again.
    Not again?
    Again.

    posted by vac2003 at 7:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [25 favorites]


    hoyland, in my high school in rural Massachusetts, more than half of the people I knew ate mostly deer meat in the winter. Just a little more than an hour from Boston.

    So we're clear, they're almost certainly not actually subsistence hunting, in the sense of hunting as a necessary means of obtaining food.
    posted by hoyland at 7:16 PM on December 14, 2012


    a3matrix: "Fairly weak argument there. I could do the same thing this guy did with a baseball bat, or a revolver, or my hands for that matter. At an elementary school who is there that is really going to stop you? "

    Maybe one, two, or six of the adults that were killed? Maybe a bunch of the other adults that were there who might have run toward the scene had the madman with firearms been replaced with a madman with a baseball bat or his bare hands?

    Come on. Try harder.
    posted by tonycpsu at 7:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


    "[T]he strength of the pro-gun forces in the U.S." lies solidly in the intermittent and weak response from the anti-gun forces.
    posted by Ardiril at 7:17 PM on December 14, 2012


    Yes, and conservatives would retort that the other side conveniently and inconsistently contrues "the people" in this amendment alone to mean "the State." Who's "right?"

    See, I don't get that at all. The people, to me, certainly means the citizenry. But "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," to me, can't possibly construed as "[a bunch of word salad] the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." How does it not at the very least strongly imply that the citizens keeping and bearing arms are supposed to be a part of this well regulated militia?
    posted by jason_steakums at 7:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    hoyland, I am saying that these people relied on hunting as a source of a significant proportion of their annual calories, one they could not easily replace.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I'm sure that if he knew who you were, he'd be sorry his grief is not public enough for your satisfaction.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos


    Thanks for your snide commentary to my honest questions.... I'm not looking for an argument in what I asked I simply expected to see something different from someone who's experienced such a loss. I've seen it in person - on 9/11 for example and in my work as an EMT. But yes, as those of you who pointed out that there's no standard for this are correct - its just not been my experience.
    posted by blaneyphoto at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    These were people who were on food stamps and who received government cheese, powdered milk, etc. Not gourmets who dug venison. People who couldn't afford to buy meat.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Noting that both the Aurora and Newtown shooters were reportedly armored, is there any serious debate over the legality of body armor? I had assumed it was illegal, but cursory googling suggests I can get kevlar off the internet right now for about $400. I see no situation calling for kevlar outside of those in which you expect to be shot at; one such situation might be defending your home, and assuming there's a pro-kevlar argument I'm guessing that scenario is at its center, but every other application I can conceive of would be very illegal. I would also think law enforcement would vastly prefer not to be going up against privately armored individuals. I don't recall ever seeing it talked about though in these kinds of discussions. Am I just wrong about its legality here or is it not seen as a big issue relative to the main gun control debate?
    posted by passerby at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "[T]he strength of the pro-gun forces in the U.S." lies solidly in the intermittent and weak response from the anti-gun forces.

    And billions of dollars.

    I'm not anti-gun, but honesty is due where it's due.
    posted by Malice at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Knowing quite a few gun rights people, I have to tell you that they-at least the ones I know well-see the second amendment as almost a religious requirement. And that any attempt whatsoever to control or restrain gun ownership is a direct attack on their freedoms as Americans.


    I don't expect most folk here to understand that or to understand how deeply ingrained it is but to expect any of the things I have seen commented on here to make one iota of difference to people who feel the way that they do? I don't see it happening. It is a mental mindset that brooks no tampering.


    I just don't know what else to tell you.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    every other application I can conceive of would be very illegal.
    You are complaining about injustices in your country or at your place of employment and being shot at because of that.
    posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Thank you Joey Michaels, I grew up less than a mile from Newtown in Brookfield, this is hitting very close to home.
    posted by splatta at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2012


    "[T]he strength of the pro-gun forces in the U.S." lies solidly in the intermittent and weak response from the anti-gun forces.

    Okay, make that "the relative strength," then. The "intermittent and weak" response from the anti-gun forces might still be explained by the Follow The Money precept, no?
    posted by argonauta at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2012


    (my own views are so complicated that not even I understand them. Fwiw.)
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    My country is insane.
    posted by bitterpants at 7:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    well-maintained, a gun will last for many decades

    Not to keep piling on here, but those words "well-maintained" are a huge, huge caveat.

    If you haven't noticed, most things in the universe are not well maintained at all. That's because it takes a lot of work and attention to keep something well maintained.

    Guns that are continually used and maintained by their owners will last a long time. But most people most of the time eventually lose interest and when that happens the fact that a well maintained gun will last many decades is irrelevant, because this actual gun is rusting unused in a damp basement.
    posted by flug at 7:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    These were people who were on food stamps and who received government cheese, powdered milk, etc. Not gourmets who dug venison. People who couldn't afford to buy meat.

    Yeah there are a lot of people doing this where I live in Vermont as well. It's not that unusual in rural New England, in addition to rural Alaska and I'm sure other places as well. I'm not saying "Oh gosh they'll starve if they can't have guns" just answering your honest question that you asked above. Yes, there are a lot of people who hunt to put food on the table whose other options are, basically, less food.
    posted by jessamyn at 7:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Agree with Malice and argonauta that the power and money of the gun industry and its lobbies (at state levels as well as federal levels) are a huge confounding factor in making a difficult public policy conversation impossible. It shouldn't be impossible, but the blankets of gun money smother discussion.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "And billions of dollars." - Without doubt. To change the gun culture in the US will require matching funds, dollar for dollar. As guns are a hobby for some, the fight against guns must become a hobby for a like number of activists.

    Write your senators weekly. Establish automatic donations to the Tom Brady fund.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.
    posted by Ardiril at 7:26 PM on December 14, 2012


    Long thread, lots of anger and hurt. Not a lot of solutions about actual, effective gun control. I don't think I read a single viable idea that would have prevented this awful tragedy. Please, spare me the dramatic angry response. But the ideas are just not there. For all the clamor over more gun control, name some real, effective gun control that would have worked here, and might work in the future. No magical solutions, please.
    posted by 2N2222 at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Noting that both the Aurora and Newtown shooters were reportedly armored, is there any serious debate over the legality of body armor?

    I wouldn't bat an eye if they made body armor illegal for civilian use, but is there any evidence that body armor increased the number of deaths in either event? For these sort of mass shootings it seems like as soon as the attacker is dealing with the police, the event is basically over. In both cases, it seems like the body armor was more posturing that it was anything that had a practical impact on the event.

    So we're clear, they're almost certainly not actually subsistence hunting, in the sense of hunting as a necessary means of obtaining food.

    Given where the gun laws are in the US, I think we can make them significantly more restrictive before we have to start worrying about people who hunt for sport, much less have to care about whether or not people are genuine subsistence hunters or not.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    St. Alia, are the "gun rights people" you know are a perfectly-representative sample of everyone in America who opposes gun control? Every major policy position has its zealots and its more casual supporters, its orthodox members and some who are more ambivalent or open to change. You're essentially saying that because the people you know are religious about it, we should all give up on having a rational discussion of the issue. That's an absurd, concern troll-ish statement to make.
    posted by tonycpsu at 7:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Not the Tom Brady fund! The Brady Center. And/or The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well, people who know me around here also know just how many representative progun people I am around. I am simply sharing a perspective that just because some of you think that these people can be persuaded with words from people they disdain as liberals? Good luck with that. Because the people I know are also the most politically active people I know.

    All I am trying to say is, don't get your heart broken, is all.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    St. Alia, with respect, it's not about who gets whose "heart broken", it's about who gets their policy agenda through the relevant legislative bodies. I don't give a fuck about winning the hearts and minds of Second Amendment absolutists.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    [This, of course, alludes to you , you need to stop "kind of obliquely" referring to stuff and actually take part in the conversation, or find a different conversation to snark in. ]
    posted by restless_nomad at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Fairly weak argument there. I could do the same thing this guy did with a baseball bat, or a revolver, or my hands for that matter. At an elementary school who is there that is really going to stop you?


    Are you kidding me? A dude slashed 22 kids at a school with a knife and guess what, NO ONE DIED. (the fact that this happened on the same day is so unreal)

    See the disconnect? We've already lost because that thought process runs so deep in people.

    You can swing a baseball bat, slash at them with a knife, do tons of damage but they still get to go home and be held by their parents. You do that with a gun and they are all dead, no recovery, no healing, just dead.
    posted by M Edward at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    Maybe we should leave interpretation of the Second Amendment to the pros:

    "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al. v. HELLER 478 F. 3d 370 (2008)
    posted by Sunburnt at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The sad but true FACT is that a gun is a pathetically poor tool for self-defense 90+% of the time, unless you, like Han Solo, shoot first. It IS the most effective tool a person can have for killing another person (but again, less so if the other person shoots first or has a bigger gun).

    Which is why (and I've stated this before in "gun threads" here) the only reason I would EVER purchase a gun myself would be for the express and specific purpose of killing some other person. And I have mixed emotions over the fact that there is nothing in our system of laws and regulations preventing me from doing so.

    But no, this will never be accepted by anyone who thinks a gun is a Magic God Device, no matter how much practical gun training they may ever get.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    St. Alia, I'm good friends with, and family of, many of people who view gun control as you describe. I don't see their minds changing, but as much as I love these particular people, I'm absolutely of the opinion that they can go ahead and have their sensibilities offended. Their offense at any form of gun control is not worth protecting at the cost of horrible things like this. And honestly, the only response I'll have if any of them try to talk to me about gun control in the near future will be: is it worth this? And if they say it is, well, that conversation's going to end right there and it's time for me to take a break from them for a while.
    posted by jason_steakums at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    Tragedies will always occur in this world. It is our duty as human beings to do everything we can to make them as least awful as possible.
    posted by M Edward at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012


    Well, with all due respect, I'm reading all the arguments here and imagining how...well, certain individuals I know would react. Let's just say this is a topic I am being very careful not to bring up in real life today because I don't want to hear what I would hear.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    "Religious" is a pretty good descriptor of a whole slew of gun owners.

    The problem here is the rational debate. I'm not even seeing much here, let alone by gun nuts.
    posted by 2N2222 at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Anyone here read the latest Atlantic? There is an article in it about what to do about this very issue. What if the teachers had been armed, and had been able to defend themselves and their students? Atlantic article by Jeffrey Goldberg
    posted by jenh526 at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The pro-gun people I know best, the ones who would start a shooting war to protect their right to own guns, are all Democrats.
    posted by Ardiril at 7:42 PM on December 14, 2012


    .
    posted by Kibby at 7:42 PM on December 14, 2012


    And if that aside was directed at me I don't appreciate it. None of what I have said is snark or disingenuous. It is the dead dog truth.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If trained police officers can't hit their target without doing damage what can we expect from a tired, overworked, underpaid teacher?

    Bystanders Shot at Empire State Building Were Hit by Police

    It's like we expect things to be like in the movies. Maybe violent movies are the problem but not in the way we expected them to be.
    posted by M Edward at 7:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    second amendment, militia, blah blah… wasn't it Tunisia who, with the lowest gun ownership rate in the world, overthrew their government in 2011?
    posted by whyareyouatriangle at 7:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Maybe we should leave interpretation of the Second Amendment to the pros:

    "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al. v. HELLER 478 F. 3d 370 (2008)


    And with different people on the bench, or a different political climate, or in the wake of a string of tragedies, or in a different time period, or, or, or... there would be a different outcome. It's certainly a decided matter for now, but it's far from set in stone. It was a 5-4 decision.
    posted by jason_steakums at 7:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    I was just thinking about today's events when I started writing my thoughts down, and then I decided to share them here.

    A few years ago I quit studying journalism because I didn't want to get killed for any of the reasons journalists seem to lose their lives. I had seen too many "Journalist Killed" headlines in their various contexts and decided one day that that possibility, however remote, made me uncomfortable. It had less to do with the fact that the industry was contracting than I always said it did. So I zoomed out to study topics along a broader theme with the thought that I could maybe hone in on something else someday. I began to casually entertain teaching.

    I decided to seriously pursue teaching after considering a morsel of oft-shared career advice on the green: "What would you do for a living if you weren't getting paid?" Rose-colored glasses aside, I can't think of anything that'd be as wholly satisfying as teaching. Just a moment ago I came to the realization that several of my friends are teachers. For some of them, this is a very recent development. For others, it's defined the bulk of their decades on Earth. And though these people don't know each other, they're united in their passion for their work. These are obviously things I'd have known about these people if asked, but I've never been prompted to think of such a disparate group of my friends all at once before. I've certainly never thought that they, by virtue of their profession, were even remotely liable to vanish from my life. That possibility struck me like lightning.
    posted by Chutzler at 7:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The problem here is the rational debate. I'm not even seeing much here, let alone by gun nuts.

    Well, all due respect, but we're less than 24 hours past the tragedy - I don't think a high level of rational debate is something you should, ah, rationally expect.
    posted by soundguy99 at 7:48 PM on December 14, 2012


    I fully admit to being irrational about this. My level of thought is pretty much stuck at "your bit of metal is more important than these children's lives".

    I am aware this is unhelpful though and would like to pursue a workable compromise with the ultimate result being fewer gun deaths. Problem is, I don't trust the "other side" to give an inch.
    posted by gaspode at 7:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Well, all due respect, but we're less than 24 hours past the tragedy - I don't think a high level of rational debate is something you should, ah, rationally expect.

    While that's understandable, I wonder, if rational debate cannot be had, is there any reason for this thread to go on? Seriously. What possible good can come out of it?
    posted by 2N2222 at 7:52 PM on December 14, 2012


    This idea on the right, of armed teachers - so, you don't trust them to do something as simple as collectively bargain, but you'll give them the means to kill your children?
    posted by jason_steakums at 7:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [57 favorites]


    [Folks, there is already a MetaTalk thread if you want to debate the existence of this one. Do not do it here.]
    posted by restless_nomad at 7:53 PM on December 14, 2012


    Is there a vaguely Germanic term for being so numb to something that you can't even compose a response to Metafilter without it being FUCK FUCK FUCK? Because there should be.
    posted by Keith Talent at 7:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Bloomberg to Obama: Calling For 'Meaningful Action' Is Not Enough
    “With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”
    I've never been much of a Bloomberg fan, but he's one of the few elected officials refusing to let Obama off the hook with a few tears and another emotional speech. Bloomberg is clearly pointing out that what Obama has been doing on this issue is absolutely nothing. Even if Obama bothers to send a minimal gun control bill to Congress (doubtful), it seems obvious he won't actively fight for it.

    "Meaningful action." Yeah, let's see it, Obama.
    posted by mediareport at 7:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Arming teachers might well strengthen their collective bargaining... there are no unions more accepted by the Right than the Police Unions.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 7:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    M Edward, The NYPD officers were hampered by their own anti-gun police department. NYPD police firearms are required to have a 12-pound trigger-pull, compared to the usual 3-6 pound range for the same handguns off-the-shelf. That makes the guns difficult to fire, and when you're tugging on that heavy trigger, your aim will naturally drift. NYPD are outliers on this, and most probably meet the bare minimum proficiency for firearms-- most PDs want to save on ammunition and keep the practice requirements and qualification standards down accordingly. Next time the NYPD murders an innocent civilian, listen for the bullet count, and the hit-count. NYPD are, by and large, terrible shooters in general.
    posted by Sunburnt at 7:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    why is there so much resistance to not even greater regulatory controls over guns in America, but the mere discussion of greater regulatory controls

    There is a lot of resistance but we often neglect to mention that there is a lot of support for regulatory control of guns as well. Numerous measures have been passed in various states and cities--some mentioned on this thread. DC passed a ban on guns (overturned), Illinois passed a ban on concealed carry (recently overturned), NYC has very strict gun controls, the Massachusetts restrictions are mentioned upthread, etc etc etc.

    It's always a bit disheartening for gun control supporters because many of the strongest laws have been struck down by supreme court rulings. But many such laws have been passed--which indicates there is more support for gun control than we generally give credit. Some parts of the country are extremely pro-gun but there are also large swaths of the country where firearms restrictions have a very high level of support.

    Also IMHO as part of the great demographic trends in the U.S. this century we're going to see support for gun control continue to increase--because of the same general demographic pressures that are leading to increased urbanization, changing racial make-up of U.S. society, growth of the 'nones', and other related demographic trends.

    If the attitude of society in general towards guns changes, we can expect to see the Supreme Court's views slowly but surely change as well--even absent a constitutional amendment. And IMHO every single one of these horrible mass tragedies--as well as every individual gun crime and suicide--is gradually inching the general public's attitude in the direction of stronger gun control.

    Just expect it to take years to decades to implement real change, not days to weeks. The determined rear-guard action by the gun lobby will slow things down, for certain. But they are on the wrong side of history. In the long run they will lose and strong restrictions on firearms will become the norm, even in the U.S.
    posted by flug at 7:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I don't trust the "other side" to give an inch.

    Nor will they. This is a debate that can only be settled in Congress and the bulk of all 50 state legislatures, with follow-through by the respective executives. The settlement will require strict laws and regulations as well as national and state police forces ready to fight other americans to the death to enforce those laws and regulations.

    This could easily span generations.
    posted by Ardiril at 7:59 PM on December 14, 2012


    weltschmerz
    posted by telstar at 7:59 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    This thread is growing rather long, so I may have missed it but does anyone have any thoughts on the original, mistaken suspect Ryan Lanza? I ask because he's lost his brother and mother today, yet the tv footage (which, yes, is edited) shows him with a completely blank, emotionless expression. I don't know what to make of this - his brother just killed his mother and a couple dozen children and adults... and nothing from him except a few "screw you CNN" facebook posts?
    Just seems very odd to me.


    1) His name and image are plastered all over the news and internet, and thousands of people share his picture on facebook and twitter with hateful comments, in assumption of his killing children at a school.

    2) He learns of the death of his own mother through the news agencies.

    3) His own brother IS the killer of children (and adults) at a school as well as his mother.

    4) His computer and phone are confiscated from his job and from his home.

    5) He is taken from his home in handcuffs to be questioned at the Police Station.

    6) Everyone in the world (who watches news) now associates his name and face with this tragedy, even though he is (probably) fully innocent.

    I think I would be stone faced, numb and in total shock if my normal benign day turned out like this. The poor guy. What a nightmare.
    posted by batikrose at 8:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [37 favorites]


    Massachusetts, where I live, has to the best of my knowledge the US's strictest laws on rifle ownership.

    In Massachusetts, you need a license to own any type of modern firearm. We have three types of licenses. In simplified terms, they allow you:
    • to own a rifles, but not handguns
    • to own both rifles and/or handguns, but not to carry a firearm
    • to own both rifles and/or handguns, and to carry a firearm if concealed
    [We also have a fourth that allows you to own only pepper spray, no firearms. This exists because Massachusetts law classifies pepper spray as ammunition. This license costs less than the others, and some police departments don't know it exists.]

    You apply at your local police department, which has considerable discretion. You must complete a safety class prior to applying, which is the same regardless of which license you are applying for. In legal terms, assuming that you are a fit candidate (class completed, no violent-crime convictions, etc.) you will definitely be able to obtain the first type of license, allowing you to own a rifle. However, your local police department may refuse to allow you to own handguns, or allow you to own handguns but not to carry them, or revoke your issued handgun license, if they decide you are "not a suitable person."

    How is "suitability" determined? That's hard to answer. It varies from one town to the next. In some towns the police chief conducts personal interviews with all applicants. In other towns those interviews may be done by a sergeant or detective, or not done at all. Some towns require applicants to submit letters of reference from personal acquaintances, or a letter from a physician confirming the applicant's suitability to own firearms. You can appeal a determination of unsuitability to a court, but again, the police have considerable discretion and that discretion will probably be upheld if they can articulate a basis for the decision.

    All licenses need to be renewed every six years. This is currently a source of controversy. Basically, state budgets in Massachusetts have been slashed in recent years and every agency is understaffed, and deadlines aren't being met. That newspaper article cites one person who waited more than a year for his license. That's unusual, but I would say it's typical right now to wait about two months. So if you applied for a gun license right now, you could reasonably expect to receive it by February or March.
    posted by cribcage at 8:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Are you sure you've got the right guy? Apparently the press jumped all over a different guy with the same name's Facebook profile and he's been fending off media and public attention all day.

    From everything I can piece together, it was the "right" Ryan Lanza; they were just mistaken because his name was found at the scene. (It sort of trumps coincidence that there was a Ryan Lanza with residences in Newtown AND Hoboken who was NOT the same Ryan Lanza.)

    Lanza and his father, Peter Lanza, both work at Ernst & Young in NYC. [ABC][WSJ]

    I find it completely possible that a guy with a public Facebook profile suddenly started getting hate texts because he had his Facebook tied to his phone. Can you imagine working in the tax department at a Big Six (do they still call them that?) accounting firm and your phone blowing up like that? Anyway, then he had to bus it out to Hoboken, where he met law enforcement. At some point he was able to make his wall private (that's when I saw it) and then take it down completely.

    So he was the Ryan Lanza in the story, just not the guy who was responsible. I think the media need to eat some major crow on this one, just not in the exact way, and if anything even more contritely as he turned out to be a victim as surely as the other families back in Newtown. Somehow, though, I doubt that -- they'll claim it was justified by sources and all that, just as they did with Richard Jewell.
    posted by dhartung at 8:02 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    NYPD are outliers on this, and most probably meet the bare minimum proficiency for firearms-- most PDs want to save on ammunition and keep the practice requirements and qualification standards down accordingly

    And teachers would get more training? What exactly is your argument? I was stating that "trained" people had difficulty not hurting bystanders but somehow private citizens are going to do better? Because of trigger pull and more time and money to spend on practice ammo? Really?


    I purchased a weapon with a 10lb trigger pull, after researching I found it was safer, less chance of accidental discharge.
    posted by M Edward at 8:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "And with different people on the bench, or a different political climate, or in the wake of a string of tragedies, or in a different time period, or, or, or... there would be a different outcome. It's certainly a decided matter for now, but it's far from set in stone. It was a 5-4 decision."


    Or a different country, one I wouldn't be so proud to live in.
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2012


    The chance of accidental discharge is already quite small, hollywood notwithstanding. Furthermore, the NYPD is using weapons they were designed for optimal use with much lighter pulls.
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I hope you're right flug.

    It seems that so many people consider this kind of event to be the price of freedom, a worthwhile trade off, like the inevitable few that die in car accidents.

    .

    Damn it.
    posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 8:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    refusing to let Obama off the hook

    Look, it's tough. It's almost too Shakespearean that this happens on his watch...a few times. There are already paranoid wingnuts buying up whole gun shows because they've been irrationally convinced, irrespective of evidence, that he's going to spearhead a project to take people's guns away. And now that's exactly what we're pressuring him to do. You'll see. Once he's a lame duck he's going to take away our guns

    Yes, it's the right thing to do. Yes, it's what fixed the situation in Australia after Port Arthur. But I can't quite imagine how this would go down if it happened as an Obama-led effort. I'd frankly be a little nervous about the whole scenario.

    This isn't Obama's job. He didn't write these state laws and he didn't repeal the regulations. Yes, he needs to lead. But let's stop passing the buck. I want to know what people plan to do about this. I'll accept "It's complicated." I'll accept "we need to compromise." I'll accept "this is going to be tough."

    But what I don't think I'm going to accept any longer is "There's just nothing we can do."

    And this isn't the President's job, alone, to do. Way to set somebody up. How many people here talked about the pro-gun nuts in their Facebook feed? IT needs to start with you. Yes, you. If you haven't started talking to people, looking up actual facts, and writing your representatives about what you're going to do about it and what you want them to do about it, you're deciding to stay part of the problem. Really.
    posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


    And teachers would get more training? What exactly is your argument? I was stating that "trained" people had difficulty not hurting bystanders but somehow private citizens are going to do better? Because of trigger pull and more time and money to spend on practice ammo? Really?

    Point is that NYPD is not a good metric against to measure handgun proficiency, nor are they a good standard for "trained" personnel.

    I'm not advocating for arming teachers-- I haven't yet met a teacher who seemed like the sort who could destroy another life. And a gun in the hands of someone unwilling to use it is a drawback.
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:11 PM on December 14, 2012


    Connecticut law requires that the owner of a gun be 21 or over and bans assault weapons. Purchase of a handgun requires a 14 day waiting period, a permit from the state and a background check. The killer was 20 years old, used two handguns and an AR-15 (one of the specially banned models). It will be interesting to see where he obtained the weapons.
    posted by humanfont at 8:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It will be interesting to see where he obtained the weapons.

    ARe you not reading the news? This is known.
    posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Any thoughts about the fact that the most recent mass shootings have been occurring in states that would be considered much more blue than red. I live in the heart of the red states (TN with multiple connections to MS and LA) and we have NUMEROUS one on one killings perpetrated with hand guns but we don't get the mass killings. I'm not trying to set up a red vs blue controversy but I think we in the southeast probably have a higher percentage of gun ownership than you would find in MN, CO or CT but the minority of mass killings.

    As much as gun control may be part of the solution it seems other things influence the behavior. Feelings of helplessness maybe
    posted by Carbolic at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    I'd agree with this position but for two words: the words "not really". But those two words, stricken from your comment, result in a statement that pretty much accurately reflects my own sentiment:

    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is the foundation of a rational public policy.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    humanfont: The news has already established that the guns he used belonged to his mother.
    posted by Ardiril at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2012


    we don't get the mass killings

    Don't worry, you'll get your turn! Don't all rush at once.
    posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on December 14, 2012


    In most discussions about gun control, the pro-gun advocates like to pretend a technical superiority, which they believe entitles them to decide the issue. They know the jargon, they understand the mechanical design, they're really into ballistics and product specifications, and they believe this somehow makes their opinion more informed, and therefore correct.

    Hi. I'm a gun nerd, from a time when "nerd" meant something. I'm intensely interested in the history, design, and application of firearms. I spend an inordinate amount of my time going through formal and informal studies of various small arms and munitions. That includes their effects on society. I now firmly, irrevocably, believe in gun control.

    These are some ideas for effective regulation and legislation based on technical and practical and psychological criteria, and refutations for common pro-gun arguments:

    The most stupid pro-gun argument is that the press and gun control advocates mistake "automatic" with "semi-automatic." In gun-enthusiast jargon, "automatic" means the firearm will fire for as long as the trigger is pulled, like a machine gun, and "semi-automatic" means the gun will fie as fast as the trigger is pulled. So, when people describe a Glock as an automatic, the gun-nuts will scoff, as "automatic" firearms are already illegal save for those with very specialized licenses.

    Well, they're wrong - the technical term for any self-loading weapon, that is, a weapon that ejects the spent round and loads a new round from a magazine or clip using energy from firing the weapon, is "automatic." Full automatic or semi automatic weapons are both automatic. Take this simple test - ask them if a Glock is a revolver or automatic. They will instinctually, without hesitation, tell you that a Glock is an automatic pistol… regardless of whether or not it has a full-auto mode or not. (It doesn't in the US.)

    More, the real problem is semi-automatic weapons. You can't hit shit with a pistol or assault rifle set to full automatic.

    The technology that enables mass murder, more than anything else, are high-capacity magazines. It allows the murderer to keep shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting. You can purchase a 33 round magazine for a 9mm Glock autopistol. You can point-and-shoot 33 times before needing to reload… and you reload by ejecting the spent magazine with a single button, and sliding in another 33 round magazine. Under heavy stress, maybe a 10 second operation, if you fumble a bit.

    So. Here's a 5 point proposal that is simple, incremental, and respectful of hobbyists who spent thousands of dollars on murder/suicide machines instead of a bass boat or cruise on the Mediterranean or something.

    1) Ban on the sale or manufacture of any magazine or clip larger than 6 rounds, for rifles and pistols. You can own them, you just can't buy or sell them anymore. This is enough, as the Amok in America prefer to buy new equipment at retail prices.

    2) Ban the manufacture or sale of any other repeating firearm with a capacity larger than four rounds. If you can't take the turkey with four rounds, it wasn't meant to be.

    3) Limit the sale of ammunition. You can buy four rounds a week, heavily taxed, and after a month, can only buy more when you bring back the brass. For those who like to load their own ammo, this means they're limited to 16 casings. This restriction is completely lifted for those shooting at registered and licensed gun ranges… shoot as much as you like. No taxes, either! Load as much as you like… so long as it stays at the range.

    4) If you want to keep a gun at home, even a .22LR bolt action, a police officer will come to inspect how you're keeping it twice a year, and you will pay the police for this service. If you're being stupid about gun safety, you will be fined, and your license to own a gun revoked. If you want to keep a M2 heavy machine gun or any other firearm at the range… this is permitted, and cheaply. No tax, and the range deals with all of the inspections. Also, you need to pay a tax on the guns at home that covers the social cost of gun ownership in your community... no tax if you keep the gun at the range. The range needs to immediately report to the police if someone takes a gun off-site for any reason, legal or not.

    5) Private gun sales need to be registered, just like auto sales. If you sell your gun to someone, and you don't register the sale after a background check, you get to keep paying the gun tax on it, and when the cops show up to see how you're storing it, and it's not there, you will go to jail. If your gun was stolen and used in a crime, and you were negligent in its storage, you will go to jail, and be on the hook for civil damages.

    These points allow enthusiasts to keep shooting and hunting, and the living to keep breathing.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [349 favorites]


    Here's the thing. I think I'm over "Why is it" and "should we/shouldn't we" have gun control sorts of arguments.

    The question to ask the people in your lives - and your reps - is not what they think. Not what their ideology is. Not about how they feel about the 2nd Amendment, guns, crime, or whatever.

    The question to ask is this: "What are you willing to do about this?"

    What are you willing to do about this?

    If we kept asking each other this, we might start to get somewhere.

    I suppose a lot of people will shrug and say "nothing." I submit those people are incapable of ethical reasoning, so we can set them aside as not being participants in building a different future. Work with the people who are willing to do something.
    posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Actually "Create extremely strict controls on and strictly limit ownership of hugely dangerous things that can be stolen or mis-used resulting in massive harm to numerous innocent people" is a pretty good foundation for rational public policy.

    Shall we start with the newspapers, or television?
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    3) Limit the sale of ammunition. You can buy four rounds a week, heavily taxed

    Slap*Happy, that's the Chris Rock plan!
    posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on December 14, 2012


    Shall we start with the newspapers, or television?

    Ha ha! And yet, they never shot at me. So I'll take them!

    I have watched some shit ass television, even at age 5, and it might have poisoned my little mind but I got to wake up and go to school the next day anyway.
    posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    The New Yorker: THE RIGHT DAY TO TALK ABOUT GUNS.
    posted by ericb at 8:24 PM on December 14, 2012


    this isn't the President's job, alone, to do.

    So true. I doubt Obama has the political impetus to even keep the ball rolling. This will require coordinated, relentless and sustained pressure from the public on elected officials. A good many more people will have to make this issue their life's career.

    The NRA uses a subscription model (among other devices) to maintain their cash flow, and anti-gun forces will need to establish something equivalent. Anything less is admitting to failure.
    posted by Ardiril at 8:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    How about appointing Bloomberg head of an advisory commission on gun violence? I'm not a fan of many of his policies, but I think he would provide leadership on this issue.
    posted by Wordwoman at 8:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ha ha! And yet, they never shot at me. I have watched some shit ass television, even at age 5, and I got to go to school the next day anyway.

    Survivorship bias.
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:27 PM on December 14, 2012


    The Chris Rock plan is also the Daniel Patrick Moynihan plan. Has there been a high ranking gun control advocate in the Senate since?
    posted by troika at 8:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How about appointing Bloomberg head of an advisory commission on gun violence? I'm not a fan of many of his policies, but I think he would provide leadership on this issue.

    I guess we know one of his policies on which you agree.
    posted by Sunburnt at 8:32 PM on December 14, 2012


    Look, it's tough...And now that's exactly what we're pressuring him to do. You'll see. Once he's a lame duck he's going to take away our guns

    Sure, Miko, we both know the political calculus here; it's been obvious for years, through all the mass killings on Obama's watch. Remember that Republican poll from earlier in the year where a large majority of voters, including 69% of NRA members, support sensible changes like closing the gun show loophole? Why is that not just as important a part of the calculus here? Sorry, but I'm no longer willing to cut him any slack at all. It's way past time for him to show leadership, and we should stop letting him off the hook because he emotes well from a podium.
    posted by mediareport at 8:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If anything, the .223 is underpowered to hunt deer

    No it's not. It is highly accurate, and lightweight. If you're a good shot you can drop a moose with one shot from a .223 from a good distance.

    I hunt with Native subsistence hunters in Alaska. They have many different kinds of guns, and most men have several options. The .223 is the most common choice for big game on tundra and for seals and walrus on water.

    It's only underpowered if you don't know where to aim.
    posted by spitbull at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


    I don't endorse 10,000% markup. Ten bucks per round oughta do it, and no tax at the range.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    For the past year and change I've been working on clearing immigration hurdles with my foreign-born fiancee so she can come back to New York and we can get hitched and start a family. She's dead set on coming here. She loves being in America.

    She's from a country where people don't have guns, where violent crime is thus very low, but she really dislikes certain social aspects of the place, especially as they affect a woman who marries a foreigner. She's really excited to be sorting out her move here, getting a green card and raising American kids who don't get hammered down for sticking out.

    I've been willing to swallow my reasons for dissatisfaction with my country -- the lack of social programs, decent affordable healthcare, humane safety nets, the larcenous corporatism, deep-down racism, uninspired economy -- because I know that she'll be happier here, and me by extension. I've been able to suck up living in a shitty country; after all, it's the shitty country where I grew up.

    But I really worry about raising kids in a place so sick with guns. This news is so horrible, I feel so terrible about these children (and adults, too) and their families, and all the people in these other recent shootings, and I don't talk to my fiancee about these things because I don't want to destroy her dream. I don't want to disappoint her by saying we should raise our kids where they'll be safer, but at the same time I want what's best for us, and I'm really afraid that might mean getting the fuck out of Dodge.

    I feel like this should end with an AskMe question, but I think it fails the "answerable" test. Why do we destroy our dreams? Can we ever stop?
    posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    humanfont does make a point, though - AFAICT the Bushmaster rifle is illegal in Connecticut unless it was purchased before 1993 and subsequently registered.

    Wikipedia article and pdf link to the actual code section.
    posted by soundguy99 at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2012


    troika: "Has there been a high ranking gun control advocate in the Senate since?"

    There are some (Schumer authored the assault weapons ban, for instance) but it doesn't matter, because there aren't sixty of them. There aren't even fifty, really, but I think if they do abolish the filibuster in January, the Dems could probably make 50 votes plus Joe Biden happen for some incremental changes. Not the ones we'd need, mind you, but something.
    posted by tonycpsu at 8:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If you're a good shot you can drop a moose with one shot from a .223 from a good distance.

    And if you're a millionaire who looks like Tom Brady, you can date a supermodel, too.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    There will be no new gun control legislation. The U.S. civilian market is huge. We couldn't stop two wars because it would have stepped on the toes of the arms industry. You think we're ever going to let a little indoor shoot 'em up cut into their sales? Please.
    posted by clarknova at 8:37 PM on December 14, 2012


    Cough

    posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [21 favorites]


    This idea on the right, of armed teachers - so, you don't trust them to do something as simple as collectively bargain, but you'll give them the means to kill your children?
    posted by jason_steakums


    They don't want cops to have collective bargaining rights either.

