February 24, 2020

Eight Years Later and Still Waiting

In December of 2012 I wrote a post about the Sandy Hook massacre of children and adults. I would like to rerun some of that post here and then fast forward to today.

I have waited until today to add my voice to the discussion of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School. I needed time to process the horror. I needed to try to understand the mindset of people who believe more guns would have made last Friday's events less likely. I needed to understand why our country accepts tens of thousands of deaths each year from guns. I needed to understand why Congress is more afraid of the NRA than the reality of all the dead children and adults killed year after year.
I finally decided I can't understand.
I found this story from TV commentator, Joe Scarborough, who was strongly in favor of unlimited gun rights........ until last Friday.
As reported in the Huffington Post Joe Scarborough said on Monday "From this day forward, nothing can ever be the same again," he said. "... Let this be our true landmark ... politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo."
He said that he was a "conservative Republican" who had been solidly aligned with the NRA during his time in Congress, and had previously held libertarian views on the Second Amendment. But he added that Friday "changed everything": 
"I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children. Friday changed everything. It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable.
Entertainment moguls don't have an absolute right to glorify murder while spreading mayhem in young minds across America. And our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.
It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It's time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our schoolyards than putting together their next fundraiser. It's time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas when we're losing the war at home ... For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change."
Will the 27 dead be the last straw that finally forces change?
I pray it will be so. Otherwise, the dead lost their lives for absolutely nothing. And, that is the ultimate waste.

Guns are so much a part of our culture
Well, eight years later and over 2,600 people have died in mass shootings in United States since Sandy Hook. Nearly 10,000 of us have been wounded. I must conclude Sandy Hook changed nothing. In fact, it was followed by horrific mass violence in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Florida. Also, I must remember the Gabby Gifford shooting in Tucson in 2011 that left her seriously wounded and 6 others killed at a campaign rally.

A total of 7,000 children have died from gun violence, many at the hands of parents or family friends, other as a result of gang shootings or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, some by suicide, and others by accidental discharge. The vast majority of these deaths did not involve assault weapons. But, doesn't 7,000 dead children still raise our concern level?

Forget common sense...that train left the station a long time ago. What is it going to take for us to stop murdering ourselves with weapons designed for war? How many killings with assault weapons in the hands of people who have no business owning a firearm are necessary? How many have to die before we close the loopholes in our laws or sell handguns at private shows to anyone with the cash and without proper background checks?

Properly controlled handguns, rifles, even shotguns can be part of a fun and safe sport. I repeat: Properly controlled handguns, rifles, even shotguns can be part of a fun and safe sport. Target shooting takes practice and dedication. Those who hunt wild game are regulated and registered. The 2nd Amendment has been interpreted to protect this right and it is going nowhere.

But, anyone can threaten and kill my kids, your grandkids, or the children down the street at the elementary school by getting a hold of firearms that they have no business owning.

This has absolutely nothing to do with our rights. It has to do with our lives and the lives of our loved ones and neighbors. It has to do with the cowards in Congress and the craziness of lobbyists buying influence at the cost of human lives.

As a father of two grown girls and now grandfather of three grandchildren, I can't accept the reality that going to a school, a church, a mall, or any public space in this country is a decision that could cost anyone his or her life at the hands of someone with a deadly weapon. Sure, that risk has always been there. But, the odds and amount of damage have increased because of the increase in fire power. Did you have "active shooter" drills when you went to school?

For those who say banning assault rifles is just the first step to banning all guns, I suggest you go to Newtown and talk to a parent of a dead 6 or 7 year old child and tell them exactly why a weapon designed for war has any place in civilized society. While you are at it visit any of the other places where assault weapons have left people dead or wounded. Do we really need the ability to blast a deer with 25 high-powered rounds?

To be clear yet again: I am not talking about restricting gun sales or use for those who pass background checks and buy from licenced dealers. I have no problem with this behavior. It is not one I find enticing, but it is legal and important to lots of people.

