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Imperium Watch: Twenty Little Coffins

Will the American apotheosis of the gun end after Newtown?

Comments (3)
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Now our much-vaunted allegiance to the Second Amendment, broadly interpreted—so broadly that it puts guns on our streets that have no legitimate use except on the battlefield—has given us 20 more martyrs. Very small martyrs, the youngest barely six years old: the little students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. who died on the horrendous morning of Dec. 14.

Martyrs to the national folklore—promoted by decent gun enthusiasts as well as by criminals—of the gun as the ultimate protector, the final solution.

And, let’s be honest, martyrs not just to ideology but to marketing interests, including marketing interests in the Valley.

Newtown, iced with the sentimental stereotype so typical of American reporting, was tagged in media reports as a peaceful little town where everyone was a good neighbor. Some reports also noted that Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, the implication being that strict laws don’t necessarily prevent atrocities. But there was an exception to that strictness, and that exception was partly engineered by forces in Newtown, and in Springfield, Mass.

In Newtown, right across the road from Sandy Hook Elementary, stands the headquarters of a quiet but very influential gun industry trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. In March of 2011, the Connecticut state Legislature was proposing to add to its strict gun laws another law banning magazines holding over 10 bullets.

But the NSSF (to say nothing of the National Rifle Association) wasn’t about to let that happen. Neither was Springfield, Mass.-based Smith and Wesson.

Jake McGuigan, the NSSF’s government relations director, wrote the Legislature that a class action suit might result if owners of guns that would accept the bigger magazines weren’t reimbursed to the tune of $29 million. Also, he pointed out, the market for the state’s gunmakers, Colt Defense, Mossberg, and Sturm, Ruger and Co., would contract. (NSSF has now posted on its website a statement saying that it will respond to no media questions “out of respect for the families” of those who died in Newtown.)

And from Smith and Wesson, CEO Jake Debney wrote Connecticut lawmakers that such a law would “drastically” affect gun companies across New England, including 10 Connecticut firms that were suppliers to Smith and Wesson.

Who needs to fire 30 rounds without reloading except a soldier in combat? But the ban died in the Connecticut Legislature. Now 20 tykes and their principal and several staff members have died, killed with a Bushmaster semiautomatic with 30 rounds in its clip.

Before this disaster, but after the Batman shooting, Andrew Cohen, writing in The Atlantic, made a point worth thinking about: that the U.S. uses a prevention approach to what it designates terrorism, but not to domestic shootings. “Since 9/11,” Cohen wrote, “U.S. officials have steered America’s vast law enforcement apparatus around to the idea that it is more important to prevent crimes from occurring than it is to punish criminals for committing those crimes; that the potential loss of life is too great a price to pay for a reactive approach to terror crime. That’s why we are dropping missiles on the heads of terror suspects abroad ... and why we can’t close Guantanamo Bay. This shift in focus—from punishment to prevention, from the reactive to the proactive—has sorely tested the Constitution. And it explains virtually every official act in the war on terror since the Twin Towers fell.

“Yet, evidently, it’s a concept that has no bearing on the gun debate. Since 9/11, the Brady Campaign tells us, there have been an estimated 334,168 gun deaths in the United States, a figure that includes homicides, suicides, and unintentional shooting deaths. The total is 100 times larger than the toll of September 11, 2001... Yet there has been no cry for state or federal policies of prevention over punishment, no loud call for a proactive rather than a reactive approach to gun violence.”•

Comments (3)
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Barack Obama's kids go to a school guarded by 11 armed security guards.

Posted by k on 12.27.12 at 6:30

Rush to judgement in times of tragedy is never a definitive way to solve a problem or curtail future tragedies. Take away everything that someone says is bad for you. Take away anything that has the potential to hurt you. People will still find ways to hurt each other or themselves. It is intent. Intent to do harm. People believe narrowing down the options will curtail violence. But they will never curtail the birthplace of that violence which lies within the brain. Medical intervention, a society open to treating mental health issues, that's where the real solution lies. No one in their right mind picks up any object with the intent to do harm to others or themselves.

Posted by fonsecagraphics on 12.27.12 at 8:02

There has been rush to judgement. The NRA and other gun groups never said to hand weapons to the mentally ill. They never said to release convicted murders from prison.

The Colorado theater shooter was in the one theater in the city that specifically prohibited the carrying of firearms on their premises. The gun control lobby chooses to ignore this issue. The shooter may have been crazy, but he was not stupid.

The latest school shooting also involved a mentally ill person. Within an hour people were picketing the White House. I was wondering how long it would take person to make sign and get to the White House.

But the problem is largely Connecticut’s problem. The crazy person who obtained the guns illegally, did it in Connecticut. He and his mother were both residents of Connecticut. The Mental Health system, or lack of it , belongs to Connecticut. Thus far it looks like the guns were purchased in Connecticut. The rifle, which is being complained about the most, was found in a truck. As of this writing we do not know if it was used. Neither do we know much about the owner of the truck.

We know very little because the people in Newtown, Connecticut are not talking very much. It appears to be an upper middle class version of the “Stop Snitching” rule. Was Lanza or was he not firing guns at various ranges? No one is talking. What was the mental state of his mother? Giving firearms to a mentally ill person is hardly a sign of good mental Health. It took a few days just to find whether or nor Mrs. Lanza ever worked at the school. Some articles say she was moving him to Oregon. He would get a fresh start there with absolutely no official history of mental illness.

Why did Lanza destroy his hard drive? If you are going to commit suicide the only thing that would be accomplished by destroying your hard drive would be if there was information incriminating others, it would destroyed.

While gun clubs may be faulted in the article I know of none that would want someone to attack a school. Most of them offer classes on the safe handling of firearms.

The gun control lobby is really the victim disarmament lobby. People call the police because the police have guns. The problem is they are rarely in the right place at the right time, as we have seen. If you give some one a Gatling Gun who does not want to shoot up a school, he will not shoot up a school. Some of the mentally disturbed are almost geniuses. In China they have successfully used machetes on kindergarten kids. They will find a way. Notice, they do not attack construction sites. Now the same people who want more cops on the streets, do not want them in the schools.

The immediate solution is to put some one armed in the school to immediately stop an attack. The longer term solution is to keep the dangerously mentally ill confined, as well as other dangerous criminals. Probably neither one will happen.

Posted by Robert Underwood on 12.28.12 at 19:53
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