Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Impotent Rage

The Knotted Gun
April 20, 1999 dawned bright and sunny in Denver, Colorado -- a typically bucolic spring morning in the foothills of the Rockies. The air was crisp, the sky was clear, and traffic was light at that early hour as I drove to the paper.

The euphoric mood I was in would end abruptly at a little past 11:00 AM as word began to filter in that there was a shooting rampage at Columbine High School.

Dead: 13. Wounded: 21.

Since that spring day 13 years ago, I've had more than one occasion to look back and shed tears -- 29 times to be exact. 

-- 30 mass shootings total
-- 256 killed 
-- 242 wounded

One-third of these slaughters -- 10 of them -- have occurred during this past year alone. Total murdered in 2012: 73.*

I will readily confess to burying myself in the unspeakable horror that is the Sandy Hook massacre. Maybe I didn't cry enough after Columbine, or Virginia Tech or Fort Hood -- or after all the other massacres in Any Town, U.S.A. Take your pick. Somewhere along the way -- I don't know when or where exactly -- tears of sorrow turned into tears of rage, impotent though they may be..

The acerbic Canadian journalist Neil Macdonald would be correct if he found me among the Americans who are "wallowing" -- part of the "giant emotional sponge" -- except I don't think I'm living under any kind of delusion. On the contrary, I believe very firmly that this country is screwed and the serial rapist is and has been the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Yet another "national discussion" about guns is under way here, and it's so anti-rational, so politically cowardly, so …unbearably stupid that you have to wonder how a nation that has enlightened the world in so many other ways could wallow in this kind of delusion.
Twenty children are dead, and journalists and politicians have assumed those breathy, semi-hushed tones that have become so much the norm in covering tragedies.
Macdonald bashes pundits, politicians, the media, the "child-killing lobby" and the "new normal" -- lunacy -- with biting precision. Take Utah Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz who proclaimed that mental health issues are the cause of these kinds of incidents: "I am a concealed carry permit holder. I own a Glock 23, I've got a shotgun, I'm not the person you need to worry about."
Well, sorry, congressman, but you are certainly one of them, at least in my (admittedly Canadian) book.
If I understand properly, you live in an urban area, and carry around a .40-calibre pistol with up to 17 bullets in the magazine, capable of firing up to five a second, just like one of the pistols the Connecticut shooter toted.
In other words, you pack the means to kill more than a dozen people in moments if you choose, and we just have to trust you to be sensible and hold your temper.
Chaffetz's position is, basically, the core of the pro-gun message in this country: The destructive power of the weapon is not the issue. It is all about personal responsibility. And personal freedom.
The logic is terrifying. You could extend it to hand grenades or flame-throwers. Some people here do. (Though grenades are actually illegal here).
Flame-throwers don’t incinerate people, people incinerate people, to paraphrase a favorite gun-lobby aphorism.
Macdonald had more prescience than he might have realized when he wrote his article.
But just watch. Soon enough will come the talk about how the Newtown school shooting just underlines the need for even more ordinary Americans to arm themselves in self-defence.
And the weird, horrible reality here is that there is some truth to that. The NRA has helped ensure it.
There are currently about 300 million guns in this country, and gun laws are looser every year. The high courts have slapped down states that have tried to restrict gun use.
It is now quite normal to see people carrying pistols on their hips in shops and restaurants. Plenty more carry concealed weapons.
And many of these are criminals. Police are overwhelmed.
Macdonald describes several incidences when he was growing up on a farm where his father's bolt-action rifle came in handy, including shooting a rabid dog and threatening some hoodlums in the middle of the night who were in their lane. And then there was that neighbor on a nearby farm who was murdered and the closest police station was an hour's drive from their road.
But my father never owned a Bushmaster. Or an Uzi. Or a sniper rifle. Or a flame-thrower.
What's taken hold here in America is lunacy.
And no where was that lunacy more evident than when Public Enemy Number One went before the cameras on Friday, December 21, 2012 to hold a press conference that wasn't. The NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre declared before all the world -- at least the part which hadn't ended, which was all of it -- that what was needed was a national database of the mentally ill.