    Trained soldiers can have trouble actually shooting someone, especially at close range. No amount of training will turn a kindergarten teacher into Jason Bourne.
    posted by spitbull at 8:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Slap*Happy - one thing I wonder about with your ideas is how to give people in rural areas a fair alternative to the licensed ranges thing. It's pretty common in rural areas for a hunter to burn a fair number of rounds on their own property doing things like zeroing in scopes or finding the optimal mix of powder to bullet grains for their reloaded hunting rifle ammo, and in many places there's low enough population density that a centralized shooting range for everyone to use isn't a good idea. Which is not to say that I don't like your ideas! And it would probably be fairly easy to work out something sensible for that situation. Just something it made me think of, is all.
    posted by jason_steakums at 8:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Just to remind folks of Republican pollster Frank Luntz's survey of gun owners and NRA members, which got a lot of coverage after Aurora this summer: Gun owners vs. NRA leadership.
    posted by mediareport at 8:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I would have my daughter hang out in the park with the homeless drug addicts before I send her to a school where the teachers are armed.
    posted by Rock Steady at 8:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    dhartung: If this was the guy the original commenter I was responding to was talking about when he remarked about the eerily "expressionless" Ryan Lanza making posts to the effect of "Screw you CNN!" after his mother and brother died, then it was the wrong guy. Jesus, what a nightmarish clusterfuck the future is turning out to be. Can't we do better than this?
    posted by saulgoodman at 8:41 PM on December 14, 2012


    And if you're a millionaire who looks like Tom Brady, you can date a supermodel, too.
    posted by Slap*Happy


    Not really the right analogy. If you aren't a good enough shot to drop a deer with a .223 you have no business hunting animals with a gun. Gut shooting them to pieces with a cannon is not hunting.
    posted by spitbull at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    Just to remind folks of Republican pollster Frank Luntz's survey of gun owners and NRA members...

    I would not take anything Frank Luntz says seriously, even if it agreed with my preconceptions.
    posted by clarknova at 8:43 PM on December 14, 2012


    There will be no new gun control legislation. - Raise a couple 100 million dollars over the next two Presidential terms and I'll bet you could see some major changes happen starting in 2020. You just need to fight money with more money. If you are not willing to raise the cash, then move along.
    posted by Ardiril at 8:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Wordwoman : How about appointing Bloomberg head of an advisory commission on gun violence? I'm not a fan of many of his policies, but I think he would provide leadership on this issue.

    You mean, you want to ask the guy running the place with the highest levels of gun violence within 500 miles of me, how to deal with gun violence?

    Yeah, he's done well for a major city. You and I apparently take different lessons from that.
    posted by pla at 8:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Yes, there are a lot of people who hunt to put food on the table whose other options are, basically, less food.

    I kind of call bullshit on this.

    A deer is not free. There is a permit, there is time spent hunting it, gas used to drive to where it is, money and time spent butchering it, money spent storing it, ammunition, equipment (rifle, clothes, all the stupid geegaws associated with it, even amortized), on and on.

    It would be one thing if you're normally processing meat from other animals and add a deer into the mix, but that's not an argument that says taking rifles is starving people.

    I don't have a problem with hunting (bow hunting, go for it!), but to suggest this is only possible with a rifle or that rifles are the key to avoiding starvation is problematic at best, propaganda at worst.
    posted by maxwelton at 8:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    If you aren't a good enough shot to drop a deer with a .223 you have no business hunting animals with a gun.

    Seconded, thirded, and fourthed. If you killing a large animal with one or two shots from a .233 is impossible you've never been a skilled hunter, or hunted with anyone who is. Or you've never been hunting and you imagine it's impossible because you can't imagine it.
    posted by clarknova at 8:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    From a friend in Australia. Our Strict Gun Laws Have Saved Thousands of Australian Lives.

    Goes a long way against the canard that we must just throw up our hands and live with it. Can we stamp out every insane istance of violent rage? No. Can we make a serious, order-of-magnitude impact on the metrics and save untold waste and grief? Yes, unquestionably.
    posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Yes, seconding the anti-depressant link, because this shit didn't happen when I was growing up, and it makes sense to figure out why the fuck people are doing this.
    posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:47 PM on December 14, 2012


    Ardiril : Raise a couple 100 million dollars over the next two Presidential terms and I'll bet you could see some major changes happen starting in 2020.

    A few hundred million? That won't even buy you a president today, much less a constitutional amendment.

    And keep in mind, when you open a constitutional convention, you may well get amendments introduced you don't favor quite so much. Not so much a double-edges sword, as a swimming-pool full of razor-wire.
    posted by pla at 8:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    maxwelton : A deer is not free. There is a permit, there is time spent hunting it, gas used to drive to where it is, money and time spent butchering it, money spent storing it, ammunition, equipment (rifle, clothes, all the stupid geegaws associated with it, even amortized), on and on.

    Look, I don't often agree with Jess (especially on issues like this one), but put bluntly, you have no fucking clue what you talk about.

    Even game wardens will look the other way when you hunt to keep your family alive. Drive? Butcher? Hello, you shoot the damned things in your back yard, gut it and butcher it on site, and hopefully have a big enough freezer for the meat.
    posted by pla at 8:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Miko - Except we have ALWAYS had a high level of gun ownership. I have a large extended family (50) and although many don't actively shoot and the gun may be in a safety deposit box almost all (90+%) own at least on firearm. It is to the point that we feel a duty to own a firearm but many of us store them outside our homes. I have approximately 10 of 9 are in distant offsite storage. I have a carry permit (cultural obligation???) but I NEVER carry. Makes me wonder if the national gun ownership numbers are heavily skewed by people like me. The only gun I have at home is a SIG 380 that resides in the top of a closet in a mini-safe opened by combination or finger prints.

    I'm not saying it won't happen here but if gun controls are the issue why isn't it happening here more than anywhere else? My opinion is that a lack of respect for the fellowman and the firearm is problem #1. If we have that respect there would be no need to control guns. The likelihood of achieving that respect is next ti nil.

    Soooooooooooo.. I have no answer but I'm pretty sure severe gun control isn't it. For one reason, as an example probably 50% of the guns my extended family owns are not required to be legally unregistered. I personally have a 1940-1944 Whinchester model 62 and a High Standard automatic pistol my father bought when he was about ten years old. No registration on those

    Actually, my theory is that these acts are only performed by extremely self absorbed people. We need to "no fly list" all the self absorbed.When people do these things it is all about them and nothing else.
    posted by Carbolic at 8:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    this shit didn't happen when I was growing up

    To me, this reasoning is every bit as strong and scientific as that of the people in my Facebook feed noting that this shit didn't happen when they had prayer in school, two-parent households, and spanking growing up.
    posted by Miko at 8:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


    How much of the NRA's operating budget comes from members and how much comes from gun manufacturers. I'm under the impression that most of the money is from the gun makers.
    posted by humanfont at 8:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have no answer

    OK, how about you get one that we can discuss before arbitarily concluding "gun control isn't it"? Because you are standing on absolutely no ground at all for making that claim.

    these acts are only performed by extremely self absorbed people.

    Great! Let's pass a law against self-absorption.

    ??!

    Look, my family owns guns. I like guns. I shoot guns. But we have a complex problem here. What are you willing to do about it?
    posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yes, there are a lot of people who hunt to put food on the table whose other options are, basically, less food.

    I kind of call bullshit on this.


    And I call bullshit on that. Do you have any idea how much meat comes out of a deer? You can keep a family of four in venison steaks for half a winter with an adult buck or doe. Try saving your license, tag, and gas money up to buy meat of similar quality at the supermarket. It's definitely worth the price.

    Some states even have license exceptions for people below the poverty line.
    posted by clarknova at 8:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    If you aren't a good enough shot to drop a deer with a .223 you have no business hunting animals with a gun. Gut shooting them to pieces with a cannon is not hunting.

    .223 apologists are so funny... guy, it's a varmint round they shoe-horned into an assault rifle. It was designed for coyotes and prairie dogs. Everyone who shoots it at anything other than paper hates it.

    .306 rules the universe in bolt action, military and civ, for a reason.

    But this leads to the M1A vs. M16 debate, and there aren't enough hours in a single day for me to cover all that territory. I gotta get up in the morning.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Carbolic, according to BRFSS survey data, MN (41.7%), TN (43.9%), & LA (44.1%) are in the same neighborhood when it comes to percent of households with guns on the premises.

    CO is a bit lower at 34.7%, and CT comes in towards the bottom at 16.7%. MS is ranked sixth with 55.3%.
    posted by superna at 8:57 PM on December 14, 2012


    Just to remind folks of Republican pollster Frank Luntz's survey of gun owners and NRA members...

    I would not take anything Frank Luntz says seriously, even if it agreed with my preconceptions.


    Maybe not, but the book "Saturday Night Special" by Robert Sherrill from all the way back in 1973 devotes quite a few pages to the conflicts between the ideologues who came to control the NRA and the rank-and-file members.

    I think the book is out of print, but it's well worth a read if it's in your local library, or you could possibly find it on ebay or Amazon.
    posted by soundguy99 at 8:57 PM on December 14, 2012


    And I call bullshit on that

    Look, I think it's a red herring. People who subsistence-hunt for deer are not going to need to be the focus of effort in reducing mass killing. They tend to also be the last people who are going to do mass killings. Can we just set it aside? Let's not talk about people hunting deer and bear to survive. Let's assume they'll be able to continue that with some form of firearm technology, because no actual contingent of real-life people with any vestige of political power wants to take that right away.

    Red herring.
    posted by Miko at 8:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Earlier today a news anchor commented "this has become the worst elementary school shooting in history".

    But not the worst mass murder - 45 people, 38 of them children, died in the largely forgotten 1927 Bath School massacre.

    Its Wikipedia page has already been updated to mention Sandy Hook, though.
    posted by ryanshepard at 9:00 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Let's say I'm wrong about feeding a family on deer, what with all the officials looking the other way and free rifles falling from the sky.

    Guns are a necessary part of that hunt?
    posted by maxwelton at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2012


    Are you suggesting pit traps and spears?
    posted by clarknova at 9:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You know, this may be an unpopular sentiment, but the mass grief over this makes me halfway angry. 1,400+ children have been killed in Palestine in the past decade, which is more than 100 per year, in a country with a population close to that of Connecticut. It's as if this shooting would happen there more than three times per year for a decade. Probably everyone there knows someone whose children have been killed.

    In the Rwandan genocide in recent decades, 300 THOUSAND children were killed. And, almost all children witnessed horrors and a lot of them were raped. A lot of them saw their parents killed.

    What happened in Connecticut is heartbreaking. But, it's angering that there is such strong sympathy and empathy for these American families, without acknowledgement of others across the world who are experiencing unspeakable horrors at the very same time. My thought is, a lot of these families will have only one dead child. A lot of people in, e.g., the DR Congo today have multiple dead children and relatives.

    20+ children is a lot. We feel that viscerally. 1000+ women are raped in the Congo each day. 10% of those are estimated to be girls under 10 years old. That is 100 per day. 20+% of them get HIV and many die of other complications.

    I just hope people will take this opportunity to notice the outrage they feel over this tragedy, and extend that empathy to people outside of our borders, who might wish for only 20 dead children in their area. Maybe people will become more compassionate day to day with that sort of empathy, or even try to help more directly.

    (Not to minimize this tragedy. Just a reminder that in the US we are lucky to not experience tragedies like this except rarely.)
    posted by kellybird at 9:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    To me, this reasoning is every bit as strong and scientific as that of the people in my Facebook feed noting that this shit didn't happen when they had prayer in school, two-parent households, and spanking growing up.

    If you bring the science that solves this problem or even disproves the link between antidepressants and violence, I'd be happy to listen.
    posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:05 PM on December 14, 2012


    I would not take anything Frank Luntz says seriously, even if it agreed with my preconceptions.

    I don't like the guy either, though I'm having trouble imagining why he'd skew a poll of gun owners against the NRA. Worth noting that he apparently sat on the results for months, only releasing them after the Aurora shootings.

    Other polls consistently show large majorities of the public supporting sensible steps like closing the gun show loophole on background checks. There are clearly winnable fights in the gun control area, but they won't get won nationally if all the president does about mass shootings is cry on TV.

    Is he gonna shed a tear on camera the next time, too? Will that be enough for you then?
    posted by mediareport at 9:05 PM on December 14, 2012


    Well, people who know me around here also know just how many representative progun people I am around. I am simply sharing a perspective that just because some of you think that these people can be persuaded with words from people they disdain as liberals? Good luck with that. Because the people I know are also the most politically active people I know.

    I've lived my entire life in the South, mostly the southern Alabama area. There's no bigger gun nut area than right here. I'm very familiar with the type people you're referring to, and I'd be shocked if many 'liberals' believe they can be reasoned with.

    Of course they can't, because they're simply fucking crazy. They will not only make no concessions, they will fight all discussion. The way to deal with these idiots is to go around them, not through them. It's going to be ugly, but you don't deal with people that can't be dealt with.
    posted by justgary at 9:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]




    If you bring the science that solves this problem or even disproves the link between antidepressants and violence, I'd be happy to listen.

    Yeah, the science is correlation is not causation.

    That shit is lazy.

    BUt sure, man, let's say this is about pharmaceuticals, not guns.

    What are you willing to do about it? What have you already done about it?
    posted by Miko at 9:07 PM on December 14, 2012


    I just hope people will take this opportunity to notice the outrage they feel over this tragedy, and extend that empathy to people outside of our borders

    These people are closer, and more like us. You also feel more empathy and outrage if something happens to a family member or neighbor than if it happens to a stranger in another town. It's just human nature.
    posted by clarknova at 9:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    (.308 rules the universe, I meant to say. It's important we get the details right on this stuff from here out. We need to own the technical as well as political high ground.)
    posted by Slap*Happy at 9:09 PM on December 14, 2012


    and more like us

    Only superficially
    posted by kellybird at 9:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I am not certain how a sensible gun-control policy goes against the second amendment:

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    I can understand the desire and support for the right of the people to keep and bear arms (to some degree based on need) but when do we get to the well regulated part?

    At the same time I am the Chris Rock/Moynehan camp that we can and should really tax the crap out of bullets. If the second amendment proponents want to play princess with their M4s they was welcome to it as long as they don't get to do it with live rounds.
    posted by ding-dong at 9:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'm pretty sure severe gun control isn't it

    Again, the winnable fights are all very mild and moderate steps, with the added bonus of breaking the myth that the NRA is an unbeatable foe. A rhetorician with Obama's skills could fairly easily frame the discussion with poll after poll showing massive support for reasonable, moderate gun control steps, pointing out how marginal the NRA execs' opinions really are in America.

    Totally do-able.
    posted by mediareport at 9:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Slap*Happy, dude, this is probably not the time or place for a discussion about calibers, y'know?
    posted by soundguy99 at 9:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Looking into this "antidepressants cause mass shootings" website, the Citizens Commission on HUman Rights, it's important to note that the group promoting this idea has been deemed a Scientology front group.
    posted by Miko at 9:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


    maxwelton : Guns are a necessary part of that hunt?

    Nope. But have you ever taken down a deer with a bow?

    I can't claim I have myself. But I've come across them while hiking - Not dead, but dead-tired and in agony from running with a fiberglass rod through their shoulder.

    And every... single... time, I've wished I had a side-arm on me to put the poor bastards down.
    posted by pla at 9:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Carbolic: "Any thoughts about the fact that the most recent mass shootings have been occurring in states that would be considered much more blue than red."

    I don't know what time window you're using for "the most recent mass shootings", but this map of shootings since 1982 shows a healthy number of them in red states in recent years. Limiting the discussion just to 2012, I see three solid blue states (CA, WA, CT), three what I would call "purple" states (MN, WI, CO), and one red state (GA.)*

    In other words, I really don't think you can draw any kind of conclusions about red/blue states. This looks like a pretty evenly distributed problem.

    * The Oregon mall incident earlier this week doesn't meet the somewhat arbitrary criteria for inclusion in the Mother Jones article, but go ahead and add that to the blue column if you like.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    A well regulated militia,

    Regulated: it's right there in the thing!
    posted by Miko at 9:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Thanks to the people who have hunted with .223 for giving more details about your experiences. As I said, I know people who do use them in hunting deer, but haven't used one myself.

    Those of you who are all "nobody hunts because they need food" and "nobody buys a .223 to hunt deer" need to understand that what you're saying comes across as ignorance at best to people who know otherwise. It's not helping.

    Saying "Even though people hunt deer with these weapons, the risks of them being used to kill people outweigh those possible benefits, so we need to talk about regulating or outlawing them" is an argument. Saying "Nobody hunts deer with those weapons" is not. I say this as someone who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, owns zero guns, and who has been giving to the CSGV for years.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    But sure, man, let's say this is about pharmaceuticals, not guns.

    Americans are paranoids living in fantasyland. Blaming antidepressants is one talking point away from "MKULTRA did it". Anyone who brings it up knows it too.

    (.308 rules the universe, I meant to say.)

    Please. I've seen a deer taken from a moving car with two rounds from a .22LR. If you think bigger is better my earlier statement stands.
    posted by clarknova at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Miko - I agee, it is a bit frustrating or puzzeling to see people blame violence on gun ownership when you know a bevv of people who are armed to the teeth who manage not to commit crimes. And on top of it these people are in the state s with the most lax gun control.

    Gun control may eventually be necessary but the big problem these days has to do with the insane or entitled attitude of the shooters and gun control will do almost nothing to control that. We have deeper problems and at this time gun control will be akin to a band aid.

    This is a mental health issue not a gun issue.

    (Miko - All said with respect. I have been aware of your presence long enough tp have an impression about the quality of your post/comments and I believe that impression has always been good)
    posted by Carbolic at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Slap*Happy, dude, this is probably not the time or place for a discussion about calibers, y'know?

    Agreed. I was trying to make a point on how gun "experts" who do their damnedest to talk down to those who don't agree on gun rights... usually aren't all that expert. I'll pack up the technical nit-picking now.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2012


    gun control will do almost nothing to control that.

    It may seem that way, and yet the example of every other Western democracy says otherwise.

    We will never be able to control insanity or the human mind. We can, however, control the circulation, licensing, and ownership of objects.

    This is a mental health issue AND a gun issue.
    posted by Miko at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


    ding-dong: "well regulated"

    The well-regulated part is there because we had no standing army in this country until 1791, so we needed well-trained "irregular" troops to be ready at any time. Now that we have the biggest military ever seen, I think we can dispense with the notion that gun ownership is central to our continued existence as a nation.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


    And now we're back to mental illness. The US needs better mental health systems and better gun control, but it is not clear that either could have prevented this tragedy.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 PM on December 14, 2012


    It's likely that a more serious effort toward both would reduce the incidence of tragedy.

    Which issue are you willing to work on? Both? One or the other?

    Or neither?

    There is no statistical, inevitable reason for this to continue. We can exert some control over this.

    Unless you don't want to bother.
    posted by Miko at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2012


    The very same folks who oppose gun control tend to oppose increased federal funding for mental health care. It's almost as if this focus on the mental health angle is an effort to minimize the role of guns in 26 murders that were committed with guns.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I don't think a better mental illness system would prevent all of these tragedies. At least some of the recent mass shootings have been from people who had just went schizophrenic, and some of them are due to narcissists wanting to be famous. It's almost impossible to catch schizophrenic people before their first psychotic break, and sometimes that's enough. Narcissists are rarely so dysfunctional as to get themselves committed and the disorder makes them unlikely to seek treatment.

    It's still a really good idea, and I think it would cut down on the murder rate a lot, but I'm not sure it'd have much of an impact on spree killers specifically.
    posted by Mitrovarr at 9:23 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    but it is not clear that either could have prevented this tragedy.

    This is true. We have no idea yet what really happened, what the shooter's motives were, what his mental health situation was.

    Of course this is a social phenomnon, so there's got to be a common thread. This would be a good time for me to link to Mark Ames's Going Postal, which inspired a BBC documentary of the same name.
    posted by clarknova at 9:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The very same folks who oppose gun control tend to oppose increased federal funding for mental health care. It's almost as if this focus on the mental health angle is an effort to minimize the role of guns in 20 murders that were committed with guns.

    Yeah, good point, so maybe there is progress to make on that front. Maybe this is where we can find some common ground. Let's try it.

    SO OK, if you think access to mental health is the real issue, are you willing to write your reps now and say "let's enact universal, single-payer health care including mental health coverage?"

    That's a tradeoff I would actually look at making in the short term, to test this "mental health" hypothesis. Totally for it. Let's try universal care, reducing stress and addressing mental health issues, to see if that reduces violent crime and mass violence over, say, a 10-year test period.

    After 10 years, if having universal care has not reduced our rate of mass killing, then perhaps it will be time to examine the access to the actual hardware. If it has, then great. Gun nuts win the argument and we all get to keep our gadgets, but we all are a lot safer ad healthier because of our comprehensive, perfect universal healthcare system.

    Can we ask for that bargain? Gun fans, are you willing to write your reps and maybe some op-eds and ask for universal healthcare?
    posted by Miko at 9:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Gun politics in Australia
    posted by Miko at 9:28 PM on December 14, 2012


    Well, Miko, I work on both. Have done long before this, will keep doing so after the news cycle moved on. I give to the CSGV, which I've linked a couple of times in this thread. I write to my Representative and Senators every time gun control is in the news.

    And I give to a lot of mental health organizations---if I had to recommend one for others, I'd pick NAMI. I volunteered for crisis hotlines when my health permitted. I bug the shit out of my local, state, and federal officials about increasing access to mental health care.

    There aren't easy answers. There certainly isn't one easy answer. Pretending there is keeps us from taking effective action, in my opinion.

    And acknowledging that even the most effective action and the best policies can't prevent every obscene tragedy isn't, to me, a disincentive to work for change. If anything, it's an incentive.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    All good. I wish everyone did as you do.

    Most people who pontificate about what might mitigate these rates have done a fraction of what you've done - if anything at all.

    I look forward to hearing similar testimonies from the others in this thread as to where they've given, who they've written, and what they've personally done to work toward a reduction in these all-too-frequent tragedies.
    posted by Miko at 9:30 PM on December 14, 2012


    This is a mental health issue not a gun issue.

    we're never going to get anywhere on this issue until people start to realize that it's both. As well as an economic issue, and an education issue, and political corruption issue, and and the list goes on. You can't separate the guns from the culture surrounding them. And you can't prevent these tragedies from ever happening. But we can make them less common, and we can make them less deadly. We can make them less inevitable.

    The bigger picture problem is not that we can't "get rid of guns". It's that we can't even have a conversation in the public sphere about sane, common sense gun laws that reflect the realities of the world that we live in. And the main reason we can't have that conversation is because a warped sense of self interest on the part of a small vocal minority of gun owners, and the industry that profits from them.

    It completely baffles me how pro-gun advocates refuse to acknowledge how it is in their best interest to prevent tragedies like this from happening. If we can do something about mass shootings, handgun violence in inner cities, and accidental gun deaths,then the rest of us are much less likely to give a shit about what you're doing out on your farm or at the shooting range.

    In a sane society, the NRA would be the first ones to stand up on a day like today and say that something needs to be done.
    posted by billyfleetwood at 9:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [56 favorites]


    Amen, BrotherBob
    posted by growabrain at 9:36 PM on December 14, 2012


    Sorry to be confrontational, Miko. I admire you greatly and I am certain you are trying to effect needed change.

    I think where we agree is that there is a lot people can do right now to work toward the change they want to see, but the mononarrative of the mass media doesn't make space to talk about how people can help.

    While we're talking about how people can help, Newtown Youth and Family Services is accepting donations to support their work with survivors and with the bereaved.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Miko correct More serious mental screening prior to allowing gun purchase.(If he can afford the $500 - $600 for the gun he can pay another $200-$300 for a screening. The right is to bear arms not cheap arms.

    Next the more expansive idea that any citizen should have access to mental health screening.
    posted by Carbolic at 9:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Geographical and other corelates to gun deaths

    The secret history of the NRA (and the 1980 takeover by wingnuts)

    If you want to read the NRA 990 (2010 is the most recent), go to guidestar.org The NRA gets about half of its funding from membership fees. The armament manufacturers mostly just buy ads in The American Rifleman (which makes it a business expense.)

    As I've said repeatedly, the elephant in the room of the gun control debate is the amount of personal wealth tied up in firearms. What drives the gunnuts nuts is the fear of confiscation of a large and liquid asset or the sudden conversion of that asset into contraband. That never seems to get addressed by gun control advocates. It's one of places they should start.

    The rest of the typical gun-rights rant consists of the absolutely bogus claim that the 2nd Amendment encourages or sanctions sedition and treason. This is what Chief Justice Burger was referring to when he said, "[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word 'fraud,' on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."
    posted by warbaby at 9:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Apparently the press jumped all over a different guy with the same name's Facebook profile and he's been fending off media and public attention all day.

    Not quite. This is tangential, but when some of the media outlets who'd mistakenly identified Ryan as the killer then saw their suspect show up alive on Facebook, they compounded the initial error by mistakenly assuming the Ryan they'd found must have been a second person from the Ryan they were calling the shooter. I know I saw at least one article make that leap, although (unsurprisingly) I can't find it anymore.

    It really was a mess, and it's not surprising folks would be confused about what happened.
    posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Here's the thing about the Mental Health care in the USA, and I can only speak from personal experience. I have bipolar disorder, and I've lived in nine states and 13 cities in the past 16 years. In every state and every city I've lived in, I have always been able to find affordable mental health care, and I've always been pretty damned poor. Many times, my mental health care has been free. Also, most of the crazy med suppliers offer their meds for free for those who cannot pay for them. Why? Because no one wants crazy people walking the streets unmedicated. That's a fact.

    So, it's been my experience that mental health care is pretty much available to anyone who wants it. All they have to do it look for it. The people who snap and do unspeakable things (whether it's mass killings, serial killings, killing one person, or suicide) are those who refuse medical care, aren't aware that help is possible, or simple refuse to admit that they need it.

    It might also help if we as a culture didn't stigmatize those of us with mental problems. So I have bipolar. Big deal. So I get a little euphoric, depressed, confused, or even angry once in a while, and my moods tend to the extreme. That doesn't make me a danger to anyone, it just makes me... different and sometimes unable to cope. My meds keep me stable and better able to deal with the world without freaking out the normals with my madness, but even in a manic rage I'm not going to get a gun and shoot anyone. It's not in my nature. I might break something, but I'd never hurt someone.

    That's my two cent's worth anyway.
    posted by patheral at 9:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


    This is perhaps a trivial detail given all the horror of this story, but could anyone shed any light on why Ryan Lanza was handcuffed when he was taken in for questioning? Was he under arrest, and if so, on what basis? Seems like this guy has had a pretty bad time of it.
    posted by torticat at 9:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Why Most Mass Murderers Are Privileged White Men

    Because about 99% of mass murderers are men, and most men (in the US) are white. The DC snipers were black. The Virginia Tech shooter was Asian. The "privilege" argument is a good way to get internet traffic, but not so great for explaining the facts.
    posted by John Cohen at 9:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I look forward to hearing similar testimonies from the others in this thread as to where they've given, who they've written, and what they've personally done to work toward a reduction in these all-too-frequent tragedies.

    Me, I am on the board of directors of a school that teaches self-defense, empowerment, and violence prevention, including de-escalation and communication techniques. Because it's never purely a mental health or a gun control issue. Sometimes when people feel like they have the tools to step into a situation, to talk to an angry person or calm down a potentially violent situation, then they can help defuse things long before they get to the massacre stage. And when people have social, verbal, and, yes, physical tools to defend themselves, they don't need to fall back on the really high-stakes weapons to feel secure. And yeah, we talk about things like the quote I posted above - about impossible gender expectations for men and women, about the necessity of learning productive ways to deal with emotions, even that everyone - including tough masculine men - have emotions. And we teach these things to the kids in our program and hope to god it helps.

    There are a lot of ways to come at the problem. The other link I posted talks about the problem of the social safety net in general - not purely mental health care, because not all (or even most) sufferers of mental health disorders are violent, and not all (or even most) violent people have major mental health disorders, but drug use, history of violence and abuse, and lack of basic resources are all much more significant factors in whether or not someone will become violent.

    This isn't a single-issue situation, nor is it a dual-issue situation. It's very easy to want to lay it out in black and white terms - and don't get me wrong, we've got some fucked-up health care and gun policies in this country - but it's important to recognize that it's a systemic problem, and there are many, many ways to approach it.
    posted by restless_nomad at 9:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


    The great Jill Lepore also wrote a fantastically insightful piece about how we got the gun lobby we have, instead of the sensible, responsible gun lobby we'd like to have.
    posted by Miko at 9:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    "Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    There were 16 mass shootings in the US this year, with 88 fatalities.

    When I heard the news today, I was saddened, but not shocked. I asked my coworker if, every six months for the rest of my life, I'll have to face a story of 12+ innocents gunned down in a public place.

    The "this was an aberration" argument was silly with Columbine. Now it's willful ignorance. My only hope is that the NRA et al become exhausted with defending themselves with such predictable frequency. How many "isolated incident(s)" a year will that take?
    posted by murfed13 at 9:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    While I agree that it's a complex problem that ideally should be approached on many fronts, I still can't help but notice that most other first-world nations have addressed themselves most directly to gun law, and made significant headway with that - not slight declines, but orders of magnitude.

    The fact that they usually also have strong healthcare in place doesn't hurt - and no doubt, we're suffering from a general lack of human-services infrastructure here that is taken for granted elsewhere - but current laxities in gun law are a bit of a low-hanging fruit, here.
    posted by Miko at 9:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Carbolic: More serious mental screening prior to allowing gun purchase.(If he can afford the $500 - $600 for the gun he can pay another $200-$300 for a screening. The right is to bear arms not cheap arms.

    Wouldn't have helped this time. He used his mom's guns, and she probably would have passed the screening.

    I would also suggest more broadly that using mental health screening as a 'gotcha' to reduce privileges is not necessarily effective; a lot of mental disorders do not eliminate your ability to hide symptoms. It might stop the completely delusional or totally schizophrenic, but it won't stop narcissists for instance.
    posted by Mitrovarr at 9:49 PM on December 14, 2012


    but could anyone shed any light on why Ryan Lanza was handcuffed when he was taken in for questioning?

    Police. Thinking logically. Ha ha.

    It's obvious that kid is trapped in some kind of Kafkaesque nightmare from which we are struggling to awaken.
    posted by clarknova at 9:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Miko : Can we ask for that bargain? Gun fans, are you willing to write your reps and maybe some op-eds and ask for universal healthcare?

    I very much want universal healthcare. But I can't agree with the second half of your terms, for the simple reason that mental healthcare just doesn't have the sort of magic bullets (forgive the pun) needed to "cure" such issues in a decade. We've come only the teensiest step forward from merely sedating those with mental health issues; Instead, we throw random chemical cocktails into their brains, and if they act somewhat more normal after than before, we call it good.


    billyfleetwood : It completely baffles me how pro-gun advocates refuse to acknowledge how it is in their best interest to prevent tragedies like this from happening.

    Of course they acknowledge that we need to prevent things like this from happening!

    Okay, look at it like this - And I no way mean this as a trick situation, moment-of-total-honesty here.

    I consider myself sane. I consider guns useful tools, even a bit fun to take to the range. And I would never, ever shoot a bunch of kids! I can imagine situations that might get me to kill in self-defense, but I can't picture anything that would lead to me randomly executing a classroom full of 6 year olds, ever, no way, period.

    So, when you tell me the guns count as the problem... Well, you've told me, in somewhat fewer words, that you believe I would randomly go into a classroom and open fire, all because that hunk of mostly inert steel will somehow override my brain and make me do bad things.

    So, perhaps you can appreciate the disconnect. You've effectively told me you want to take away my car, my computer, my washing machine, my hammer, my garage door opener, because someone, somewhere used it in a bad way. And I can only respond by looking at you like you have three heads, because seriously, my garage door opener???


    / Cue someone questioning my sanity if I don't see the difference between a gun and a washing machine - and take it as read that I will mock you for missing the forest for all those damned trees.
    posted by pla at 9:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    "My only hope is that the NRA et al become exhausted with defending themselves with such predictable frequency."

    Forget that happening. Their staff make their livings off the gun issue.
    posted by Ardiril at 9:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    My only hope is that the NRA et al become exhausted with defending themselves with such predictable frequency.

    No one quits thier job because the work is predictable and steady.

    Well, okay, they do, maybe to go find themselves or something, but most don't.
    posted by clarknova at 9:51 PM on December 14, 2012


    current laxities in gun law are a bit of a low-hanging fruit, here.

    Sure, but in terms of the "what are you doing today to make things better?" question, it's not really low-hanging fruit at all. It's a thorny political issue that could use some more public pressure behind it, but it may well not be something Joe and Jane Mefite can do fuckall about tomorrow.
    posted by restless_nomad at 9:55 PM on December 14, 2012


    It might stop the completely delusional or totally schizophrenic,

    As was noted above, schizophrenia is very often late-onset. A lot of people don't even know what's happening to them, let alone even understand that it's psychiatric in nature and can be treated (if ineffectively). In other words, it's not a given that the mental health system ever even has a chance to intervene in situations like that.
    posted by Miko at 9:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This is a mental health issue not a gun issue.

    It's both.

    America has twice the homicide rate of other developed countries, basically because a lot of people engage in dishonest rhetoric that prevents meaningful discussion or reform on gun control.

    I suppose it's possible that Americans are just worse people, but I don't think that's as plausible as the simpler explanation: that murderous rage is more deadly with more guns.
    posted by grudgebgon at 9:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    If you want to get some kind of gun control measure through Congress, you're going to have to offer the pro-gun bloc something they can support. Say, put up a bill that outlaws extended magazines and the gun show loophole and automatic weapons, but also bans states and local governments from taxing rifles and bullets. That's something the hunting/sportsmen types would like and would show them that the pro-gun control side is actually serious about leaving hunters alone.

    Anytime you want to get gun control through Congress, add something that makes it easier to be a hunter. It might divide the NRA membership enough to get some gun control though.
    posted by riruro at 10:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    .
    posted by dlugoczaj at 10:20 PM on December 14, 2012


    It's an ouroboros from the fetishization of violence: crazy boys mass slaughter children and a whole meme promotion cycle kicks in that ultimately feeds the next crazy boys' imaginations.

    I'm skeptical of there being a solution. The crazy boys aren't typically harming the privileged and powerful. Solutions cost. They don't want to spend. No real skin off their asses, this sort of event.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on December 14, 2012


    Forget that happening. Their staff make their livings off the gun issue.

    I was thinking more of the "et al" -- the average anti-gun control citizen.
    posted by murfed13 at 10:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    .
    posted by Wordshore at 10:22 PM on December 14, 2012


    Nope, them neither. The NRA engineers its marketing to keep the average anti-gun control citizen's focus in line.
    posted by Ardiril at 10:22 PM on December 14, 2012


    Why don't the Swiss have a comparable per capita rate of spree killings and other gun violence? Switzerland has a very high rate of gun ownership, including of fully automatic weapons that are banned in the U.S.
    posted by Jacqueline at 10:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Miko: As was noted above, schizophrenia is very often late-onset. A lot of people don't even know what's happening to them, let alone even understand that it's psychiatric in nature and can be treated (if ineffectively). In other words, it's not a given that the mental health system ever even has a chance to intervene in situations like that.

    That's true. However, it should catch people who've been schizophrenic for some time - even if they lie, they won't know what 'proper answer' to give anymore, and the flattened affect is also a giveaway.

    But yeah, it won't stop recent schizophrenics, and they're some of the most likely to do this sort of thing.
    posted by Mitrovarr at 10:29 PM on December 14, 2012


    Are people living with schizophrenia ("schizoprenic" is a somewhat dehumanizing term) more likely to commit bloody, savage murder than other people?
    posted by KokuRyu at 10:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Just found out that a friend's child was there today. The boy is okay. But reading the parent's Facebook updates as the events unfolded -- it's just completely heartbreaking.
    posted by murfed13 at 10:33 PM on December 14, 2012


    Like imperial measurement units, the death penalty, healthcare, et ceteras, when it comes to mass murders, the US does its own thing.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    People living with schizophrenia are actually far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.

    I'm on my phone's clunky browser so I'll let someone else follow up with the citations.
    posted by Jacqueline at 10:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    What Obama should do tomorrow is propose a bill massively funding mental health care with a new tax on the rich. No gun bans. Let's just start there. If the anti-gun control folks can let it pass, we will know all of the "but we need to focus on mental health not guns!" from that particular sector is honest. If not...

