Quotes of the day
posted at 8:31 pm on December 15, 2012 by Allahpundit
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., bloodiest attack of its kind in the nation’s history, stands as a possible tipping point after Washington’s decade-long aversion even to talking about stricter gun laws…
It remains to be seen whether Sandy Hook will break the usual cycle of universal shock fading into political reality. That reality is based on a combination of powerful gun lobbying and public opinion, which has shifted against tougher gun control and stayed that way. However lawmakers react this time, it’s the president’s call whether the issue fades again or takes its place alongside the legacy-shaping initiatives of his time, with all the peril that could mean for his party…
One certainty in the weeks to come is that both parties in Washington will carefully watch public opinion on gun control and the Second Amendment, and whether any impact lasts. Opposition to stricter laws has proved resilient.
[A]dvocates of gun control say the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown might be different for two reasons: the victims were children, eliciting a gut-wrenching response across the country, and the National Rifle Association proved to be a political paper tiger in the 2012 election.
“The political atmosphere has clearly changed because now we have solid evidence that the N.R.A. just was not effective in the last election cycle,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control advocacy group. “This just has a feel that they won’t get away with doing nothing this time.”
Pivotal players in any legislative action would be the half dozen Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014 who represent states that tend to be more protective of gun owners’ rights: Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska…
Two other Democrats also crucial to any Senate action would be Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and senator-elect Joe Donnelly of Indiana…
Whether Obama decides that he wants to lead an effort to persuade Congress to enact new measures to limit access to guns may in part depend on how the public responds in the next week.
Adam Lanza, the troubled nerd who turned a Connecticut school into a slaughterhouse, learned how to shoot under the watchful eye of his demanding mom Nancy.
“She said she would often go target shooting with her kids,” landscaper Dan Holmes said.
Nancy Lanza wound up being the first of her son’s 27 victims when he used one of her guns to shoot her dead.
Holmes, who often mowed the grass at the Lanza’s sprawling Newtown home, told Reuters the doomed mom was proud of her arsenal and once showed him a “high end rifle” she had just purchased.
U.S. school districts have spent millions of dollars on metal detectors, security cameras and elaborate emergency-response plans since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, but almost nothing could have prevented Friday’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, security experts say…
Still, Bond said, there is no way for students and teachers to protect themselves when someone begins shooting with a weapon. He said even a security guard and locked doors could not have stopped the killer.
Without knowing the school’s security system, Kenneth Trump, president of consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, stresses that schools need to be “looking for these lone wolf actors.”
“As a father, I would love to have a 100 percent guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen in my kids’ school, but as a rational school safety professional I know nobody can give me a 100 percent guarantee on safety,” said Trump.
3) We must find a way to make it more difficult for the non-adjudicated mentally ill to come into possession of weapons. This is crucially important, but very difficult, because it would require the cooperation of the medical community — of psychiatrists, therapists, school counselors and the like — and the privacy issues (among other issues) are enormous. But: It has to be made more difficult for sociopaths, psychopaths and the otherwise violently mentally-ill (who, in total, make up a small portion of the mentally ill population) to buy weapons.
4) People should have the ability to defend themselves. Mass shootings take many lives in part because no one is firing back at the shooters. The shooters in recent massacres have had many minutes to complete their evil work, while their victims cower under desks or in closets. One response to the tragic reality that we are a gun-saturated country is to understand that law-abiding, well-trained, non-criminal, wholly sane citizens who are screened by the government have a role to play in their own self-defense, and in the defense of others (read The Atlantic article to see how one armed school administrator stopped a mass shooting in Pearl Mississippi). I don’t know anything more than anyone else about the shooting in Connecticut at the moment, but it seems fairly obvious that there was no one at or near the school who could have tried to fight back.
Imagine that you ran a school district, and some rich foundation, worried about school shootings, gave you the following offer: We’ll hire armed security guards for you, who could try to do something about the school shooter. These aren’t going to be highly trained police officers, just typical security guards, given some modest training and subjected to basic background checks. It’s not like they’re highly skilled; security guards rarely are. But they have a basic understanding of how to shoot, and when to shoot…
But wait! The foundation has just learned that its investment portfolio has done very badly, and the grant doesn’t go through. But someone else suggests: Instead of hiring special-purpose security guards, why not take some of your existing employees — teachers, administrators, and the like — and offer them a deal: They’d go through some modest training and subjected to basic background checks, and in exchange they’d be given the right to carry the same guns that the security guards would have had…
Is there some reason why the armed security guard is safe and helpful, but the armed teacher, administrator, or staffer — er, the teacher with a volunteer security guard license — would be useless and a menace?
The general decline in gun-related violence and the inability even of mental health professionals to identify future mass killers should be the essential starting points of any serious policy discussion generated by the absolutely horrific slaughter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We should also add a third starting point: Few good policies come from rapid responses to deeply felt injuries. Many of the same people who are now calling for immediate action with regard to gun control recognize that The Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was a terrible piece of legislation that ultimately did nothing to protect Americans even as it vastly expanded the state’s ability to surveil law-abiding citizens. There’s no reason to think that federal, state, or local gun control laws promulgated now would result in anything different.
If hard cases make bad laws, it’s even more true that rare crimes make terrible public policy. In a piece for Quartz, journalist Lenore Skenazy recalls that the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history took place in Michigan in 1927, when a disgruntled school-board official blew up 38 people, including himself. She writes that the real difference between now and then is the immediacy of the media, which shrinks the distance between victims and the rest of us. Even as that allows us to have more empathy for the grieving, it creates the conditions for an overreaction that will ultimately be little more than symbolic…