Lambs to the Slaughter

Einstein’s definition of ‘insanity’ is doing something over and over and expecting different results. Expecting things to change by doing nothing over and over again, when it comes to guns, is insanity too.

My daughter was born May 10, 2006. So was Jessica Rekos, one of the 20 children murdered in Newtown, CT on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

Since then we have been trying to make sense of the senseless, to understand the unfathomable. Our world is suddenly devoid of reason. As a parent, as a commentator, as an American, as a human being, my soul feels crushed by this insane turn the world has taken.

Reasonable thought seems to have vanished when it comes to the issue of guns in our culture. And pardon me for bringing it up so early in my column, but let’s be frank: This issue has everything to do with guns.

Yes, it also has to do with mental illness and our attitudes and societal approach to the treatment and acceptance of the mentally ill. Of course it also has to do with our cultural glorification and permissiveness of violence, in visual media, in music and in the electronic games we play. It is increasingly about cowardly politicians who sacrifice principle and their constituents’ wishes by accepting money from special interest groups and industries that manufacture death. It is about letting our social support fabric fray and fail all too often.

But most of all it is a story about children, and about our responsibility to keep them and those around them safe.

I vow to stand strong against the insane belief perpetuated by those who feel their right to bear arms is greater than the right of my children, or any child, to feel safe in their school.

The original intent of that Second Amendment right had nothing to do with anything that occurred in the classrooms of Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. I have to think that had the founding fathers even imagined what would happen in Newtown just less than a week ago, we wouldn’t have mention of arms in the Constitution at all.

That Second Amendment right has nothing to do with owning, collecting or being an ‘enthusiast’ about today’s weapons of warfare. And let’s be blunt:  that’s exactly what the weapon reportedly carried into Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and used in the massacre was—a semi-automatic rifle capable of firing up to 100 rounds of ammunition. It most definitely was a weapon of modern warfare.

That Second Amendment constitutional right actually has to do with a 235-year-old, revolutionary-era concept of militia and military defense of our country against tyranny—not about being a collector or enthusiast. Even if you regard the law as our modern courts have interpreted it, from a perspective of protecting the right to self-defense, what happened in the classrooms of Newtown had less to do with the Second Amendment on Friday, and more to do with slaughter.

In other words, our Second Amendment no longer is about protecting us, but rather it is being used to cause us harm.

So it seems we are at war now, and the attack comes at us from within our own borders, by those we might have once considered our own.

This weaponized madness has come to remind me of a visit I made seven years ago to Israel, a country that is actually at war, declared or undeclared. During our visit we were at first surprised and then inured to finding armed security guards posted at every mall entrance, and at each and every entryway to restaurants, shops and offices. Atop Masada and everywhere else we toured, we saw groups of schoolchildren, accompanied by armed Israeli soldiers who were chaperoning them as a standard component of every school field trip Israeli kids take.

This is what our reality will become, unless we make change happen here, and happen now.

The time for ‘debate’ has passed long ago—it should have happened before Newtown, before Aurora, before Gabby Giffords, before Columbine, before Virginia Tech, before the JCC shooting, before the many, many others mass shootings where gun violence brought about hundreds of other senseless deaths. We need to mobilize as if this is a movement, as if this is revolution.

We must face the reality that unless we take action, the gun violence will only continue. The day after Newtown was shattered by the massacre there, two more gun incidents happened—one at a hospital in Alabama, and the other at a mall in Los Angeles—resulting in more casualties.

We must also face the reality that, today someone else is planning the next school or hospital slaughter.

What we must ask ourselves is whether or not we need to ever again read kinds of headlines as those that followed the events in Newtown: “Children Were All Shot Multiple Times With a Semiautomatic.”

We need to find the reason, the sanity and the courage to say to those who oppose sensible gun control that they are cowards. They are cowards unwilling to stand up to a gun lobby and say, “We refuse to allow more innocent people to die.” Those unwilling to consider common sense alternative options—background checks before gun sales, ammunition limits, assault rifle bans, limits on number of guns owned, gun registration, and other saner options—need to be called out for what they are:  extremists, cowards and those willing to put children at risk.

They have shown their cowardly stripes through the events of this past weekend. All 31 pro-gun senators declined to appear in front of the media, including their much-publicized refusal to appear on “Meet the Press.”  As of my writing deadline, there still has been no comment about the Newtown deaths from the NRA.

