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The Newtown CT Mass Shootings PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Sunday, 16 December 2012 15:04


[Updated in red.]

I just have several random thoughts about the Newtown, Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, mental health care and gun violence, and I'll share a few links I've found to be enlightening.

(1)  I don't have a big problem with guns. I'm not "against" guns. My concern with guns has more to do with the fact that it seems like too many people (though certainly not all) who get their hands on guns seem to think it transforms them into a lot of things they are not, including, but not limited to one or more of the following:

  • God
  • Judge
  • Jury
  • Prosecutor
  • Executionor
  • A non-idiot
  • Superman
  • A hero
  • A "tough guy"
  • A wizard who can tell the difference between the Avon Lady and a burglar who's knocking on your front door just to make sure you're not home.

Bottom line: I worry that guns take some people and cause them to believe they have been turned into something they are not.

(2) There seems to be a mathametical/statistical/irrefutable correlation between the rate of gun ownership, and the rate of horrific, unjustifiable gun violence. Assuming you don't hate math and statistics and therefor agree with my #1, above, this probably seems obvious. People who don't like math or statistics or irrefutable things probably don't like this, and that's okay. I'm friends with a lot of people who don't like  math or statistics. It's hard to avoid math.

(3) Guns do not kill people; people kill people. Agreed. But the gun helps. Don't you figure that if this kid had walked into the school in Newtown, CT, and started trying to kill teachers and students with his bare hands or a knife or a baseball bat, that fewer than 25 people would have been killed? The problem isn't so much that people won't kill if they don't have guns; it's that the bloodletting will be slowed if those people didn't have guns.  With some people's logic you could also argue that "Atomic bombs, scud missiles, methamphetamines, and Agent Orange don't kill people; the people who use them kill people."  So let's make all that stuff legal, too.  So maybe a better way to think about is this: Guns don't kill people, but guns are a multiplier.

(4) I'm amazed how many socialism-hating right-wingers are coming around to the realization, after the Connecticut tragedy, that maybe "we" need to provide better mental health services for people who can't afford it or the insurance they would otherwise have if they could afford that. They almost sound pro-Obamacare.  Because mental health care is health care. 

(5) If you haven't read "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" yet, you should.  Here's an excerpt followed by a link to the whole thing.

Friday’s horrific national tragedy -- the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut -- has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family's story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza's story, tales like this one need to be heard -- and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

The Blue Review

That's just the beginning of it. Go read the rest.

I'd suggest this personal story isn't just a story about the Connecticut tragedy or gun violence or mental health care, but a much broader, equally important story about our nation's penal-industrial compex, and our country's health care system, generally.

[UPDATE:  There may be more to this story than first met the eye, too.]

(6) I was reluctant to say anything about this at all.  And I've been busy.  

It's hard to imagine the pain the families, friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, school administrators, first responders in Newtown are feeling. It's hard, partly, because it feels like there's nothing we can do for them. But we can. 

Send them your thoughts, prayers and other positive vibes.

That is all I have for now...

Comments (8)add comment

big jake said:

Good piece, Chet. The saddest of times.

While a real discussion on firearms should take place, it is doubtful. I would suggest that our first discussion should be on the mental illness aspect that has been a factor in everyone of these tragedies. What was Lanza's mental state? What kind of medication had he been on and what combinations of these drugs present a potential danger? Were other drugs involved? Just how long will we tolerate a dysfunctional mental healthcare system? Test our the local system and see what you find. It will shock and dismay you. Certainly the unaffordability of healthcare is a huge factor but it is not the only one. We need to know what kind of drugs and the length of time used when this young man was a child. Are we satisfied with the subsitution of drugs for better care or will we demand better from the medical community. Checkout the perks that MDs get from drug reps to prescribe their drug. It seems to me that this is a criminal act and certainly far from the Hypocratic oath or perhaps this no longer means anything.
December 18, 2012
Votes: +1

What the Heck said:

Ed show
Watched the Ed show last night. Apparently a few hundred mayors across the US are in favor of 3 restrictions to gun ownership: 1. Background checks for all (less than 1/2 of all sales are being reviewed), 2. Bans on automatic guns and all large clips and 3. Stiffer fines/penalties for gun trafficking. No significant fines exist for 3rd parties who purchase guns for those who legally can't possess them.

This is just common sense. The other issue that Chet has surfaced concerning the lack of real mental health care in the US is the other elephant in the room. How much drug addiction, homelessness, and violent crime could be prevented if insurance companies were no longer the gatekeepers to mental health services? There needs to be a real paradigm shift in the US to one of true prevention vs. institutionalization, incarceration, and apathy toward these issues. Cost shifting from reactionary to prevention would save lives and money over time.
December 18, 2012
Votes: +2

big jake said:

right on, What the Heck!!!!!!

The problem is deeper that the insurance companies. Here in Bismarck, the gate keeper to any mental health services for those without means is south Central and they determine who gets what. It is completely dysfunctional. If we can't make our local bureaucracy work, how in the hell can we take on bigger fish? We have chosen as a society to use pills to mask societal ills. And sometimes the results are catastrophic. We must do much better as a society---if we are truly worthy of the incredible system of government that we have been blessed with. It is up to us to make it work.
December 18, 2012
Votes: +1

Jason said:

First of all...automatic weapons are already illegal. I agree that all people should have background checks. In ND we have that already. When I buy a gun they call into Homeland Security and do a check on me. Personally, I'm not a proponent of clip control. If you half it all that happens is a person carries more.

Also I want to point out how disgusted I am at the media. That town has been completely taken over. It is trying to grieve the loss of families and friends and it's been reported that the media is even showing up at funerals. This is just completely disgusting.
December 21, 2012
Votes: +0

John77 said:

The solution is obvious. Obvious to all but the willfully blind.
It's not the culture. The other nations share the same or similar cultures - they have violent movies, video games, etc.
It's not mental health unless one thinks the US has 12 to 30 more mental health disorders than found in any other nation (interesting to pursue later . . . .)
It's the guns. The types of guns. The easy access to guns.
The solution is obvious.
December 22, 2012
Votes: +2

D E Bishop said:

I live in MN. IN 2011 a MN man went to Iowa and murdered 2 convenience store clerks. His parents had been terrified of him for years. They begged for help for him from every agency and government office available. They wanted their son locked up because they knew he was dangerous. NOW he's in prison, too late for 2 Iowa women and their families.

BTW, very, very few mentally ill people are dangerous. And people with any variety of Autism/Asbergers are almost Never violent. They are much more likely to run away or cringe in a corner when upset.
December 23, 2012
Votes: +1

johnny said:

too much freedom
Too much freedom is not good all the time, I live in Europe, here is more difficult to have a weapon and there are no such tragic events..so I think people should not have weapons so easy..
January 14, 2013 | url
Votes: +0

irony said:

Heidi has come out with a strong statement saying she opposes the so called assault rifle ban.

Maybe she won't cater to a whacked out president all the time.
January 29, 2013
Votes: +0

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