    It's time they picked their poison. The issue needs to be solved, pro-actively, with all of us behind the solution. This isn't terrorism, it's not politically motivated, but it definitely terrorizes the country when these things happen in our modern connected social media and mass media environment. Enough is fucking enough. Pick a solution and get behind it if you want to keep your guns.
    posted by Drinky Die at 10:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    This breaks my heart. Those poor little kids. Their families, my God, their poor families.
    posted by sarcasticah at 10:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Why don't the Swiss have a comparable per capita rate of spree killings and other gun violence? Switzerland has a very high rate of gun ownership, including of fully automatic weapons that are banned in the U.S.

    Actually, that's not exactly true. Automatic weapons are banned in Switzerland. And they have quite a lot of rules around gun ownership (i.e., gun control), even if they do have high rates of gun ownership.

    And, yeah, the Swiss have mass shootings, too.
    posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Sidhedevil, thanks for the Newtown Youth and Family Services link. A number of people I know want to do "something, anything" that directly helps those affected.
    posted by CancerMan at 10:53 PM on December 14, 2012


    Is Obama the first president to cry in public? Maybe "first president who showed emotion" is just as important as "first president who was black".
    posted by WalkingAround at 10:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    My heart goes out to all of Newtown. This is appalling.
    posted by harriet vane at 10:57 PM on December 14, 2012


    The discussion page about the English Wikipedia article includes the chilling question: what name to give the article? "2012 Newtown shooting"? "2012 Connecticut Shooting"? User "Abductive" wrote:
    As the person who gave it its present title, I simply followed the convention at School shooting. There is near universal agreement on the titles there.
    It hurts to know that we have a naming convention for these horrific events, that they have happened enough times that we have tables, sortable by name and year and death toll.
    posted by brainwane at 11:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I cried watching the news this morning. I don't normally cry at the drop of a hat, but I God damn well cried seeing and hearing about this.

    I'm Australian, so maybe I just totally don't get it... but people actually walk around carrying guns? I mean other than police and FBI etc... but just ordinary people like me wake up, get ready and carry a gun with them? To the shops, to parties, to a bar etc?

    That is ... kinda terrifying to me.
    posted by Admira at 11:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


    "just ordinary people like me wake up, get ready and carry a gun with them?"

    Yes.
    posted by Ardiril at 11:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Action is the antidote to dispair. If you want to help prevent more shootings like these...
    - ignore anyone who says it can't be done. They're wrong.
    - ignore anyone who blows off your suggestions with "But that won't stop all gun deaths". They're letting perfection be the enemy of improvement. No solution will fix everything wrong with guns, especially such a systemic problem as it is in America. But a lot of solutions could prevent thousands of deaths each and that is always worth doing.
    - ignore anyone who says that gun nuts won't let the situation be fixed. Many responsible gun owners will support you, and you don't need the true gun nuts to give you permission to act.

    There are so many things that can be done to help. Enforce existing laws and re-enact them where they've been rolled back; split the NRA base; get involved in campaign finance reform; act cleverly when enacting new regulations - succinct, sticky messaging can defeat the FUD of the NRA. This will be like civil rights and LGBT rights - a long and piecemeal battle with many fronts. Pick whichever aspect you feel best suited to and support people who choose other aspects to work on.

    It won't be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.
    posted by harriet vane at 11:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    I'm Australian, so maybe I just totally don't get it... but people actually walk around carrying guns?

    No.
    posted by clarknova at 11:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The Newtown Bee is our once-a-week paper. They are running stories and updates. They don't allow deep linking, just copying a quotes from "Stories Of Heroism Emerging From School Shooting Tragedy:"
    But none were more tragic than the accounts of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was emerging from a meeting and apparently saw the gunman and warned several colleagues who were about to step into the hallway behind her, and into the shooter's direct line of fire. The last thing one witness recalled was her turning back and yelling a warning to lock the door as she apparently confronted the gunman. A few moments later she was shot.
    Its a local paper, but they're very diligent about covering stories about the town in detail.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 11:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Friends of mine have concealed carry permits in Texas, so yes. Florida just issued its millionth concealed carry permit. The rationale, as far as I can tell (for carrying concealed handguns) is for deterrent, self-protection, and protecting people too weak or stupid to protect themselves. I disagree with this.
    posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 PM on December 14, 2012


    clarknova: " No."

    what
    posted by tonycpsu at 11:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    just ordinary people like me wake up, get ready and carry a gun with them?

    Yes, and it's sick, dangerous, twisted and insane. The presidents of the United States should stop signing off their State of the Union addresses with "God bless America" and change it to "God save America". Cause when it comes to gun laws and gun culture, America is a broken state. An outlier, a rogue nation, a land whose people have lost their way, certainly in need of divine intervention
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Of my immediate family, I believe only my sister-in-law, my daughter-in-law and myself are the only ones who do not have carry permits. 9 of 11 others constantly carry, and the other two keep a gun in their cars. All but three of them are registered Democrats.
    posted by Ardiril at 11:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense? Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.
    posted by Jacqueline at 11:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    what

    Oh yeah, I forgot about CC people. I thought she meant open carry and whatnot, as is often the stereotype.

    Those people really aren't a concern as far as crime and shootings go.
    posted by clarknova at 11:28 PM on December 14, 2012


    clarknova: " Oh yeah, I forgot about CC people. I thought she meant open carry and whatnot, as is often the stereotype."

    In that case...

    what
    posted by tonycpsu at 11:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Outside of war zones, no where else in the world do people feel the need to carry a gun for self-defence while running errands. Truly, America is a land of paranoid freaks.
    posted by robcorr at 11:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [47 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense? Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    I don't know about 'terrifying' but, as a Canadian, it sure sounds weird.

    And a little bit terrifying.
    posted by mazola at 11:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


    tonycpsu: "In that case...

    what
    "

    Sure there are laws that allow it, but nobody does it. Except maybe some conservative fruitbats at Obama town halls. You cannot conduct daily biddnez strapped and swaggering like Yosemete Sam.
    posted by clarknova at 11:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I would prefer open carry over concealed carry.
    posted by Ardiril at 11:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun

    That's an interesting question. I think it comes from my background of being from a country where ordinary people just don't walk around carrying guns, and we think of guns as deadly and dangerous things.

    I definitely lack the cultural and historical perspective that makes carrying guns seem as necessary as keys and wallets.
    posted by Admira at 11:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    You all look so ordinary on the outside.
    posted by Drinky Die at 11:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


    We're "paranoid freaks" because we acknowledge the existence of rape, armed robberies, and other violent crimes and don't want to be victimized?
    posted by Jacqueline at 11:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    but just ordinary people like me wake up, get ready and carry a gun with them? To the shops, to parties, to a bar etc?

    In actual practice, it can very much depend on the state, county, or city you are in. And your definition of "carry" - a lot of the Ohio "Concealed Carry Law" seems to be about defining when & how you can "carry" a gun in your vehicle.

    Plus, AFAICT, since nobody (here in Ohio) ever got around to passing a law that specifically forbids a person to openly carry a firearm in plain sight, it's not technically illegal as such. Undoubtedly in practice the cops would bust you for "disturbing the peace" or "creating a public nuisance" or something like that if you did.
    posted by soundguy99 at 11:37 PM on December 14, 2012


    'Terrifying'. Depends on your neighborhood.
    posted by artdrectr at 11:38 PM on December 14, 2012


    I don't know about 'terrifying' but, as a Canadian, it sure sounds weird.

    And yet we Canadians can sure tune out the gun violence in our own communities. There is a gangland-related shooting every week someplace in Vancouver or the Fraser Valley, and gun-related deaths, on a per capita basis are double that of Japan, and many European countries.

    Canadians (me included) should not be so smug.
    posted by KokuRyu at 11:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You all look so ordinary on the outside.

    We're "paranoid freaks" because we acknowledge the existence of rape, armed robberies, and other violent crimes and don't want to be victimized?


    Sorry, I meant "they"
    posted by Drinky Die at 11:38 PM on December 14, 2012


    We're "paranoid freaks" ... don't want to be victimized?

    How many people do you know who regularly carry weapons who have defended themselves?
    posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    perspective that makes carrying guns seem as necessary as keys and wallets

    For a lot of us, seem is the important word here - as in, does this actually, demonstrably, in reality make you safer?
    posted by soundguy99 at 11:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense? Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    This is by no means universal. I'm in the U.S., and I don't know anyone who carries a concealed handgun (and yes, I too find it terrifying that "ordinary" people think it's ordinary).
    posted by Wordwoman at 11:40 PM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


    I definitely lack the cultural and historical perspective that makes carrying guns seem as necessary as keys and wallets.

    People carrying concealed weapons are licensed to do so. All states require a background check and most also require some sort of specialized training. Americans are generally of the opinion that people who are trained and licensed are conscientious and safe with their firearms.
    posted by clarknova at 11:41 PM on December 14, 2012


    "Switzerland has a very high rate of gun ownership, including of fully automatic weapons that are banned in the U.S."

    The Swiss also have compulsory military service for men, and you're basically an army reservist for life if you live there.

    Which is to say, ex-soldiers and cops owning guns doesn't bother me at all (barring mental illness, which is actually a huge problem post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan). They have training, and they're been taught that guns are serious tools, not lifestyle props and/or penis extensions.

    Oh lord, how the little chickenhawks would squeal if we required them to actually enroll in the military or become a police officer before they could buy their guns and protect themselves from Nobama.
    posted by bardic at 11:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Americans are generally of the opinion that people who are trained and licensed are conscientious and safe with their firearms.

    "Our" opinion may not jibe with actual reality.
    posted by soundguy99 at 11:43 PM on December 14, 2012


    Yeah, open carry is technically legal in Nevada but the cops who taught the concealed carry permit class I took in Las Vegas said that in practice open carry was a bad idea because too many migrants from California and other heavy-gun-control states tended to freak out whenever they saw anyone open carrying and would call the police and exaggerate about someone "brandishing" a weapon in a "threatening" manner and then it would turn into a shitstorm. So the gist of it was that while the police themselves had no problem with people lawfully exercising their right to open carry, they much preferred that people get concealed carry permits and carry concealed so that they didn't have to constantly deal with drama from ignorant bystanders.
    posted by Jacqueline at 11:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "What is so terrifying about 'ordinary people' routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?"

    For starters, the likelihood of you, your spouse, or one of you children dying due to a gunshot (accidental or fired in anger) goes up astronomically.

    So if I had kids, I'd want to be a better parent than that.
    posted by bardic at 11:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [25 favorites]


    Yeah, open carry is technically legal in Nevada but the cops who taught the concealed carry permit class I took in Las Vegas said that in practice open carry was a bad idea because too many migrants from California and other heavy-gun-control states tended to freak out whenever they saw anyone open carrying and would call the police and exaggerate about someone "brandishing" a weapon in a "threatening" manner and then it would turn into a shitstorm. So the gist of it was that while the police themselves had no problem with people lawfully exercising their right to open carry, they much preferred that people get concealed carry permits and carry concealed so that they didn't have to constantly deal with drama from ignorant bystanders.

    Hmm, ignorant California migrants (read: immigrants) are ruining open carry with excessive calls to the police. I assume there is a link for that?
    posted by Drinky Die at 11:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]




    We're "paranoid freaks" because we acknowledge the existence of rape, armed robberies, and other violent crimes and don't want to be victimized?

    I acknowledge the existence of all of those crimes, and I don't want to be victimised. The same is true of basically every person on earth.

    I also manage to go out in the world every day without preparing myself to kill someone, and I'm glad that my fellow Australians don't have to live in constant fear like that either.
    posted by robcorr at 11:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [57 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    The lack of credible studies proving that carrying a gun actually makes you safer.
    posted by soundguy99 at 11:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [38 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense? Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    Carrying around an object designed for killing is not the same thing as carrying around keys or phones. That your everyday habit is to carry a killing device with you is scary to me, and I would wager, to many others.

    After all, I only have your word that you can be trusted with a gun. Why on earth should I take your word for it that you deserve the ability to make causing death and damage so much easier than anyone else?

    Or are we getting back to the dangers of gun culture?
    posted by gadge emeritus at 11:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


    To clarify, open carry (gun visible on your person) versus concealed carry (gun hidden on your person) is a distinction treated differently by various states. In some states, you have a default right to carry a gun openly but must apply for a permit to carry a gun concealed. The logic is that concealment is dangerous because it gives the element of surprise. In other states, concealment is a precondition to carrying a gun. The logic here is that a visible gun creates fear and intimidation.

    This is one example of how widely gun culture and gun laws vary across the United States.
    posted by cribcage at 11:55 PM on December 14, 2012


    I will back Jacqueline on that statement. I have heard of similar statements from cops in other states with open carry about getting calls from people who don't know about open carry laws.
    posted by Ardiril at 11:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    I'd say 'that you live somewhere this is necessary', except the real answer is closer to 'that you're so filled with fear that you honestly believe it's necessary, because teenagers, or something'.

    Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    Ah, that's it. What's so terrifying is that you think this is normal.
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [48 favorites]


    Our government, our leaders, our media, our entertainment all tell us that it's okay-- even glorious-- to kill people (many of whom are children) in other countries for this reason or for that reason. I wish I could say it's surprising when some fuckhead brings that idea home. War isn't an event, it's a cultural cancer.
    posted by threeants at 11:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Canadians (me included) should not be so smug.

    I don't mean to sound smug. A question was asked and I answered. Guns are not a part of my life so 'carrying' genuinely sounds... weird. Foreign. And terrifying.

    I truly hope it does not become my 'normal'.
    posted by mazola at 11:58 PM on December 14, 2012


    I will back Jacqueline on that statement.

    I do buy that people are scared of folks walking around with killing tools. It makes absolute sense. I'm more curious about why the ignorant California migrants are being singled out.
    posted by Drinky Die at 11:59 PM on December 14, 2012


    Drinky Die, "migrants" is not a dog-whistle for "immigrants" in Jacqueline's anecdote. It is a dog-whistle for "liberal city-folk busybodies".
    posted by Sidhedevil at 12:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


    Ignorant migrants aren't city folks. No, that term conjures up the type of folk the liberal city folk might be scared of if they walked down Main St. armed.
    posted by Drinky Die at 12:01 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "why the ignorant California migrants are being singled out." - In Nevada? For the same reason Texans diss Oklahomans.
    posted by Ardiril at 12:01 AM on December 15, 2012


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    Most ordinary people are terrible fucking shots.

    Hell, I work in a job where most of us regularly have to pass firearms tests and go to the range and practice regularly and many of my co-workers are still terrible fucking shots. We practice shooting moving targets, we have to do this to pass our tests, and people miss a lot. And they're MUCH better than the average person.

    That's what's terrifying about it.
    posted by fshgrl at 12:02 AM on December 15, 2012 [46 favorites]


    >Canadians (me included) should not be so smug.

    I don't mean to sound smug.


    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were sounding smug. Once again, my apologies.
    posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 AM on December 15, 2012


    [Let's drop the "ignorant migrants" derail, please. ]
    posted by taz at 12:02 AM on December 15, 2012


    > So, perhaps you can appreciate the disconnect. You've effectively told me you want to take away my car, my computer, my washing machine, my hammer, my garage door opener, because someone, somewhere used it in a bad way.

    ... not even sure what to say ...

    > Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    Where I live I rationally believe I have a much greater chance of dying in a car or of a heart attack than by some stranger killing me in the street. Why would any human live in a place that they perceive is so dangerous that they must carry deadly weapons with them at all times?

    I cannot imagine the level of fear that it would take for me to do this. It sounds like being in a horror movie all the time.

    Americans cared so little about the Bill of Rights that they suspended about half of it over a decade ago, and no one on either side ever even considers turning it back on any more. But try to tamper with their Second Amendment, or even mention anything about "a well-organized militia," and you'll get millions of people screaming about their fundamental rights.

    It won't change. There's always a sizable block of people for whom "The American way of life is non-negotiable". The system is completely rigid - there is no mechanism for change and any leaders who would possibly implement change are weeded out long before they reach the public eye. I really do not believe that anything significant will change until there's a collapse and I simply pray that it's a small enough collapse - that is, that it occurs soon enough before all that is of value about this country has been destroyed - that something of value will be preserved.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


    > What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    "Consider the stupidity of your average guy. Then remember that half of people are dumber than he is."
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [38 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense?

    Oh I don't know, something like when I get a text from Safety and Security that says someone's just been robbed at gunpoint not 5 blocks from my apartment, in the very spot I would have been walking through if I'd taken the first bus that passed (that doesn't go as close to my apartment). Yesterday, that happened yesterday. I was thinking "wow, that could have been me."

    And that person had no defense. They weren't worried about their money or the 90%-written paper on their laptop they were going to have to rewrite. They were worried about their life. When "ordinary people" are walking around with guns, you can't just assume it's for self-defense. And really, what kind of society do we live in where guns are what people go to for self-defense? If people weren't assaulting others with guns, nobody would need guns as defense.
    posted by DoubleLune at 12:15 AM on December 15, 2012


    Just read an interesting quote from an old interview with Wayne Lo. He carried out a similar attack at Simon's Rock 20 years ago (when he was about Adam Lanza's age), killing and wounding students and teachers. He is in prison for life in Norfolk, Massachusetts.
    "The people who do these things are people who don’t want contact. They wouldn’t be capable of going out there and stabbing people to death. But there’s such a disconnect when you’re using a gun. You don’t even feel like you’re killing anybody...."
    That's from someone who should know.

    lupus_yonderboy: "It won't change."

    People said that about tobacco control in the 60's and 70's. We can do this.
    posted by Cassford at 12:16 AM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    What is so terrifying about "ordinary people" routinely carrying a gun for self-defense? Almost everyone I know owns at least one gun and many of us wear a concealed handgun when we go out as habitually as we carry our wallets, keys, phones, etc.

    When I leave my apartment, I think "I don't want people to be able to get in when I'm not there", so I take my keys.
    When I leave my apartment, I think "I'll probably wind up buying lunch today", so I take my wallet.
    When I leave my apartment, I think "It's been cold outside the last few days, and can get windy -- if it does, I want to be warm", so I take a hat.
    When I leave my apartment, I think "I may want to call someone, or someone may want to call me, or I'll likely surf the internet", so I take my phone.
    When I leave my apartment, I think "I might be out later than usual and I'm supposed to take my medication at 10", so I take my pills.


    I have never left my apartment and thought, "I might want to kill someone today; I'd better pack for that."
    posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:19 AM on December 15, 2012 [73 favorites]


    "What's so terrifying is that you think this is normal."

    For my generation, gun culture is normal. My high school had a shooting team, both rifles and handguns. Kids made rifle stocks in wood shop and turned shotgun barrels in machine shop. The high school parking lot was a daily gun swap meet. During deer season, every gun rack in the school lot was filled with hunting rifles. During trapping season, the rifles were replaced with shotguns. That is just the way we grew up.
    posted by Ardiril at 12:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Anyone think an age of majority for handgun ownership would be worth exploring?

    Say, 25 years old to apply? At that point they can be required to take classes and be thoroughly vetted in a background check.
    posted by absentian at 12:30 AM on December 15, 2012


    "For my generation"

    No, gun culture is a regional (urban vs. rural) thing, not a generational one.

    No high school in Brooklyn has or ever will lathe shotgun barrels in shop class, wing-nut fantasies aside.

    Which is to say, I have no problem with people outside of major urban areas having access to hunting rifles and shotguns. You have a lower population density, for starters. You can go to the woods and shoot a varmint with little chance of a bullet flying into someone's living room.

    What's frustrating beyond words is how the NRA/gun-nut contingent wants to push their very specific demands on urban populations. For example, as a former DC resident (former and literal "murder capital of the world") I was appalled that Republican congresspeole, all of whom were whtie males, pushed through a bill to allow private ownership of handguns in DC.

    Just a complete, arbitrary sense of entitlement along the lings of "what's good for Mule Tick, Arkansas is good for our nation's capital."

    Utter lunacy, with a healthy side portion of racism to boot.
    posted by bardic at 12:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


    BTW, if anything is going to be banned maybe it should be military-grade body armor.
    posted by bardic at 12:33 AM on December 15, 2012


    re: regional vs generational. Granted, I doubt the same can be said about my hometown now.
    posted by Ardiril at 12:33 AM on December 15, 2012


    And yet we Canadians can sure tune out the gun violence in our own communities. There is a gangland-related shooting every week someplace in Vancouver or the Fraser Valley, and gun-related deaths, on a per capita basis are double that of Japan

    FWIW, there basically aren't any gun deaths in Japan, because there basically aren't any guns in Japan. It's not a tough rate to double, even just in Vancouver.

    I don't mean to minimize the reality of gun deaths in Canada; the rate's fully half of the USA's, which isn't anything to be particularly proud of. Though, of course, [this next point is made out of indignance, not smugness] a great many of those are committed with illegal weapons smuggled up from south of the border. America's lax gun laws don't only affect their own country; just ask Mexico.
    posted by Sys Rq at 12:38 AM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Just a complete, arbitrary sense of entitlement along the lings of "what's good for Mule Tick, Arkansas is good for our nation's capital."

    Utter lunacy, with a healthy side portion of racism to boot.


    Yes, there's some some sort of racism or ethnocentrism revealed by your comment, but not the kind you think.
    posted by clarknova at 12:39 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Re: body armor and personal gun rights...

    It really wasn't that long ago when US businessmen and the government would shoot and kill striking workers. And it happened in South Africa this year. The right to bear arms is absolutely still relevant. Body armor too.

    I'd love to see some action toward stemming the killings and other violent acts perpetrated daily in this country. I think providing easy and inexpensive access to mental health care is both more feasible and more likely to be effective. I also think using mental health screenings to restrict people's rights (at least without judicial overview) will be counterproductive. People don't need excuses to avoid getting help.

    Some sensible gun regulation is OK in my book but most proposals take things way too far for my sensibilities.
    posted by polyhedron at 12:47 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    A bunch of white Republicans basically lecturing the mostly black citizens of DC, a city that literally lost a generation or two of its male youth to handguns that were often purchased in the NRA's home state of Virginia, was appalling. For the gentlemen from Tennessee and Georgia to proclaim they were "helping" black residents by ignoring their desire or strict gun laws was disgusting.

    I was there when it happened, so spare me the condescension.
    posted by bardic at 12:47 AM on December 15, 2012 [10 favorites]




    Oh man, our whole media had a freakout over a downed tent, I don't think unions shooting back is on the agenda.
    posted by Drinky Die at 12:54 AM on December 15, 2012


    The only way I can feel this is by watching Obama's press conference this afternoon.

    I can't explain it, but I suddenly get why it is important for society to have leaders, they have to take on, embody and personify for us the things that are impossible to grasp and understand, and give them a form so that we may understand and feel empathy.

    I can't put my feelings into words, I cannot feel them at all, but when I watch that video, everything is brought into sharp focus and I can begin to get it.

    I can't begin to imagine what the parent to those 20 children are going through tonight. To have come up to the school this morning and to not have had your child come to the parking lot to grab your hand to be taken home. To stand there in the midst of all this relief and life,hugs and tears, alone, in that parking lot, without your child. To stand there in the shame, embarrassment, anguish, confusion and isolated devastation as the realization sinks in, your child was one of the ones.

    I'd break down and never get back up.
    posted by roboton666 at 12:58 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    No, gun culture is a regional (urban vs. rural) thing, not a generational one.

    No high school in Brooklyn has or ever will lathe shotgun barrels in shop class, wing-nut fantasies aside


    I don't know about lathe shotgun barrels specifically, but you're completely wrong about Brooklyn and gun culture. That's certainly a generational thing. There were rifle teams in the NYC public school until the 60's. Here's a nice article about the 1922 Championships in Brooklyn (pdf).
    posted by Jahaza at 12:59 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    This thread and what's been on the TV tonight has been, for me at least, an illuminating and ultimately depressing window on the chances of meaningful gun control debate in the US. Why the hell can't some people just get over the need to be able to shoot fellow citizens?
    Fuck.
    posted by islander at 1:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Are people living with schizophrenia ("schizoprenic" is a somewhat dehumanizing term) more likely to commit bloody, savage murder than other people?

    No.

    Especially something which requires planning; one of the more common symptoms of schizophrenia is a difficulty of motivating the self and following through on plans (avolition) and another is disorganized thinking, and both of those symptoms run contrary to the kind of planning required for mass murder.

    Speaking as someone with significant experience with psychosis, it tend to be a more confusing and limiting symptom than one which galvanizes people into action; I spend a lot of time setting myself up as always telling the truth so that eventually I can engage in "reality testing" and get my clients closer to a shared reality because ultimately that is what will help them meet their own needs and stay safe. Someone with persistent and unwavering delusions can be stable in the community, but they will almost always need a "translator" like myself to deal with unexpected challenges.

    "The proportion of violent crime in society attributable to schizophrenia consistently falls below 10%."

    "Schizophrenia and other psychoses are associated with violence and violent offending, particularly homicide. However, most of the excess risk appears to be mediated by substance abuse comorbidity. The risk in these patients with comorbidity is similar to that for substance abuse without psychosis."

    "News and entertainment media tend to link mental illnesses including schizophrenia to criminal violence. Most people with schizophrenia, however, are not violent toward others but are withdrawn and prefer to be left alone. Drug or alcohol abuse raises the risk of violence in people with schizophrenia, particularly if the illness is untreated, but also in people who have no mental illness." (Also has a lot of other information, such as the suicide rate in people with schizophrenia being 50 times higher than the general population.)

    "There are many reasons for improving the resources and quality of care for people with a mental disorder, but there is no evidence that it is anything but stigmatising to claim that their living in the community is a dangerous experiment that should be reversed. There appears to be some case for specially focused improvement of services for people with a personality disorder and/or substance misuse." (Also has links to a bunch of different studies in a variety of countries.)

    With a reminder that this is a non-random study, and thus says nothing about people who have not committed mass murder: "Thirty-four subjects, acting alone or in pairs, committed 27 mass murders between 1958 and 1999. The sample consisted of males with a median age of 17. A majority were described as “loners” and abused alcohol or drugs; almost half were bullied by others, preoccupied with violent fantasy, and violent by history. Although 23% had a documented psychiatric history, only 6% were judged to have been psychotic at the time of the mass murder. Depressive symptoms and historical antisocial behaviors were predominant. There was a precipitating event in most cases—usually a perceived failure in love or school—and most subjects made threatening statements regarding the mass murder to third parties. The majority of the sample clustered into three types: the family annihilator, the classroom avenger, and the criminal opportunist."

    Link roundup of studies on mass murder. I didn't look at the studies in depth, but they appear to all be published in reputable journals.
    posted by Deoridhe at 1:02 AM on December 15, 2012 [40 favorites]


    "How many people do you know who regularly carry weapons have defended themselves?"

    Defending yourself with a weapon isn't just about shooting an attacker, it's also about being left alone by potential attackers who know or suspect that you are armed.

    "Have you ever shot anyone?" isn't a normal topic of polite conversation, so I can't definitively say whether anyone I know has done so in civilian life. (I know several people whom I can safely assume have done so as either soldiers or police officers, but again, it's not something one brings up.) Also, the defensive handgun school favored by my family spent as much time on teaching how to avoid dangerous situations and deescalate conflicts as they did on teaching us how to shoot, and most gun owners I know seem to share their philosophy that carrying a lethal weapon comes with the moral responsibility to avoid situations in which you might need it. (For example, our instructor said that most fights in bars take place between 1 and 2 AM and most fights outside of bars take place between 2 and 3 AM, so he always goes home at 12:30.)

    Although no one has told me any personal stories about shooting someone in self defense, many of my friends and acquaintances have mentioned experiences in which they felt threatened and so they made their armed status known (ranging from a subtle pat of the bulge to beginning to draw) to get their potential attacker to back down long enough for them to get away. Also, just carrying a weapon affects your confidence and unconscious body language, thus making you appear less attractive as a potential target.

    Personally, I had a couple of creepy dates that made me very nervous and glad to be carrying, but there's no way to really *know* in those situations if things would have gone differently if I had been unarmed. All I know is that previous experiences with men giving off similar bad "vibes" had ended badly for me because I was too afraid of them to be assertive.

    Additionally, you should consider the synergy between habitual concealed carry outside the home and self defense inside the home. I know many people who have drawn their gun or audibly loaded a clip and/or chambered a round to scare off a home invader than who have ever drawn or patted their concealed weapons out on the street, and many of those people wouldn't have had their guns so close and ready if they didn't habitually load and carry them every day.

    Personally, when my ex-boyfriend grabbed me and threw me to the ground inside his home (where I had been living with him), drawing my pepper spray canister might have been enough to get him to halt his immediate attack but I think him realizing that I was capable of shooting him if necessary probably helped motivate him to leave me alone long enough for me to pack and get the fuck out. If I didn't habitually carry those weapons I wouldn't have been able to reach them quickly enough to deter him from further battery.

    We don't routinely carry guns because we're "paranoid freaks" who EXPECT to need a gun to defend ourselves, because we just AVOID any places, people, and situations in which we could reasonably expect need a gun. We routinely carry guns in case we are ever surprised by a need to defend ourselves when we couldn't have reasonably expected it.
    posted by Jacqueline at 1:06 AM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Regarding the mental health angle: I agree that everyone should have cheap and easy access to mental health care, because it's a good thing for so many reasons. But even in countries with universal health care, mental health care is not that easy to get, and the people who need it often can't or won't get it, or they get help that doesn't work for them. People from Australia and the UK and other countries are rightfully proud of the reduction in gun sprees they've achieved through gun control, but I don't think any of us are proud of our mental health care systems.

    It's a worthwhile goal, but if you think it will be easier than gun control you'll be sadly disappointed. It will take the same concerted effort across many fronts, as well as a better understanding than we have now of what mentally ill people really need. It is not the easy solution we wish it could be.
    posted by harriet vane at 1:06 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Ok, we've gone too many comments without a mention of mental health.

    Gun control is only part of the problem.

    The US needs to spend more money on mental health care. there is really no good argument for why we aren't. Don't let your conversations about what happened in CT end without mentioning this.
    posted by victory_laser at 1:07 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    lupus_yonderboy:
    Wanted to respond to your post because we've had good dialogue before, and because I respect you and the way your express yourself. Couple of things:
    Where I live I rationally believe I have a much greater chance of dying in a car or of a heart attack than by some stranger killing me in the street. Why would any human live in a place that they perceive is so dangerous that they must carry deadly weapons with them at all times?

    I cannot imagine the level of fear that it would take for me to do this. It sounds like being in a horror movie all the time.
    I live in Oakland, California, and a lot of people here are carrying firearms illegally not too far from where I live. In Fruitvale, there are a lot of taco trucks where the owners mostly take cash only. That makes them a target for robbers. So a lot of the taco truck drivers carry a concealed firearm. Illegally, because carry permits in California are very difficult to get in urban areas. I've read over the applications accepted in Alameda County (released under a public records act request) and I didn't see any taco truck owners. Or many people who lived in the flat lands. Nope. Lots of rich business owners and politicians.

    Sometimes, a taco truck guy shoots at people who try to rob them. Why do they do business there? Because that's where they can make money and survive. I know, people will say, well we should have better policing. We should have poverty alleviation. We should have a fairer economic system. People should trust the Oakland Police Department to handle these things.

    As you know, I agree with all those things. That doesn't change the fact that people don't trust OPD (the police brutality issue has been pretty serious here), and it hasn't been too effective either at stopping these kinds of holdups. It doesn't change the fact that working class people who have to get to work on the swing shift in Oakland have to choose between risking a misdemeanor if they get caught with a concealed firearm, or getting robbed or killed in the street. That's reality here. I'm fortunate that my job doesn't require me to make those kind of choices, but some people aren't so lucky. Yeah I get it, people should move out of that situation. That's easier said than done in some cases. And seriously, why should anyone be forced to move away from their community, from their family, from their business, simply because some thugs have created a threatening environment? Isn't there something to be said for sticking it out in your home?
    Americans cared so little about the Bill of Rights that they suspended about half of it over a decade ago, and no one on either side ever even considers turning it back on any more. But try to tamper with their Second Amendment, or even mention anything about "a well-organized militia," and you'll get millions of people screaming about their fundamental rights.

    I've been screaming about the Constitutional rights rollback since this "War on Terror" started. It's awful and it threatens as you say, everything that is good about the United States. We've talked about it before, and I know we are in agreement about the absolutely frightening turn the US government and elites have taken. What is hard for me to understand (and I mean this with 100% sincerity) is how people who are so concerned about the ever growing scope of oligarchy and elite lawlessness, would trust those same people to have a monopoly, even a partial one, on firearms ownership? That doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever.

    As an aside, I have seen some other comments (not yours) about the murder rate in Japan and the strict Japanese gun control laws. I've spent about a month in Japan, and have close friends there. I have the privilege to participate in what is a very old Japanese cultural tradition, taught in a post modern context, so I get to see some very old traditional attitudes, in today's context. What I can say is that modern Japan is extremely oppressive; not legally, but socially. I have deep empathy for people who live there. Japan has a much lower murder rate than the USA, around .2 per 100,000, versus the US which has around 4.7 per 100,000.

    The suicide rate in Japan, on the other hand is around 26.1 per 100,000. By comparison, the US suicide rate is around 11 per 100,000. The situation in Japan is brutal and oppressive-- I would not want to live under those conditions, and I certainly do not view them as a model for what I would like America to be.
    It won't change. There's always a sizable block of people for whom "The American way of life is non-negotiable". The system is completely rigid - there is no mechanism for change and any leaders who would possibly implement change are weeded out long before they reach the public eye. I really do not believe that anything significant will change until there's a collapse and I simply pray that it's a small enough collapse - that is, that it occurs soon enough before all that is of value about this country has been destroyed - that something of value will be preserved.
    You know, I too am afraid of the rigidity of the system. I know we've talked a lot about that in the context of the financial sector, and I agree with you that significant change may not happen until there's a collapse. In fact, I think it's likely that significant change won't happen sufficient to avert a collapse.

    In that situation, I do not want to be unarmed. I am an ethnic minority and I know exactly what happens to ethnic minorities in a collapse situation. Just look at Bosnia, or more recently, Greece. I've also hold, and have expressed personally and professionally, very anti-establishment opinions. I know what happens to people like me in a collapse situation as well.

    Look, I'm under no illusion that I am going to stop a hardened (notional) hard right death squad, the mythical "12 guys with shotguns." I'd like a chance though. And at the very least, I'd like a chance to die on my feet and not on my knees.
    posted by wuwei at 1:11 AM on December 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


    Thanks for explaining that, Jacqueline. It's a very alien attitude to me, coming from such a different culture with respect to weaponry. I keep pepper spray by my bed, have never had to use it or even threaten to use it, and I'm considered quite extreme by the friends and family who know its there. I wonder what difference, if any, there is between crime rates where we each live.
    posted by harriet vane at 1:11 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I'd really rather no one shoot anybody. The right to bear arms existed for labor activists when the government was shooting at them, it's obviously not going to prevent the worst abuses of power. I was just trying to provide a more relatable example of tyranny in which the right to bear arms is relevant (it looks like wuwei just did a much better job). Crossing my fingers to avoid a labor-capital gunfight derail.
    posted by polyhedron at 1:16 AM on December 15, 2012


    A few people on other forums have brought up drug law reform in reply to my requests for a policy goal righty and lefty 2nd amendment supporters could get behind and make a credible difference. Oh yeah, that's the ticket.

    Want to clean up the cities where businessmen and citizens feel the need to carry a gun because they fear for their lives? Drug reform is a huge step.

    Put it on that list next to healthcare reform where we can't get the Republicans to play along though.
    posted by Drinky Die at 1:20 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The US needs to spend more money on mental health care. there is really no good argument for why we aren't. Don't let your conversations about what happened in CT end without mentioning this.

    The majority of mass murderers have not been diagnosed with a mental illness prior to offending. Presuming that someone has a mental illness because they are a mass murderer is, frankly, not how the mental health system works right now and it may or may not be reasonable to alter that.

    Asserting that mental health is inexorably linked to mass murder is stigmatizing to people with mental illnesses and decreases the likelihood of them seeking help as well as actively harmful to those who do seek help and then risk being ostracized for having a diagnosis and taking medication. If you really want to help people with mental illnesses, by all means join NAMI and raise awareness, but linking people with mental illnesses to mass murderers is both inaccurate and harmful.
    posted by Deoridhe at 1:20 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]




    What's frustrating beyond words is how the NRA/gun-nut contingent wants to push their very specific demands on urban populations. For example, as a former DC resident (former and literal "murder capital of the world") I was appalled that Republican congresspeole, all of whom were whtie males, pushed through a bill to allow private ownership of handguns in DC.