Whose heroism dwarfs each of those senators and other cowardly politicians? Teacher Victoria Soto, whose story we sadly know all too well—she put herself between the gunman and her 6- and 7-year-old students to save their lives, and paid with her own.

It is Soto’s courage, and the courage of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, and of school psychologist Mary Sherlach, and of all the other teachers and children who stood up to the face of evil that Friday morning that we need to celebrate and hold up as the beacon of light to show us the way.

They are shining us on the path devoid of politics, barren of the hypocrisy that we have seen before. To honor them and their memories, that is the path of righteousness we must now pursue.

I, for one, will no longer allow us to be led, like lambs to the slaughter, down the other path to our demise. I vow that for two little girls who share a birthday of May 10, 2006—one whose life is in my hands, and the other whose memory I will always honor.

Paul Alexander December 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Oh...and Sully...your writing style is unique. You can change your Patch identity as many times as you wish, but you always stand out. Now you're masquerading as a woman???
Susan UK December 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Joseph (sorry it's too silly to refer to you as Mr Sheapdawg) Did you really just refer to the tragic killing of 20 six and seven year old children as one of the media's "...Juicy stories of heartache..."? JUICY?! STORY?!
Paul Alexander December 20, 2012 at 02:02 PM
"Susan UK" is in reality, Newtown's own Jim Sullivan aka onThe Patch...Sully / McMurphy / Irv Weinstein
Veritas vos liberabit December 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Paul, your paranoia out out of control, although Susan appear to be an intelligent, rational human being, she is not me. And, as usual you continue to invent your own set of facts, you do believe in Rasmussen Polling don't you ? December 19, 2012 Poll Watch: Rasmussen Survey on the School Shooting in Connecticut Rasmussen Poll on the Sandy Hook Shooting Does the United States need stricter gun control laws? Yes 47% No 45% Note: This is the highest level of support for more gun control ever measured by Rasmussen Reports. It’s two points higher than the support measured in April 2007 following the killings at Virginia Tech. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats think the United States needs stricter gun control laws. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Republicans disagree. Unaffiliated adults are fairly evenly divided. Stay down in Forida-DUH where you can feel at home with your pals from Deliverance country. ps: I'm glad that you have taken a break from attacking the worthiness of Newtown school teachers.
Joseph Sheapdawg December 20, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Mrs. UK The reference is to how the media salivates over tragedy. It is a reference to how they have chased children and relatives like a pack of wild dogs to get a sound bite. It is a reference to how they swarm like sharks when there is blood in the water. If you return to my original post you will see that I am heart broken. But in my pain I do want to invoke real change. I want to stop mad men from committing these crimes, but I do not kid myself by attacking one item or a section of our society that is lawful. I want to make sure that the media and the zealots do not use this tragedy to divert the attention away from a place that we should be looking, namely mental health. It is the one thing that all of these tragedies have in common, whether they use a gun, a knife, bomb or a can of gasoline. We are all to easily swayed by miss use of the information. I do believe that there is room for improvement when it comes to gun control, but bans do not stop madmen.
Susan UK December 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM
As I have previously pointed out, Mr. Alexander often cites inaccurate or out-of-date facts. I assure you Mr Alexander, I live in very gray and rainy London and I am not a cross-dressing man!
Paul Alexander December 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
"Lose your hatred" Now I need a new keyboard after laughing my coffee all over it.
Veritas vos liberabit December 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Rasmussen, we know how little you value teachers: Paul Alexander 3:55 pm on Thursday, May 3, 2012 Teacher, I am so fed up with the “We’re teacher’s. We’re valuable. Pay us ever increasing “appropriate” salaries.” BS. And if you REALLY believed in your value you would enter the private sector where your compensation is limitless. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also, who actually LIVE in Newtown are proud of our teachers, we are proud of our state, we are proud of our President. Lose your hatred.
Paul Alexander December 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM
"Susan appear to be an intelligent, rational human being, she is not me." Nice Try Sully.
Susan UK December 20, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Oh and Joseph, although I am married, I did not change my name and would rather prefer Ms. UK" in the future. Thanks!
Craig Southard December 20, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Being a gun owner I do support ones freedom and constitutional right to own a firearm for sport and self defense. I don’t personally feel the need to own a high powered rifle capable of holding and firing 30 rounds at one time – but that’s me. I believe 99.999% of legal gun owners are probably some of the most law abiding citizens on earth so in my opinion passing laws that further regulate their possession and use of firearms will have little or no affect on mass shootings and murder rates. Yes - Strengthening gun ownership laws might be part of the answer but for those who think it is "the answer" regretfully I believe you are woefully wrong.
