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Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?

What will it take for reasonable conversation about changes to our gun culture? Patch columnist Heather Borden Herve asks if the number of Newtown’s dead is finally reason to say, “Enough.”

I’m tired of the rhetoric, from all sides. I’m tired of the pro-gun statistic fight against the anti-gun statistic fight. 

There comes a point where ‘this’ quote citation to defend constitutional originalism and ‘that’ quote citation to defend constitutional interpretation is basically like arms buildup. I’ll see your statistic and absolute proof that the Founding Fathers wanted us to keep our guns, and I’ll raise you my statistic and historically empirical evidence that they never could have imagined semi-automatic, rapid-firing reloading guns in the hands of citizens!

Quite honestly, I can’t decide if I’ve intentionally used that ‘arms buildup’ pun or not. Because I just don’t know what makes it through the rhetorical barrage anymore.

On each side, we find our numbers and quotes to defend our position and we’ll continue having the same argument unless we say, “Enough.”

Can we consider the possibility that a document that is almost 226 years old might need us to legitimately reconsider the context of 2013 when figuring out how to move forward? Can we consider that the unfathomable slaughter of 20 children and 6 adults in a school, a place once considered a safe haven, is a price too high to pay to ignore that?

Because while we may debate the certainty of what the framers of the Constitution really did want when it comes to the Second Amendment, what I think we can all agree on with absolute certainty is that the individuals who wrote it did respect thoughtful consideration, reasonable debate, and discussion without absolutist decree. If they were content with failure to change, we never would have had found ourselves independent of England’s rule to begin with.

The closest thing I’ve found to even begin to approach reasonable discussion about the gun rights debate is an article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg — a link to which was posted in one of the 110-plus comments of a Wilton Patch article I wrote last week about a local group that met with state legislators to talk about the issue. (I’m sure the reader who made the comment and link will be surprised that I’m citing it here, as he and I stand, by and large, on opposite sides of the debate.)

The Atlantic piece asserts that there are steps which could be taken to reduce access to guns and ammunition “for the criminially minded, for the dangerously mentally ill and for the suicidal, and that measures could be taken that sensibly restrict access to weapons and ammunition that “have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.” However, he concludes, these efforts would be noble but “too late” to have any meaningful impact on the rate of gun violence.

He writes that it’s too late because of the number of guns — 280 to 300 million — in private hands in this country.

While I disagree with much of what the Atlantic writer asserts — from an emotional standpoint — I have to give the writer credit for speaking to experienced people around the country on both sides’ frontlines of the gun discussion: victims of gun violence, researchers, law enforcement officers, gun enthusiasts, and lobbyists and activists.

It’s a step toward acknowledgement of what each side believes; it concedes that each side has some ground, at the very least; and it starts to establish a foundation for how pro and con advocates might be able to stop ramming each other and start listening, if not conceding, to each other, “You’ve got a point.”

I acknowledge that I tend to come at this issue from my own, emotional perspective. Even this opinion column has to take a side, by definition, if not just by its headline. But the emotional arguments of gun-control crusaders that get belittled by the gun-rights activists are just as outsized as the fear-mongering assertions made by those same extreme gun-rightists meant to stop anti-gun advocates in their tracks.

But I suspect there are plenty of people in the middle who would like to figure out a way to move toward this rational discussion about how some changes can be made.

Haven’t we had enough of the killings to try? I guess not when some people think we don’t have enough guns, as if the solution to gun violence is more guns. Or that it’s too late to do anything about it because there are too many guns out there already, so why try anything at all?

We can keep headed the wrong way down the road, where more deaths are sure to happen, and just continue going the wrong way because we’ll eventually get to where we need to go. The world is round so all we have to do is circle the globe, we’ll get there eventually. But by then, there won’t be enough of us left on either side who say, “Enough.”

The Atlantic piece ends with Goldberg writing about gun-control advocate Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign, who asked, “’In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?’ Do we want to live in one ‘in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?’” Goldberg adds that in a nation with 300 million guns, it’s an irrelevant question.

That’s exactly why my initial question — “Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?” — needs to be seen as anything but irrelevant. It’s become the most relevant question of all.