If you are about to respond that guns don't kill people, people kill people, please don't. That is a ludicrous argument. Being more careful about who can buy a gun and banning assault weapons will not end death by shooting. The crazies will still get their hands on a weapon to murder other people. But, obviously, cutting back on the number of guns available to unqualified buyers will reduce the death and injury toll.

We have laws about driving drunk or speeding. To drive at all you must get a license after passing a test about the law and demonstrating driving skills. Some people break those laws all the time, but by having restrictions and penalties in place the number of deaths caused by the improper use of a motor vehicle are substantially lower than if just anyone could get in a vehicle and drive any way they choose. 

We seem to be OK with strict rules about operating a car, but not guns? Oh, and notice that some restrictions on driving drunk didn't start the slippery slope of banning drivers.

Some argue that the laws in place are good enough, they just aren't enforced. I would ask, why not? What are those in charge of making sure gun laws are followed not doing? A scream of protest from the NRA, a claim that any law is just the first step? Enforcement officials who don't believe in any restrictions? If present laws are really the answer but they are not enforced, then that argument doesn't hold water.

In closing, I repeat: properly licensed and background-checked people who use guns responsibility should want laws that keep bad people from putting your legitimate ownership at risk. I do not want to take away your guns. I want to make it more difficult for sick and bad people to kill children and adults. I want assault weapons in the hands of our military, not Joe or Jane citizen.

Now comes the fun part: the comments. I have put on my big boy pants and am ready. No personal insults or name-calling, please. Try to stick to the facts. 

NOTE: Because I have made my position quite clear, i am not going to comment on the comments left by readers. I will let each person who chooses to add to this topic make their case. 


  1. I agree with you. Most people agree with you. We can't buy a tank or a bazooka or an anti-aircraft gun. So why should we be able to buy and use other military-type weapons? There IS a sensible, rational middle ground on this. So it seems it's Congress that needs to put on its big boy pants and actually do something about it.

  2. Bob, I appreciate the fact that you put yourself out there for criticism with this post. As a legal gun owner and concealed carry permit holder, as well as a Lifetime NRA member, I exercise my Constitutional right to carry every day to defend myself, my family, and my property. I also understand why others choose not to do so and I will support their decision. But there are a few topics I need to point out since they are either pertinent, or will give you an idea why gun owners feel those attacking their rights are not knowledgeable on the topic of gun ownership in this country:

    1. You would be wise to not continually use the term "assault weapon" to describe the weapons Americans are able to legally buy. I realize it is a way the Left in this country likes to gen up their followers, but it causes those who know better to just shut off the anti-gun voices. AR-15s, the most common weapon that the media and anti-gun proponents say is an assault weapon, is not. An assault weapon by definition is a fully automatic weapon, essentially a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. One can get one but it is extremely difficult, involves a lot of extra background checks beyond what we are already subjected to, and the licensing for one is very expensive (let alone the cost of the weapon). Hence there are very few in private hands, and they usually collectors.

    2. Another argument against using the term assault weapon is that the media seeks to brand everything as an assault weapon. I can show you pictures of rifles that looks much more menacing than the picture you have shown in the post. Bottom line - they are .22 rifles that have a different stock and barrel to them. No different than the plinking rifles many people had as kids or adults, just with a look that some find appealing. Yet the unknowing media has erroneously labeled them as assault rifles in articles they have run.

    3. Liberal politicians have been the worst enemies of the anti-gun folks. Sure, they will mouth terms like "common sense gun laws" (a red herring if there ever was one) but then state things such as "Hell yes we are going to take away your AR-15" (Beto O'Rourke), or the worst of all "If I could have gotten the 51 votes in the Senate for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr and Mrs America turn them all in, I would have done it" (Sen Diane Feinstein). No supporter of the 2nd Amendment trusts anything the politicians on the Left are saying about guns. It would not matter if the Left said that we should start with banning bazookas; we truly believe it is just the start of what they consider the Holy Grail, namely an outright ban period.