Ed Roche December 20, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The primary issue is mental health. Well adjusted people are not killing their parents, or their neighbors with guns or knives or bombs or stones. The method used to kill is secondary to the absolute lack of awareness of the mental heath of a person who had transitted life in America for 20 years without anyone being aware of his deep seaed rage and perverse disregard for human life. The hackneyed references to militia seems to ignore the fact that 4 people were shot and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen in 1970 while protesting the war in Vietnam - a "well regulated militia" so there's no guarantee of safety even if one were to restrict all weaponry. An integrated mental health program needs to be part of any health program. We need that now and it doesn't require constitutional change to achieve it.
Patrick Oser December 21, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Paul, Could you post or send me where you got that stat of 8000 new members a day for the NRA in the last week? I have heard that gun sales are on the rise now just like they were right after the Presidential elections(gun sales rose 30%).
Patrick Oser December 21, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Well said Joseph. I agree with you and I think your approach is rational. Someone posted here or on another thread about the irony of the Fairfield Hills State Hospital in Newtown CT which operated from 1931 until 1995. At its peak the hospital housed over 4,000 patients. We had one here in Boston(Dorchester/Mattapan line) that looked just like the abandoned buildings in Fairfield Hills. I have walked and rode my bike around those buildings in Newtown when visiting friends I know and was told they just let all of them go into the public when it was closed down. We need to seriously address mental illness. Mental illness is the common denominator with most or all of these mass shootings.
Patrick Oser December 21, 2012 at 01:47 AM
What state or town are you from Craig?
Ralyn Speerly Schraceo December 21, 2012 at 04:57 AM
@ Toni - your numbers are wayyyyy off. Try only around 8,000 last year for deaths by firearm. Way more are killed by drunk drivers - maybe you should ban cars too as a lethal weapon. To state the true obvious - if they don't have a gun they'll use a knife or something else. The people that do these things are not mentally stable and are not law-abiding gun owners for the most part - they steal the guns. Disarming innocent people and making them defenseless targets is just plain insane. There are a lot of shootings that you never hear about that were stopped by armed citizens - but I guess those anti-gun advocates don't want us to know that way more are stopped by law abiding gun owners NOT the police because they never get there in time.
Ralyn Speerly Schraceo December 21, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Very well said. I feel that the dangerous psych drugs that big pharma is pushing on all for a happy fix are largely at fault here - it is the one thing almost all these people that commit these kind of crimes have in common other than mental health issues.
G December 21, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Paul Alexander - I've always respected your right to your opinion (although I rarely agree with it), but you're kind of pushing it now. I come on Patch less and less lately, but it seems you always have an opinion on how we should run our state or town. You live in Florida and have no idea what this town is struggling with. If you have such an opposite view on what most of us "liberal New England" ers have, then why do you threaten to move here? Please save us all the trouble - stay in Florida. We've got enough to get through right now. Or run for office in Florida. All you have ever done is criticize the people and politicians in Newtown and Connecticut. Please, please...stay in Florida.
Paul Alexander December 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM
G, Really? I have an excellent understanding of what Newtown is struggling with. I wish nothing more than to be able to reverse time and be in the parking lot of Sandy Hook Elementary with my concealed Colt Defender ready to blow Lanza away as he gets out of his car. So go shout someone else down. I grew up in Newtown. I'm in town regularly. I'll be there again in a few weeks. I know MANY of the residents well. I have every intention of living there again as my mother is still there, will never leave and is getting up there in years. My posts are intended as constructive criticism for a town and a state that seems to have forgotten what made them both wonderful places to live and work. I want to do what I can long distance to reverse the decline. I've lived all over the country so I've seen what works and what doesn’t. Connecticut is not working on many levels. I get MANY emails from residents who comment positively on my posts and encourage me to continue. Bottom line is G-Man, I’m not going to STFU just cuz my views bother you.
Paul Alexander December 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM
...and G-man...if you knew me and you wanted me to stay in Florida...the last thing you'd tell me is "please...stay in Florida"