Well, glory be, I have a suggestion for who should have top billing on that list -- just in case some of the sane among us temporarily lose their sanity.

. . . . The rest has been deleted. One should never write anything when they're spittin' angry, or so I've been told.

*Statistics compiled from Think Progress and includes the latest deaths from a shooting that occurred while LaPierre was giving his press conference. My 2012 figures differ from those in Macdonald's article. He doesn't provide a link and I relied on a timeline which, under the best of circumstances, aren't always 100 percent accurate.


  1. This mass murder has consumed me too, 20 little children, the age of Amelia, were slaughtered, some with up to 11 shots in the tiny little bodies...It breaks my heart, it makes me think of my little angel and pray she is safe and never has to be scared to go to school...I don't know how those families get out of bed in the morning and I don't know how gun lovers can defend the NRA and their right to own an assault weapon that is made primarily for war...Now we have to wait for January to see what Congress has in store for us, I hope we get what we want, won't hold my breath.

    1. I totally understand Sue and agree. Being the mother of two grown redheads I totally lost it when I saw the photo of that little innocent redheaded victim. Macdonald is right. This is total insanity and we are insane for letting the pro-gunners run with the ball and totally misrepresenting the 2nd Amendment in the process.

      I didn't include the part at the end of the article where Macdonald writes about Sen. Chuck Schumer who is mulling the notion of restricting weapon clips to 10 bullets.

      "'We need a new paradigm,' declared Schumer.

      How about this instead [writes Macdonald: Start by taking weapons of war away from people who aren't soldiers or police."

      I couldn't agree more. 10 bullets? Jeez.

  2. I have had many debates and discussions with American bloggers on this issue over the years…

    Paraphrasing myself from various lost threads “what does it take….? Are you going to wait to some bastard turns a kindergarten into a charnel house before you recognise the status quo is an abomination?”

    We all knew this or something like this was going to happen.

    For a country with fruitcakes blithering constantly about the potential for government tyranny… the fact is that on a domestic level the government can’t do very much. You’d need a sustained mass-movement equivalent to Civil Rights to effect some changes to regulation most other developed countries quietly passed decades ago as a matter of common sense.

    For all the bogus Right wing froth that Obama is coming for your guns… he’s never raised the subject till now. I'm not sure he’d even be this vocal if it was not the beginning of his second term.

    And now you have indescribably stupid people putting up pics of female Israeli commandos holding automatic weapons and saying “we want our teachers to be like this!”.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I goofed.

      Macdonald does chide Obama for not taking any "meaningful action" after another mass shooting during his first term. "Perhaps he will try something this time, now that his last election is behind him and the history books beckon."

      But OMG Magpie, the lies and paranoia on the part of the pro-gunners is unfathomable. I have seen one of those so-called factoids, which is anything but factual (and yes, the left puts this kind of crap up as well). Anyway, it says that since the gun ban in Australia armed robberies have risen 69%, assaults with guns have gone up 28%, "gun murders" by 19% and home invasions by 21%. The poster originated at "Outspoken Ron Paul Supporters" on Facebook which got their info from something called the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) which I suspect is another one of those crazy Libertarian "think tanks."

      Fortunately I had just seen an article in a Washington Post blog and was able to smack that bugger down.

      Trying to have a rational conversation with these lunatics is impossible. They are so far off in la-la land, it's impossible to reason with them. The scary thing is, of course, is the very fact that they are the ones who have guns, whole arsenals of them.

    3. “it says that since the gun ban in Australia armed robberies have risen 69%, assaults with guns have gone up 28%, "gun murders" by 19% and home invasions by 21%”

      That’s bullshit. And I am very relieved you saw through it.

      Here are the basic facts:

      Since the gun laws changed to ban assault weapons in the wake of a mass shooting by a deranged young man (sound familiar?) there has been NOT ONE SINGLE MASS MURDER with firearms – in 16 years (there had been several in the preceding decade) anywhere in Australia - and NO corresponding increase in violent death by other means.