    If you were there, you should have noticed that 52 Democrats also voted for the bill (Among them Joe Baca, a Mexican-American Democrat and Artur Davis, a black Democrat.)

    Also that Marsha Blackburn was not male and neither was Candice Miller, to name two Republicans (there were others). I don't have time to go through the whole list for you.
    posted by Jahaza at 1:21 AM on December 15, 2012


    To clarify, by "migrants" I meant the literal definition of people who used to live in one place and had moved to another -- in this case, from one U.S. state to another. I didn't realize that some people might infer that I meant immigrants from other countries.

    Is there a better word for what I meant? I thought about using "newcomers to Nevada" but that's not quite right either because many of those people may have been living in Nevada for several years but never learned about Nevada's gun laws because they didn't grow up there, didn't take their civics class there, and grew up in a state where the laws and culture are very different.

    These misunderstandings had become particularly problematic for local police because ~95% of people living in the Las Vegas metro area were not originally from Nevada.
    posted by Jacqueline at 1:23 AM on December 15, 2012


    Sorry Jacq, It was way off base for the thread and I should not have posted it. I'm in chat if you want some more detail on how I found it problematic.
    posted by Drinky Die at 1:27 AM on December 15, 2012


    The US needs to spend more money on mental health care. there is really no good argument for why we aren't. Don't let your conversations about what happened in CT end without mentioning this.

    I would agree with that, especially treating and helping those with paranoia, delusions of grandeur, PTSD (from living in a less connected world? military service? belonging to cults or other organizations which stress the dangers from 'the other'?), overwrought machismo, and the myriad other possible things which lead some to conclude that stacking up weapons is a sane response to extremely unlikely events. Especially as those events become, as has been shown the world over, much less likely if guns are tightly restricted.
    posted by maxwelton at 1:46 AM on December 15, 2012


    Couldn't sleep. Kept thinking about this tragedy. One thing that has continued to both me. Adam Lanza, the killer, his brother Ryan, erroneously initially implicated as the killer, told police he had not seen his brother since 2010. Yet, Adam lived with his mother (who Adam killed.) Two years of not coming home for a Holiday, not coming home for a weekend to do laundry or any of that? I know his parents are divorced and we (I) have not heard much about the father other than he lives in Stamford, is remarried, and works for GE Capital. For two years they never visited their father at the same time? There is something really disturbing about that. I know a lot of families have falling outs or are disfunctional, but two years without contact of a brother 4 years younger while in your early 20s seems like either Ryan was afraid of Adam or there was something else going on with the family maybe related to the fact that the guns were apparently registered to the mother. Maybe Ryan disavowed any relationship with both of them because of that?
    posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    .
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:06 AM on December 15, 2012


    I need to do something. There's something different about this tragedy. Maybe it's the cumulative effect of all the other tragedies together with yet another. Maybe it's the kids. Maybe it was seeing the military-style gun he had. Fuck the NRA. Is there some organization that acts as a countervailing force to that group? I was thinking maybe the Brady Campaign, but it seems to spend a lot of money fundraising.

    Seriously--whatever group is the equal-and-opposite force to the evil that is the NRA: I want a lifetime membership to that. What is it?
    posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It was only recently there was furore amongst gun rights advocates when Recoil magazine dared to print an article that mentioned in passing that the 4.6x30mm H&K MP7A1 shouldn't be in civilian hands.

    The weapon is concealable under a light jacket, comes with a 40 round magazine and is light, accurate and easy to handle. More importantly the bullets will easily penetrate a NIJ IIA vest (the sort most police officers wear). Gun nuts went completely apeshit, demanding the writer of the article be sacked and that their constitutional rights should allow them to carry such a weapon. The magazine caved and the editor (also the writer of the article) ended up publicly apologising for his statement.

    I mention this because this is what gun-control advocates are up against. The NRA and the manufacturers have a vested interest in saying "buy more stuff, shout down all arguments" and it is going to be an incredible uphill battle to convince gun bunnies to even begin to discuss where the line is drawn, never mind reach any sort of agreement. I am a big fan of recreational shooting and if I lived in the USA I know that I'd own several guns. I also know that I'd keep them at a gun club and not in my house.

    I know the statistics regarding gun ownership and suicide/accidental death and I am not stupid enough to value possessions above the lives of my family. The ludicrous arguments I have seen on every pro-gun website drive me up the wall and it's all I can do to bite my tongue. I genuinely do not see how to even open the argument. As St Alia and others have said convincing a gun-owner to hand over what, in their mind, equates to a tool of freedom from opression and self-defence would be as difficult as telling a religious believer to give up their god.

    If you track gun sales by year you will see that in the last 30 years they spike hugely, every election, due to right-wing fearmongering that certain weapons will be banned etc. There are ammunition shortages due to Obama being elected (same in 2008). It's not so much the military industrial complex in this case as the NRA-GOP-Religious Right complex. It's all tied in to a horrible, complex mindset which is absolutely resistant to external change.

    I absolutely feel for your country and I really hope that one day the pro-gun lobby comes to the table to negotiate. Right now it's just not going to happen. I consider myself as pro-gun and pro-gun control and I can't understand who thinks incidents like this do not lead to the obvious conclusion that there are just too many guns available, too easily. Pro-gun culture is something that is simply not understood by a lot of liberal folks and it's this that is going to be hard to break through.

    Slap*Happy's suggestions above are possibly the best and most sensible suggestions I have seen on the concept of gun control and tally almost exactly with how I would approach it. Civilians don't need 6 thirty rounds magazines on a chest rig over a ceramic plate and they don't need to own several thousand rounds of ammunition. If you want to churn through a couple of hundred rounds for fun go to a range and do it safely where the only people you can hurt are other like-minded people with the firearms to deter you.
    posted by longbaugh at 2:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


    Earlier this year, Jill Lepore wrote an excellent piece in The New Yorker explaining that the gun lobby's current extremist stance ("cold, dead fingers" etc) dates back no further than the 1970s. Just 40 years ago, America managed these matters in a far saner way, and surely progress could be made in that direction again. All that's required is organisation and sustained effort.

    You can read Lepore's full essay here. She draws on information in Adam Winkler's new book , “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, and the history lesson she provides is worth quoting:

    “For most of its history, the NRA was chiefly a sporting and hunting association. To the extent that the NRA had a political arm, it opposed some gun-control measures and supported many others, lobbying for new state laws in the nineteen-twenties and thirties, which introduced waiting periods for handgun buyers and required permits for anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon. It also supported the 1934 National Firearms Act—the first major federal gun-control legislation—and the 1938 Federal Firearms Act, which together created a licensing system for dealers and prohibitively taxed the private ownership of automatic weapons (‘machine guns’).

    […]

    “In 1968, as Winkler relates, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the issue new urgency. A revised Gun Control Act banned mail-order sales, restricted the purchase of guns by certain high-risk people (e.g., those with criminal records), and prohibited the importation of military-surplus firearms. […] The NRA supported the 1968 Gun Control Act, with some qualms. Orth was quoted in American Rifleman as saying that although some elements of the legislation “appear unduly restrictive and unjustified in their application to law-abiding citizens, the measure as a whole appears to be one that the sportsmen of America can live with.”

    […]

    “In the nineteen-seventies, the NRA began advancing the argument that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to carry a gun, rather than the people’s right to form armed militias to provide for the common defense. Fights over rights are effective at getting out the vote. Describing gun-safety legislation as an attack on a constitutional right gave conservatives a power at the polls that, at the time, the movement lacked. Opposing gun control was also consistent with a larger anti-regulation, libertarian, and anti-government conservative agenda. […] Ronald Reagan was the first Presidential candidate whom the NRA had endorsed.”


    Tragedies like Newtown encourage us to shrug our shoulders and say "yeah, but nothing will ever change". The assumption is that imposing saner gun laws would require rewriting the whole of America's history, and must therefore always be impossible. The value of Lepore's piece is that it makes it clear this simply isn't true. So much of the damage was done in the past 40 years, and if laws can move in one direction over that period, then they can also be reversed.

    There are a thousand rational, reasonable Americans for every gun nut in the US, who want nothing more than the civilised public safety which every other developed nation takes for granted. Why are these people not organised into a opponent for the NRA, with many times its membership, an equally effective lobbying arm and an even louder political voice?

    If politicians heard from 100 NRA members, but 1,000 gun control advocates, would that not encourage them to listen to the larger group? If corporations saw the numbers breaking down that way, wouldn't their own PR interests dictate they did the same thing?

    With Obama in the White House in his final term, Newton could become the event that reverses this terrible tide. But that will happen only if the vast majority of sensible Americans keep a focus on this issue, and work to make their voice heard in Washington. The result, I'm sure, would be far from perfect - but if this isn't the point where America decides to at least make a start on fighting its gun problem, then what's it going to take?

    In short, don't mourn: organise.

    PS) The Onion headline that struck me most powerfully in Newton's aftermath was "Right To Own Handheld Device That Shoots Deadly Metal Pellets At High Speed Worth All Of This". Isn't that effectively what the gun lobby's saying? "Your dead kid is a price worth paying for my fun."
    posted by Paul Slade at 2:34 AM on December 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


    You have to wonder what they started putting in the water in the 70s. It seems like the country went mad about then.
    posted by fshgrl at 2:37 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    If politicians heard from 100 NRA members, but 1,000 gun control advocates, would that not encourage them to listen to the larger group?

    Depends. If those 100 NRA members donated $50 apiece for someone to put their position across and the 1,000 gun control advocates simply write their representatives who do you think is going to be heard?

    Secondarily to that, after State Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot how many representatives do you think would be in fear of similar action if they attempted to implement gun control policies*?

    *I'm not saying this was the reason for the shooting but it's certainly something I would be concerned about given the tension between pro and anti-gun groups in the USA.
    posted by longbaugh at 3:02 AM on December 15, 2012


    Strange, it used to be deranged American gunmen killed our leaders and celebrities for notoriety. Way too many in the 20th century and even before.

    I guess now that we all hate out leaders (at least half of us, regardless) they don't bother. The nutjobs seem to want to kill the people we love. I don't think the stable of assassins is that deep.
    posted by Drinky Die at 3:11 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I read almost all the thread, but I've been with my kids all day. One of which started kindergarten this year.

    America, I'm so very, very sorry this happened. My condolences to the family and friends of the victims.

    And to the collective harmed psyche of your nation, I send hugs. Hard days ahead for all.
    posted by taff at 3:19 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Wow. I am just absolutely terrified of America now having been given some glimpse into the way things work over there. The average, everyday person seriously totes around a hidden gun for the means of self-defense?

    If anything, I would imagine that a gun would be the worst self-defense tool you could carry around, simply because it's designed to kill, or at the very least, permanently damage someone. Instantaneously. And you don't even get to decide the level of damage either, because there are just too many variables that affect whether a bullet hits say, an artery versus something less lethal. You can't adjust for the simple thief versus a serial killer. It's made to harm them permanently or kill them with no way to dial down the settings, in the way that other self-defense tools aren't.

    I would be terrified if my only option against the mugger who wants my wallet and nothing more is to take his life. Because criminal or not, it is my understanding that I have no right to decide whether someone else lives or dies.

    And it terrifies me to the point that I'm seriously reconsidering ever taking a vacation to America again. It feels absolutely foreign to me that just being in public means that I relinquish the right to my own life - and to complete strangers at that, any of which has complete and total say over whether I live or die.

    What if I look at someone wrong, and they've been having a bad day at work that renders them particularly suspect to offense and impulse?

    What if it's late at night, and I'm going the same way as some young lady in front of me, and I get judged as a rapist?

    What if someone drops their wallet, and I pick it up and tap them on the shoulder to return it, and they suddenly think that I'm a pickpocket?

    Suddenly, I'm dead. And suddenly, it's not only my own life gone, but that of the other person. They've got blood on their hands now; they've got to go through the justice system.

    I don't understand how people in the states live with these possibilities. I would drive myself mad just by stepping on the street if I realized that I could die from the slightest misunderstanding and the slightest impulse. How, in any way, does this make anyone more secure?

    If it's just for self-defense, why not pepper spray or a taser or something like that? I would prefer having to wash pepper spray out of my eyes for an hour while the person profusely apologized for the misunderstanding the entire time, than to, y'know, be dead.
    posted by Conspire at 3:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


    What kind of pickpocket taps you on the shoulder after stealing your wallet?
    posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Voter-ID. Talk about an imaginary problem. Why are conservatives so quick to regulate voting rights and so slow to regulate gun rights? Which one has shown more evidence of danger that necessitates harsh government regulation?
    posted by Drinky Die at 3:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The majority of mass murderers have not been diagnosed with a mental illness prior to offending. Presuming that someone has a mental illness because they are a mass murderer is, frankly, not how the mental health system works right now and it may or may not be reasonable to alter that.

    i would say that if going off and shooting a bunch of people isn't something that fits our definition of mental illness, then our definition is lacking
    posted by pyramid termite at 3:50 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Longbaugh said: "If those 100 NRA members donated $50 apiece for someone to put their position across and the 1,000 gun control advocates simply write their representatives who do you think is going to be heard?"

    Why do you assume the gun control advocates couldn't be making donations too? After all, given the relative numbers, a very small per-head donation would be enough to match the NRA's contribution and more. And why wouldn't a big corporation want to get behind a burgeoning gun control movement with a hefty cash donation they could publicise as a sign of how much they cared about America's kids?

    My argument is that the gun control movement could - and should - be doing everything the NRA does, but doing even more of it. It would take organisation and sustained effort, yes, but that's precisely the point I made above.

    Knee-jerk cynicism is too easy. We assume nothing can be done, therefore we don't even try, therefore nothing does get done, therefore we decide our first assumption was correct and the cycle continues. It's the flip-side of that Onion headline: "Your dead kids are a price worth paying for me being able to stay sat on my ass."
    posted by Paul Slade at 3:51 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well, that's the thing, to sir with millipedes. The one issue I have with placing my life in the hands of total strangers is that I don't know how they think, and I don't know how they'll react on a split-second's judgement.

    But all a gun requires IS a split-second's judgement.
    posted by Conspire at 3:52 AM on December 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


    The average, everyday person seriously totes around a hidden gun for the means of self-defense?

    the vast majority of us never do

    i have only seen two gun incidents in my entire life - first, when i was working at a motel and got robbed at gunpoint

    second, when i was working at a convenience store and a couple of teenagers were shot across the street, not seriously

    that's what i've seen in 55 years and i probably would have seen neither if i hadn't been working night shift at public businesses

    for the record, i don't believe a gun would have helped me a bit in either situation - in fact, i'm sure in the robbery, having a gun and trying to use it would have just gotten me killed
    posted by pyramid termite at 3:57 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    [Comment deleted. Difficult thread, I understand, but do not make personal attacks against other members. Thanks.]
    posted by taz at 4:06 AM on December 15, 2012


    I am just absolutely terrified of America now having been given some glimpse into the way things work over there.[...]I don't understand how people in the states live with these possibilities. I would drive myself mad just by stepping on the street if I realized that I could die from the slightest misunderstanding and the slightest impulse.

    Your set of fantasies about America is so filled with mischaraterization as to be offensive. You are not at all likely to die here over "the slightest misunderstanding," or, indeed, over a large misunderstanding either. You, frankly, don't seem to be engaging in the reality of things in good faith. But I wouldn't want to get in the way of your chance to spout reflexive anti-American drivel. For which, thanks by the way, it was just the perfect kind of comment for the kind of tragedy we are confronting. I hope I can be of similar support to you at some point.
    posted by OmieWise at 4:14 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Is the NRA controlling this thread?
    posted by telstar at 4:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Nope.
    posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 AM on December 15, 2012


    Why do you assume the gun control advocates couldn't be making donations too? After all, given the relative numbers, a very small per-head donation would be enough to match the NRA's contribution and more.

    I assume that because as it stands at this time, that's how it is. I would love for it to change.

    My argument is that the gun control movement could - and should - be doing everything the NRA does, but doing even more of it. It would take organisation and sustained effort, yes, but that's precisely the point I made above.

    I couldn't agree more. I fully support this as simply enough money = access and right now the NRA has this in spades. When the gun-control supporters outspend the gun-rights supporters is when you may start to see some effort at law making.

    This will not, ultimately, change the point of views of individual guns owners who range from normal folks who enjoy target shooting to full on paranoid idiots with a military fetish and a lack of understanding of their own capabilities.

    Thousands of Americans spend tens of thousands of dollars attended special training classes with professional ex-military trainers and believe that by doing so they increase their chances of foiling a terrorist plot or taking down a crazed gunman but it's utterly delusional. Real life often has a way of showing people that 20 hours of training is insufficient for the prevention of accidents.

    As an example of this look to how much driver's ed most people receive and compare this to the number of accidents on the roads. Of course everyone always says "I am a good driver/shooter and I will never crash/negligently discharge a firearm". Well and good but not every accident is caused by the user. I would not be surprised to see civilians with concealed carry permits end up shooting one another in the confusion of a real live shooting event. The idea of arming teachers and expecting them to find the time to practice and develop skills is totally off the wall. What if that teacher is a 60 year old woman* and some kid in the class decides to overpower her and get the gun? Congrats - you have just made it easier for a gun to get in the wrong hands.

    I've punched paper with many different firearms in my time and I am, in my own opinion, a good shot and a very safe and sensible user. I can easily group 2" at 25yds with a handgun on a range. Could I draw a concealed firearm, make the weapon ready, identify and engage a target accurately and successfully amongst a group of civilians whilst panic and chaos ensues? I very much doubt it. I think I am in the minority with that realistic opinion of my skills and certainly amongst gun bunnies I have spoken to I find the confidence level most users exhibit to be well out of whack with how they would perform if shit got real.

    *Not meaning to be ageist or sexist here.
    posted by longbaugh at 4:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


    Personally, when I carried a gun every day I also carried pepper spray and two pocketknives. I also trained in unarmed self defense. So while I'm prepared to kill to defend myself, I'm also prepared to use non-lethal force when the latter would be sufficient to keep me safe.

    I can't speak on behalf of all defensive handgun classes out there, but the ones I took spent as much time on teaching us how to avoid violent crime and deescalate hostile situations as they spent on teaching us how to shoot. The company also taught a spectrum of self defense classes (including unarmed, pepper spray, and knives in addition to their gun classes) and emphasized responding to different types of attacks with an appropriate amount of force (with "run away" being the first choice response).

    It varies from state to state, but in general you have to have a reasonable fear of being killed or irreparably harmed to legally use lethal force in self defense. So a law-abiding citizen carrying a concealed gun is not going to shoot you over being offended, nervous, or suspecting you to be a thief. Even in situations in which one could legally shoot in self defense -- e.g., being mugged at knife- or gun-point -- every self-defense class I've taken has recommended just throwing your wallet/purse on the ground and running away as the preferred alternative to drawing your gun.

    If you are worried about people with hair-trigger fuses blowing you away for stupid reasons that would never hold up in court then you shouldn't be worried about those of us who have gotten trained and licensed to carry concealed, you should instead be worried about the people who don't give a damn about the law and thus will carry guns regardless of whether it's legal.
    posted by Jacqueline at 4:36 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    A deer is not free.

    As an anthropologist who studies (among other things) subsistence hunting, let me assure you I know families in both Alaska and Arkansas for whom not being able to hunt would be an economic disaster, not to mention a cultural tragedy. Yes, of course it costs money to hunt. A lot of money even if done on the cheap (and let me assure you only an idiot would do it on the cheap in Alaska, where one broken piece of equipment or moment of bad judgment can get you killed super fast).

    It costs money to buy food too. Not just your gas and the cost of the groceries, but the huge incidental costs to the environment. You think it's wasteful to drive an ATV across the tundra to kill caribou? Hoe do you think your steak got from farm to slaughterhouse to supermarket to your table?

    Do the math -- I have -- from a subsistence hunting point of view and if you live where it is feasible it is very economical if you are a good, efficient hunter. An adult caribou gives between 100 and 200 pounds of usable meat alone (not to mention other usable products like the pelt) depending on sex and season. Let's say 150. Let's also say that buying decent meat (and nothing is better than caribou, frankly -- great meat) costs you $10 a pound (this is Alaska, it's double that or more in the villages anyway for crap produce). That makes a single caribou worth $1500 to a family in food value. On a typical summer hunt we might take 12 over a 2 day period, and you do that many times in spring and summer (these are large, extended families that need feeding; hunters in Native Alaskan villages feed the entire community). That's $18,000 worth of meat, approximately. Yeah, that 2 day hunt used 3 or 4 ATVSs (how do you think you get 1500 pounds of meat plus another thousand or so pounds of everything else 40 miles out on the tundra?). They cost $7500 each, and use about $50-100 in gas for those 2 days (again, gas in a northern Alaskan village is about $6 a gallon). So let's call it $500 in gas, a few hundred in wear and tear on the vehicles and other equipment (you always break something), food for the hunt, very expensive hunting gear, and yes, very expensive guns and ammo (subsistence hunters do not scrimp on tools). Plus whatever the labor value of four guys for two days adds up to (not that this is an opportunity cost, a lot of Native Alaskans are full-time hunters). Let's generously say the hunting trip itself might set the family back $1200, give or take and factoring in some amortization of the gear. (Native hunters do not need permits for most kinds of game.) It's not really that much, but let's call it that.

    That's a $13,800 "profit" from a successful hunting trip in equivalent food value. And without it, people in the Alaskan bush *would* starve, and in fact DO starve. Did you not hear about the Yukon salmon fisheries disaster over the last few years?

    My Ozark friends, in fact, do shoot deer right off the back porch.

    And in both cases, the butchering is done by the hunting families, not some processor.

    You cannot take away subsistence hunting without seriously harming a small number of Americans economically and culturally. And there is no need for that. Hunters and hunting guns are not the problem in this country, except when they are blindly conjoined to the problem of 9mm semiauto pistols in the hands of mentally ill maniacs. Not one of these school shootings that I am aware of has happened in a subsistence hunting community, or involve mass carnage with a hunting rifle.

    St. Alia, you do not know subsistence hunters. You know right wing ideological gun nuts. Both kinds are NRA members. But many hunters do not support the radical policies of the far right militia types and racist paranoiacs who make the most noise about gun control. From my direct observation, subsistence hunters are far more respectful of and careful about the power of a gun than even non-subsistence hunters. They learn to handle guns as children and have safety always on their mind. Hunting is not sport, it's a job, a profession, and serious business. It's also, for Native people, a cultural tradition that ties them to their own land and creates the basic framework of social structure in their communities.

    Plenty of hunters I know are increasingly dubious about being lumped together in the NRA with people who own 25 handguns and hate Barack Obama because he's black (did I mention Barack Obama won Native Alaskan villages, full of Christian gunowners, by a landslide?).

    The whole trick, in my opinion, would be to win over the hunters to the side of legitimate gun control, and isolate the ideologues and the nuts who believe anyone should be able to own as many of whatever human-killing gun they want. Don't lump all hunters into that crowd.
    posted by spitbull at 4:37 AM on December 15, 2012 [87 favorites]


    Personally, when I carried a gun every day I also carried pepper spray and two pocketknives. I also trained in unarmed self defense.

    Holy crap. Was this in a first world country?
    posted by UbuRoivas at 4:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [34 favorites]


    In fact, as I think about it, the only mass gun killings I can think of that involved standard hunting rifles were the DC snipers and Charles Whitman back in the 60s (the UT Tower shooter, who arguably got the ball rolling on this whole approach to being batshit insane). Can anyone fill in any other recent mass shootings that involved the use (only) of a single shot or semi-auto rifle? Among other things, you just can't hide a .223 rifle in your coat and walk into a mall or a school without being seen. Seems like a big advantage for the good side to focus on handguns, not rifles.

    The Newtown shooter, after all, left his .223 in the car.
    posted by spitbull at 4:52 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Just to clarify one thing: the term IDIOT addressed towards those who are ready to prefer the illusory individual safety provided by gun ownership to the proven collective safety provided by sane (and by "sane" I mean extremely strict) gun control measures, and this despite comprehensive statistical evidence that owning a gun is actually far more dangerous that not owning one, is not a "personal attack", only a statement of fact.
    As for the epithet BLOODY, it seems more than appropriate on the day after an elementary school teacher and scores of her pupils were killed by the very same guns that she probably kept for her "safety".
    posted by Skeptic at 4:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    (Oh and the other thing about a hunting rifle: you have to be able to shoot, which takes time and practice. An impulsive purchase of a hunting rifle in a rage isn't nearly as deadly a prospect as an impulsive purchase of a handgun that can shoot 100 rounds in 2 minutes, where you don't have to aim, just point, pull, and spray, to create mass carnage.)
    posted by spitbull at 4:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Jacqueline, it's anecdotal so you're welcome to disregard it but I know of at least two instances amongst my immediate friends where a bit of verbal has escalated to legal firearms being pulled (a handgun in one incident and a lever action from a gun rack in truck in another. That necessitated someone walking out of a bar, unlocking their truck door and their rifle rack, loading and returning to the scene of the dispute).

    Guns make killing without thinking easier and that is the problem. All it takes is letting down one's guard be it through alchohol, depression, anger or any other emotion that clouds judgement and you have increased the chance of one person's actions immediately and definitively ending someone's life. Knife wounds are statistically less likely to kill you. How many knife victims survive a couple of dozen stab wounds? How many people survive a similar number of bullets?

    Everyone always thinks they are a special case and won't screw up. You may have seen the video of the DEA agent in the school demonstrating safe weapon handling. Can you imagine he thought he would ND himself in front of a class of kids whilst being recorded? Can you say without hesitation that you could end a human life if you needed to without making a mistake because one of the first things my self defence teacher said to me is "If you can say 'Yes' to that question and not 'I don't know' I don't want you in my class".
    posted by longbaugh at 4:57 AM on December 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


    you shouldn't be worried about those of us who have gotten trained and licensed to carry concealed, you should instead be worried about the people who don't give a damn about the law and thus will carry guns regardless of whether it's legal.

    I can worry about both at the same time!
    posted by Miko at 4:59 AM on December 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


    you shouldn't be worried about those of us who have gotten trained and licensed to carry concealed

    Thanks and all, but your assurances do not entirely assuage my concerns. Not to mention that the guns belonging to you "trained and licensed" folks will always have the potential to fall into the hands of say, people who want to go shoot up a kindergarten. That's what happened in Connecticut.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 AM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    Miko: jinx!
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If you are worried about people with hair-trigger fuses blowing you away for stupid reasons that would never hold up in court then you shouldn't be worried about those of us who have gotten trained and licensed to carry concealed, you should instead be worried about the people who don't give a damn about the law and thus will carry guns regardless of whether it's legal.

    I'll worry about both, thank you.

    A few years ago I was standing in line at the grocery store behind some idiot practicing open carry. While waiting in line, he grew more and more impatient about how slow things were moving, and even when it was his turn, he continued to berate the poor cashier and dispute every single charge with his handgun purposefully holstered in full view. The situation was so intense, I almost ran away, and the kid at the register was visibly shaking, even after the guy had collected his things and departed for the store exit.

    As long as gun culture empowers jerks like this and easily arms them, I'll be for absolute gun control.
    posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [24 favorites]


    I keep thinking about this. And part of the problem is that we are such an urban society that very few people have actually hunted, handled a gun at all even. Everyone reasons from fantasy, television and movie portrayals, and projection in this debate. Even most gun owners who have handgun permits and concealed carry permits *have never actually shot a living being* in their lives. The all-volunteer military and no large conscription for major wars has also limited Americans' general experience with guns and with killing.

    Longbaugh is right. No matter what permit you have, no matter what training you have, no matter how much of a badass you might thing you are, if you have never pointed a gun at a living being and pulled the trigger, as hunters must do regularly, you have no idea how you will act in the first moment you are confronted with a life or death decision to shoot. How much will your aim or judgment suffer under the stress? How much hesitation will enter your trigger finger at the precise moment you need to pull? Will you be able to keep your focus on the target or instinctively look away right at the moment you shoot? Shooting target practice will never tell you how you will act when you are about to take an actual life. Never having seen an animal die from a gunshot wound (let alone a person) means you don't understand what a gun can do. Now add someone pointing a gun back at you, and he's crazy, aggressive, and just killed 10 people so he has nothing to lose, plus he's planning on offing himself when it's over anyway.

    I bet 9 out of 10 legitimate permitted concealed carry licensed gun owners would end up dead in that situation, perhaps with their own gun ending up used against them or other defenders. Ask any cop or soldier who's been in an actual gun violence situation and they will tell you the adrenaline and stress hormones and shaking hands and revulsion will overpower all but the most rigorous training and you'll miss.
    posted by spitbull at 5:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    Spitbull - relatively good points although I would point out that most people would find it significantly more difficult to shoot a human than an animal, regardless of whether they were a hunter or not.
    posted by fearnothing at 5:16 AM on December 15, 2012


    I live in a rural hunting community. My husband and all his friends own guns to take to the range and hunt. I don't mind the rifle as much, but I don't like the fact that he conceal carries a pistol. For him, a big part of it is *feeling* like they'll be able to protect someone in some kind of emergency. A probably bigger reason he feels so strongly about it is that it's something that he and his friends do together - go to the range on their day off. It's something that they can connect over, the same way that my friends and I all get together and talk about our babies and nursing and diapers. I maybe/kind of understand this. I think he handles them safely. I would be much happier if all the guns just lived at the range, a la what slap*happy suggested. Honestly, I'm not sure what to do about it, because this is pretty much the one thing he's interested in after his 80 hr work weeks. He also cried after he heard about the shooting, but he thinks that gun ownership is the answer. His heart is in the right place, but I think it's misguided. I agree with spitbull - I don't think he would actually be able to shoot someone effectively if it came to that. So, I honestly don't know what to do about this. I might be able to convince him to sell his gun, maybe just use his friends' when they go to the range...

    but I guess the reason I'm (very soberly) posting this is to make the point that in some communities there's a lot of social pressure for gun ownership/carry that's really hard to buck (no pun intended).
    posted by marylucycraft at 5:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    The second amendment is always going to trump gun bans in this country. We have to repeal or refine it. In doing so, it might be helpful to think of ways to open an actual dialogue with right wingers. Use a question like How would you strengthen or change the second amendment if you could rewrite it today? This would give us the opportunity to get people to rethink thinks without polarizing the issue from the get go.

    Remember always that when you are talking about this issue half the people you are talking to are going to think you are taking away their rights. Either the collectivists are going to think you are talking about taking away their right to be safe from guns, or the individualists are going to think you are talking about taking away their right to protect themselves. Can't we just re-frame the issue as one where we talk about how to define both of those rights in a positive way?

    This was a sickening tragedy, the worst I can think of in this country since the Bath School disaster. My heart breaks for the grieving families. I admire the passion of those who are fighting to try and find a solution that makes sense of this. I don't think there are any easy answers, but my thanks to those who care enough to try.
    posted by BrotherCaine at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    ...you shouldn't be worried about those of us who have gotten trained and licensed...

    I mentioned this before but I want to emphasize it again. Your training is absolutely, no matter how much you value it, insufficient for reality. I drive a pretty decent mileage annually, have driven for 19 years and have weathered several frightening incidents on the road and survived. Despite this, every time I get in my car and go on the roads I assume by default that everyone is shit at driving and is not paying attention to what is going on around them.

    I do not assume that my training will be sufficient to avoid an accident. I have in the past avoided hitting the car in front of me during a multi-vehicle motorway pileup only for some dipstick to plough into the back of my car still doing >40mph. Were they not paying proper attention? Was their "tool" not well maintained? Were conditions bad? Doesn't really matter. It still happened.

    In other words, the statement that you have sufficient training to be safe is meaningless. An individual may have several hundred hours behind the wheel and when they hit snow, rain, a sharp turn or some other out of the ordinary situation that training goes right out the window. The same holds true of firearm training.

    Nobody can promise that they won't fuck up at some point and to pretend you are a special case is delusional. This fetishisation of the warrior/warfighter/cowboy mythos is one of the most painfully stupid things I see amongst fellow firearm enthusiasts and will be amongst the hardest things to change should both parties agree to come to the table.
    posted by longbaugh at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2012 [78 favorites]


    if you have never pointed a gun at a living being and pulled the trigger, as hunters must do regularly, you have no idea how you will act in the first moment you are confronted with a life or death decision to shoot.

    Quite true. In addition, adding more guns to the situation may increase the likelihood of more casualties. I don't feel safer with the idea that some vigilante in a convenience store with me when it gets robbed will try to take out the robber. More bullets will fly than otherwise would, putting more bystanders at risk, and the escalation factor is intense.

    As veterans know, even soldiers in wartime situations - doing the type of killing they have been highly trained for and that society generally considers the most supportable - often cheat their fire in an attempt to avoid killing anyone. Over the course of the century's conflicts, military has actually had to redevelop training to try to reduce this human tendency.

    a big part of it is *feeling* like they'll be able to protect someone in some kind of emergency

    Yeah, but this is an emotionally driven fantasy and not a rationally derived position. There's no data showing this has results, which is my biggest issue with the daily heat-packers.
    posted by Miko at 5:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    No doubt at all, fearnothing. And of course I have never pointed a gun in anger at a human (but have twice had guns pointed in anger at me, for what it's worth, and let me just say I have never forgotten either incident and both can still make me sweat even though one was 28 years ago and one was nearly 20).

    But as hunters here probably remember, the first time or two you have to actually shoot a large animal that is close enough for you to hear its breathing or see its eyes, you will struggle to pull the trigger if you weren't raised hunting. I started hunting as an adult, having never handled a gun in my childhood. The people who are teaching me to hunt (I have a long way to go) have hunted since childhood, but they warned me ahead of time on my first hunt where I was allowed to actually shoot (I had to go on plenty as a helper first) that I would hesitate the first time. I thought I would be fine, I'd seen it over and over again. And then that cariibou buck turned and looked right at me in my scope and I froze and my first shot missed and I lost that buck. My Native teachers laughed -- they knew it would happen. Got my second, though. And then you come up to the animal and it's usually not quite dead even if you cleanly severed its spinal column at the neck (the preferred shot, as the head contains many delicacies you don't want to ruin with a headshot, and a gutshot ruins a lot of valuable meat, plus it is considered cruel and amateur).

    I have no doubt it would be ten times harder to pull the trigger on a human being, no matter what sort of threat they posed to you. You are not thinking with your frontal cortex when you kill. In that moment, it's all limbic brain and reflex.

    Earlier in my career I did a project interviewing Vietnam vets about their memories of the war. Over and over I heard stories about the trauma of the first kill of a human, and how hard it was, and how much it haunts those vets to this day.

    So I'm not saying hunting makes you able to shoot in self-defense, but it gets you a lot closer to mastering the reflexive blocks you may not even know you have to inflicting violent death on a living being.

    If shooting at a living thing is purely a cinematic hypothetical for you, your concealed carry permit might as well be a license to bake cakes.
    posted by spitbull at 5:27 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Miko, I know. But that's the problem - that it is emotional. That means that I can't argue him out of it. :(
    posted by marylucycraft at 5:29 AM on December 15, 2012


    We have to repeal or refine it.

    I don't think there's really anything wrong with it. We just need to pay more attention to the "well regulated" part.

    It's frustrating that it was designed to set up a system of national defense that is ridiculously outdated. But the right to "keep and bear arms" can be regulated, as it is in Australia, and still result in a dramatic drop in gun deaths. WE also don't have to indulge in this goofy and childis gun culture of gun shows, hero and self-defense fantasies, and the idea that guns represent only a solution to problems without bringing with them a serious risk of creating and exacerbating problems. Those things don't flow from the 2nd amendment; they're cultural.
    posted by Miko at 5:29 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    That means that I can't argue him out of it.

    I get it. But the data isn't there, so at the least, people like him shouldn't expect to hold forth and not be challenged on their fallacies.
    posted by Miko at 5:33 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    This link by Steve Weldon, a good photographer but apparently lacking as a human, might have easily already been added. Arm the teachers. Yeah, right. It's all about having enough guns in the right hands all the time. Idiotic.

