Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Conversation About Guns

I was going to write about ski centers and getting ready for Christmas, but this morning my nine-year-old didn’t want to go to school. She sat on the floor with her lunch box in her hand and started to cry. When I asked her what was wrong, she described a story she heard at school, about children escaping from Sandy Hook Elementary.

I know I am not the only parent that is struggling with a conversation to explain the unexplainable to our children. Sadly, my children are not strangers to death. They were given a dose of reality when they lost their eight-year-old cousin to cancer and both grandfathers in the course of a year. My daughter questions why some people die while others live. I am not able to provide her with answers. Thankfully she does not yet seem obsessed with her safety. She plays with her friends and wanders the woods around our house, but obviously somewhere buried deep the stories matter.

We limited the amount of news coverage our children saw in regards to this most recent school shooting. We asked our children to talk with us before giving credence to tales from their friends. We have family members that suffer from depression and were able to explain the need to end the stigma regarding mental health issues.

My family does not own guns nor do we hunt. We do have friends that hunt and use their guns as a means to provide food for their table. My son plays video games with his friends though at home we do not allow violent games. That said, it does not mean that he does not want them or go to someone’s house to play them.

I have battled with my son about paintball, rubber band target practice and even his participation in biathlon. It is a personal struggle where I feel very strongly about the disassociation he presents with a gun’s true purpose (to kill) and my wish to not make something so unattainable that he will go out and try to use guns somewhere else.

My thirteen-year-old was listening to the radio and asking questions about the laws and he couldn’t understand why people needed high-powered guns. It brought up a conversation about the numerous interpretations of the Second Amendment (A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.) that was ratified in 1791.

My husband and I use every opportunity to present both sides of the argument. In our rural community, we see families that need the venison on their winter table. We also present the need for regulation. I am not trying to “take away someone’s rights,” though I would like to limit them. Just like I applaud any legislation that limited people’s right to drink and drive, I applaud legislation that will limit the use of military assault weapons. Times have changed since 1791 and the public’s rush to buy more weapons based on this tragedy is disheartening.

It seems logical that if the reasoning for having an unlimited amount of ammunition were only because it is “a right” to be protected, then it would seem logical that the same person would still be able to protect him/herself with a different type of weapon. Please do not misread and argue stick, knife, ball, or bat versus a gun. There are thousands of guns that will kill a person, if that is your goal, that won’t blow a hole through a wall and pump numerous bullets into the body of a six-year-old child.

When I finally got my daughter to go to school, I dropped her off at the parking lot and turned to leave. It was then that I noticed the state trooper stationed just beyond the entrance. Though I am grateful for a diligent police force and for this sense of security, I feel it is a knee jerk reaction to the Newtown tragedy.

When a different emergency takes that trooper away, we will become complacent until the next school shooting happens, and so on. Before another person argues their rights, please answer how the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary school children and six teachers shot and killed will be able to fulfill their own rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Photo of Snow Angel used with the permission of Diane Chase,  Adirondack Family Time

Diane Chase

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

95 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    The incident: In 1996 Australia experienced a gun related mass murder that took the life of 35 people.

    The reaction: 12 days later, lead by a very conservative Prime Minister, a bipartisan government enacted sweeping gun control laws. These included strict registration laws, restrictions on private sales, and a buyback program for semi-automatic weapons.

    The result: Gun violence went down, incidents of suicide by gun drastically plunged, home invasions did NOT increase, and they have yet to experience another mass murder.

  2. Adam says:

    No one would argue that this is the price of living in a free society, but something within our society have fundamentally changed. I won’t put forth the “guns don’t kill people, people do” argument. But I stand firm in the belief short of a total ban and confiscation ( God for bid) these acts will continue. Ban the evil SEMI AUTOMATICS, ban HIGH capacity magazines. So when the next shooting occurs and only ten people die can our politicians call that a success? I doubt it. The issue here is refusing to deal with the deeper, darker causes of these shootings. I believe the major issue to be mental illness, and “lax” gun laws to be a minor factor (the CT shooter illegally possessed legal weapons). In the end I was just as shocked by these events as everyone else. But I hope that our elected officials will do what is best for the country and no give in to the illusion of a quick fix.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      Well Adam, you are wrong with your premise. I’ll argue with the contention that this is the price of a free society, a sickening proposition if ever there was one.

      The slaughter of twenty elementary school children is not the price of a free society – or any society. It is the condemnation of a society that glorifies gun violence and works overtime to detach gun violence from its true cost at every turn. It is a damning moral judgment of this society – our society – as was Columbine and Virginia Tech.

      The question is what we will do to redeem it. We can start by speaking from the heart, by speaking truths, not fantasies, as Diane has done.

      But even before we can do that, we have to collectively say “never again” and, this time, mean it.

    • Bill Quinlivan Bill Quinlivan says:

      I believe that we need a two prong action to fix this problem. First, we need to totally ban assault weapons from the federal level and retrieve what we can of these weapons. Second, fix our healthcare system with one similar to those that prevail in most advanced societies and make sure that there is much emphasis on mental and physical health including the most aggressive preventative methods. It is time for our country to enter the 21st century. If you want non-assault weapons for hunting, great. They must be registered at the Federal, State and local level and licensing should include mental, competency and safety testing (both written and active) on a bi-annual basis. This will get gun owners readily identified, and face-to-face with an official every other year for evaluation. All this testing will balance the “right” to own firearms with some level of responsibility and accountability. The testing program should be funded by hefty fees for the registration / licensing / testing process. Not willing to do this, then no gun.