    At this point in time the number of weapons in private hands numbers somewhere north of 300 million, and the number of rounds of ammunition is in the trillions. If American gun owners were truly the problem there would be massacres in the street everywhere. The problem is that most people that commit such crimes are mentally ill, and we all know it. And the vast majority of gun deaths in this country are due to suicide! I think most of these people would have taken their own lives in some other way if the gun was not there.

    Thanks for letting those of us on the opposite side of the debate chime in, Bob. I look forward to seeing responses from all your readers.

  3. I agree 100% as well. My husband was an avid gun collector and a NRA life member until the NRA fought so hard to oppose the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act back in the 1990s. That's when the NRA became more about making money for the gun manufactures and less about the sport of hunting. The slippery slope argument was a joke back then and it's still a joke. If we do nothing more than close the gun show loopholes where anyone can walk in and buy a gun from a dealer, half the gun-involved crime in Chicago and probably other big cities would end. I've been to those shows. You can buy anything under that table.

    When my husband died I had 20 some guns to get rid of including two handguns. I talked to the safety officer down at the police department and a particular gun auction was recommended. And even with that recommendation, the auctioneer did something shady. I couldn't find the proper paperwork for one of the hand guns and I was more than willing to have the police department run the serial numbers to get them and hold that gun back for later auction since it takes some time, but the auctioneer said, "I'll make something up." Shocked the heck out of me. He only had my word that it wasn't stolen or involved in a crime.

    We need to get Citizen's United united overturned to get big money out of politics. The NRA and PHAMA are buying our Senate big time. Until that changes sensible gun laws will not pass in my opinion.

    It's appalling and very sad that a whole generation of kids have grown up since Sandy Hook who have never known what it's like not live in fear of a mass shooting.

  4. I agree to an extent … something needs to be done. Loopholes need to be closed. Current laws need to be enforced. I would encourage all of us to analyze the city of Chicago and its stance on gun ownership and how that has impacted crime/shootings. (my former hometown and place where criminals have more rights than victims)
    It's so sad that school children need to me concerned about such violence. I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's a subject that needs to be kept at the forefront.

    1. Unfortunately, Chicago, like Washington DC is not the best example of the argument. Chicago is at the crossroads and close to places where gun dealers exist and flourish. While I haven't read the statistics in a long time, during the time I lived in Washington DC almost every single gun used in a violent crime could be traced directly to good old Virginia-who continues the argue their rights not to just sell guns but sell guns almost everywhere and with few limits. States are not countries and we dont check things at the borders. I suspect that if we did, our per capita gun crimes would go down substantially as they do in most countries where guns ownership is limited and controlled.

  5. First, I agree with the idea of licensing anyone who wishes to purchase a firearm. They should have to go through a test of some kind, a safety class and have the means to house the firearm properly. License the person not the gun. The problem comes, what do you do about the illegal gun holding people?
    The majority of these "illegal" gun owners are in poor neighborhoods- who will go in and disarm people? Will this become a racial issue? I have to say, I think it is terrible that the reason "we" are even having this conversation is because WHITE kids were killed at school. Like the opioid crisis, it was evil once it affected white families. People of color are killed all of the time in our ignored cities. Why is the conversation about AR 15s when most of the killings are with hand guns? Where is the mental health aspect? Suicides are the most common death by handgun.

    Basically, the "killing a deer with 25 rounds" is not normal. Automatic weapons (and silencers)are covered under a class three license and taxed in states that allow them. The problem is the modification of legal things (making them illegal). Most guns like you show are legally semi automatic (meaning one shot at a time). Bump stocks were made illegal by Trump. Most gun owners agree with a way of taking away guns from unstable people. But how do you do that? Like the racial issue, you now have issues with HIPPA.
    If we could just get to a point of talking without the people who are so left or so right on the issue....it would be helpful.