    I can't say how much I disagree with his assumptions. And this sort of attitude is very much why I've given up on Luminous Landscape as a reasonable place to discuss photography. It's mostly full of old, privileged white men.

    Here's an idea. Have every young adult reaching majority shoot another person, fatally injuring them. Then require them to comfort the victim until they die. Only then can they qualify to carry a gun. The absurdity of what's happening in the US is sickening.
    posted by michswiss at 5:33 AM on December 15, 2012


    When I worked at Tandy Corp many years ago, we worked with a children's advocacy group to put free gun safety brochures in all Radio Shack stores. Not gun control brochures, but common sense safety guidelines like keeping guns locked up at home, etc... We got a letter from Wayne LaPierre, then head of the NRA threatening a national boycott of Radio Shack. And that my friends is why you've never seen a gun safety brochure in a Radio Shack.
    posted by punkfloyd at 5:43 AM on December 15, 2012 [32 favorites]


    I was puttering around in the kitchen this morning and I had Colbert on in the background, and I hear him introduce Sean Lennon, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, and the Harlem Gospel Choir who begin to sing Happy Xmas (War is Over). And when Sean starts to sing, I think for a minute it's his Dad, and it snaps me out of my puttering, and I watch Sean, and I start to weep.

    I don't want to take anyone's gun away, but I still fucking hate them, and I grieve for what we have lost. He should have had more time with his dad, and all those CT families should have had more time with their children.
    And so happy Christmas we hope you have fun
    The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.
    A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
    Let's hope it's a good one without any fear.
    War is over if you want it, war is over now.
    posted by Toekneesan at 5:46 AM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


    Here's an idea. Have every young adult reaching majority shoot another person, fatally injuring them

    I know this is hyperbole, but honestly, the case for national service/military draft involving mandatory (for all but conscientious objectors) gun training and under-fire exercises strikes me as a good idea for all kinds of reasons. I hate war, but I favor the draft because I hate war and believe that if making discretionary war came at a cost to a broader segment of society there'd be less of that. If rich guys' sons were serving in Afghanistan, we'd be done there now.
    posted by spitbull at 5:48 AM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    I don't think there's really anything wrong with it. We just need to pay more attention to the "well regulated" part.

    That's exactly what's wrong with it. It's open to being interpreted as either an individual right the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed(affirmed in the Heller decision) or a collective right (Silveira v. Lockyer) by those who think the prefactory clause modifies the operating clause (which is not a useful position in light of the SCOTUS decision).

    Basically, the well regulated is pretty much thrown out at this point.
    posted by BrotherCaine at 5:51 AM on December 15, 2012


    Everyone who shoots it at anything other than paper hates it.

    Tell that to every single professional big game hunter I know in Alaska dude.
    posted by spitbull at 5:52 AM on December 15, 2012


    (Of course you also carry a .357 handgun for the bear attacks.)
    posted by spitbull at 5:52 AM on December 15, 2012


    ...honestly, the case for national service/military draft involving mandatory (for all but conscientious objectors) gun training and under-fire exercises strikes me as a good idea for all kinds of reasons. I hate war, but I favor the draft because I hate war and believe that if making discretionary war came at a cost to a broader segment of society there'd be less of that...

    I think this also plays into the extreme pro-military fetishisation thing in the USA (nowhere near as pronounced anywhere else in the world I might add) where civilians purchase several thousand dollars worth of milspec kit so they can go play pretend that they are CPO Badass McGinty of DEVGRU, chasing down tangos in the desert.

    It's a stupid, unhealthy fantasy that many people inhabit and this explains why every gun magazine nowadays features an AR with several hundred dollars worth of optics, lights, suppressors etc. I keep thinking of the documentary "Restrepo" where the happy-go-lucky youths slowly become psychologically damaged by the deaths of their friends around them. I sincerely doubt their experiences lend them much sympathy to the tactical tourist running around in $10,000 of self-bought kit on the weekend.

    My idea of being pro-military is to support a well funded VA with psychiatric services and job training opportunities to allow those who have bravely served the chance to rejoin civilian life successfully.
    posted by longbaugh at 6:07 AM on December 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


    Sorry should have quoted from the wikipedia article section on the decision [I made what I thought was most relevant bold]:

    (1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
    (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.


    So the fat lady has sung at least until the balance of the court shifts. Personally I would way rather see a rewriting of the second amendment than a continual battle over this, especially since I think the collective right position on the second amendment has pretty much always been wrong (from a legal rather than moral perspective). In any case I think it's poor tactics to fight for gun control from the position that the second amendment can be ignored, and the best way to repeal or redefine it is to get a conservative to spearhead the effort and engage in compromise to get it through.

    It also makes me uneasy to see people stomping all over the constitution. If we ignore the bits we find unpalatable without some kind of formal process do we make it easier to expand on that precedent in the future? Are the erosions of non-enumerated rights, free speech rights, and gun rights in part responsible for further erosions like the patriot act? I'm guessing not given the history of Japanese internment, etc... but I'm still sort of squeamish about it.
    posted by BrotherCaine at 6:12 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, BrotherCaine, that bothered me back when "Free Speech Zones" started appearing on campuses and at political conventions and demonstrations. And when the "free press" is kept in the dark about military operations. And when "freedom of religion" means you are free to be any kind of Christian you like or a second class citizen, take your pick.

    People seem perfectly willing to "stomp" on parts of the constitution without due deliberative process in other areas, is my point, in the name of security especially.
    posted by spitbull at 6:15 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Bill Maher: "Sorry but prayers and giving your kids hugs fix nothing; only having the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will."
    posted by porn in the woods at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    snickerdoodle: ""Don't own guns because your son might kill you and steal them and use them to kill children" is not really the foundation of any kind of rational public policy.

    Why not? If I give my car keys to a drunk driver, that's negligent. Why the hell can't people who leave guns where mentally unstable people can get them be charged with negligent homicide?
    "
    Data point: after a ruthless jerk killed 16 people and wounded 11 in the German town of Winnenden with guns taken from his father's collection, the father was convicted on 15 counts of negligent homicide and 13 counts of negligent battery.
    posted by brokkr at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    Also, I bet you can't bring a concealed gun into the Supreme Court chambers, right?
    posted by spitbull at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I know this is hyperbole, but honestly, the case for national service/military draft involving mandatory (for all but conscientious objectors) gun training and under-fire exercises strikes me as a good idea for all kinds of reasons.

    Ah, someone else who thinks he knows what's best for everyone. In this regard, I think we are amazingly, incredibly opposed. Really, the thought infuriates me.
    posted by JHarris at 6:21 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    A few things I'm wondering about that may or may not be helpful:

    1. I'm dumbfounded by these pictures of like 25 paramilitary police officers standing around in full body armor with assault rifles. How long did it take to get those guys together, get them suited up, and shipped out in their tank or whatever? It seems like many of these situations are ended the minute that a single cop can make contact with the shooter and put some pressure on him (that was true at Columbine and I think in a few others, maybe Va Tech?). I will be very interested to see how much time passed before any LEO went into the building.

    2. High-capacity clips and magazines seem like the low-hanging fruit that Congress could (and should) make illegal with fast action. There is literally no purpose to these things other than to kill many many people quickly. Nobody legitimately hunts with them (I believe they are against hunting rules in most places) and there is no realistic self-defense scenario where you need to fire 100 bullets (or even 20 or 30 bullets) without changing a clip. The guy in the Colorado shooting had one of these things. I think we need to get away from looking for laws that will fix every aspect of the gun problem and just start hitting things like high-capacity magazines with very targeted action. Laws against specific products or product features do not need to solve every aspect of a given problem -- i.e., specific fire code rules do not solve all fires. Getting some very targeted laws passed I think would make a big difference in showing that guns can and should be subject to new federal legislation, which seems currently to be some kind of impossible dream.
    posted by Mid at 6:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Start here.

    Let's make the next 100 comments here a show of hands.
    posted by Ardiril


    (remember I'm talking to a pretty right-wing Republican here)

    Dear Senator Cornin,
    As a voting citizen I would like to have my voice heard on the issue of firearm regulation. I believe it is long since past the time when America needs to find common-sense ways to lessen firearm deaths. The number of Americans who die as a result of gun violence is absolutely unacceptable. It is a national health crisis and I urge you to review the Center for Desease Control's exhaustive statistics regarding gun deaths and injuries. They are both sobering and damning of our inaction. I support the right of responsible citizens to own firearms, but strongly belevie that common-sense regulations that could demonstrably lessen firearm deaths must be implemented as rapidly as possible. Lives are at stake.

    Thank you for your time,
    Chris Vreeland.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    All that for what?

    .
    posted by stormpooper at 6:25 AM on December 15, 2012


    only having the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will.

    But what does that mean? I'm not being rhetorical, I want to be specific. Does "our insane selfish gun culture" include first-person shooter games? If so, then I will stand up to that. I don't understand the fun in spending an afternoon shooting fake people in the face; I think it's poisoning. Guns are purposeful and I don't want to restrict people's access to them; I just want people to know what guns are for - to kill things, including people. And I don't find that "fun". And like with guns, I don't want first-person shooter games outlawed or restricted. I want them to be entirely unpopular and uncool and nobody with any decency or self-respect would buy them.
    posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:27 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]



    Ah, someone else who thinks he knows what's best for everyone. In this regard, I think we are amazingly, incredibly opposed. Really, the thought infuriates me.
    posted by JHarris


    Isn't this entire debate about what's "best for everyone?" Whether you support restricting or expanding gun rights, presumably your argument is that it's "best for everyone."

    Making only poor people pay the cost in blood for wars of choice is fine for everyone I guess, sorry to infuriate you with a proposal that many on the right support more than many on the left. I did allow for conscientious objection, but I see compulsory national service of some sort as an unmitigated good.
    posted by spitbull at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    America, we can do better.
    posted by tommasz at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2012


    For those of you in Michigan, where Snyder is about to sign a law that relaxes the concealed carry law, here is the contact page to encourage him, in light of this event, to reconsider signing the legislation. I suspect he might also appreciate the opinions of those that travel to Michigan, attend football games here, come over from Windsor to see a baseball game, or those that have family here... He would really like to know how you feel about guns in day care centers.
    posted by HuronBob at 6:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    roboton666: The only way I can feel this is by watching Obama's press conference this afternoon.

    This.

    I have an 8 year old. I have a niece (two of them actually, both that I see every day and that might as well be my own daughters) that is a kindergartener. Every day I'm lucky enough to drive just a couple minutes from home and drop my boy off from school. And every day, because I'm an overly sentimental sap when it comes to my son, to whom I'm grateful nearly every single second of every day for literally saving my life with his birth, I stare at him as he enters the school. He walks up the sidewalk into the grade school I too attended, housing about 300 pre-k through 6th graders, and I memorize that boy's walk. I note his little coat and his StL Cardinals backpack. I note the way he saunters with his little boy walk and I try to commit his messy coif and whatever toy he decided to drag to school that day in his hands to my memory. Nearly every day after he's departed our car, I nearly cry. I don't know why I do any of this other than I love him so damn much...

    I sat all day at work yesterday with the newscast in real time playing in the background and fought tears because my god, America. Because my god, it was just a tiny school full of tiny humans and even though I fought the urge to make it about me, my god, that could have been my son's school. That could have been my niece's classroom. I can't even...

    And then I watched the President and I felt okay about crying right there at my desk. He too was thinking my god, those children and those teachers. Just a tiny school. He seemed to be right where I was in terms of realizing that it was impossible to even comprehend this. I imagine that at some point he too thought about his own little girls walking into school and maybe at some point, like most parents I'm sure, he too committed that little seemingly meaningless scene down in his memory.

    Even the President, who I find to be a very nuanced, intelligent, rational person, couldn't comprehend this just as I couldn't.

    .

    **

    I watched the news at home all night with my son around and I probably shouldn't have but even 8 year olds should know that this is America now, I think. This wasn't a one off incident, this is now our reality, until (if ever) we decide to stand up and stop this madness. I took the advice of Mr. Rogers mother and told my son to "always look for the helpers". He watched hours of television with me yesterday, broadcasts filled with horror and unspeakable tragedy and commented that he knew kids that age. In the end, as I put him to bed last night, I asked him if he felt okay and that if maybe seeing all that had upset him, as I started to doubt my decision to expose him to that. His takeaway? He was proud of the 6 year old that burst out a classroom side door and helped some of his friends to safety, standing there waiting for all of them to exit before running himself. Bravery, my son said. And he was glad to know that somewhere, in a locked bathroom full of small students and a scared to death teacher, there was a little boy who thought (just as my son sometimes does, without any doubt) that he was a ninja and could take out the bad guys with his ninja skills.

    My takeaway? Sometimes America is a mess. As a grown up, when these things happen, my brain goes to a place that tells me this country might just be a rotting cesspool and that if we don't value human life more than we do a fucking piece of metal, I should just up and move to an uninhabited island to save the little boy I'm charged with caring for from this bullshit and tragedy. And then I listen to that little boy and he reminds me, just as Fred's mother did for him, that in this country there are helpers, too. This is awful, so awful that nearly no one has the proper words because really, how can one have the words, but here there are helpers, too. If there is a God, may he bless them with serenity.
    posted by youandiandaflame at 6:41 AM on December 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


    It's amazing to me on several levels that this well-moderated board in so many respects has a giant blind spot to the egregious, ludicrous strawmen of subsistence hunting in a thread on gun control.

    Or that a personal firearm may have prevented a rape.

    Guns in America are a problem in search of a solution. If America wants to talk about crippling mental illness, here's one to chew on: Your personal mythology is not a reality.
    posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


    If my little town ever has an event like this, I hope, for everyone's sake, the second thing they do in response is put up a blockade that keeps the damn media out...
    posted by HuronBob at 6:48 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    With any gun-control legislation it is worth keeping in mind that there will be abuses of whatever wording is chosen. In California for example it is not legal to have an AR-15 style rifle.

    The law specifically states that a weapon cannot have a pistol grip and adjustable stock with a >10 round magazine and a quick and easy to use magazine release. This law was specifically designed to prevent people using AR style rifles for spree killing. Along comes some "clever" soul with this, essentially designed to completely bypass the law.

    Because it has no AR-style pistol grip and adjustable stock you can have a quick magazine release and by purchasing pre-ban 30 round magazines you have totally skirted the law. This flagrant abuse of the spirit of the law is frankly exactly what I expect from the firearms market. "Hellfire" trigger sets and "bump-fire" stocks bypass the whole semi/fully automatic weapons issue and every word of every law is scrutinised to allow manufacturers to keep on selling weapons that allow killers to claim multiple victims.

    I have no problem whatsoever with anyone owning or using any hand-held firearm if the circumstances are right. If you want a WWI water-cooled Maxim machinegun then bully for you. You can buy it and own it and you can even shoot it at a controlled location. If you want to fire a submachinegun legally then cool. It's an awesome experience and genuinely great fun to do. So long as it is at a range. If, on the other hand, you think concealed carry in public is anything other than dangerous to yourself and bystanders, think again. You're not Larry Vickers and for every bullet that misses you risk killing or injuring another person. You don't want the emotional and financial trouble that will cause.
    posted by longbaugh at 6:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I wonder how many of those who argue they need guns for "self-defence", consider themselves as Christians, and what they would think of somebody who, in a far more legitimate situation of self-defence than they are likely to ever find themselves, said:
    "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."
    posted by Skeptic at 6:50 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    "Sorry but prayers and giving your kids hugs fix nothing; only having the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will."

    I love Bill Maher, but prayers and hugs do fix something -- they help to soothe the pain. I don't know, I'm very anti-gun, but I spent much of yesterday just crying over this tragedy and not really ready to talk about policy implications yet. (And I barely know anyone remotely connected with Newtown. What the actual residents feel, what the parents of these children feel, is too horrible for me to comprehend.)

    I saw a lot of comments yesterday (mostly on my FB, not here on MetaFilter thankfully) that were extraordinarily insensitive to the fact that many people are experiencing grief over this. I think this is a mistake for those of us who want change to happen. We need to advocate for that change in a compassionate way. I know we think we're advocating for compassion itself by arguing for less gun violence, and hell, I think we're right about that. But in the immediate wake of a tragedy, we need to think twice about HOW we're saying what we're saying.

    Give people room to pray and hug for a little while, at least.

    (I know, I know, our national attention span is so short that we have to speak up before people forget about this, and that pretty much destroys my entire argument. Oh well.)
    posted by Carmelita Spats at 6:57 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    .
    posted by Neneh at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2012


    It's amazing to me on several levels that this well-moderated board in so many respects has a giant blind spot to the egregious, ludicrous strawmen of subsistence hunting in a thread on gun control.

    I just went back and checked the mentions of subsistence hunting. There's a point to be made that a tiny subset of the US population, seemingly all of whom live in Alaska, rely on subsistence hunting, so if we try to reduce personal gun ownership drastically, we have to take these people into account. (Screw sport hunters though, even if they moan about how they eat what they kill.) But, as was pointed out way earlier, this is a solved problem from the perspective of gun control laws, in that other countries with people subsistence hunting in the Arctic have much more robust firearms legislation. (Stereotyping would suggest Russia has lax gun control laws (or poor enforcement), but no matter what they have drastically fewer guns per capita than anyone else bordering the Arctic. The US has drastically more. Norway, Sweden, Finland and Canada are all about the same.)
    posted by hoyland at 7:00 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    it just speaks to incredible illness.

    So does this illness come from the top and go back to the takeover of the land from who was 'common law owner by possession' via guns and germs.

    The nation was founded upon violence from guns.

    When the leader went to go and pick up a peace prize - what was the topic of the acceptance speech?

    No one, let alone an 8-year-old, should have to go through that.

    Seeing those around you shot and in that din - your own life threatened? Is that the that you are speaking of?

    Is leadership leading by example and not going around doing the same to other human beings on the planet?

    How about this framing:
    Seeing those around you shot and in that din - your own life threatened by a fellow human being?

    Now HERE is where there is leadership in America - the plan seems to be to use robots with guns to do the threatening and killing.

    Here is something else for ya'll to think about in the "leading by example" framing.

    How many of you remember how TASERS were to be used as the alternative to deadly force in policing?
    Yet the videos of handcuffed people getting TASERed show the mindset of some of those who are 'leaders' or are there to 'protect and serve' is to think "Oh hey - I could user my gun and its deadly force but instead I'll use the taser because that is the authorised alternative".

    So I'm here to call for leadership from the top not by proclamation but by action.

    Leadership lead by example. Show you can solve problems and address issues without violence.

    (and those of you concerned about this issue, have you considered visiting your local Friends meeting house?)
    posted by rough ashlar at 7:01 AM on December 15, 2012


    It's amazing to me on several levels that this well-moderated board in so many respects has a giant blind spot to the egregious, ludicrous strawmen of subsistence hunting in a thread on gun control.

    so that's why all those people i work with take vacations in the fall for - to hunt strawmen

    and to think i believed they were hunting deer - why some of them have shown me obviously fake photographs - hell, one of them even put a dead deer in the back of his pickup to fool me

    i'm so gullable

    well, perhaps you'd say that they don't really NEED to do that - but then, i don't know who made you the judge of what people need to do

    hunting with guns is part of our culture and it's not going away
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I wonder how many of those who argue they need guns for "self-defence", consider themselves as.........

    I wonder whether those who argue they need guns as "self-defence" are displaying just plain selfishness laced with arrogance and a large measure of fallacious logic.

    I would like to see the percentages of those people who truly have been in situations where a gun was necessary to ensure their safety as opposed to an argument of what might happen if they did not have a gun.

    I would say more, but that pie I have baking in the sky is just about done.
    posted by lampshade at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    NBC is reporting this morning that the mother was not a staff member of the school, and that the school did have a security system, but that Adam Lanza shot his way in.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:07 AM on December 15, 2012


    ............................
    posted by FrauMaschine at 7:10 AM on December 15, 2012


    This is by no means universal. I'm in the U.S., and I don't know anyone who carries a concealed handgun (and yes, I too find it terrifying that "ordinary" people think it's ordinary).

    Seconding this. I don't know anyone who carries a gun. I have a few relatives who have guns for hunting. Beyond that, I only know of one friend who keeps a gun at home for self defense. Now maybe others do and I just don't know it.

    I find the idea of people walking around with guns in malls and restaurants and workplaces pretty terrifying too.
    posted by madamjujujive at 7:18 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Show me a country that hasn't made concessions to rightfully subsistence, or sport hunters. One country. Tell me about how you hunt deer with your glock, since that was the best and most economical way to do it, since you're so dang down on your luck.

    I know tons of "hunters." They own dozens of guns, rifles, shotguns, AR-15 kits. Thousands of dollars of ammo. Concealed carry permits, classes, NRA bumper stickers.

    It's a hobby. It's a persona. It's a personal mythology. It's bullshit. They haven't killed to eat for decades. That's the average NRA life member.

    It has nothing to do with putting food on the table.

    But this argument that there are poor people in this country who need to literally break the law by shooting deer in their own yard (discharge in an inhabited area), out of season (self explanatory), without a permit (third charge), butcher it themselves (granted, this is sometimes exempted), and store it.

    And somehow all of this is magically ok and never prosecuted because the local sherriff loves poor people. This is your ideal scenario and that's why we can't ever have any gun control legislation.

    That's ludicrous; and more to the point anybody offering that argument up seriously should be ashamed of their mental faculties, because that kind of propaganda is offensive and I hope you got something nice with that lobbying check.
    posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:19 AM on December 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


    The police chief in Newtown just said there is evidence in the home that provides motive, but he isn't obviously at liberty to talk about it now.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:21 AM on December 15, 2012


    Anyone think an age of majority for handgun ownership would be worth exploring?

    Say, 25 years old to apply? At that point they can be required to take classes and be thoroughly vetted in a background check.


    In Connecticut, the law prohibits transfer handguns to minors under age 21, except as authorized at firing or shooting ranges. Reportedly, the shooter was 20.

    While a minimum age didn't prevent this tragedy, it doesn't mean it's not a good idea to have one.
    posted by radwolf76 at 7:21 AM on December 15, 2012


    I know tons of "hunters."

    so do i - and none of them fit the "ludicrous" description you've given them

    they go out, with ordinary hunting rifles, get a deer or two, and yes, they eat the meat

    i see nothing wrong with it

    my mental facilities are good enough to distinguish what i see in the town around me and what i hear from ill-informed, prejudiced people with an axe to grind
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:34 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Just found out a college friend lost her little cousin yesterday in Newtown.

    My opinions are:

    1) If you are going to try to tell me a concealed carry would have saved their life, fuck you. More guns in a chaotic situation are not something I think will save lives. For every mass shooting they have prevented (have they?) there would be more they have not. Stop projecting how you could become a hero, finally getting the love and attention you are denied through your everyday life.

    2) If this guy didn't have a gun, he might have done something as horrible with other means (see Bath School Disaster) but that would have taken more time, planning, and left more possibilities for discovery.

    3) The more difficult it is to have a gun, the better. It is a privilege, and yes you are kicking and screaming because someone is taking something away you feel entitled to, but the writers of the constitution weren't right on everything. See 14th amendment, women's suffrage, and so on.

    4) The media circus around this is going to probably cause a copy cat, or push someone contemplating this to go "I could do better, and then they would finally listen to me." Giving attention to the shooter and making this the headline of the week for the next month wont help anyone. It will re-enforce the idea that you get a lot of attention for killing people though.
    posted by mrzarquon at 7:38 AM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    The whole hunting thing is a strawman because there are plenty of other developed nations where hunting is highly popular, and yet manage to have both much stricter gun control laws and much lower gun crime.
    posted by Skeptic at 7:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    Behind the discussions about subsistence hunters, and people who feel that carrying a gun is necessary for their safety, or may have saved them in the past, there's a deeper point, I think: the gun control that America so desperately needs might indeed make life significantly worse for a significant number of blameless people -- and that doesn't make it wrong.

    There are, of course, both moral and strategic reasons for alienating as few of those blameless people as possible (and I'm pretty sure the subsistence-hunting argument, in particular, is a strawman, easily addressed by following examples from around the world). But it isn't, in principle, a decisive argument against a policy to show that it will cause some people to suffer, whether economically, emotionally, or even in terms of their physical safety. Maybe gun control will make some blameless people less safe. It's a lesser-of-evils argument, and in terms of gun culture, there aren't many evils greater, surely, than what happened yesterday.
    posted by oliverburkeman at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    my mental facilities are good enough to distinguish what i see in the town around me and what i hear from ill-informed, prejudiced people with an axe to grind

    I believe Hobo was saying the same thing - that there is a difference between the people you see around you and the people who do behave in the way Hobo is describing.

    So the question becomes - how do we preserve the rights of the people you know, while restricting the people hobo is talking about? Because as you have pointed out, those are two VERY different people, but the people Hobo is talking about are claiming to be the SAME as the people you know.

    Perhaps the hunters you know could speak up about the "hunters" Hobo is talking about, to differentiate themselves from them. Becuase right now the gun argument is being dominated by the "Hunters" hobo is talking about.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:46 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I'm really sorry for the pre-coffee cynicism this morning, but how many kids have been shot in Chicago this year? The pornographic quality of the coverage in Connecticut is unbelievably upsetting to me. I can't even imagine what it must be like to have lost a son or daughter and be caught up in this mess.
    posted by phaedon at 7:50 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    that's a fair point, empress - but i would also like to say that over-the-top descriptions such as hobo's are part of what feeds the paranoia some gun owners feel towards the government or "liberals"

    that makes it part of the problem, not part of the solution

    i certainly don't see why anyone needs a gun with a 30 round magazine, for example - if someone needs that many shots to get a deer, they shouldn't be hunting
    posted by pyramid termite at 7:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I wonder if the prevailing strand of NRA-driven rhetoric has met the point where it lapses into obvious logical absurdity. Arm teachers, have a loaded gun on every desk, start issuing little kevlar vests for kids? (Which, of course, they'd grow out of every year, but if you're a gun-industry shill, that's a feature not a bug.) Really, you're going to make that case, and expect us not to laugh you out of the room?

    When a line of argument gets that unstable, to fail to question the premise it's built upon is itself an absurdity. When rights become implicit compulsions, they cease to be rights.
    posted by holgate at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2012


    Oh yeah, and

    5) Why do you need to have a gun to feel safe? What are the major causes of crime for which you might want to have a gun to protect yourself?

    Drugs - Legalize them, its a health issue, not a legal one.

    Poverty - "Fuck you, got mine" isn't an enduring social contract. Ensuring your neighbors, and your neighbor's neighbor's can feed themselves, clothe themselves, hope their kids will be safe just as yours will make your kids safe as well.

    Mental Health - Comprehensive healthcare, especially for those who cannot help themselves, means providing mental healthcare. This ensures people get the care that they need, and helps them stay in stable areas.

    Racism - It is a multiplier effect of all of the above issues, since the system has been stacked historically against minorities, and there are systemic changes that still need to happen.

    So thats why people feel they need guns. To feel safe. What is broken in our society that we can't feel safe? Combine the above with 24x7 media saturation that thrives off the terror they manage to cultivate on their own now, and you have this wonderful cycle of isolationism, distrust, and fear.
    posted by mrzarquon at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


    I don't think it's cynical to point a finger at the coverage. I know about a kid in Philly who was shot last year over the right over his corner where he sold loose cigarettes.

    On the one hand, that family was given more or less the right to grieve privately, because nobody cared. On the other hand, nobody gave the support to that family that they almost certainly needed during their time of grief. One benefit, I suppose, of this gawkerism is that the families will be given support. On the other hand, if I am wanting to dick-punch the media right now, those poor parents.
    posted by angrycat at 8:01 AM on December 15, 2012


    Ok, we've gone too many comments without a mention of mental health.

    Gun control is only part of the problem.

    The US needs to spend more money on mental health care. there is really no good argument for why we aren't. Don't let your conversations about what happened in CT end without mentioning this.
    posted by victory_laser at 3:07 AM on December 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


    Look. We have affordable and/or free mental health care in the USA. It's there for anyone that needs it. We have a whole organization set up to help people find the psych care they need NAMI no matter what their socioeconomic standing is. I can only speak from personal experience, but I've used mental health care clinics in several states across the country and they are separate from physical health care clinics... One does not need any kind of insurance to use them. Period. Some of the ones I've used are linked with city's drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics because many undiagnosed people tend to self-medicate that way (I've never had to use that aspect of these clinics, thank goodness). Most of these clinics are very affordable or free to anyone who needs them. Psych med companies will often offer their medications free to patients if they can't afford them because they're damned expensive (one of mine costs upwards to $300 a month). This service has nothing to do with federal funding. It comes from the psych med companies themselves. Why? Because no one wants unmedicated crazy people walking the streets.

    As I mentioned upthread. All of this is available to anyone who looks for it. The people who go about doing unspeakable things are those who are undiagnosed, newly snapped, refuse treatment, or refuse to acknowledge that anything is amiss in their minds.

    I also mentioned upthread that just because one is mentally interesting doesn't mean they are going to snap and take a gun to a room full of people, young or old. I have bipolar. That doesn't make me a potential murderer. It makes me a little wacky compared to "normal" people, which is why I take medication to cope with the really real world. However, even in my darkest moment of paranoid mania the thought of hurting anyone would never cross my mind. Hiding in the closet so "they" can't see me might, but killing "them"? Not gonna happen. It's not in my nature. We're not all a psychotic ball of violence about to explode. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the majority of us aren't. But that's just my experience. Take it for what it's worth.
    posted by patheral at 8:01 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Linked above, but I think this bears <blockquoting>
    Alternet: Your thesis that these rage murders are effectively failed slave rebellions takes you back in your book to consider in some depth the circumstances of slave rebellions in the antebellum South. At what point did the parallels start to dawn on you?

    Ames: I really started with the idea that in every age, there is some awful oppression that is not yet recognized and therefore doesn't exist, but later seems horribly obvious. This became clear to me working in Moscow in the '90s. No one in the "liberal" Western press corps, academia, world financial aid organizations or Clinton Administration had a shred of sympathy for the millions of Russians suffering from so-called "privatization" programs that we rammed down their throats. Literally millions of Russians went to their graves early in the '90s, yet many respectable Westerners openly said that the old generation would "have to die off" before the proper mindset set in to allow full Westernization in Russia.

    Those millions of deaths are still not seen as part of something larger and evil. Later I looked at the details of these American rage murders -- they were all similar, mostly normal Middle Americans attacking seemingly "at random." If they weren't psychopaths, which they aren't, then that meant their attacks were very deliberate, that they were attacking something as a response. That's when I decided that it was the culture which was viewing the murders "at random," the culture which refused to see the purpose.

    I simply assumed, from experience in Russia, and from looking at modern rage rebellions, that early slave rebellions would be completely misunderstood in their day as random acts of crazed evil just as modern "rage rebellions" are, and from the evidence I uncovered, it seems they were.


    Alternet: How much blame do you place on Reaganomics for the changes in the workplace that you argue lead to rage attacks?

    Ames: Put it this way: rage murders in the workplace never existed anywhere in history until Reagan came to power. Reagan made it respectable to be a mean, stupid bastard in this country. He is the patron saint of white suckers. He unleashed America's Heart of Vileness -- its penchant for hating people who didn't get rich, and worshipping people who despise them, and this is the essence of Reaganomics.

    I hate to sound like a Clintonite here, but let's remember Hillary Clinton became the most hated human being alive because she tried to give most Americans the opportunity to lead longer, healthier lives, while these same Americans adored goons like Sam Walton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump -- everyone who has dedicated their lives to transferring wealth, health and pleasure from the masses to a tiny elite. Liberals are hated in America precisely because they want to help people, which is seen as "patronizing."

    You can see how this kind of cultural insanity, unleashed by Reaganomics after decades of New Deal (relative) harmony, could make someone snap, when the cognitive dissonance suddenly strikes on a very personal level, and you realize that you've been screwed hard by your own dominant ideology.


    Alternet:You demonstrate that there is absolutely zero accuracy in the psychological profiles that "experts" have assembled to predict what kind of young student might start another Columbine, and you instead advocate profiling schools that could prompt a deadly massacre. What are some of the tell-tale signs to look for?

    Ames: White kids. Just look for white kids, and you'll have a potential Columbine. When I said that the school should be profiled rather than the kid (since the Secret Service and FBI have both concluded no profile of a Columbiner is possible), I meant something larger than just the school campus -- I meant the entire culture. Our culture today is completely insane, the disconnect between how our propaganda says our lives are, and how our lives actually are. And let's face it, white middle-class kids are far more deeply invested in the dominant cultural lies, and therefore more easily destroyed by the rupture when those lies become untenable, than minority urban kids are.
    posted by clarknova at 8:02 AM on December 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


    5) Why do you need to have a gun to feel safe? What are the major causes of crime for which you might want to have a gun to protect yourself?

    I have considered owning a gun for safety reasons. Such a gun would be illegal where I live in Chicago, which has strict gun control. But honestly, I'm a tiny woman and I live alone. There is tons of gun violence in Chicago, even in "nice" neighborhoods. It's usually gang members killing gang members, but lately in my neighborhood there has been a spate of unusually violent muggings. Usually you give up your purse and they run away. But these people gave up their violence and were shot. That is freaking scary. Guns are pretty much banned here but you hear gun fire. Ramn Emmanuel is cutting police services in my neighborhood. The local station is closing. You feel powerless, like laws can't do anything to stop and no one will protect you. Carrying a gun seems better than nothing sometimes, even with the knowledge that it might not save you. This is what living with empty un-enforced gun control rhetoric is like. Is it gun control to ban something but not actively hunt down and extricate the problem? Or would the devolve to the "police state" of NYC, which honestly is a much safer nicer place in general to live than Chicago despite some of the issues there. I love Chicago and I don't want to live, but sometimes I think I might have to.

    Ironically when I lived in NYC I wanted to learn how to hunt because I wanted to be able to be more accountable for where my food came from. NYC compared to Chicago is a hunter's paradise. It's a bit expensive and a process to get a rifle there, but that's not a bad thing. And once you do, there is a shooting range in Manhattan and one in Downtown Brooklyn. I spend part of my time in rural areas so it's a useful skill for me to practice. I've had to kill coyotes raiding chicken coops for example.

    Chicago on the other hand, you have to drive to be able to do those things. Chicago's gun control is all about rhetoric, it's the kind that anti gun control people love, because it's not backed up by rule of law and makes things difficult for sports shooters and hunters, but doesn't seem to have an impact on the murder culture here. NYC isn't perfect, but it looks a lot more like what logical gun control might look like.
    posted by melissam at 8:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    > Why? Because no one wants unmedicated crazy people walking the streets.

    Then why are there unmedicated crazy people walking the streets. You know, a good majority of the homeless population suffer from some sort of mental disorder, PTSD or Schizophrenia.

    So maybe there are free services, but there appears to be a lack of coverage, support, and access for the people who need to get them, so that should be looked at. It is a systemic issue, you can't just point to "this group does free mental health care, if you can find it" and say the problem is solved.
    posted by mrzarquon at 8:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    I'm really sorry for the pre-coffee cynicism this morning, but how many kids have been shot in Chicago this year?

    I get what you're saying here but frankly it's the age and number of kids killed in one single instance. Individual deaths here and there are unfortunately common enough not to garner media attention. Multiple deaths over a year fade into abstraction. 20+ people killed in one go is going to be a big thing simply because it's out of the "ordinary".

    Hopefully the shock of the latter will cause changes which in turn will reduce the individual deaths too, although these are more likely related to illegal firearms which is a whole different kettle of fish.
    posted by longbaugh at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Look. We have affordable and/or free mental health care in the USA. It's there for anyone that needs it.

    Uh, no, and I know of what I speak. Interventions happen late, the crisis management infrastructure is overstretched, and you'll find more state resources deployed within the prison system than outside it.