      Australians – barring criminals -have NEVER relied on firearms for urban self-defence at any time since the colonial period, and guns were relatively uncommon even then.

      I’m in my 40’s…. and I have never met or seen – or even heard of - an Australian who carried or kept a firearm of any kind purely for self-defence….. which is what those ‘statistics’ imply. They imply we used to - and that is A LIE.

      Those here who happened to have guns – my father included (and that was single shot) – had them for hunting, or as heirlooms from the time when you couldn’t see the nearest neighbour’s house unless you got in a truck and drove there.

      I recall an American news report from the time which selectively interviewed various ignorant bogans (our word for redneck – we have them too) and then portrayed them as a majority of people who didn’t want gun regulation. They were asked leading questions like “would you be afraid if someone came into your house…?”. And little old grannies who didn’t know WTF was going on.
      Pure designer propaganda edited solely for credulous audiences back in America.

      As the Washington Post article comments… the laws were actually passed by the CONSERVATIVE government of the day, and quite a Right-wing one (by our standards).
      Public support was overwhelming. Those laws wouldn’t still be on the books otherwise.

    4. If this comes up again, and I have no doubt that it will, I will certainly quote you. We have a real gun culture here and it's all wrapped up with the flag and the Bible, which I find highly offensive. I just wonder how many more people are going to have to be massacred before something significant is done. Just think of all the lives that could have been saved had strong measures been passed (and kept) which had some teeth in them. This is precisely what makes me so damn angry.

  3. The NRA proposes the same old nonsense that there is some magic divining rod that will allow us to determine who is a good person, and therefore gun-worthy, and who is a bad person and not gun-worthy.

    It's a stupid and impossible to enforce solution and the NRA knows it. But as gun sellers are one of the largest retailers in the U.S., there's a lot of profit to be made in gun sales. There are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives numbers (as of Aug. 1). In comparison, there are 14,098 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S.(Source: McDonald’s Corporation Annual Report 2011) and 36,569 Grocery Stores in the U.S. (source: Food Marketing Institute, 2011).

    Americans have an unholy love of firearms and the NRA is the God of many.

    1. Wow, Sheria. Thanks for those unbelievable statistics. No wonder this crazy cretin was bending over backwards to protect the gun industry!

  4. How many times do we have to tell ourselves that we have more firearms in circulation in our country than in any other western democracy, and we have the highest number of deaths from firearms than in any other western democracy.

    The vile NRA has been working hand in hand with its puppet masters, the firearms industry to sell as many bullets and guns as fast as they loosen up what little gun control there is. I've even read recently where the NRA and ALEC, working together are trying to make owning machine guns lawful again.

    If that isn't pure evil, I don't know what is.

    We're supposed to boast to the world about how free we Americans are, and yet we have come to a hideous moment in our lives where men are proposing that we all arm ourselves, our schools, and every other institution so that we can be even freer?

    I am not letting this go. I've told my family I expect them all to keep the pressure on their Congressional reps to limit what sort of guns can be sold and to strengthen the laws already on the books. That offends and angers some people. I don't care. I've been offended for years at the gun carnage I've had to witness.

    1. I'm with you on that. I'm hoping a lot of Americans who have been either riding the fence or blase about the whole issue of gun control have been shocked into taking a more active interest. It's just too damn bad that a bunch of little six year olds had to die in order to wake them up. THIS, more than anything else, is what has made me so angry. Why in hell does it take the deaths of 28 innocent lives, most of them little children, before people become enraged? And in our ADHD society, how long will this rage continue?

    2. We not only have the most guns ourselves, we are the biggest weapons supplier to the rest of the world. Gun money drives this whole thing. It has nothing to do with freedom. Freedom is simply the excuse that is used to instill fear in people so that instruments of mass killings and genocide can continue to be sold worldwide.