  6. Hey Bob, thanks for sharing your thoughts and frustrations on this topic. I do not own any firearms and neither does my wife or any of our grown children that I am aware of. The lack of gun ownership is a choice for us based on our needs and desires. We are not hunters (I fully support hunting), and we were fearful of the kids accidentally getting access to a gun and playing with it without the proper training should we have owned one that we chose to not have them. We are fortunate to live in a fairly safe area, and the main concerns we had about possessing firearms were more around accidental injuries/deaths and mentally unstable people.

    I would like to add something for everyone to ponder. Have we uncovered the true root cause of these senseless, mass shootings? I honestly do not think so. I think our media and politicians are playing on emotion for ratings and political gain each time a mass shooting occurs in the USA. They propose what I call "feel good" policies and laws aimed at addressing the emotion being seen and don't really work to address finding the root cause of why these people feel the need to murder strangers. We can pass legislation to attempt to restrict certain types of firearms or try to enact more stringent controls to legally possess firearms, but time and again these measures when implemented in states which have done so have had no meaningful impact. What makes people believe that enacting these enhanced controls on a national level will be any different? Firearms are not what murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children on 09/11/2001. Firearms are not what murdered dozens of people in the Oklahoma City federal building mass murder. Yes, we have way too many people in this country being murdered by use of firearms. What is driving this carnage? A lack of morals? A lack of feeling loved? A lack of a sense of community? A lack of good parenting? A lack of holding people accountable for their actions (John Doe did not mean to steal that bag of ice from the 7-11. He was just desperate. Let's not press charges against him and if we do press charges, the cost of the ice is less than $800 so we are not going to prosecute the crime - poor behavior). We have enabled an entire generation of people who don't believe in accountability. They believe in sensationalism. Being the most viewed on social and mainstream media. Being "liked" or "remembered" for what they do/did. Seems to me that a common theme of this violence is more around feeling important and respected and not having to be held accountable for poor decisions and actions. When are we going to address these issues? I feel addressing these will net us a much greater positive impact on reducing violence and murders than banning a certain type of firearm of trying to put in more stringent regulations.

  7. Chuck is correct. We need to quit using the term assault weapon. We need to specify that all semi-automatic weapons need to be banned. We don't need a pistol that can send 19 rounds down field as fast as we can pull the trigger. In short the only thing that should be allowed is bolt action, pump, lever action & revolver. Six round maximum capacity in any of them. You would not need to go door to door to collect them. Just make ownership a felony. No jail time for simple ownership. Just a felony on your record and a $10K fine for each weapon. We could combine that with a limited time buy back offer. Good luck finding your next job, once they do a background check & find that felony. The bonus is it would all be constitutional. If we need to look for an example it worked wonders in Australia and I have not heard of any end of the world consequences.
    The other issue is the ridiculous ease of obtaining a concealed or open carry permit. One weekend of training and you are good to go. What a joke. We all know people we would not trust holding a garden hoe yet they can qualify in one weekend for a permit to carry. Barney Fife is alive and well.

  8. When it comes to guns, our country is like an alcoholic who refuses to acknowledge he/she has a problem. Some people can use guns responsibly, others can't. I don't know what the low point is going to be where we're finally ready to accept there's a problem and do something about it, but apparently we haven't gotten there yet. When 20 first-graders could be shot and nothing changed I pretty much figured things were unlikely to ever change. And my views on gun ownership match Bob's.

  9. I agree with everything you have written, Bob. And I don't believe for a minute that anyone needs an automatic weapon in a civilian situation. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I think the whole gun control discussion has ramped up some pretty unsavory elements in our society. I agree that mental health is a huge issue in this country, but if you look at some of the mass shooters, there were people in their families who weren't paying attention, or didn't want to cross them, or they were isolated. I'm not sure how we solve that, but it's a big problem.

  10. Sorry to say, but just like climate change, it is too late. Positions are too hardened for compromise. The aftermath of Sandy Hook proved to me that many people love their guns more than they love children.

    This is the new normal. We are tasked with finding a way to adapt and cope with it. I am shocked by my own position on this, but I have come to believe that this is our sad reality.