Craig Southard December 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Hi Patrick. Lifetime Connecticut resident. Why do you ask?
Patrick Oser December 21, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Hi Craig, I am from Boston and grew up there my whole life. I live on the Cape now. I have read all these posts and I have been following this story of what happened in Newtown as much as I can. I am curious where people come from that post comments because as others have pointed out there are different feelings around the Country about gun ownership and gun control and since CT is mostly a democratic state and this terrible event happened in CT, I would think there might, probably be more people supporting gun control especially since this happened in their own backyard. As I have said in other comments in this article. I neither own a gun nor have I ever fired one. I am not a member of the NRA(yet). But, I fully support, in it's full definition and intention, our 2nd Amendment's right to bear arms. What have you been hearing in CT as far as where people stand with this issue and what do you think(or know) the percentages are of people from CT that are for and against gun control?
Joe Tristine December 21, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Heather, Thank you for this eloquent, emotional and 100% correct plea to do what is morally and obviously just and correct. Judging by some of the comments here, this will be a tough fight but one worth fighting.
Nic Ru December 22, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I agree May Kaye, the guns and the violence and the collective depression of us all is a symptom of something deeper going on. Other countries have violent videogames and a healthy number of responsible gun owners, but why are we in the US the ones going off the charts in every despicable psychological category? With all our psychologists and professionals here, why are we failing to address the elephant in the room? Can we not see the elephant? Is it because we have lost our sense of justice? Is our drinking water full of chemicals? Is it the economy? Is it the inequality? Is it the price of milk and bread? Is it our love of money? We should start looking at the intangibles (while at the same time enacting smart and sensible gun control before the whole nation starts to re-enact the OK Corral in the streets, which might be too late at this point).
Claire Roberts December 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM
As an educator I have been saying the exact same thing. If a gunman comes into our school it's a pretty good certainty that I am going to die trying to protect my kids. But stepping in front of a bullet once takes me completely out of the equation for protecting those I leave behind, leaving them just as vulnerable. If I am also permitted to be armed I can possibly take the shooter out with me, thus protecting my students from the harm that would befall them. Perhaps the knowledge that someone in that school could fire back would deter the perpetrator from their misdeed to begin with. Removing emotion as much as possible, the only solution within a school is to offer a deterring measure and/or means of actually fighting back. No matter what we do or how we try, it is not feasible to make schools a physically safe while maintaining the status quo. The only other option besides homeschooling may be virtual school.
Oren Spiegler December 24, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I hope it helps in some small way for the good people of Newtown to know that on this Christmas Eve, the hearts of a caring nation are broken and that you, especially those directly impacted by the horror of a day of infamy, are very much in our thoughts as you shall continue to be in the days and years ahead. We shall remember you and your beautiful children forever. Christmas this year is not the same for anyone with a beating and caring heart. God bless you, Newtown... Oren Spiegler Upper Saint Clair PA
Patrick Oser December 25, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Well said Oren and I agree. I was thinking the exact same thing tonight……...
BorgDrone January 11, 2013 at 04:50 AM
your prohibition point is really relevant, Moonshine and home brew is alive and well and its been that way since the 1600's and 1700's when the Scotch-Irish immigrants came to north america. The nations first president George Washington was one of the first commercial distillers actually, when he left the presidency and returned to Mt. Vernon. Were actually a really really safe country, whats mostly contributed to crime and violence in the United States has not been guns, its been urbanization and the rise of large cities. The actual history of north america goes back way beyond 1492 and Columbus, theres so many Pre-columbian mysteries out there its unbeleiveable.
Patrick Oser January 11, 2013 at 06:08 AM
@ Susan UK. You should definitely stay in London. It is way too dangerous for you and your family to come here. I have seen some news reports (surely not through our media) that there are protests in London England because people are fed up with all their rights being taken away as well as their guns. Just so you know Susan, the 2nd Amendment is not for duck hunting……….it is to protect against a tyrannical government like we (are starting to) have here in America. For your own safty stay in London and call Piers Morgan to come back as well, he must be home sick by now.
Patrick Oser January 11, 2013 at 06:14 AM
Can't agree on this Susan UK because you can't trust the government or the corruptibility of Man……...


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