  5. Years ago when I purchased my first rifle I joined the NRA, put the membership card in my billfold and the decal on my left front bumper. I had arrived - a woman with a decal, a card and a rifle!!! Content to target practice markesmenship I soon found myself in amazement with the endless aray of junk mail from the NRA. I was subjected to "kill" stories, paranoid stories about government censorship and political agendas. My membership expired, the decal peeled from the bumper and the membership card tossed in the trash I suppose I'm like a lot of firearm owners who acknowledge they have absolutely nothing in common with the lunatic fringe called the NRA. They don't speak for us - they don't represent us and they certainly don't have a clue about the average gun owner's politics. I continue to own firearms. I continue to target practice and continue to be a non hunter...and I continue to see no need to arm myself with a concelled weapon when I go to Starbucks or Church or out to dinner with friends.This tragedy at Sandy Hooks has left me grieving for the innocents who continue to be victims in death via the insane remarks of the NRA and their tea party republican hate mongers. Hopefully the citizens will see the political agendas of the NRA and discontinue their idolazation of this radical wingnut organization.

    1. There are plenty of rational responsible gun owners who understand the need for gun control. The trouble is, the crazies have overtaken the asylum - just like the Tea Baggers have taken over the GOP. They've got the money and the guns and Washington's ear - and they're loud and stupid and paranoid and obnoxious as hell.

  6. There are so many of us who share your rage, Leslie -- I have to believe that sanity will prevail and that the angry millions can make a difference. I want to do something, but I just don't know what....

    And amen to "Fuck the NRA."

    1. Maybe we should start a Facebook page called "Fuck the NRA" ?

  7. Better yet, Leslie, we need to keep the pressure on Congress! Today on MTP, Lapierre said Sen. Feinstein's proposed legislation will NEVER pass. That morceau de merde represents the firearms industry, not gun owners.

    Nothing will change. NOTHING. Unless we have the will to make it change.

    1. I had to look up the translation. Perfect. Yep, we really have to let our Reps know and not just by signing petitions on FB.

  8. Shaw is right about keeping the pressure on Congress. Not just about passing a ban on semiautomatic weapons, though. Congress did that before, but to get the bill passed it was riddled with compromises and exceptions. This time, Congress should pass a tough bill. The ban should be accompanied by measures to limit clip capacity, close the gun show loophole and require mental health evaluation of gun buyers.

    Even if all those things get done, keep in mind that there is and will continue to be a whole lot of semiautomatics already in circulation.

    1. And no doubt a lot of the folks who have them won't be interested in a buy back program.

  9. These bottom feeders are not even worthy of contempt. The worst part is that they are soooooo damned self-righteous.

    Silly nasty aside: It's a good thing that guy loves his guns -- no woman in her right mind would touch him.

    1. I have a feeling that's true for a lot of these types -- not all by any means, but obviously some of them buy guns to make up for diminished equipment.

    2. Kay, I deleted the photo along with those last few words.

  10. Funny how gun owners are some of the most frightened people we know. They embrace fantasy fueled fear of crime, minorities, the government, neighbors and everyone they don't know. It is a fear industry fed by weapons manufacturers.

    With all the crazy "freedom" talk from the paranoid fringe, we need to demand freedom from mass slaughter. Or is that something too real to fear?

    1. Paranoia IS a mental illness or certainly an indicator of one, like Schizophrenia. Without sounding paranoid myself, we have every reason in the world to fear those who fear the most.

  11. Leslie, The extremists in the NRA are the ones who call for arming teachers in the belief that they can shoot first, thus keeping the schools safe. Such insanity. I am so glad to see you take them on.

    There is so much talk of Constitutional Rights and so seldom talk of Social Responsibility.

    My New Year's Resolution is to eschew Facebook and to begin posting on our blog again. My first post of the new year is a very personal one on the subject of guns. I hope you will read it and comment. I find your input so instructive. Thanks

    1. Judy! How wonderful to hear from you and I'm sorry I'm just now seeing your comment. Blame it on Facebook, as I too have gotten totally caught up in it, especially when we've had so much going on and it's so easy to vent and rant and rave there. I'm thrilled you're posting again and will come by asap to read your latest.

  12. What do you think about these facts, Leslie?

  13. About the same as I feel about any right-wing site that tries to pass itself off as "factual". I've seen this garbage before. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest, I'd rate it about a minus 2.