Frank January 08, 2013 at 11:28 AM
It was enough for me.
Eileen Jones January 08, 2013 at 02:44 PM
There is nothing wrong with coming to this conclusion from an emotional perspective. There is absolutely no excuse for the slaughter of young children, and it is clearly the result of easy access to guns. I will not sleep well at night until this issue is resolved and there is significant legislative change. Please honor the memory of these victims and do the same.
Paul Alexander January 08, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Here’s how grownups evaluate and hedge risk. If a potential outcome has ANY possibility of being catastrophic, no matter how remote the possibility of that outcome, you absolutely hedge the risk of that outcome. People do it every day with life insurance. What are the odds of a young husband and father dying at age 30? Pretty low. But that father knows that his premature death would be catastrophic for his family and that he can’t take the risk of even such a remote possibility happening. So he insures his life so that there will be money available for his wife to pay off the house, have an income without needing to go to work, and pay for the children to be educated. The odds of some mentally unstable person walking into an elementary school with a gun and evil intent are pretty damn low. But it COULD happen. The POSSIBILITY exists. The outcome would be CATASTROPHIC. So you hedge that risk and you hedge it by arming school staff members. Multiple staff members at all schools should be armed and trained. Period. That’s how you hedge the Adam Lanza risk where some whack job is going to get a gun NO MATTER WHAT laws you put on the books. 99.999% of the armed school staff members in the country will never pull their weapon just as 99.999% of 30 year-old fathers won’t die a premature death. But for those .001% events, such as Sandy Hook Elementary, you have “insurance” instead of victims.
Fred January 08, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Paul, sounds like a very grownup evaluation. It might be missing a couple of parts of the equation, like those used in life insurance when evaluating the decision to offer, if you are an insurance company, or purchase if you are a consumer. Cost and, in the case of giving teachers guns to carry in a school full of curious children, additional risk. I am much more familiar with the event than I wish. I understand the emotions, which I hope settle. It is difficult to come up with an analogy regarding spending so much time worrying about your child being attacked in this type of occurrence again. Worrying about getting a hole in one on the golf course would still, very much, underestimate the odds. The current string of mass shootings can be tied back to the media. Sport events stopped showing streakers on tv or even mentioning them and it pretty much stopped. The perpetrators, even posthumously, are wanting attention and damage. By even commenting here I am guilty of giving him what he wanted. We can build cars where you would be safe to almost a certainty in an 55 mph accident but almost no one would buy them with their own money given the additional cost. Tax dollars are really our money, though our generation seems to have forgotten that. Despite the emotion, the math shows kids are still safer at school than in the back seat of your car. If this were the "new normal" it would not get some much media coverage. Less common = More media, this had a ton of media.
Sean O'Neil January 08, 2013 at 06:03 PM
We already know that a gun in the home is far more likely to be used against a member of that household, than against an intruder. We know that gun ownership increases the likelihood of the gun owner and others in their immediate household of becoming the victims of gun violence. We know that there are over 500 children in these homes each year, that are the victims of accidental shootings. Apply what we already “know” to putting firearms in our schools. School gun violence will almost certainly increase as a result, with the majority of the victims being the schools and the teachers. We can also expect to see a large number of “accidental” shootings in our schools each year. In addition, placing a weapon in a school is the same flawed logic, as those that wanted to arm airplane pilots. Once you’ve put the gun on the plane or in the school, all the person that wants to “commit harm” has to do is find a way to obtain the gun that is already there. This is exactly what Lanza did with his mother. Had she not had these firearms in her home they both would probably still be alive today, and absolutely the children and teachers at the school would be. What you seem to be advocating for, is to place even more of these guns around for "whack jobs" to have access to. Yet the result of doing what you propose, only really gets us more gun violence in our schools, and of course increased profits for the gun industry.
Darrell January 08, 2013 at 09:35 PM
I'm not saying that I know the answer to this question but I have a hard time believing that arming staff members (some of whom probably have never touched a gun in their life) is the correct way to fix it. It brings up many other issues such as where is the gun kept, gun safety and how often would they be required to go to range to practice. It is not just guns that we need to worry about. Kids in Columbine tried to set off bombs too. I just don't believe the solution is as simple as providing guns to administrators. We need to be thinking ahead of what could happen next and put things in place to prevent them from happening. Again I don't think any of us have all the answers, we just all know that something needs to change.
Veritas vos liberabit January 08, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Here's the latest from the looney tunes, Obama hating, folks. No surprise that it comes from Florida. DISGUSTING! Posted: 01/08/2013 BOCA RATON, Fla. - A Florida college professor is stirring controversy with his claims that last month's Newtown, Conn., school shootings did not happen as reported -- or may not have happened at all. James Tracy, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, has said in radio interviews and on his blog that trained "crisis actors" may have been employed by President Barack Obama's administration in an effort to drum up public support for gun control, the Sun Sentinel reported. "As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers, there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends," writes Tracy, a tenured associate professor of media history at FAU and a former union leader, the newspaper reported. In another post, he says, "While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place -- at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation's news media have described." Tracy said he believes the children at Sandy Hook may have died as the result of a training exercise. FAU is distancing itself from Tracy's views.
MaryAnn Benevenuto January 08, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Heather - Why are you so focused on gun control? really, it's a matter of the culture that we live in - the movies, the video games and a culture that does not respect life. I am not dismissing the gun control issue but that seems to be the hot button that politicians can use for their own agenda.