    But you're right that it's a horrible conflation. The severely mentally ill, even those who meet the standard criteria of "danger to self or to others" for commitment, are mostly not mass murderers in waiting, and talking about mental health in this context feels like the learned helplessness of not being able to talk about bloody holy sainted guns.
    posted by holgate at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    So maybe there are free services, but there appears to be a lack of coverage, support, and access for the people who need to get them, so that should be looked at. It is a systemic issue, you can't just point to "this group does free mental health care, if you can find it" and say the problem is solved.
    posted by mrzarquon at 10:08 AM on December 15 [+] [!]


    I didn't say that. I said that every city I've lived in offers mental health services through the city. Every city and every state, and I've lived in many cities and several states. All I had to do was look in the phone book or online and find the city's mental health clinic. NAMI is an organization that makes it easier to find alternatives.

    That's not "this group" That's nationwide. I can go to any state's website and type "mental health" and I can pretty much find a mental health clinic. All I have to do is look. All anyone has to do is look. That's my point. The crazy people walking the streets are those who either refuse services or don't where to look. Do you propose that we round them up and FORCE them into treatment? That violates their civil rights.
    posted by patheral at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2012


    patheral, I'm glad that you had an easy time accessing mental health services, but I know people who have had a terrible time trying to get mental health services. I think this may be something where people's experience varies a lot.
    posted by LobsterMitten at 8:20 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    We need to stop saying 'gun control' and start saying 'massacre prevention.'
    posted by growabrain at 8:20 AM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    Good Lord, mental health treatment is not easy to come by in the U.S. Anybody who says that, I can't believe they live in a major urban area, where interactions with the homeless mentally ill, are common.

    I had a habit, when I was lawyering, of suing the agency in NYC designed to intervene in cases where people couldn't take care of their basic needs. Because the agency would duck out of its legally mandated responsibilities with many excuses that would have been funny if they weren't enraging.

    This agency got established as IRC after a mentally ill homeless woman froze to death during the '80s. Prior to that she had a bad habit of flinging excrement onto passing cars, but the city was like, /shrug. So then they created this agency. Which regularly fails to intervene when it should.
    posted by angrycat at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


    I work with a guy who has a concealed carry gun license. He made sure to tell me, as a new employee, that he left his gun in the car when at work.

    He's a normal looking, sad-sack kind of fellow. Not in good health. I don't know what his aim is like, but I have to wonder about his reflexes during, say, a mugging or carjacking or home invasion, which I assume is his fear.

    He lives in a nicer part of town than I do, extremely low crime rate, and so I find his need to carry strange and confusing. He's also kind of depressive...while I can't imagine him taking us out at work, I can imagine him doing himself in. He'd be the third person I know who's done so with a gun.

    I can understand the thrill of hunting or shooting at the shooting range, but having guns around you all the time? No, I don't get it. I wouldn't feel safer. I'm not really convinced I would be safer.
    posted by emjaybee at 8:24 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Also, health insurance often puts a limit on how many times you can see a therapist before the money runs out.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:24 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Maybe it's just me, but I find it completely astounding and yes, actually, very terrifying that among a group of Americans who carry concealed weapons with the expectation that they absolutely will at some point need to use them to shoot and most likely kill another person in the course of an average day, that it's somehow rude to ask if those gun carriers have ever actually killed anyone.
    posted by palomar at 8:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    patheral, I'm glad that you had an easy time accessing mental health services, but I know people who have had a terrible time trying to get mental health services. I think this may be something where people's experience varies a lot.

    I'm one of them. About four years ago I was chronically ill with a severe digestive disorder, severely depressed, and low income for a time and I was referred via a crisis line to Sunset Park Family Health Center in Brooklyn. I was able to get an "intake" appointment for a few weeks later. At the intake appointment I waited an hour and a half (good thing I was already unemployed) and then I talked not to a psychologist, but to a bureaucrat in a small windowless room who took my basic info and explained the process to me. She explained I would have another intake appointment and they I would get assigned a mental health professional. If I missed any appointments I would be forced back to the beginning of the process, to the room we were sitting now. A few weeks later I had my second intake appointment, again I did not get to see a mental health professional. Then my illness flared up again and I missed my next appointment because I was lying on a floor in horrible pain. They said I had to go back to the beginning of the process even though I got a doctor's note. I also got a bill for the missed appointment. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. Anyone who says getting help is easy either got lucky or had a different kind of mental health problem that allowed them to still be able to persevere in the face of depressing circumstances and navigate bureaucracy.
    posted by melissam at 8:27 AM on December 15, 2012 [38 favorites]


    patheral, I'm glad that you had an easy time accessing mental health services, but I know people who have had a terrible time trying to get mental health services. I think this may be something where people's experience varies a lot.

    Indeed. My wife works in a pediatric ER and they have to find adolescent psych placement on a pretty regular basis. They often end up transporting to other states.
    posted by werkzeuger at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I would imagine that a gun would be the worst self-defense tool you could carry around, simply because it's designed to kill, or at the very least, permanently damage someone. Instantaneously.

    The reason why a handgun is a poor self-defense tool is that it isn't designed to kill instantaneously.

    Upthread, people were discussing the recent Empire State Building police-shooting casualties. There are a couple interlocking reasons why things like that happen. First, combat accuracy (as opposed to shooting in a designated lane at a firing range) is notoriously bad. According to the most often-cited statistics, you have roughly a one-in-three chance of hitting your target inside three yards. Those odds drop precipitously with increased distance. Handguns aren't designed for pinpoint accuracy, and humans' stress reactions wreak a lot of havoc.

    Second, when police open fire, they tend to fire lots of bullets. Why? Well, partly because they know about those accuracy statistics. They have a low chance of hitting, per bullet, so they fire more bullets—because if you have fired the first, then presumably you need to hit. (Eg, to stop a target from shooting at kids.) But primarily, they fire a lot of bullets because handgun ammunition isn't terribly effective for police (and self-defense) purposes.

    If a police officer opens fire, or if you open fire in self defense, the goal isn't to kill. The goal is immediate incapacitation: Stop the target from doing whatever he's doing (eg, shooting at kids). There are two ways to do this. The first is to strike the central nervous system. Handgun accuracy makes this unrealistic, so forget about it. This is why you hear about being trained to aim at "center of mass." The second is to disrupt the circulatory system, dropping blood pressure sufficiently to incapacitate. In other words, shoot enough holes until the person has lost so much blood that he can't function.

    Bullet impact is negligible. When people "fall down" upon being shot, that's mostly a psychological reaction caused largely by watching television shows and movies where we see people collapse when shot. The impact of a 9mm bullet is roughly equivalent to having a ten-pound weight dropped on you...from less than one inch. You cannot reliably knock somebody down with a handgun. So we're back to one solution: Drop the blood pressure sufficiently to incapacitate.

    That's why police using handguns shoot lots of bullets. They are trying to hit their target and create lots of holes. They aren't trying to "kill" the target, although that will probably be a consequence; they are trying to stop him/her from doing something, using a tool that is not especially suited. In fact, even if you are able to "kill" the person by instantly destroying the heart, there may be enough residual oxygen in the brain to support another ten or fifteen seconds of action. You still have not necessarily incapacitated him (ie, stopped him from shooting at kids).

    All of this, by the way, is also why you see police officers respond to violent incidents armed with assault rifles. Because if we know that handguns perform poorly compared to rifles in a combat situation, then we also know police do not want to respond to a combat situation with a handgun if possible. Without a moment's notice, an officer may have a handgun and may not be wearing protection. Similarly, a firefighter without notice might run into a burning house without a breathing apparatus or turnout gear. But it isn't ideal, and with a moment's preparation he will retrieve appropriate equipment.

    So to return to your point. What you want in a self-defense tool is the ability to immediately incapacitate an attacker. Handguns are designed, and not especially well, to punch holes in things. Those two things are not the same.
    posted by cribcage at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


    Okay, maybe it's because I have lived in mostly suburban areas, Seattle being the most populated, that my experience has been so easy. I'm sorry that others have suffered. As I mentioned, I can only speak from my experience. I haven't had health insurance in decades, so I don't know what kind of limits that puts on therapy. My kind of mental is brain chemistry, so I take medication - no therapy needed.

    But I still stand by the statement that just because someone is mentally interesting DOES NOT make that person a mass murderer, or any kind of murderer. Ordinary people can snap and do unspeakable things. They're not in their right mind at the time they do these things. That doesn't make them mentally ill, that makes them ordinary people who snapped and did something they normally wouldn't have done. Someone who is diagnosed with a mental disorder can lead a "normal" life and never kill anything larger than a cockroach. I'm honestly tired of these mass murderers being labeled as "mentally ill" when they're probably not. It gives the rest of us a bad name.
    posted by patheral at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2012


    If anything just further emblematic of the difficulty and sketchiness of reporting unvetted details on a chaotic breaking story is the apparently major-news-org ambiguity on whether Nancy Lanza was a teacher at the school or maybe a substitute teacher there or may not a teacher there or maybe who fucking knows but let's get it in print either way, chop chop.
    posted by cortex at 8:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    The reason I admire and respect avenues like The Onion so much in these situations is because I think they truly are the only ones doing what needs to be done to change the culture here.

    What those stories at the Onion do is break down that mentality issue to its core level. That's really the only hope we have. People both for and against gun control are right: this will never be fixed by legislation alone. Instead, gun ownership as a culture- as a state of mind- has to be broken. And like smoking or drinking or beating women or racism or homophobia, legislation can and will come, but at the end of the day it's about turning people around to realizing the selfishness of their mentality.

    You shouldn't be "proud" to own a semi-automatic assault rifle any more than you should be "proud" to be an alcoholic. The Onion is the only media outlet that has actually pointed out the absurdity of our culture believing the former. They should be lauded for it. They should get a fucking Pulitzer for it.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


    A major problem in the whole discussion seems to be a real difficulty thinking about different types of guns and/or gun features. If we get more specific about guns and features of guns, it gets a lot easier to balance the concerns raised about hunting and self-defense. Getting specific about types of guns and features would also make it easier to pass federal legislation, which could then be amended/supplemented to address other issues over time. It is a big mistake to waste time arguing about "gun culture" or whether hunters really need to hunt - the fact is that there are a lot of people in the country who support some form of "gun rights" - you aren't going to get any real-world change in the law if you don't try to accommodate the concerns of those people.

    So what kind of specific distinctions can be drawn that would help pass targeted legislation?

    1. High-capacity magazines (say, over 12 rounds) have absolutely no legitimate civilian purpose. Ban 'em and criminalize them.

    2. Distinguish between long guns and handguns. Hunters do not use handguns. Waive hello to the hunters and tell them you aren't going to touch their hunting rifles. Then increase the background checks/licensing/safety regulation around handguns. Close all "gun show loophole"-type issues that allow handguns to be transferred without checks.

    3. As far as trying to distinguish between different types of long guns, I am less certain. Shotguns versus rifles is easy (and none of these killers seem to pick shotguns), but then it gets hard. As many have discussed, you can use the same caliber round in a "hunting" gun or an "assault" gun. Much of what we think of with "assault" guns is cosmetics - it just looks like a military weapon. Limiting magazine capacity would perhaps accomplish everything you would need to do with respect to "assault guns." But - there is clearly something about these military-like guns that attracts these mass murders, so I am not completely prepared to say that the law should be blind to the fact that insane killers seem to prefer a specific type of weapon, even if the "type" is largely cosmetic.

    Other random thoughts:

    A. I thought there was this whole thing about the Colorado shooting about not publicizing the killer's name? What happened to that? The NY Times today has a list of like the "20 biggest shootings" or whatever, with each killer's name. It looks like a hall of fame.

    B. Further to my comment up-thread about the paramilitary cops - I don't mean to blame these particular cops and we don't yet know the timing of how long the killer had to shoot before the police arrived. Still, is there any case in which these SWAT-style teams have been effective in a mass shooting? It seems like the name of the game in a mass shooting is to get any cop on the scene as fast as possible. If nothing else, the big SWAT team standing around looks like a waste of resources versus other things that could be done to speed overall police response. I blame 9/11 thinking.
    posted by Mid at 8:44 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    The mother/child reunion is only a motion away.
    posted by telstar at 8:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I live in Connecticut. I grew up in the area in which this happened. I'm someone's mom. I spent most of yesterday crying my face off and I thought I'd do a little bit better today. But I'm weeping again because here, I'm finding a quality in conversation I'm not finding in many other places: compassion. I'm grateful that amid all the debate and speculation and calls for action, there's a general concern for the well-being of fellow participants. It's difficult to visit anywhere else on the net right now.
    posted by houseofdanie at 8:55 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    It doesn't change the fact that working class people who have to get to work on the swing shift in Oakland have to choose between risking a misdemeanor if they get caught with a concealed firearm, or getting robbed or killed in the street. That's reality here.

    Bullshit. I live in Oakland and run around on the streets all night. I have never felt the need for a gun. But my hick bretheren in Reno NV where I moved from all think guns r cool. They are idiots.
    posted by telstar at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    mid - 1. High-capacity magazines (say, over 12 rounds) have absolutely no legitimate civilian purpose. Ban 'em and criminalize them.
    Agreed.

    2. Distinguish between long guns and handguns. Hunters do not use handguns.
    Most hunters I know will pack a magnum revolver in case of bear. They don't carry high capacity small calibre pistols as this would simply irritate the bear. Otherwise, agreed.

    3. As far as trying to distinguish between different types of long guns, I am less certain. Shotguns versus rifles is easy (and none of these killers seem to pick shotguns),
    The Denver shooter had a shotgun iirc. A semiautomatic shotgun with an extended tube can put out as much lead in a few seconds as 4 magazines from a high capacity handgun.

    ...But - there is clearly something about these military-like guns that attracts these mass murders, so I am not completely prepared to say that the law should be blind to the fact that insane killers seem to prefer a specific type of weapon, even if the "type" is largely cosmetic...
    This, in my opinion, most often relates to the "Walter Mitty" military fetishist. .

    Further to my comment up-thread about the paramilitary cops - I don't mean to blame these particular cops and we don't yet know the timing of how long the killer had to shoot before the police arrived. Still, is there any case in which these SWAT-style teams have been effective in a mass shooting?
    This will depend on whether there is a standing emergency response team or whether full time officers are pulled off duty to perform the role. As a general rule as soon as the call goes out each individual officer serving on an emergency team will make their way as quickly as possible to the area and get prepped once there. Kit will be in the officers vehicle or in a team vehicle. Emergency response teams are not usually going to arrive in time unless the situation has become one involving hostages.

    It seems like the name of the game in a mass shooting is to get any cop on the scene as fast as possible. If nothing else, the big SWAT team standing around looks like a waste of resources versus other things that could be done to speed overall police response. I blame 9/11 thinking.
    When they first arrive they know nothing. How many shooters, IEDs, hostages, who is inside or outside the building. Cordons are set up and then intelligence gathered. Running in blindly results in dead police officers and civilians.
    posted by longbaugh at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Every illegal weapon was a legal weapon once, before it was stolen, or "borrowed", or driven across a state line.

    Or an international border: There's a U.S. special agent in Toronto because the U.S. knows illegal export of guns is a problem: "Toronto police have said 70 per cent of guns seized after crimes were smuggled from the U.S."
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    we don't yet know the timing of how long the killer had to shoot before the police arrived.

    Well, in fairness to law enforcement, unloading a couple of handguns would happen in a far shorter period of time than would be the time needed for assistance to arrive.

    This guy was on a mission - a horribly misguided one - but he went to that school with at least some idea of what he wanted to do. Had maybe a single police officer been in the area right at the time of the first call, gotten into the school and gone to exactly the place where the shooter was at, then maybe there would have been a chance. But the shooter murdered too quickly for that to happen apparently and that lucky chance a cop was in the area was not to be had.

    Newtown CT is rural and not like a city where police are on every corner. Even the police station is over 2 miles from the school.
    posted by lampshade at 9:06 AM on December 15, 2012


    When I took the test to be able to purchase a handgun the gunshop owner who was administrating the test stood over my shoulder and gave me the answers. I didn't ask him to. I had studied and knew the answers but I guess he was in a hurry or something. A, B, B, A, C, D, A. Okay let me sign it.

    When I took my gun to the range and the employee inspected it and found I had a trigger lock on it (which is the law here, when transporting firearms they must have a trigger lock) he said "What the fuck? How're you gonna use it?"

    It's pretty apparent to me that gun laws are like traffic laws. They don't pertain to me because I am a good driver/citizen. I have never been in an accident so I can go 80 in a 65. I am good at multi tasking so I can totally text and drive.
    posted by M Edward at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [30 favorites]


    growabrain: "We need to stop saying 'gun control' and start saying 'massacre prevention.'"

    "What you mean 'we', white man?"

    There are many gun murders every day in this country that would not be described by most people as "massacres." Are those not worth dealing with?

    It's preposterous to say that we should focus only on mass shootings, or that sensible gun control cannot be part of the solution to not only the "massacre" problem but the "guns killing dozens of Americans every day" problem.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:12 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    As far as access to mental health care, North Carolina is all fuxxored up, and in this town at least (shortage of shrinks) people have to wait weeks and sometimes months for treatment EVEN IF THEY HAVE PRIVATE INSURANCE.

    On a totally different note, I know most of you don't watch Fox News, and I don't have cable but I do have a Roku box that allowed me to access some of the news reports from yesterday....all I can say is, Geraldo Rivera? Really, dude?
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    tonycpsu : In that case... what

    In practice, open carry doesn't mean some wild-west scene of walking into the saloon with a six-shooter at your side. It means people without a CCW or a hunting license can defend themselves while hiking and a rabid wombat takes an interest in them.


    robcorr : Outside of war zones, no where else in the world do people feel the need to carry a gun for self-defence while running errands. Truly, America is a land of paranoid freaks.

    No, "America is a land" with an average population density of 100 people per square mile - Except, in practice, around 90% of that gets squeezed into a few dozen major cities and their surrounding 'burbs, leaving most of America (geographically) a literal "wilderness".

    That said, if you want paranoid - Yeah, I'd take my chances with that rabid wombat, over most urban environments once you get 10 feet past the bright lights and bustling crowds.


    Admira : but people actually walk around carrying guns? I mean other than police and FBI etc... but just ordinary people like me wake up, get ready and carry a gun with them? To the shops, to parties, to a bar etc?

    Since you've already gotten conflicting answers, yes and no.

    Most US states have a means by which you can apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Some but not all states have a "must issue" requirement, meaning that if federal regulations don't bar the applicant from owning a firearm, the state must issue a CCW permit to the applicant. Somewhere around 20 states (last time I looked) have reciprocity agreements for carry permits (including my own).

    That said, don't think that works like filling out a postcard-sized magazine subscription. Even in my fairly lax state, the application runs on for seven pages, and the state does a complete criminal and mental health background check on the applicant. On top of that, you need to renew it annually (renewal takes less time, but uses the same insanely detailed application).

    As for where you can carry - Bars count as an absolute no-no. Federal buildings, no. A handful of other "sensitive" places, also not allowed (that includes schools).

    Now, Tony already posted a link to it above, but many states also have some form of "open carry". See my response to him at the top of this post, but don't think of it as Clint Eastwood walking through town - It more means that you won't get arrested for mere possession of a gun in a public place; so you can have a rifle-rack in your truck; you can keep a pistol in your glove compartment. And yes, you can actually wear one as a sidearm - But! "Brandishing" will still get you at the very least harassed by the police, and possibly arrested. What counts as brandishing varies a lot by context, but suffice it to say, walking down main street with a shotgun strapped across your back will get unwanted attention in all but the most rural towns.



    Mid : 1. High-capacity magazines (say, over 12 rounds) have absolutely no legitimate civilian purpose. Ban 'em and criminalize them.

    Would have no effect - You can swap a magazine in about two seconds flat. And the idea of "high capacity" magazines doesn't even really apply to pistols - Yes, you can get them, but they look stupid and make the gun totally unmanageable.

    Hunters do not use handguns.

    Sure they do - For putting a slowly-dying animal out of its misery. You don't fire a rifle at point-blank range unless you want to wear a cloud of gore. Many states' hunting licenses explicitly limit what types and how many guns you can carry when hunting (including how many spare rounds), and particularly with bigger game, you'll frequently see an allowance for a side-arm for the coup de grace.

    I agree with your third point, however. Even at the height of the "assault rifle" ban, you could still get basically the same weapons legally, more a matter of fashion than practicality. And I have no interest in fashion in this regard (hell, I'd like to see 9mm all but cease to exist - It seems like every wannabe gang-banger fantasizes about that one for some incomprehensible reason). That said, it becomes an awfully slippery slope when we start banning pink hammers.



    Okay, this post has gotten much too long. And please, don't take this as "fighty" - I have no interest in arguing in a thread about dead kids. I just wanted to clarify a few points of confusion people seem to have.
    posted by pla at 9:15 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Makes me think that the kind of security they had at the "bad school" I attended in 8th grade, metal-detectors and security guards, will become standard even at "nice" schools.
    posted by melissam at 9:16 AM on December 15, 2012


    pla, I wasn't confused at all about open carry. The statement was that people don't do open carry in the U.S., and it turns out that some, in fact, do.
    posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2012


    If a police officer opens fire, or if you open fire in self defense, the goal isn't to kill. The goal is immediate incapacitation: Stop the target from doing whatever he's doing (eg, shooting at kids).

    Yes, but for the police, shooting for 'incapacitation' is pretty much de facto shooting to kill.

    For some reason lost to the stands of time, where I grew up, the police range was at one point in the basement of the high school. As a result, my high school had a tradition of exposing kids to guns in the outdoor ed class (which was the cool gym class). When I took outdoor ed, this meant turning the wrestling room back into a shooting range for air rifles (with much admonition to not shoot the mats) and an after school field trip to the police range, which was actually in the police station, taking the .22s which the school still owned for some reason (I think outdoor ed used them when the range was in the school, though the yearbook also shows there was a rifle club at some point). The memorable things were the cop we were with explicitly stating that 'incapacitation' meant shooting to kill and that he had no qualms about killing someone, criminal or bystander (I'm still hoping was in denial about the possibility), and firing his handgun. I'd shot a rifle before and didn't have particular qualms about doing so (though the total comfort my classmates had with shooting at humanoid targets made me pause), but I'd never touched a handgun. And I'm never going to again. It seemed so clear that the thing was all about power, particularly power derived from the ability to kill.

    I still feel kind of gross about that trip to the police range. The whole time we were there, it was becoming increasingly apparent to me that this was something I shouldn't be doing, even if I enjoyed shooting. I'd refused to shoot at humanoid targets (which are all the police had) and found some old bullseye targets at the bottom of a rifle box, but with everyone around me gleefully shooting the 'bad guys' it was clear this was just some lame attempt to make myself feel better about pretending something that was really about killing was 'sport'.
    posted by hoyland at 9:18 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Pla - Loughner was stopped when changing magazines. The idea isn't that banning high-capacity would stop all killings, but it would make guns incrementally less easy to use in mass killings.
    posted by Mid at 9:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    No, "America is a land" with an average population density of 100 people per square mile - Except, in practice, around 90% of that gets squeezed into a few dozen major cities and their surrounding 'burbs, leaving most of America (geographically) a literal "wilderness".

    And there's the rub, when you have a political system that is explicitly weighted towards giving representation to square footage over people, combined with a fetishism for a faded old founding document and a largely obsolescent model of pioneer liberty. It allows gun extremists to hold democracy to ransom.
    posted by holgate at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    In practice, open carry doesn't mean some wild-west scene of walking into the saloon with a six-shooter at your side.

    Uh, yeah it does. I was in Phoenix a few months ago for 2 weeks and in every restaurant and store I went into there was at least 1 person with a sidearm. Maybe I was in the bad part of town or something but it was still unnerving for me.
    posted by M Edward at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2012


    I don't know, just don't know. Why this happens, how to prevent it or the best steps to take, going forward. Not having the judicial, legal and political system so beholden to the NRA and its members is a no brainer, but also extremely difficult.

    Ah hell, I do know something. Another massacre like this will occur in America.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2012


    I think it's reasonable to notice that, for the shooter, this was both a school AND a workplace shooting. Internet diagnosing someone whose motives are fairly complex and bound to social situations and power dynamics we know nothing about seems a bit naive. It's questionable whether free mental health Switzerland style could have prevented his scheme, or if banning all pistols would satisfactorily address the underlying issue. We've always been armed to the teeth, but these massacres are only about thirty years old.

    Structurally we have a big problem with banning the types of firearms that are used in these shootings. Everybody owns them. Disarming the American populace, even if half of us unanimously supported it, is a big, scary prospect. Waco happened. Ruby ridge happened. There are hundreds of thousands who are either sympathizers or fellow travelers of those folks. If you come for their guns... well. They aren't kidding.
    posted by clarknova at 9:28 AM on December 15, 2012


    Gun culture varies so much according to the region of the country you are in. I almost feel it would be helpful when we have these kinds of discussions to make plain where we are from. Guns in Phoenix would make me yawn, guns in, say, New England would make me a bit jittery.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2012


    Also - pla, you say "the idea of "high capacity" magazines doesn't even really apply to pistols," but my statement is not limited to pistols.

    Also, also - Loughner had a 30-round clip in his Glock. Again, he was stopped when it ran out. Would have been better if it was a smaller clip.

    Klebold had a Tec-9 at Columbine with clips of 52, 32, and 28 rounds.

    The guy in Colorado had a 100-round clip in his .223 that jammed.
    posted by Mid at 9:30 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's called a magazine, not a clip. If you want anyone who actually owns one of those to take you seriously, and maybe you don't care, use that term.
    posted by clarknova at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    When I took the test to be able to purchase a handgun the gunshop owner who was administrating the test stood over my shoulder and gave me the answers. I didn't ask him to.

    In Massachusetts, you need to pass a basic safety class in order to own a firearm. Theoretically it is supposed to be the same class no matter where in the state you take it, as long as you're taking it from a certified instructor. That's theory. Reality is a little bit different.

    Here is one extremely reputable training center where the class is a full day, and here is a different, also reputable training center where the class is only four hours. Now both of those classes include live-fire shooting; you will fire a handgun before receiving your certificate. For comparison, here is a partial list of other training centers and instructors offering the class, some of whom will come to your home and administer the class in your living room. Obviously this does not include live fire.

    I am extremely skeptical that either of those first two training centers would "coach" somebody on passing the course. (Not that "passing" is really an issue. The point of the class is the experience, not the quiz.) And I would like to think that no certified instructor would do that either. However, I'm not naive and it's hard for me to speculate about what happens between you and somebody you've paid to sit in your living room on a weeknight.
    posted by cribcage at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2012


    While growing up in the nation's capital, we had two mass sniper events and corresponding lockdowns as well as a guy killed by a cop in the alley out back, on top of the normal sorts of gun violence like muggings and so forth. The absolute last thing that would make me feel safe are additional guns in houses and on the streets. DC doesn't need more guns. Philly sure doesn't. A . for all those kids and their families and the adults who died and the kids who lived through this.
    posted by jetlagaddict at 9:38 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Structurally we have a big problem with banning the types of firearms that are used in these shootings. Everybody owns them.

    Nope.

    As per my comment above:

    "A study published in the Injury Prevention Journal, based on a 2004 National Firearms Survey, found that 20% of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65% of the nation's guns."

    It's called a magazine, not a clip. If you want anyone who actually owns those to take you seriously, and maybe you don't, use that term.

    I want people who own these guns to take me seriously because dead goddamned kids. Nitpicking the exact terminology is bullshit.
    posted by soundguy99 at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2012 [60 favorites]


    In Massachusetts, you need to pass a basic safety class in order to own a firearm. Theoretically it is supposed to be the same class no matter where in the state you take it, as long as you're taking it from a certified instructor. That's theory. Reality is a little bit different.

    That is how it should be everywhere, and for real. You'd (well maybe not you specifically) be surprised how many people who take firearm training at a young age look up to firearm instructors as role models, and accept both the value of "don't be unsafe with the weapon" and its underlying premise "life is precious". That lesson in morality and mortality from an adult, often a veteran, goes a long way.

    That's another aspect our gun culture that's never talked about. Firearm training is a positive social experience for a lot of people, especially young people.
    posted by clarknova at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2012


    Structurally we have a big problem with banning the types of firearms that are used in these shootings. Everybody owns them.

    This is not true. A third of US households have a gun. Something like just over 40% of adults own a gun--a third of men and about 10 percent of women. (Clearly gun-owning women are frequently living with gun-owning men.) The reason we have so many guns per capita is not that everyone has a gun, it's that a subset of people could each arm a small army.
    posted by hoyland at 9:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    That's an "everybody" as in "everybody is wearing x". Meaning a lot of people. The meat of my statement stands. If you send ATF agents door to door to collect everybody's newly-banned firearms and you will have a lot of very messy situations.
    posted by clarknova at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2012


    Gun control? Maybe these kids are onto something

    You haven’t heard about the gun dorm? Well, back in August, the University of Colorado announced it was segregating students with concealed carry permits in dorms of their own on its campuses in Boulder and Colorado Springs. This, after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the school’s ban on people bringing guns on campus. So now, a student 21 years or older who has a permit may be armed in the dorm or even in class, though not, for some reason, at a school event requiring a ticket.

    Recently, The Denver Post decided to count the number of young gunslingers who wanted to live among their own. How many kids had rushed to take advantage of this opportunity?

    Let’s just say there is not a waiting list. The Post reports the number of kids who opted for the gun dorm is zero. A big, fat goose egg.

    posted by madamjujujive at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    clarknova - you'll see I use both the term "magazine" and "clip" above. Plenty of people who shoot use the word clip, including me. Terminology bullying is an offshoot (cause or symptom?) of the general problem that it is difficult to talk about specific types of guns or features of guns that should be regulated.
    posted by Mid at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


    > Personally, when I carried a gun every day I also carried pepper spray and two pocketknives.

    Outside of the United States, only people in war zones walk around with four weapons at all times.

    If you think that makes it sound better that you have more weapons that aren't guns, it does not. It makes me never want to go within a thousand miles of wherever it is that you live. You know, I've lived in some pretty low-rent districts, I got mugged once, but the idea of literally walking around with a small arsenal all the time, knowing many other people are doing the same, makes me frightened and sad.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    Personally, when I carried a gun every day I also carried pepper spray and two pocketknives.

    What for? Ze Germans?
    posted by elizardbits at 9:48 AM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    In Massachusetts, you need to pass a basic safety class in order to own a firearm

    That's great. Here in CA they give you a quiz and then you wait 10 days for a background check. My coworker's dad just purchased a gun and nearly killed himself when he went to the range the first time because he had no idea what da/sa meant or how it works and the first shot he ever fired was into the ceiling from a misfire. One of the other shooters at the range saw the accident and gave him a little class on gun safety. I can laugh at this because it's good dark comedy but my coworker is now completely terrified his dad is going to shoot himself or one of his family members in error.
    posted by M Edward at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    clarknova - you'll see I use both the term "magazine" and "clip" above. Plenty of people who shoot use the word clip, including me. Terminology bullying is an offshoot (cause or symptom?) of the general problem that it is difficult to talk about specific types of guns or features of guns that should be regulated.

    I wasn't bullying. I know what you meant and it doesn't bother me. But a person saying "clip" in a sentence about gun regulation is a big ol trigger for a lot of conservative gun "enthusiasts". Your point may be right. You might even have a chance of convincing someone. But using a that specific term that doesn't mean what you think it means (they're not interchangeable) just activates the condescending know nuthin liberul archetype. If you've never seen it treated as a faux pas it may be hard to believe. But it's the case.
    posted by clarknova at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2012


    that's a fair point, empress - but i would also like to say that over-the-top descriptions such as hobo's are part of what feeds the paranoia some gun owners feel towards the government or "liberals". that makes it part of the problem, not part of the solution

    Not if there really are people like that. And there are.

    i certainly don't see why anyone needs a gun with a 30 round magazine, for example - if someone needs that many shots to get a deer, they shouldn't be hunting.

    Tell that to the people who claim they do. Here, I found you some.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2012


    I just heard that each of the victims' families has been assigned a state trooper (or maybe a cop?) to help them feel more secure and to serve as a communications liaison. That sounds like a really good and compassionate idea, I hope it's true.
    posted by madamjujujive at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    clarknova - thanks, totally agree with you that there are these "trigger" words that make "gun rights" people go bananas. The general idea is that if you are not personally steeped in every aspect of guns and technical terminology around guns, then you have no business talking about regulating guns. This dynamic obscures some really simple points about technical capabilities of guns (like high-capacity magazines/clips) that really should not be controversial. My own view is that this dynamic is a purposeful tactic by folks like the NRA to obscure/confuse the issues, but I recognize that this perhaps is a partisan view.
    posted by Mid at 10:09 AM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    If you send ATF agents door to door to collect everybody's newly-banned firearms

    Complete and utter straw man. It's entirely possible to enact & enforce gun control laws without sending anyone around confiscating anything.

    Make high-capacity magazines illegal, give everyone a 6 month grace period to turn them in to their local police, no questions asked, and then if you're caught with one after that, serious jail time and high fines.

    Just as an example.
    posted by soundguy99 at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Yes, the head of the state police said that none of the families wanted to speak to the media and that each had an officer assigned to them and that the media would have to go through the officer to get the family. I think that's a wonderful idea and I'm so glad someone thought of that.
    posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 10:15 AM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    Make high-capacity magazines illegal, give everyone a 6 month grace period to turn them in to their local police, no questions asked, and then if you're caught with one after that, serious jail time and high fines.

    Just as an example.


    The ones who wouldn't turn them into visiting agents won't go to the agents either. At the end of your scenario you're still sending someone to the door for the guns. With predictable results.

    My example of sending someone to the door to collect the firearms isn't just pulled out of thin air, either. In Canada, if you own a pistol, you have to be a member of a shooting club. The moment your membership expires the RCMP comes to your door for the gun. It's a model for handling firearm control.
    posted by clarknova at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    > But using a that specific term that doesn't mean what you think it means (they're not interchangeable) just activates the condescending know nuthin liberul archetype.

    But these stereotypes are activated if you say you don't own guns, or if you tell them you don't hunt - forget about it if you say that you don't eat meat!

    Honest question - wouldn't any attempt at suggesting gun control activate those same archetypes?

    Another honest question - do you honestly believe that any compromise is possible? Is it really possible to have a meaningful discussion when side X has contempt for side Y, and side Y fears side X?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:18 AM on December 15, 2012


    Mexico's attempt to deal with guns.

    It could be said it would help them if we tightened our own laws, but I can't help but agree with one of the people quoted in that article, that people determined to have guns will find a way.

    soundguy99, somehow I think that the most problematic people with those firearms would also be the least likely to participate in a buyout and least likely to care about consequenses of being caught with one.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2012


    To make it less personal: if it's an explicit choice between a few more Ruby Ridges and a few more Newtowns, then I'll take the former.
    posted by holgate at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    If you're tossing around those kinds of implicit threats, even if it's dick-swinging, it doesn't say much for the whole "responsible gun-owner" narrative, big boy.

    Look. I'm being very reasonable and polite. I'm not even arguing for my own position. I'm pointing out what I believe to be a reality of American culture, having lived in the rural south and having traveled America quite a bit. You can toss out prissy insults aimed at a stereotype you imagine I fit, but you don't further any cause you have by doing so.
    posted by clarknova at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The moment your membership expires the RCMP comes to your door for the gun. It's a model for handling firearm control.

    It doesn't have to be the only model. Instead of rounding them up, we could do a period of voluntary buyback (fed/state officials pay you fair value for your extended magazines.) After that, they're contraband. The cops don't go round them up, but they do confiscate them if they discover them during their investigations, and possession of the banned magazines results in extra jail time / fines.
    posted by tonycpsu at 10:22 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It doesn't have to be the only model. Instead of rounding them up, we could do a period of voluntary buyback (fed/state officials pay you fair value for your extended magazines.) After that, they're contraband. The cops don't go round them up, but they do confiscate them if they discover them during their investigations, and possession of the banned magazines results in extra jail time / fines.

    I don't think you understand. There are people who will just. Not. Volunteer for that. They may be paranoid but they're not dog dumb. They know what gun control looks like in any form: their enemy.
    posted by clarknova at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2012


    Mexico's attempt to deal with guns.

    It could be said it would help them if we tightened our own laws, but I can't help but agree with one of the people quoted in that article, that people determined to have guns will find a way.


    Sure, they'll find a way. But maybe that way will be slightly trickier than, "Go to USA, buy guns hassle-free, smuggle guns across border."

    I mean, come on. Try it with some other crime. "Rapists gonna rape, so why bother making it illegal?" What kind of logic is that?
    posted by Sys Rq at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    [No personal back-and-forth please, and if you are articulating a position that is not your own, please make that clear. Thanks.]
    posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 AM on December 15, 2012


    From an article on the the CNN website:

    Authorities found three guns next to Lanza's body in one of the classrooms, a law enforcement source told CNN. All three -- a semi-automatic .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and two pistols made by Glock and Sig Sauer -- were owned by Lanza's mother, the source said.

    Investigators know which one Lanza used to kill himself but are not yet revealing that information, the source said.

    Lanza also had access to at least three more guns, a second law enforcement source said. Investigators recovered a .45-caliber Henry Repeating Rifle, a .22-caliber Marlin Rifle and a .30-caliber Enfield Rifle, though it's unclear where they were found, the source said.

    One of the law enforcement sources said they have information that Lanza tried to buy a gun in the area this past Tuesday. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms said it is contacting shooting ranges and gun stores in the area to try to establish whether Lanza sought to purchase guns or practice using them
    .
    posted by Dr. Zira at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2012




    clarknova: " I don't think you understand. There are people who will just. Not. Volunteer for that. They may be paranoid but they're not dog dumb. They know what gun control looks like in any form: their enemy."

    Did you not read what I said? Of course a lot of people won't turn them over. That's why you have the second part, where using one in a crime or having one discovered in a routine police search increases the fines and jail time. This won't get rid of every extended magazine, but will make people think twice about whether they really need to fire 15, 30 shots without reloading.
    posted by tonycpsu at 10:29 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Right. The idea that any specific gun control measure must work perfectly in all circumstances or it is invalid is a standard that is not applied in any other public safety area. Requiring airbags does not prevent every automobile death. Restricting the sale of explosives and explosive ingredients does not prevent every type of bomb. The idea is to incrementally improve safety or incrementally make it harder to kill a lot of people before someone can intervene.
    posted by Mid at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2012 [37 favorites]


    using a that specific term that doesn't mean what you think it means (they're not interchangeable) just activates the condescending know nuthin liberul archetype

    It's true that someone advocating for a very specific kind of policy should be able to speak the language that policy requires, but the insistence on being able to talk about guns just like a gun enthusiast before having any opinion at all on the role of guns in society is silly and bullying. And like any priest craft that enforces its own jargon, it's a way of guarding privileges and keeping questions at bay.
    posted by octobersurprise at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    It really does seem that it is being claimed, "There will never be meaningful changes to gun control laws, as too many gun owners will resist these changes using their guns."

    We see two statements:

    1. Nearly all gun owners are responsible individuals.
    2. If the law attempts to do anything to control their ownership of guns and ammo, then there will be blood baths.

    These two statements cannot both be true. A person who thinks that obeying a gun control law is "dog dumb" cannot also be a "responsible individual".
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:36 AM on December 15, 2012 [32 favorites]


    The new details St. Alia posted really make most of the recent discussion in this thread moot:

    "Adam Lanza, as the alleged gunman was identified in several press reports, was 20-years old, a year under the legal limit for gun ownership in Connecticut. " (emphasis mine)

    He had them illegally. With that one clarification, all our posturing back and forth about the evils of legally available guns and their various configurations amounts to squat - This could have happened in NYC or DC, with their insanely restrictive gun laws, just as easily as it did in (relatively) gun-friendly CT.

    Can we all just shake hands now and accept that crazy, evil people will do crazy, evil things?
    posted by pla at 10:36 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    .
    posted by montag2k at 10:38 AM on December 15, 2012


    Can we all just shake hands now and accept that crazy, evil people will do crazy, evil things?

    Why should we accept them? Why should we let it be normalized instead of doing something? Because "liberties" is just a buzzword, not an explanation.
    posted by zombieflanders at 10:43 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    No pla we can not, because unless he broke in to an armoury to get them it shows that allowing people to have semi-automatic weapons means they become much more readily available, including to 'crazy' people who may have not been able to act out their plans otherwise.
    posted by Megami at 10:45 AM on December 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


    Can we all just shake hands now and accept that crazy, evil people will do crazy, evil things?

    This type of thinking somehow does not get me out of the nudie-scan machine at the airport. I also can't buy unlimited quantities of nitrogen fertilizer or perform electrical work that does not meet code. It is not applied in any other area of public safety.
    posted by Mid at 10:47 AM on December 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


    that people determined to have guns will find a way.

    And this is true also, but, as others point out, there is no other aspect of our lives that we apply this standard to. It isn't an refutation of every kind of gun regulation, it's an incantation and applied to the rest of life in the manner the NRA likes to use it, it's an incantation that would abolish every law, every regulation, and most social activity.
    posted by octobersurprise at 10:49 AM on December 15, 2012


    zombieflanders : Why should we accept them? Why should we let it be normalized instead of doing something? Because "liberties" is just a buzzword, not an explanation.

    For the same reason we recognize that free speech will occasionally include hate speech.


    Megami : No pla we can not, because unless he broke in to an armoury

    Ah. I see where this has gone... When it looked like he got them legally, putting the pro-2nd-amendment people on the defensive, we could all talk rationally about "control". As soon as the coin flipped, *poof*, end of rational discussion and back to using loaded terms like "semi-automatic" and "assault rifle" incorrectly.

    Consider me done in this thread. I'll leave a parting "." for the kids involved, and spare the snark for another day.

    .
    posted by pla at 10:50 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    pla: "all our posturing back and forth about the evils of legally available guns and their various configurations amounts to squat"

    I'm sure spiking the ball and pointing toward the scoreboard feels good, but as it happens, there are plenty of aspects of the gun control debate that have nothing to do with whether the guns are possessed legally or illegally. More guns in circulation, legal or illegal, increases the chance for someone to get their hands on them. Extended magazines increase the chances that a shooter can take out dozens instead of a few. Regulating the amount of ammunition one can buy the way we regulate methamphetamine precursors could have made it harder for the guy with illegal guns to get his hands on ammunition, legally purchased or not.
    posted by tonycpsu at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    For the same reason we recognize that free speech will occasionally include hate speech.

    Until it causes harm to a person or group of people, at which time it is no longer free speech.
    posted by zombieflanders at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I don't think you understand. There are people who will just. Not. Volunteer for that. They may be paranoid but they're not dog dumb. They know what gun control looks like in any form: their enemy.

    That is true. But we have several examples of things people would never do that they are doing. It is within the immediate past that a hardcore group of people would never allow black people to attend "their" schools, sit at "their" lunch, or marry "their" kin. In my lifetime, all that has changed. Are things perfect? No, but the needle has moved in ways that people might never have thought 5 decades ago.

    Someone above mentioned the anti-smoking campaign. I was as adamant as any of the gun people about my smoking rights (well maybe not quite as adamant, but...) -- here some few decades later, I no longer smoke. There are still smokers, but public spaces are healthier and fewer people smoke.

    Gun control would need to be a longterm cultural and public health campaign to shift attitudes - incremental changes, as Mid says. But it can happen if we have the will and stand up to big moneyed interests.

    Take a page from the antiabortion people - when they couldn't outlaw abortion wholesale, they have conducted a wildly successful long-term campaign to chip away at the edges. Gun control will take that kind of tenacity and long-term commitment.
    posted by madamjujujive at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


    Can we all just shake hands now and accept that crazy, evil people will do crazy, evil things?

    So if in America we had like 200 million canisters of nerve gas, much of it in heavily weaponized forms designed to kill masses of people, and then a 20 year old stole his mom's arsenal and killed a bunch of kids, you'd be in here all "crazy people gonna be crazy, what'cha gonna do?"

    Because that's about as much sense as your argument is making to a lot of us. I went over to a friend's house a couple months ago and he showed me his new toy, an AR-15. There is simply no sane reason on earth for civilians to have those in their homes.

    The purpose of these devices is to greatly magnify a person's killing power. And there's not that many well-adjusted, sane people committed to spending thousands of dollars to magnify their killing power.
    posted by crayz at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]



    that people determined to have guns will find a way.

    And this is true also, but, as others point out, there is no other aspect of our lives that we apply this standard to. It isn't an refutation of every kind of gun regulation, it's an incantation and applied to the rest of life in the manner the NRA likes to use it, it's an incantation that would abolish every law, every regulation, and most social activity.



    I suppose my point is, that if we put ALL our focus on that one aspect, it still may not bring us the results we all agree we want. Whether you are a gun owner or not, whether you are for gun control or not, there is a bigger picture here. I am not saying that no one should advocate for stricter controls on gun ownership but I am saying that in this particular culture of ours, that even if that achievement is unlocked, it still will not fix the overarching problem.

    When I was a child there were lots of guns out there, my husband's high school had a gun safety day where everyone brought their guns to school, so on and so forth....why is it that we did not have these sorts of incidents THEN like we do NOW? We need an answer to THAT question even as we try to figure out how to keep firearms out of the reach of evil people.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    He had them illegally. With that one clarification, all our posturing back and forth about the evils of legally available guns and their various configurations amounts to squat - This could have happened in NYC or DC, with their insanely restrictive gun laws, just as easily as it did in (relatively) gun-friendly CT

    Insanely restrictive?? Look at the laws in any other country. NY gun laws are not that restrictive.

    As for his having them illegally, how did he get them? How hard is it for other people to get them? How available are they in general? Alcohol is illegal for 20 year olds, and so are grenades. But one of those things is still easier to access for 20 year olds...
    posted by mdn at 10:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    These two statements cannot both be true. A person who thinks that obeying a gun control law is "dog dumb" cannot also be a "responsible individual".

    They cannot be true if all people who own guns all think exactly the same thing.

    If you don't think disarming the nation presents, as I said, a structural problem because of defiant people with guns, people with mental problems, people with paranoid worldviews, and so on, you're free to think that.
    posted by clarknova at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2012


    If you don't think disarming the nation presents, as I said, a structural problem because of defiant people with guns, people with mental problems ...

    Well let's take the case of Adam Lanza, a person with mental problems who did not have guns. Presumably his mother would have been a responsible citizen and turned in her guns, and then her son would have not been able to access them.

    Is this a perfect idea that solves all our society's problems? No. But that doesn't explain why you're arguing against it.
    posted by crayz at 11:04 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    > If you don't think disarming the nation presents, as I said, a structural problem because of defiant people with guns, people with mental problems, people with paranoid worldviews, and so on, you're free to think that.

    No, I'm saying that many gun owners are not responsible people, because they are defiant with guns, have mental problems or paranoid world views.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:04 AM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    If you don't think disarming the nation presents, as I said, a structural problem

    Well I don't think anyone's trying to oversimplify the logistics. But lobbying and getting policy in place is the first step. Enforcement is, of course, a big problem.

    Let's look at it this way. Say we disarm the nation of military grade weapons, leaving the allowable weapons as hunting rifles and limited handguns for those with hunting licenses (for the aforementioned bear issue), thus limiting allowable guns to those used for hunting.

    I'm going to go ahead and say 50% of people willingly turn in their guns. That makes it twice as hard for someone to get their hands on a military assault rifle.

    Now, in 5, 10, 20 years, with no new weapons being sold, the old ones dry up. In the long term, you don't need to enforce possession so much as production and distribution.

    Cities with gun problems have reduced crime rates because, even with the black market, there are only so many guns available for distribution.

    It doesn't solve the problem for tomorrow or next year, but it puts in place a long term plan that will make our nation safer in time. From a national policy level, that's pretty much the most we can hope for.
    posted by DoubleLune at 11:06 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    No, I'm saying that many gun owners are not responsible people, because they are defiant with guns, have mental problems or paranoid world views.

    Yeah they probably aren't.
    posted by clarknova at 11:11 AM on December 15, 2012


    > Yeah they probably aren't.

    So why should they be allowed to have weapons?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:14 AM on December 15, 2012


    It comes down to a yes/no question:

    Do you believe that deaths of these children and their guardians is an acceptable price to pay for the current interpretation of the Second Amendment?

    I own guns, and I can't answer yes. I've thought a lot about it, and I'd give up all of the semi-automatic weapons that I own. Some of them are old, and I dearly love old things. That would leave me with the muzzle-loader handgun, the .22 revolver, and the 30-30. I don't own any double-action revolvers anymore, but I'd give them up too.

    But I won't have to give anything up. Nothing is going to change. The sellers of guns in this country have an interest in continued sales, and that market will trump the inalienable rights of the citizen to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
    posted by the Real Dan at 11:16 AM on December 15, 2012 [26 favorites]


    They cannot be true if all people who own guns all think exactly the same thing.

    Likewise, if every gun owner isn't defiantly preparing to fight the Feds, then prohibiting some kinds of firearms isn't the insurmountable structural problem that you imagine.

    Undoubtedly, any kind of nationwide confiscation would be difficult and expensive. I'm skeptical that it would be worth the cost or effort. But that's very different from asserting that any kind of regulation is doomed because gun owners will rise up in revolt.
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    unless he broke in to an armoury to get them

    Didn't have to. The weapons likely belonged to his mother.
    posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:19 AM on December 15, 2012


    "Look. We have affordable and/or free mental health care in the USA. It's there for anyone that needs it. "

    But not in a way that adequately addresses their problems.

    Two cases in point:

    Case One: A bipolar woman I know. Usually fairly functional and able to work, despite her diagnosis... but she lost a good job that paid about $70K a year during the recession, and is currently stuck working a job that pays half that. She can't afford to leave it, though, because it has health insurance which she needs to make her bipolarism affordable to live with. Even with insurance, it costs her about $300 a month in insurance and meds to tackle the setup that allows her to be mentally functional at work, which for her means three different meds -- only one of which is generic -- plus sleeping pills, plus a hormone replacement patch, plus a CPAP machine. That, plus the crappy pay, makes her barely able to keep her head above water.

    If any one element of what she needs isn't there, she gets bipoliarism, depression, panic attacks, and general inability to function. When she lost her prior job, she tried getting help from her city mental health services... but they didn't provide any coverage for non-psychiatric drugs, such as sleeping meds or hormone replacement therapy... nor did they provide any non-generics, which meant that she would get major panic attacks every day, and made living with her bipolarism *much, much* harder. It also made her job hunt much harder too. Fortunately, she found a job pretty quickly, as she couldn't afford to live on unemployment for long.

    And so, she works her current lousy job, because it has semi-affordable insurance that covers these things.. even though it requires her to wait up to 2-3 months to see her psych doctor, located about 40 miles away. The doctor is far from ideal, but they're the only one in her insurance system that sees bipolar patients. She looks forward to the full implementation of Obamacare, because at least that way insurance will be available, no matter what employer she has... making it possible for her to take on more lucrative contract and temp-to-perm positions.

    Case Two: A homeless person with schizophrenia. They'd get meds from the city mental health services, but would then be released and either have a hard time finding space in public shelters, or be essentially kicked out for talking/yelling in his sleep. Public housing had a 14 month waiting list, and wasn't configured to provide meds within the housing services geared to the homeless, even though most of the homeless required meds of one sort or another to be functional.

    The problem, really, is that most people with mental disorders need several things at once -- and a stable environment -- in order to be functional, but our society does a lousy job of providing the depth of services they need. That makes it entirely too easy not only for the mentally ill to get off the streets and get functionally treated, but it also creates the kind of environment that tends to cause even functional, working mentally ill to wind up homeless and untreated, if they run into a spot of bad luck... which, statistically, they are likely to do sooner or later.
    posted by markkraft at 11:29 AM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    Meanwhile another shooting.. Hospital in Alabama. 3 injured, gunman dead
    posted by edgeways at 11:31 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    pla, the fact that he was under CT's legal age to carry a gun is not new information; it was known yesterday. More importantly, though, the idea that "this happened while a law was broken and therefore no possible law can help" is, frankly, totally absurd.
    posted by Flunkie at 11:32 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    You can turn in guns right now. I did this a couple of months ago, turned in my late father's revolver (which had been in my mother's house for 25 years and in the house I grew up with before that, bullets still in the chamber, probably, and isn't that scary?) to HPD. Took the gun and the bullets over to the West Side command station, got a case file number, and they said they'd destroy the gun, which was fine with me.

    I wish the shooter's mother had done the same.
    posted by immlass at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Naturally, and as usual, Up with Chris Hayes had a really thoughtful discussion about the issues everyone is talking about here in this thread and all across the country today.
    posted by ob1quixote at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I've been watching news coverage of the latest mass murders by firearm for over a decade and I don't remember even once seeing an interviewed witness or victim or family member reacting with anger at the American gun culture that allows massacres like this to go on and on and on.

    Because no one ever reacted with outrage or because corporate media would never air it?

    The latter I'm sure.
    posted by wrapper at 11:36 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    So long as politicians fear the pro-gun lobby more than they fear anti-gun activists, little will change. People who continue to do no more than argue online rather than write their Representatives and Senators are just farting in the wind. Name-calling is ineffective and a "national conversation" is only more bullshit. This debate must be held in Congress and State Legislatures, and it cannot stop until the Second Amendment is extensively modiified.

    Come Monday morning, the bulk of this indignation will have faded away, but the NRA's cash flow machine will continue churning contributions.
    posted by Ardiril at 11:38 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Alabama? We're definitely in mucker territory now.
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:39 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    markkraft,
    There's something about schizophrenia that makes it treatment resistant. I saw some data not too long ago that said that even in countries with socialized medicine, relapse rates were about the same. This isn't an excuse for our crap medical care system in the USA, which in my opinion, is a national disgrace.

    I tend to think there's something really wrong with American society. Two anecdotes.
    A friend of mine spends a lot of time in the Philippines. He said he sometimes meets people who "talk to dead people" and they seem to fit in and function decently enough. Other people know that if you want to talk to a dead relative, you go to them. What's interesting is that my friend told me that when these "talk to dead people" folks move to the US they fall apart and get diagnosed with schizophrenia. Once they are back in the Philippines they are fine.

    Second anecdote-- I used to have a friend who had schizophrenia, as it turned out. Money wasn't a problem for her, she had considerable financial resources. She just wouldn't take her pills. She was a beautiful, intelligent, perceptive woman even in the middle of her episodes, who seemed to simply have a hard time integrating into society. Seeing the cruelties of life seemed to hurt her more, and deeper, than it hurt other people.
    posted by wuwei at 11:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Another anecdote:
    My brother has paranoid schizophrenia. He does this dangerous thing, when he's stressed, of getting himself arrested by pretending to have a gun, demanding money. He doesn't want to hurt anybody, just wants -- out, I guess.

    So recently we had a bit of panic because his group home director told me that the state was working to get folks in group facilities put back in the community. The director to me was like, I have one client who thinks he's from Venus. He's not going to make it outside.

    My bro is vulnerable enough that, hopefully with Venus guy, he will get to stay in his safe place. But the idea that somebody would try to take his safe place away makes my blood boil. Because I and his caregivers know that w/o a safe place, the chances that he will get shot by a cop during one of his 'please arrest me' adventures are very high.

    Also anecdotally, my parents tried in various ways to get him care when symptoms of his schizophrenia manifested. I disagree with 95% of their choices when it comes to my brother, but my parents did try -- they were greatly hampered by their own limitations and by the lack of mental health care.

    My little bro is not going to go shoot a bunch of kids. That's not how his disease manifests. But the amount of danger he has put himself into, he kind of lucky to be alive.

    Anyways, one story, not proof of anything.
    posted by angrycat at 11:51 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    I read that Time piece St. Alia of the Bunnies posted and cried.

    I'm a magazine editor, and I know that as writers and editors, we want to write things that touch people—when my colleagues and I read each other's work, we try to let each other know when a passage is particularly affecting, whether we laugh or we cry. That's part of the craft of writing and editing.

    But no one I know wants things like this to happen just so they can evoke tears with their writing. These reactions are not the kinds of things you want to find yourself having to quote.

    And wrapper, having read a lot of news coverage of this sort of thing myself, I would say that's because the family's first thought generally isn't to the larger culture. Their first thought is "Oh my God. Why did they take my baby?" So no, you probably aren't going to see a lot of victims talking about "gun culture" in initial coverage of things like this, and I think that has more to do with human nature and how we process personal tragedy than any sort of concerted effort on the part of news organizations to omit that sort of reaction.

    But I could be wrong; I don't know what they do at other news organizations, and maybe those organizations are full of psychopaths who love it when mass murders occur so they can quote bereaved mothers and make people cry ("That'll get me a Pulitzer for sure!"), and maybe they suppress early quotes talking about gun culture to serve some sort of corporate goal or out of fear of seeming "political." I only know that at my own publication, that's not how we do things.
    posted by limeonaire at 11:52 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    "we want to write things that touch people"

    How many journalists will donate their wages from yesterday toward amending the Second Amendment? How many will remain vampires, feeding off their reality porn?
    posted by Ardiril at 12:01 PM on December 15, 2012


    The argument I keep seeing on FB today (mostly by pro-gun folk) is that it's not a gun problem, it's a lack of mental healthcare problem, and any sort of gun control won't fix anything, because determined folk can resort to lawn furniture to hurt people.

    And the thing is, I agree that mental healthcare in this country (or the lack thereof) is pretty appalling, but pointing that out as a counterargument is like people who talk about weight loss like "Diet is as important, if not moreso, than exercise." Which is true, but like, you know what else remains important then? Exercise!
    posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:09 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    NYT recap:
    Contradicting earlier reports, Ms. Robinson said Mr. Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, had never been a teacher or a substitute teacher at the school, though she did not specifically say whether she had had any other connection to the place.

    Officials said the killing spree began early on Friday at the house where Mr. Lanza had lived with his mother. There, he shot her in the face, making her his first victim, the authorities said. Then, leaving her dead after taking three guns that apparently belonged to her, he climbed into her car for the short drive to the school. Two of the guns were semiautomatic pistols; the other was a semiautomatic rifle.

    Outfitted in combat gear, Mr. Lanza forced his way into the school, apparently defeating an intercom system that was supposed to keep people out during the day unless someone inside buzzed them in. This was contrary to earlier reports that he had been recognized and allowed to enter.

    So the bulletproof vest has morphed into combat gear and his mother's connection with the school is non-existent.

    The "combat gear" and the choice of weapons (for which his mother apparently served as a strawman purchaser) makes this look like a long term developing situation. Wait for what turns up in the search of the home. I'm betting there will be other evidence of long-term planning.

    We are still days, if not weeks, from the facts of the case.

    Lack of access to mental healthcare was not a factor in this case. Refusal to seek care is more like it. So people should stop scapegoating the mentally ill or mental health providers. This isn't their problem.
    posted by warbaby at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


    The argument I keep seeing on FB today (mostly by pro-gun folk) is that it's not a gun problem, it's a lack of mental healthcare problem, and any sort of gun control won't fix anything, because determined folk can resort to lawn furniture to hurt people.

    Well, even at that. He apparently wanted to buy a rifle earlier and was dissuaded by the background checks.

    So, he stole his mother's legally registered and acquired guns, and used them.

    Don't get me wrong - I think there should be more substantive registration and checks of firearms. But at the same time, I see the ineffectiveness of, say, DRM at curbing behaviors and how it gets in the way of legitimate users and how trivial it is for anyone with half a brain to circumvent.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2012


    From the point of view of someone in their early thirties in the UK, the non-hunting pro gun arguments people have voiced on here are some of the most terrifying and personally incomprehensible things I've read recently.

    Why the fuck do you guys think it's a great cultural norm for anyone to go around with a tool designed only to kill...? I mean, the parts about "it's just like car keys..." or similar.

    NO IT'S FUCKING NOT.
    posted by MattWPBS at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2012 [73 favorites]


    The argument I keep seeing on FB today (mostly by pro-gun folk) is that it's not a gun problem, it's a lack of mental healthcare problem, and any sort of gun control won't fix anything, because determined folk can resort to lawn furniture to hurt people.

    hmmfff.....well, lawn chairs tend to take a bit more time to be effective as a fatal instrument. Yesterday's events would have been far less tragic if the shooter had stocked up at Home Depot that morning.

    But I hear ya and get what you are saying. Though coming from FB users, I tend to be reminded of that dad who shot his daughters laptop because she had posted something he did not like on Facebook.

    Model citizenry.
    posted by lampshade at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    From Reuters:
    Nancy Lanza legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns of models commonly used by police, and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials who also believe Adam Lanza used at least some of those weapons. ... Nancy Lanza was an avid gun collector who once showed him a "really nice, high-end rifle" that she had purchased, said Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping business who recently decorated her yard with Christmas garlands and lights. "She said she would often go target shooting with her kids."
    Well then.
    posted by Kat Allison at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2012


    Gail Collins | The New York Times:
    Every country has a sizable contingent of mentally ill citizens. We’re the one that gives them the technological power to play god.

    This is all about guns — access to guns and the ever-increasing firepower of guns. Over the past few years we’ve seen one shooting after another in which the killer was wielding weapons holding 30, 50, 100 bullets. I’m tired of hearing fellow citizens argue that you need that kind of firepower because it’s a pain to reload when you’re shooting clay pigeons. Or that the founding fathers specifically wanted to make sure Americans retained their right to carry rifles capable of mowing down dozens of people in a couple of minutes.

    ... We will undoubtedly have arguments about whether tougher regulation on gun sales or extra bullet capacity would have made a difference in Connecticut. In a way it doesn’t matter. America needs to tackle gun violence because we need to redefine who we are. We have come to regard ourselves — and the world has come to regard us — as a country that’s so gun happy that the right to traffic freely in the most obscene quantities of weapons is regarded as far more precious than an American’s right to health care or a good education.

    We have to make ourselves better. Otherwise, the story from Connecticut is too unspeakable to bear.
    posted by ericb at 12:33 PM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    Interview with a 1st. Grade teacher (aka a 'brave angel' IMHO) who barricaded her students in their classroom while the shootings were taking place.
    posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's not been mentioned in this thread, but one aspect of the "right to bear arms for personal defense" argument (as opposed to for sport or for hunting) is deeply held and unspoken racism.
    posted by KokuRyu at 12:40 PM on December 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


    The argument I keep seeing on FB today (mostly by pro-gun folk) is that it's not a gun problem, it's a lack of mental healthcare problem
    I've heard pretty much nothing but chirping crickets from the usual suspects amongst my Facebook friends. Literally the only thing from any of them was that one of the most vocal way out there Jesus-bless-my-guns-so-I-can-protect-America-from-the-Kenyan types posted a picture of an ubiquitous "cause" ribbon with the name of the school on it. As if that absolves him.
    posted by Flunkie at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    How many journalists will donate their wages from yesterday toward amending the Second Amendment? How many will remain vampires, feeding off their reality porn?

    You know, journalists have to live—and live with what we've seen and what we've written—just like everyone else. And we're human beings with sometimes complicated sets of feelings about things that are central to living in the U.S., like the Second Amendment. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach to being a journalist or dealing with crises like this, and personally, no, I'm not ready to call for an amendment to the Second Amendment, or donate my wages from yesterday toward that cause.

    Speaking only for myself, I'm still working through my thoughts and feelings about this week's shootings and the surrounding issues, processing it all just as so many others are, and figuring out how to move forward. Part of how I'm doing that is by writing down my thoughts and feelings, and commenting when I feel like I have something worth saying or thinking through in writing, as I just did. And another part of how I'm doing that is by reading everyone's thoughts in this thread, including yours, and trying to figure out what I think is a useful or good solution. I am definitely not at a point where I think I have all the answers, but if you feel like you know the way forward, then by all means press on. I'm still figuring it out—and I'm allowed to take the time to do that.

    Yes, some journalists are "vampires, feeding off their reality porn." But many more aren't, and the antidote to the behavior of the others isn't snap judgments or instant vows to be part of a given cause.
    posted by limeonaire at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


    Yeah, the "those weren't Ms. Lanza's guns" misinformation is pretty thoroughly shattered now, so can we stop repeating it?
    posted by Sidhedevil at 12:48 PM on December 15, 2012


    I don't care if the guns belonged to her, the shooter, or Charlie Manson. She didn't need all those damn guns.
    posted by angrycat at 12:51 PM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    If a government were any damn good, it would actively seek to learn how other nations do things, analyze the results, and choose best practices. Hell, anything less than that is to just pathetically half-ass one's responsibilities to the country.

    Assuming that those with true wealth and power want best management practices. I'll bet a scared, stressed-out population is better for them.

    I suppose in that case, they are utilizing best practices. For them.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:55 PM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Why don't the Swiss have a comparable per capita rate of spree killings and other gun violence? Switzerland has a very high rate of gun ownership, including of fully automatic weapons that are banned in the U.S.

    I know some studies show a great correlation between social equality and lower rates of violence. (Also better social equality equates with better health and a horde of other things).

    The book I am most familiar with is The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone.

    One of the co-author's ted talks is here.

    The US is an outlier in gun violence and inequality among wealthier countries.
    posted by chapps at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Isn't it the case that all "illegal guns" were once "legal guns"? It's not like they come out of the gun factories with different labels. While the transition from legal to illegal is one obvious point of attack, the ultimate problem is therefore the legal guns since they are a necessary condition for the illegal ones.

    As for being a gun fancier with lots of guns in a house with a mentally-ill 20 year old son, I dunno, that's reckless at best and close to being an accessory before the fact, though no doubt perfectly legal and covered by the 2nd amendment and all that deeply important stuff.
    posted by Rumple at 1:00 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    octobersurprise: Alabama? We're definitely in mucker territory now.
    You reminded me of something I wrote five years ago in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre. My apologies for the length.
    John Brunner was cyberpunk before there was such a thing. Brunner's works are somewhat of a riddle. He wrote prolifically, but much of it is about what you would expect. However, in the decade between 1965 and 1975 Brunner unwittingly originated the cyperpunk genre and wrote five of the most horrifically visionary science fiction novels of the 20th century, viz. The Squares of the City, The Sheep Look Up, Stand on Zanzibar, The Jagged Orbit, and The Shockwave Rider.

    Arguably, the Hugo award-winning Stand on Zanzibar is the best of the lot. The book takes place in 2010 as seen from 1968. Many of the themes are hauntingly accurate: rampant consumerism, ubiquitous terrorism and "muckers."

    The consumerism depicted in Zanzibar is a reasonable projection from the society of 1968. Even then automakers would introduce "Next Year's Model" in the fall. In Zanzibar the "Next Year's Model" syndrome is markedly more pronounced, but not dissimilar to the way everything from clothes to phones are marketed today.

    As for terrorism, Brunner's vision is much sharper here. While there are events that could be considered "terrorist attacks" stretching back into antiquity, most of what we know as terrorism hadn't even happened yet. Munich wasn't until 1972. The first terrorist suicide bomb wasn't detonated until 1981. While we haven't risen to the level depicted in Zanzibar, there is no denying that the tactics of terrorism have seen a dramatic upsurge in the last four decades.

    The most disturbing future vision raised in Zanzibar is the mucker. A mucker is a person who has run amok, i.e. they have gone into a frenzy and taken up arms with the intent to kill everyone they meet. Usually, there is little to no warning that a person is about to do this. Muckers are typically not captured alive.

    In Zanzibar, Brunner describes a society absolutely petrified of muckers. Many of the people in Burnner's world live tightly packed, but in complete isolation from one another. They sit at home and watch the adventures of "Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere," in which their form and speech are digitally superimposed over the actors, so that they feel like they've gone places without leaving their couch. Kept in terror by newscasts that imply that any of their neighbors might run amok at any time, they arm themselves in self-defense, even though it is widely believed that few who stand against a mucker live to tell the tale.

    The reasons people run amok are a mystery, both in Zanzibar and in real life. Psychologists, as they are want to do, come up with all kinds of theories, but none can explain what makes a person want to kill dozens of complete strangers. Crackpots have at various times posited video games, pornography, rap music, comic books, and marijuana as prime causes. Society in general comes up with nothing but excuses, much of which is merely an attempt to deflect any collective culpability for the marginalization of the perpetrator. Like the denizens of Brunner's America, we isolate ourselves psychologically from our friends and neighbors, believe more of what we see on the news than is good for us, and deny any part of fomenting an environment in which such tragic events are all but certain to occur.

    Is it not plain to see that while tragic and senseless events do occur, THE MAN exploits them to keep us off balance and constantly starting at shadows? Have we come to this, that we slaughter the innocent, convict the guiltless, welcome the oppressor, and praise the charlatan, such is our ignorance and cowardice? With each passing day we advance to a time when Brunner's nightmare visions come closer and closer to reality. Must we perforce bury our essential human dignity deeper and deeper beneath machinery and deceit simply to survive without giving in to the mucker within all of us? As we march inexorably towards that day when all Earth's people, elbow to elbow and face to face, might be able to stand on Zanzibar if we allow some to wade up to their knees, what happens to humanity itself?
    posted by ob1quixote at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


    Astonishing arguments above:

    * Owning a gun is like owning a fridge or other household appliance.
    * Carrying a gun is like carrying a cellphone or car keys.
    * Gun control is a bad idea because too many dangerous people have guns.
    * Murdering 20 small children is no proof that someone is mentally ill.
    * Obtaining an illegal gun is like breaking DRM.

    I start to type - and I'm just dumbfounded. Would it really bother you as much to learn that your next door neighbor had 2000 pirated DVDs as to learn they had 100 illegal guns? What possible definition of sanity includes someone who can randomly murder a couple of dozen people, mainly kids?

    Is there even any basis for communication between the two sides in this debate?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:25 PM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


    I was glad to read this piece from a prominent journalist. It's disappointing to see the same old script time and time again.

    News orgs should deny mass killers the attention they crave

    I don’t feel that I have any great insight on the gun-control debate that inevitably swirls around these incidents. But I always agonize about journalism’s role in these stories. Clearly this is attention-seeking behavior, and we give these killers what they want.

    I should clarify: I don’t think the psychology of mass murder is simple enough to attribute to any single factor such as longing for attention. (And one of the things that most annoys me about coverage is when we interview psychologists who speculate about the mental state of someone they have never examined.)

    But it’s clear to me that attention is part of the motivation of killers. Even those who kill themselves or keep killing until an officer kills them clearly have decided they want to go out in a blaze of infamy.


    The rest is here...
    posted by missmerrymack at 1:26 PM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Today is my son's birthday. It is unfathomable to me that we picked up his birthday cake yesterday, gave him presents today, and that parents lost their children yesterday and will never have another birthday like we had today.

    I experience an almost fugue state thinking about it.
    posted by zizzle at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    pyramid termite: i would say that if going off and shooting a bunch of people isn't something that fits our definition of mental illness, then our definition is lacking

    Most soldiers are not de facto given a mental illness diagnosis (though shellshock/PTSD is found in a lot of them). As I listed above in my exhaustive listing of studies of mass murderers and schizophrenia, only about 30-40% have contact with the mental health system prior to offending. Mental illness is primarily defined by symtoms a person exhibits, and while someone might be diagnoses AFTER committing a mass murder, as that would be considered 'a symptom', they seem to not meet criteria beforehand and people who do meet criteria for a variety of mental illnesses (possibly even sociopathy - our studies of sociopathy come almost entirely from the prison system, which is a major confound) don't commit mass killings.

    False positives are a huge and serious problem, even within more study and predictive driven forensic science, and the majority of mental health is not predictive.

    I want to emphasize that. Our predictive ability sucks. (Sucks defined as same as chance). Far more false positives and negatives than valid calls. And when false positives cost people their community, career, and standing that destroys their life.

    Even when our predictive ability doesn't suck (which is rarely) there is still usually a huge false positive cohort - not 1% of 5% but 20%. The most predictive test of future violence, Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, has an 80% success rate - which means a 20% failure rate. Its creator admits all the fears he had about it being applied in a criminal setting have pretty much come true.

    "Once you get into the real world, there does seem to be some lessening of reliability," says Daniel Murrie, a professor at the University of Virginia who has studied what happens when psychological tests are taken from a rarefied research environment and transferred to the rough-and-tumble world of criminal justice.