Paul Alexander January 08, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Heather can't help herself...it's part of her programming.
Paul Alexander January 08, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Ban university tenure, not guns!
Paul Higgins January 08, 2013 at 10:37 PM
I have been in the Enough! Category since JFK was assasinated. I was 10 years old. In the last 50 years, we haven't cured cancer and we haven't cured gun violence. But that is not a good reason to stop trying.
Tim January 08, 2013 at 11:22 PM
At least it was posted under "Opinion" and not as a piece of unbiased journalism. This is not the norm for Patch. I have to tip my hat to them for getting it right for a change.
Toni Earnshaw January 10, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Guns: Ban them, tax them, track them, trade em in, and treat the mentally ill.
BorgDrone January 11, 2013 at 04:08 AM
All the ignorant gun nazis should examine what occured in Beslan , North Ossetia in the Caucuses in southern russia when chechen and inguish islamic extremists took over a school and the end result when the battle was over, and it was a battle, was about 400 of 1200 in that school dead. mostly from explosives. the first attack on the world trade center was 1993, almost 20 years ago and we've done nothing to fit ballistic doors, bullet resistant windows and other structural upgrades to make buildings safe. Ballistic doors can be procured up to threat level 8, eg .308 /7.62 nato , same for ballistic windows. get off the guns and stop persecuting gun owners, were god damm pissed over the lies, Oh theres soi many anomolies from this incident I don't believe much of anything about it, not when I read that 2 teachers clobbered Lanza to the floor and there may have been "crisis actors" at the scene. I think there were multiple assailants and theres a big cover up here and alot of lies being propogated by the gun nazi obama regime. and its the same for the Aurora co batman incident and the shootings at the Sikh Temple in wisconsin also. the same anomolies.
BorgDrone January 11, 2013 at 04:10 AM
YOUR A IGNORANT BIGOTED ASS.
BorgDrone January 11, 2013 at 04:15 AM
you've got a bigger point than you realize, when gun myths are perpetrated in feature films "like the curving a flightpath of the bullet" horsepoop from that movie "wanted", and the hooey we all see on the one hour TV police procedurals, the non-existant all knowing, all singing , all dancing computer data bases which have never existed and never will, theres so many gun myths, its endless , and people see these special effects on TVand movies and beleive em cause they are technically ignorant. Purely and simply.
BorgDrone January 11, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Not against allowing school personel to be armed with sidearms, it'd be a personal choice in my view. However lets first try static defensive measures like ballistic doors, ballistic windows, cctv systems, and building reinforcements. if you can't get in as the agressor, you can't hurt anyone inside. Strategically comparatively few or even one very skilled person can hold high ground from numerous agressors, its a historical proven fact. this is why castles and there fortifications were always made on high ground or even artificially made high ground, its a better defensive position.
JED January 11, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Totally agree with you, Heather. Friggan enough! This is a multifaceted problem but the failure to discuss anything pertaining to guns rationally without the name calling seems to be beyond some peoples capabilities. As far as arming teachers or having police forever in schools, I am against that esp. after this article: http://www.kpho.com/story/17159125/criminal-pasts-dont-disqualify-members-of-arpaio-posse
JED January 11, 2013 at 10:49 PM
And lastly, this link shows the damage these weapons inflict. WARNING GRAPHIC. http://www.timawa.net/forum/index.php?topic=17111.0 Imagine a child hit 11 times..........there are no words.
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 02:35 PM
1. You should check your facts. I believe he is a democrat and supported Obama. 2. You sound just like all the other hate mongers throwing the entire State of Florida under the bus because of 1 idiot!
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I agree with Paul Alexander...ban tenure, not guns!!
Veritas vos liberabit January 14, 2013 at 02:51 PM
stoptheinsanity - "You should check your facts. I believe he is a democrat and supported Obama." Is that so mr. firsttimeposter? do you mind telling us where you get your "facts"? A web address (other than a right wing looney site) will do, thanks .
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 05:44 PM
McMurphy: "Mr. firsttimeposter"?! Thank you for the laugh and for telling on me with the Patch because I disagree with your approach! Let's see if they will allow this post. Please don't run for public office (although you seem perfectly suited to it with your one-sided opinions)
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 05:46 PM
And to clarify...I would also like to see him removed from the faculty at FAU as he has demonstrated extreme irresponsibility as an educator and have expressed my views directly to the administration at FAU, along with my entire family. But, he has put forth conspiracy theories against every administration, republican or democrat and to condemn an entire party or state because of one man's wreckless comments is ignorant and furthers a destructive, NOT CONSTRUCTIVE environment!!
Sheila January 14, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Why not finish the investigation in Sandy Hook, this is all a side show. Ablechild.org prayers go out to the moms that appeared before the cameras today endorsing a lobbying group that is at best supported fully by special interest money. Next we shall see these poor victimized moms and dads featured on the national media stage surely, The View or better bet Anderson Cooper. It is important to ask why the State of Connecticut is hold off on finishing and releasing the information the public needs in order to make a fully informed decision regarding legislation. Ablechild.org understands Adam's brother has file probate papers in regards to the Estate of his mother. The Courant reports that no probate papers were filed for Adam. The Courant needs to be a bit more specific, no probate estate papers regarding estate, that would be obvious considering Adam is dead. However, is the Courant reporting that there were no papers filed to commit Adam in Probate Court, which would be a different form and a different Court process. The reporter should really clear that up. In addition, the Courant should report on if the mom's blood was taken for a toxicology report as well. The Courant describes the type of death arrangement that were made for the mom, but was a toxicology screen done?

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