    About four years ago, Murrie decided to study the PCL-R to look at what happened when a psychologist hired by the prosecution gave Hare's test to the same prisoner as a psychologist hired by the defense.

    Did those two psychologists give the same score to the same person?

    The answer, says Murrie, was no. "Ten, 15, even 20-point score differences we found," he says, " And overall there was about an 8-point difference in scores."


    And this is with something pretty tested and predictive - that inter-rater reliability is crap. In a study, those would have to be thrown out. In a court, someone whose defense didn't get their own scoring can be labeled a "sociopath" and kept in prison for the rest of their life even if they didn't kill someone.

    Nevermind that since the majority (2/3) of mass murderers have no significant contact with the mental health system we'd just have to test everyone and then... I don't know, throw them all in prison? Seriously, before they've committed a crime, how do you think this can even be addressed? Right now we're not meeting the needs (food, clothing, shelter) of the mental illness population we have; I'm not sure where the money could come to follow around people who somehow fail the "will committ mass murder" test we haven't even made yet.

    A lot of people seem really, really invested in re-defining "mental illness" to keep the people who kill people from being "normal." The cost to that is the lives of people with legitamate mental illnesses who never commit crimes - people already struggling who are discriminated against because people are afraid of them. This is fucking criminal.

    People being scared of mass murderers is not a good enough reason to punish anyone with a mental illness, nor is it enough to de facto remake the mental illness system to address mass murderers at the expense of everyone else.
    posted by Deoridhe at 1:28 PM on December 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


    So, it's been my experience that mental health care is pretty much available to anyone who wants it. All they have to do it look for it. The people who snap and do unspeakable things (whether it's mass killings, serial killings, killing one person, or suicide) are those who refuse medical care, aren't aware that help is possible, or simple refuse to admit that they need it.

    As someone who was poor and looking for affordable mental health care during a crisis, your experience was not my experience at all. After days of searching I found one facility that offered $30 for the first session--$100 for all sessions after that. Then the cost of medication. Right now I get treatment because of my school's counseling center. When I leave I am not sure what I'll do. Do not assume it's that easy.
    posted by schroedinger at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    What group is the anti-NRA? The Brady Campaign seems to spend lots of money fundraising. I need to do what I can to fight the pernicious effects of the NRA. What group do I join?
    posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The victims.

    Children:

    Charlotte Bacon, 6
    Daniel Barden, 7
    Olivia Engel, 6
    Josephine Gay, 7
    Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
    Dylan Hockley, 6
    Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
    Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
    Chase Kowalski, 7
    Jesse Lewis, 6
    James Mattioli, 6
    Grace McDonnell, 7
    Emilie Parker, 6
    Jack Pinto, 6
    Noah Pozner, 6
    Caroline Previdi, 6
    Jessica Rekos, 6
    Aveille Richman, 6
    Benjamin Wheeler, 6
    Allison N. Wyatt, 6

    Adults:

    Dawn Hocksprung, 47
    Rachel Davino, 29
    Anne Marie Murphy, 52
    Lauren Russeau, 30
    Mary Sherlach, 56
    Victoria Soto, 27

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    posted by zizzle at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


    Huckabee: Schools ‘A Place Of Carnage’ Because We ‘Systematically Removed God’
    "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."
    Valid military targets are children

    God sure is a strange cat eh?
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2012


    Is there even any basis for communication between the two sides in this debate?

    It is like trying to communicate with goldfish about water. You're talking to people who can't conceive "no water". US culture ensures you spend your life swimming in violence. For a great majority of Americans, the concept of safety without firepower is as absurd as the concept of breathing in outer space.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


    This prompted me to return to chapter 2 of Colin Wilson's epic A Criminal History of Mankind. (Yes, Wilson was infaturated with the occult, but he was also one of the best true crime writers to ply the trade.) In "A Report on the Violent Man" Wilson recounts a theory of A. E. Van Vogt, a renowned science fiction writer who was also the author of a number of psychological studies.

    Van Vogt had formed the theory that a certain subset of the population, particularly men (but as Wilson later argues a few women too) are "Right Men" who have a consistent psychological weakness. Of the examples Wilson visits perhaps the most prominent is Peter Sellers, a brilliant and respected actor who was deeply insecure and prone to fly into uncontrollable rages when challenged. Wilson:
    Van Vogt makes the basic observation that the central characteristic of the Right Man is 'the decision to be out of control, in some particular area.' We all have to learn self-control to deal with the real world, and with other people. But with some particular person -- a mother, a wife, a child -- we may decide that this effort is unnecessary and allow ourselves to explode.
    After recounting another anecdote from Sergei Aksasov's Family Chronicle of his grandfather flying into a senseless rage, Wilson continues:
    Aksasov sees his grandfather as a 'noble, magnanimous, often self-restrained man' -- So he is capable of self-restraint. But in this one area of his life, his control over his family, he has made 'the decision to be out of control.' It is provoked by his daughter persisting in a lie; this infuriates him; he feels she is treating him with a lack of respect in assuming he can be duped. So he explodes and drags his wife around by the hair.
    So how does this behavior extend to mass murder? A later comment is haunting:
    The Right Man feels that his rage is a storm which has to be allowed to blow itself out, no matter what damage it causes. But this means he is also the slave of an impulse he cannot control; his property, even the lives of those he loves, are at the mercy of his emotions.
    I'll just leave it at that; Wilson takes over 600 pages making his case that this kind of behavior is fairly common, readily provoked by certain recognizable situations, and becoming steadily more common and bizarre. These are not people who would normally be recognized as "mentally ill." They are hard working upstanding citizens and they do not consider themselves dangerous; often neither do their victims even after multiple outbursts.

    Recounting an episode when Peter Sellers flew into a tantrum, stabbed the floorboard with a knife and told his maid "I'll kill you you cow," Wilson says we must leave the question open of whether he was serious. Many similar examples show that, despite all he had to lose, he might well have gone through with it if sufficiently provoked. (In that case the maid jumped out a window and ran for her life, never to be seen by the Sellers family again.)

    I'll let the rest of you lot argue about whether such people should have guns and if not how to keep them separated.
    posted by localroger at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


    Then why are there unmedicated crazy people walking the streets. You know, a good majority of the homeless population suffer from some sort of mental disorder, PTSD or Schizophrenia.

    I will say this more simply since people seem to not be reading.

    The rates of violence among those with schizophrenia are about the same as those without; higher rates of violence are correlated with drug use, not mental illness.

    "A small preportion of violence in our society can be attributed to people who are mentally ill." [Disclaimer: I did not read their studies they meta-analysed, but the methodology they used seemed sound.]

    Also, people who are medicated may still have symptoms of hallucinations and delusions; most of my clients still do, even though they are medicated, but effective case management can teach coping skills and reality testing. Negative symptoms, like avolition and cognitive disorganization, also often remain. Having a very severe mental illness sucks hairy monkey balls, and a bunch of people deciding you also are an empryo-mass-murder does not help.

    Most people with severe enough mental illnesses can get on social security and use medicaid and medicare. Getting on can take years (you often have to apply multiple times), but once you're in you can usually score a case manager (like me) who can try to keep the benefits going. Medicare is the hardest to maintain; it gives me serious headaches because we have to renew every year (oh yeah, last year she had schizophrenia, but this year just an adjustment disorder! *spits*). If you're looking for local services in the USA, call 211 and explain your situation; each state has a different process even when the services are Federally Mandated. I believe NAMI might also have people who can help you navigate getting services. If you memail me your location, I'll see what I can find; I have experience across a couple of states.

    If you want to help, contact NAMI. They can point you to ways to volunteer locally. One basic way to help is to treat all human beings with respect and dignity, even if they are talking to themselves but don't have a bluetooth headset.
    posted by Deoridhe at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


    At some point I think we have to consider that instead of just lumping this under the category of mental illness....we need to understand that there is such a thing is evil. Evil is not equivalent to mentally ill. Most mentally ill people are NOT evil by any standard, for one. For another, one could be evil and totally sane.


    Unless this shooter was totally delusional, or dealing with, say, paranoid schizophrenia (which we have no evidence for either at this point) we have to realize that sometimes the only answer we will have to something like this is someone chose to embody evil.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2012


    Oh, and before anyone jumps in I am very aware that most schizophrenic people are totally harmless to others.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2012


    > Is there even any basis for communication between the two sides in this debate?

    Nope. And the winning side (those who just hold out until they're forced to shoot you down to shut you up) have us all at 6s and 7s.
    posted by de at 1:59 PM on December 15, 2012


    Murdering 20 small children is no proof that someone is mentally ill.

    What possible definition of sanity includes someone who can randomly murder a couple of dozen people, mainly kids?


    Wading in here against all my better judgement to just clarify something.

    Sanity (at least for our current discussion context) is primarily a legal term and refers to the soundness of mind of an indivdual during the comission of a crime; it boils down to the question of "did the defendant know what he was doing, or, if so, that it was wrong?".

    Mental illness and insanity are not the same thing; there are a tremendous number of people with mental health issues who are not insane. We all know and live with people (even if they haven't told you) who are working on mental health issues who are not a threat to anyone.

    I have no idea what was going on with the perpetrator in this case (I've actually been avoiding the news because it makes me physically ill) and I'm not going to speculate, but this is one of those semantic things that makes life for those coping with mental illness a little harder.
    posted by never used baby shoes at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This is a good series of links if you want to understand what has been found in studying mass murderers. I'm gradually going through the links (this is an area of particular interest to me, though my real obsession had been serial killers who have a very different morphology). This is the overview I started on last night which gave a framework for the four hypothesized 'types' of mass murder within adolescent populations and an overview of possible motivations.
    posted by Deoridhe at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    we need to understand that there is such a thing is evil

    Nonsense. "Evil" is not a useful term for discussion of matters of safety, crime, and punishment.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


    Aunt of Adam Lanza says he was raised in loving home, family had not noticed behavioral issues

    The father's family is from Crystal Lake, IL. The mother grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and is "familiar with guns".

    More on the New Hampshire ties.
    posted by dhartung at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2012


    I could not stop crying yesterday.

    Today I'm trying to figure out how it is that I'm raising my sons and daughter in a culture where we teach our kids how to avoid being shot and avoid being raped, instead of doing the things that would have to happen to keep people from shooting or raping them. The burden is being put on the wrong parts of the equation here, and it is sickening.

    Small children hiding in a cupboard, while someone murders their schoolmates, because we can't have it be too hard for someone to own a piece of machinery that only exists to main or kill? Disgusting.
    posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


    Newtown is also the home of the the firearms industry's trade assocition, the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
    posted by warbaby at 2:07 PM on December 15, 2012


    we need to understand that there is such a thing is evil

    This has also popped up in my Facebook feed, too. I don't think it's a particularly sophisticated or insightful way to address what happened yesterday.
    posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    we have to realize that sometimes the only answer we will have to something like this is someone chose to embody evil

    ...and conveniently had a bunch of guns lying around.
    posted by Sys Rq at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


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    posted by MattWPBS at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]




    > sometimes the only answer we will have to something like this is someone chose to embody evil.

    Surely that translates to "nothing can be done"?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2012


    we need to understand that there is such a thing is evil

    Nonsense. "Evil" is not a useful term for discussion of matters of safety, crime, and punishment.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:06 PM on December 15 [3 favorites +] [!]


    Why not? Social scientists and psychologists study it. Philip Zimbardo is one.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I start to type - and I'm just dumbfounded. Would it really bother you as much to learn that your next door neighbor had 2000 pirated DVDs as to learn they had 100 illegal guns?

    That wasn't what I was getting at.

    Look, this kid tried to buy a gun and was denied. The system, to that point, as it exists, worked.

    But like the analog hole, he just found someone who had the weapons he wanted, and took them; more or less trivially.

    I mean, Anders Breivik even circumvented the highly rigid gun control laws of Norway to perform his attack, using a legally acquired handgun and hunting rifle.

    That's not to say that there are fundamental weakness and problems with firearm legislation and culture in the US. There certainly is.

    Fundamentally, there is precious little you can do if someone decides that they are going to fuck it all and take as many people as possible with them. The basic trust that is required to make a society is the biggest vulnerability.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I think "evil" has perhaps too many connotations to be the right word (and, realistically, St. Alia, coming from you it's not even as neutral as it could be) but I think it is useful to be aware of our desperate need to classify and define as a way to control things, and stepping back and saying "bad things happen that we can't stop" balances that somewhat. I'm not saying, at all, that we shouldn't be thinking of steps to improve things in general, but there's a danger in trying to control everything ever in order to be safe - that's the mentality that leads us to stupid airport "security" and dangerous laws and, yes, stockpiling guns and ammo.
    posted by restless_nomad at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Somehow worse seeing the names and ages like that.
    posted by MattWPBS at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Oh God, reading those names
    posted by angrycat at 2:18 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I'm really surprised at the lack of rationality and logical argument here. Still a lot of raw emotion leading the charge.

    My opinion will likely be unpopular, so I won't bother voicing it.

    What I will say is that I reject the idea that something MUST be done when tragedies like this happen. I don't understand that need because I don't think it's rational.
    posted by autobahn at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If people shooting other people is evil then America is the most evilest of all places but I learned in third grade that America was the most best place? I'll pray on it.
    posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The Lanza family will be holding a press conference at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern).
    posted by ericb at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2012


    All of those babies. And the adults caring for them. My kid is 7. I haven't talked to him about this. How can I? His vivid imagination will have him imagining gunmen in class immediately. Yes, there were "helpers" and heroes, but those kids are still dead, mowed down in a classroom, despite a security measure, despite drills. I can't honestly say to him "you're safe."
    posted by emjaybee at 2:23 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Very brave of you, autobahn, but don't think you're alone. I also stand in righteous judgment of all present.
    posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, ok, several of my brother's close friends' kids are on that list.

    Somehow, the person I'm most furious with is Mike Huckabee, though.

    Fuck you, Mike Huckabee. You go tell those parents "Well, this is your fault for not allowing prayer in school." Say it to their face, you fucking bible thumping coward. Some of those kids are from church going Christian families. Go say to their faces "I know she prayed at home and at church, but God killed her because he's really angry that prayer wasn't allowed in school. Oh, and all those kids he let live even though there is no prayer in school? Well, God spared them. He punished your daughter, though."

    Seriously, Mike Huckabee, I never had much of an opinion about you before, but fuck you so hard for making this a TV talking point to bolster your own career. You are no true Christian. You are no true human being. You deserve to live a long life in obscurity and die naturally at a ripe old age forgotten by most and cursed by the rest.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 2:25 PM on December 15, 2012 [99 favorites]


    we need to understand that there is such a thing is evil. Evil is not equivalent to mentally ill.

    Evil is a perception or construct of the state of the world and/or its inhabitants. It is not quantifiable in any way that can assist in preventing itself, even if it was something other than some odd way we try to explain the un-explainable behavior and values of others.
    posted by lampshade at 2:26 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    My god, all 6 or 7. My youngest daughter is 6 almost 7 and I am thinking of 20 children like this, my god. Those poor parents, sisters, brothers.
    posted by torticat at 2:26 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    > But like the analog hole,

    :-o

    For most people, acquiring an illegal gun is nothing at all like copying a digital recording through your analog outputs.

    > he just found someone who had the weapons he wanted, and took them; more or less trivially.

    But you see, in the world I live in, that most people in the first world live in, it is absolutely not trivial to get guns, because of gun control. In my world, he would not have trivially been able to get guns - indeed, it's quite likely he wouldn't have been able to get them at all.

    Your argument is "guns are easy to get, therefore restrictions on them are pointless." This is circular logic.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:26 PM on December 15, 2012


    Fuck you, Mike Huckabee.

    Yeah, that too.
    posted by lampshade at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You know what, sorry for that rant. I won't delete it because I just posted it and want to respect the editing guidelines, but I am clearly too emotionally connected to this to participate rationally. Will back off this discussion for a bit.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2012


    demonic possession, now there's yer problem
    posted by Flunkie at 2:28 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Interesting info on how other countries with military-oriented populations (specifically, Switzerland and Israel) handle gun control:

    Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias
    posted by zombieflanders at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    sorry for that rant.

    I don't see any reason that you should be sorry. Huck is being obnoxious and opportunistic. Probably to get more fish for his various religious scams.
    posted by lampshade at 2:30 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    There's something about knowing the event and knowing that a girl named Caroline is dead for no reason. I am not a parent and have no plans to be one. But I do love kids that age and I remember that time of my life to be one of -- well, aside from some spankings after I started invading the boy's bathroom at school, it was just a pure happy time.

    The other thing I was thinking of, is this has a feeling to it of Atom Eygan's movie The Sweet Hereafter. It is not the best movie in the world, but there was this idea nestled in it that reminded me of this event. The idea is that the children died because of the sins of members of the community, and there is an explicit reference to The Pied Piper. And it struck me that one thing about that age is stories like The Pied Piper, and fucking believing in that shit, because you are five or six or seven.

    I'm just free-associating here, but it seems like there is something about this event that is just so unsettling, and it has to do with scary stories coming true. It has to do with this instinctive animal reaction when young ones are threatened. The urge to run, bite, hit, do everything to protect is very strong.

    But there's nothing to be done. Except for policy change. I do believe in policy changes that can work. The other thought that struck me is that 9/11 was used to club liberals for a good eight years. We got two wars out of it. Fine. Let's turn it over: Use this to abolish (rescind?) the second amendment.
    posted by angrycat at 2:30 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]




    Joey Michaels: no, don't feel sorry. You're just saying what any decent person would feel.

    > Fundamentally, there is precious little you can do if someone decides that they are going to fuck it all and take as many people as possible with them.

    Yes there is. You can make it much harder for them to get the weapons to kill a lot of people. The fact that the systems that do this in other countries occasionally fail is no proof that these systems don't work.

    > The basic trust that is required to make a society is the biggest vulnerability.

    And owning guns is both a symptom and a cause of a breakdown in that trust.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2012


    Angrycat, I respect you for proposing the repeal of the second amendment. Most people don't have the honesty or the guts to come out and say that's what they want.
    posted by autobahn at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have a little habit that I've always enjoyed up until now. When I read a list of children's names (my daughter's classmates, an honor roll, a Little League team), I think about what they will become someday. Neurologist. Baseball player. Veterinarian. Opera singer. Judge. Mother of 6 kids. Ranch hand. Used car salesman. I didn't want to play that game with this list, but I can't help it. I just really hope they never knew what was happening.
    posted by Rock Steady at 2:38 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    emjaybee, I absolutely feel for you, but talk to your son, it's better than that he hear from friends. My husband and I told our 6 and 9yo daughters this morning (we kept the news off last night). They had some questions but it was okay. We had heard yesterday from their school (which is in Hoboken) about security and discussed that with the kids. 9yo asked if someone still couldn't break a window and get into their school, and I said the answer is yes, but there are many dangers we face every day (car accidents and so on) and we just do everything we can to be safe.

    I think children understand. I admit I'm afraid of their hearing details as they come out, though.
    posted by torticat at 2:41 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    After my last post, I saw the list of names and ages and birth dates. My older son turned six at the end of October. One child on that list turned six about a week before him; another child turned six about a week after. There are 25 children in his class - there are 20 children on that list. It is the utter decimation of a group just like the one I spent last Wednesday morning with in the classroom. And now I'm trying to think of where his teachers could hide him and his classmates from someone with a gun.
    posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:41 PM on December 15, 2012


    I respect you for proposing the repeal of the second amendment. Most people don't have the honesty or the guts to come out and say that's what they want.

    I'd just settle for the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is not the individual right the NRA wants you to believe it is.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:43 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    We wouldn't have to repeal the Second Amendment - we could do just what the Patriot Act did to the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments, which is to temporarily suspend them for the duration of the emergency.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:43 PM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Your argument is "guns are easy to get, therefore restrictions on them are pointless." This is circular logic.

    I'm sorry if I was unclear, but you have completely misunderstood my argument.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:48 PM on December 15, 2012


    Fundamentally, there is precious little you can do if someone decides that they are going to fuck it all and take as many people as possible with them.

    You can still make it harder for them. This is what happens when a Columbine admirer tries to kill a lot of people in a country where guns are difficult to purchase. Because he found it impossible to get guns, this guy tried to use explosives (140 kg) and got caught. In a nutshell: it's feasible (Breivik) but more difficult as it requires more time and dedication and it's more likely that the cops will get you.
    posted by elgilito at 2:50 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I needed a break from the heartache. I found it here: 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year -- "Sometimes you need a reminder that people can do wonderful things."
    posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    > I'm sorry if I was unclear, but you have completely misunderstood my argument.

    Then what is your argument? I mean, here's what you wrote.

    Look, this kid tried to buy a gun and was denied. The system, to that point, as it exists, worked.

    But like the analog hole, he just found someone who had the weapons he wanted, and took them; more or less trivially.


    You seem to be arguing that the rules were pointless, because he was trivially able to get a gun.

    I mean, Anders Breivik even circumvented the highly rigid gun control laws of Norway to perform his attack, using a legally acquired handgun and hunting rifle.

    You seem to be arguing that the failure of Norway's system implies that stricter rules would not prevent an attack.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2012


    We wouldn't have to repeal the Second Amendment - we could do just what the Patriot Act did to the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments, which is to temporarily suspend them for the duration of the emergency.
    is it bad that I can't really tell which side you're on
    posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    We have to do SOMETHING.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Most people don't have the honesty or the guts to come out and say that's what they want.

    That's sort of a backhanded insult, isn't it? "Most people" meaning who? I am in favor of much tougher gun laws, and much more enforcement of those laws and the ones we now have, and yet I don't in fact favor repealing the second amendment, and resent the implication that I am somehow being disingenuous if I say "I want background checks for all gun purchases" and licensing and training requirements to be more stringent and not be against the second amendment, which says nothing at all about responsibilities entailed in the right to keep and bear arms.

    It is not a binary issue, and only zealots on either side can make it seem so. It is not like, say, abortion or same sex marriage, where there is a pure toggle between possible positions; and it is the case, demonstrably, that unlike other civil rights, the right to keep and bear arms entails a serious risk of infringement of other people's equally constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as it were.

    The best argument the right has against gay marriage is that it will harm straight marriage. That's been proven to be bullshit, as if it needed to be.

    But the best argument the NRA crowd has against *any* sort of legislative restriction of gun or weapon ownership is a vaguely worded sentence and a semantic debate over the meaning of the word "infringe," as well as a historical debate over the scope of the founders' intentions with that clause given the "arms" of their time.

    It seems to me consistent with general American legal principles that because your right to keep and bear arms comes with the potential to harm my right to live (or my childrens' rights to live, to put a point on it), you should then have some parallel responsibilities to avoid trampling on my rights, and those should not be considered any sort of "infringement" so much as common sense. And it also seems to me that the state and civil society have every right to "infringe" on the *type* of "arms" covered under the second amendment, since a priori I don't think even the most ardent second amendment fundamentalist believes every American has a right to a tactical nuclear weapon or a battle tank, both of which are "arms" by any measure; ergo, what's the difference if we draw the line lower down the scale at, say, a semi-automatic 9mm pistol with a 100 shot clip?

    Anyway, don't insinuate that everyone who, in abhorrence of this latest massacre, comes out in favor of some restriction of the "arms" covered by the second amendment and some enforcement of the responsibilities it implies as having some hidden liberal agenda to take away everyone's guns, cuz that's pure-D bullshit paranoid conspiracy theory, UN black helicopter agenda 21 NRA crap. You can be for restrictions on the kinds of arms people can bear without being against their constitutional right to bear other arms. I hunt. I don't want to take away everyone's guns, dude.

    And unless you think your idiot neighbor should be able to have napalm-spraying drone planes in his garage, you agree with me.
    posted by spitbull at 2:54 PM on December 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


    Aaaand cue family member advocating for more guns in schools and quoting Wayne fucking LaPierre. I sense an impending unfriending. I called her post stupid and insensitive because the rage just took over. She has four kids, two in that age group. I don't even know how she can live with that much cognitive dissonance.

    I'm not taking it back. It's fucking stupid to say teachers being armed increases safety. Fucking stupid and fucking wrong.
    posted by emjaybee at 2:56 PM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    This is totally selfish at a time when I'm crying because an online friend went to school with someone who lost their son on Friday.

    But two things are pissing me off today.

    My son's school has lockdown drills. School shootings are incredibly rare in Australia (I think there's been maybe two in 20 years, and they were at universities). But my 11 year old and his friends have to be taught how to hide if someone with a weapon and violent intent storms their small rural school. That's just anti-childhood. When I was a kid, we were taught about 'stranger danger' (before the stats came out that paedophiles are more commonly known to their victims). Now we have to teach our kids how to hide from mad gun-toting lunatics, because there's a news story about yet another massacre in the US regularly?

    The second thing is a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. She insisted that it wouldn't have happened if the teachers had been able to carry weapons. No matter what I said, she couldn't understand my point that these people are TEACHERS. On what level is it logical that a kindergarten teacher should have to carry a gun?

    On preview: St Alia, hassle your politicians until they adapt something like Australia's gun control system. It ain't perfect, we still have gunshot deaths, but it works a hell of a lot better than the current US model.
    posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:56 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    What I will say is that I reject the idea that something MUST be done when tragedies like this happen. I don't understand that need because I don't think it's rational.
    posted by autobahn


    Yeah, you're absolutely right. The rational thing would be to say something must be done BEFORE these tragedies happen.

    But you knew that.
    posted by spitbull at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Angrycat, I respect you for proposing the repeal of the second amendment. Most people don't have the honesty or the guts to come out and say that's what they want.
    posted by autobahn at 5:35 PM on December 15


    I am so fucking sick of all the conservatives darkly alluding (or outright saying) that liberals just want all the guns banned and leave us weak and unprotected against the Big Bad Government. You want to know why people think you're paranoid maniacs? Because of shit like this!

    I wonder sometimes whether these pro-gun advocates have actually thought about the amount of damage one person can do with the more high-powered, automated firepower they're screaming to protect. In the Port Arthur Massacre--the one that precipitated Australia's stricter gun laws--approximately the first 10 people were killed in 5-10 seconds. That is the power of a semiautomatic--just a semiautomatic. More people with guns might have stopped him afterwards--but they would not have saved the first ten people, or the other people he'd continue to kill until our theoretical Heroic Gunman was able to pull out their own gun.

    Then I remember that pro-gun advocates know these weapons better than anyone else, and are fully aware of their killing capabilities. And I find that chilling.
    posted by schroedinger at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2012 [37 favorites]


    What I will say is that I reject the idea that something MUST be done when tragedies like this happen. I don't understand that need because I don't think it's rational.

    Yeah, let's wait until there are another 32 school massacres. That will be the rational time.
    posted by dhartung at 3:04 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You seem to be arguing that the failure of Norway's system implies that stricter rules would not prevent an attack.

    In the case of the colombine admirer, he just resorted to building bombs, instead.

    And he wasn't undone because he grew a conscience, or whatever. He was undone because he mentioned it on the internet and the police noticed. Had he kept his mouth shut....

    Look - I'm not some "Live free or die" love my guns freak or anything. And I agree in the main that guns - particularly handguns - should be much harder to obtain. But that being said, I operate under no illusion that the solution to American Mass Murder is purely legislative. Even under the current legislative regime, flawed as it is, it would be possible to prevent further attacks.

    But this : And owning guns is both a symptom and a cause of a breakdown in that trust.

    Is stupid.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:04 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Many of us are sickened even more so about this tragedy because of its proximity to Christmas-it had totally escaped me until I did some browsing around elsewhere on the Internet and saw it mentioned- that in the original Christmas story there was also another slaughter of the innocents( King Herod's order having babies two years old and younger murdered in Bethlehem.)


    What an awful, awful, awful irony. If I didn't want to throw up before I sure do now. Rachel weeping for her children, indeed.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:06 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Interview with a 1st. Grade teacher (aka a 'brave angel' IMHO) who barricaded her students in their classroom while the shootings were taking place.
    posted by ericb


    I wonder if she was the one I just heard interviewed on BBC World Service. I was out shopping, just listening to the news on my headphones, and then she said that she remembered saying to the children in the closet how much she loved them even though she wasn't sure she should be doing that as a teacher but she wanted it to be the last thing they heard if they were going to die and she figured their parents would want her to do that.

    And I lost it right there in the fucking supermarket.
    posted by spitbull at 3:08 PM on December 15, 2012 [54 favorites]


    One thing that interests me - in a very dark and screwed-up way - is that whenever the Gun Rights advocates come roaring out, there is never any mention of gun responsibility.

    None.

    It's like the business plan for the Underpants Gnomes: get guns, ?????, COLD DEAD HANDS.

    I'll happily go on the record here stating that I do not like guns. I don't want to hold them, I don't want to shoot them, I don't want to be in the same room as them. I am uneasy when I am around cops with sidearms because it's a goddamn gun and that is how much I dislike the things. They are machines designed to make killing easier, that is all, and that gives me one hell of an uncomfortableness.

    That said - some people are into them. Okay. I don't get it but I will respect it. The problem that I have is that the only reaction The Gun Culture has to these mass shootings is an immediate othering. "That never should have happened." "That man is obviously insane." "Someone should have locked up the guns." "Arm the teachers." Whatever. There's never any mention of a collective personal responsibility to keep these things from actually being used to put holes in people. You never see anyone say "You know what? Screw this noise. Nobody needs a 100 round mag. I'm getting rid of mine, just in case."

    To pull amendments into it: my right to free speech ends where it hurts someone else. I am completely okay with that, because hurting people is Just Not On. Ever. I would love to see gun laws tightened up. Spitbull has some great ideas about what could be done, from the perspective of A Person Who Knows Guns, which I appreciate, since I am not one.

    I'd like to see some expectation of responsibility added to the equation, to make sure that the damned things are not used by unhinged madmen wrapped in Kevlar. But it's not there. I find that both telling and frightening.
    posted by cmyk at 3:13 PM on December 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


    spitbull, that's Connie Sullivan. She's a 3rd grade teacher.
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:14 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "But this : And owning guns is both a symptom and a cause of a breakdown in that trust.

    Is stupid.
    "

    I don't see why. If people right here in this thread have said that one reason they carry guns and other weapons is to protect themselves, and possibly others, in the event of an attack by another person bearing weapons, that's a sign of a fundamental societal distrust. Many people seem to have accepted this fundamental distrust of their fellow man as normal, but it absolutely is not. In a civilized society, although aberrant behavior can always occur, it should not be taken for granted that you might need to defend yourself with a deadly weapon at any moment. It's a symptom of distrust.

    And of course, if nobody had weapons, the argument would carry less weight. Many people say that laws are useless because then only law-abiding people would be left defenseless. In this case, they're directly pointing to the cause of their fundamental lack of trust as the fact that many ill-intentioned people own, or have easy access to, firearms.

    So saying that gun ownership is both as symptom and a cause of a breakdown in trust doesn't seem to me to be a partisan statement of position, but simply an objective description of the current situation.

    The issue then becomes, how do we rebuild trust where it has eroded or been lost? That's the real heart of the matter.
    posted by Superplin at 3:16 PM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    XQUZYPHYR, thank you for injecting the note into this conversation is that what needs to happen is that we change the culture. An awful lot of discussion assumes that American gun culture is an immutable thing, that the absurdity of gun ownership in this country will remain in place forever. But we know, we've seen this happen with issues like homophobia, racism, and smoking, that cultural norms do shift. Slowly, on a generational time scale, but they can shift. I have no idea what the points of leverage are (putting on my Donella Meadows hat) on our cultural system, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
    posted by Numenius at 3:16 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I am watching Connie Sullivan being interviewed on MSNBC. Another angel!
    posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on December 15, 2012


    Thanks, roomthreeseventeen. I didn't catch the name on the radio and I didn't have the stomach to go to that link and see or hear that story again. She sounded young, and incredibly traumatized. And unbelievably heroic.
    posted by spitbull at 3:17 PM on December 15, 2012


    Earlier MSNBC interviewed a high school student whose family lives next to the school. He heard the gunshots and rushed to the school to locate his 9 y.o. sister. He was able to witness the police, teachers and others -- and was so impressed with how they managed the tragedy. He also mentioned that every teacher in the elementary school has called each of their students this morning to check up on them. "Our teachers are always there and concerned about us."
    posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Steal the pictures. Put them all over the internet.
    posted by wrapper at 3:23 PM on December 15, 2012


    I don't see why. If people right here in this thread have said that one reason they carry guns and other weapons is to protect themselves, and possibly others, in the event of an attack by another person bearing weapons, that's a sign of a fundamental societal distrust

    I agree so far as you take it.

    But I own guns. They aren't for protection, though. They're for hunting and target shooting. Are those uses symptomatic of societal distrust ? I don't agree that they are. Most people I know who have guns have them for the same reason.

    Which is my roundabout way of saying that there are legitimate uses for firearms that get overlooked in a mad rush to paint every gun owner as a nutcase.

    I've said, in this thread and others, there is much broken with American gun culture and legislation. That said, there is no panacea.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:28 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I hadn't yet seen this from Daily Kos. It's a very powerful argument.
    posted by limeonaire at 3:31 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Seeing the names of all those little six and seven year olds, I keep going back to the news reports of how their parents had to wait in that fire station, watching other parents being reunited with their children, until they were told there were no more children coming home.
    No human should ever have to endure that. No one.
    posted by Dr. Zira at 3:32 PM on December 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


    Best thing on my Twitter today: Public school teachers will lay their bodies over your children to protect them. Are you sure you want to cut their pay & benefits?

    Worst thing: Stephanie Drury of Stuff Christian Culture likes retweeted several horrible messages she found saying "God needed more angels" and "those kids are celebrating Christmas in Heaven," and then I had to stop reading.
    posted by emjaybee at 3:33 PM on December 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


    Here is something I can share without losing my shit. Two places to donate if you feel that's something you'd like to do.

    The Sandy Hook School Support Fund (via The United Way)

    Newtown Youth and Family Service
    posted by Joey Michaels at 3:37 PM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


    "God needed more angels" and "those kids are celebrating Christmas in Heaven"

    This is what people tell themselves in order to not feel empathy. It's Heaven! How lucky!
    posted by five fresh fish at 4:13 PM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


    [I respect that you think we should publicize the horror as a strategy, but describing carnage in graphic detail is just not going to happen here, period.]
    posted by restless_nomad at 4:13 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Unless this shooter was totally delusional, or dealing with, say, paranoid schizophrenia (which we have no evidence for either at this point) we have to realize that sometimes the only answer we will have to something like this is someone chose to embody evil.

    Not necessarily. In a one off case like this, it's just as likely that this kid led an extremely troubled life, was ostracized from others because of his developmental disability, had poor impulse control and at a certain point just snapped.
    posted by timsneezed at 4:14 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


    One thing we know about mass murderers - they pretty much don't snap. Mass murder requires planning, usually at least a couple months though in some cases the planning went on for more than a year.
    posted by Deoridhe at 4:27 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I agree. Show the crime scene photos and change the discourse.

    It would, too. Same reason they'll never televise executions. Seeing the actual effects of violence would interrupt the heroic and scriptural fantasies of too many people but good.

    I think we need shock treatment as a culture, scared fucking straight treatment. You keep thinking the next massacre will be it, meanwhile we dwell uselessly on terrorism from outside our borders and reality tv and the utterly operatically stylized gun violence of games and movies.

    People who see death up close are often changed by the experience. I know I have been from my own exposure to gun violence (I discussed it a bit above). But even our meat comes wrapped in clean plastic trays now.

    If you have seen what a bullet does, for real and up close, you know what I'm talking about. If not, you're like most Americans and really have no idea and I hate to tell it but even the war movies have been making it look pretty all along because you couldn't bear to watch the real thing even well re-enacted over and over again for entertainment. Of course there are realistic portrayals out there, but by and large these deaths are abstractions to most people.

    I am imagining some group of parents of these kids authorizing the release of the crime scene photos to the fucking press. Be the end of the NRA. Hurt like hell going down, but fuck that would be brave. I really believe many people don't know. And in place of knowing they have fairy tale pictures placed in their minds in which no one begs to live or dies screaming.
    posted by spitbull at 4:29 PM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    A lot of people seem really, really invested in re-defining "mental illness" to keep the people who kill people f