  3. Dave says:

    Mental illness accounts for about 5% of violent crime in this country.

  4. Adam says:

    I am unfamiliar with that statistic, my point is not that individuals with mental illness are all dangers to society. On Point on NPR had a piece about mental illness this afternoon. A parent had called in and was discussing the problems that their child had with beig diagnosed. Long story short the child was showing signs of MI, was undiagnosed, doctor said there was nothing to be done until more positives signs were shown. Few weeks later the child killed the family dog. From what I recall the child was young, 12/13. The child for the most part was controllable, but the parents were being to see escalations in violent behavior. We know that to shooters of CO, VA, AZ all were battling mental illness. So although 5% of violent crime may be committed by individuals with mental illness. Mass shootings seems to be the place that this demographic leads.

  5. Dave says:

    Addressing the deficiencies in our mental health system is absolutely a good idea. We need to improve support, services, treatment, and research – and we need to fund all of this properly. Couldn’t agree more.

    But the point of that 5% statistic is that even if you were somehow able to prevent all of the violence committed by people with mental illness – which, by the way, is an unachievable outcome – you would still barely make a dent in what is a much larger problem.

    30,000 people die a year from guns. Do we only care about protecting the small percentage of those victims who are killed in mass shootings committed by people with mental illness?

  6. Dave says:

    The incident: On March 13, 1996, in Dunblane, a 43-year-old former Scout leader burst into the gymnasium of a primary school and killed 15 children

    The reaction: Within a year and a half of the Dunblane massacre, UK lawmakers – lead by a conservative Prime Minister – passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain.

    The result: Gun violence went down, by as much as 50% in some years, and there have been no school shootings since.

  7. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:


    I congratulate you on a brave, heartfelt, important piece of writing. In the end our only hope for progress on this deep, divisive, destructive and emotional issue is to hear voices that stay in our heads, that keep the human cost of gun violence alive, that with their authenticity and humanity urge us to question who we are. Your voice – as a writer, as a resident of a rural area, as a reflective human being, and most of all as a mother – rings true and strong, alive with passion, examination and anger.

    I imagine there will be some troubling responses. I’m likely to comment further as they accumulate.

    Bravo to you.


  8. Dick Carlson Dick Carlson says:

    Great video about violence and the epidemic of drug prescriptions. http://youtu.be/1XHNJyti1gE

  9. John says:

    I disagree with much of what you say because your logic is incomplete. You say that guns are to kill and while that is true it is not completely true without also adding that guns are for deterring and preventing a killing, a rape or any number of violent acts as a result of evil. You seem to have no problem identifying the purpose of a gun as an instrument of death and then later casually avoid star role of a guns purpose which is that of an instrument of peace and security when you mention the presence of a trooper. Do you see my point yet? While it is true that murders do occurr as a result of gun violence, you fail to recognize that by a much larger margin guns deter and prevent violence. You, like so many, have bought into the Hollywood image of guns which is that of murder and death. Guns provide safety for many beyond most people’s willingness to reason. I blame that on Hollywoods dark and evil portrayal of guns. A gun may be the only source of security and hope that a small woman has that has just gained the courage to leave a violent husband for beating her and her kids and wishes them great harm. A gun may be the only peace of mind an elderly widow has who now lives in a one pleasant neighborhood that has gone to drug dealers. You, like so many only want to portray guns as evil and that is wrong! Evil is and has always been among us from the first born into this world. There is no eliminating evil but we can stand up to it or face it with a fighting chance thanks to guns.

  10. Adam says:

    Off hand, and I do not have the source but I believe it is the CDC, half of those deaths are suicides. The next large group is crime on crime. Next group is the “innocent victim”. The a very small portion is the negligent discharge (cause by human error). I will spare you the guns kill less people than…. argument. Statistically the shooting sports enjoy one of the lowest injury rate of its participants. Also violent crime in the US is down and has been on a decline for the past few years. Will a UK style ban happen in the US? I hope not. What worries me the most is that people who will make the laws have no clue of what they are talking about ( politics in general).

  11. Jim Bullard says:

    The trooper at the entrance to your daughter’s school is not a “knee jerk reaction”. Unfortunately it is a recognition that these events are frequently followed by copy cats, similarly unbalanced people who are emboldened to take like action. And yes, as the story fades from attention so will the likelihood of a copy cat along with the need to have a trooper at your daughter’s school but meantime, it is prudent and hopefully it will reassure your daughter.

  12. John says:

    Dave, your “facts” on gun violence is 100% a lie! Try again but this time cite the truth. Gun related violence has increased in the UK dice the ban according to CNN just last night.

    • Dave says:

      Larry Platt, the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, was on Piers Morgan last night spewing all sorts of inaccurate and deceptive statistics. I assume that is where you heard this, and it is false.

      But don’t take my word for it. Just look it up. These are some of the easiest stats to find on the internet.

      “In 2010/11 there were 11,227 crimes involving guns, 53% below the peak number, according to the official crime figures. Crimes involving handguns also fell 44% — from 5,549 in 2002/03 to 3,105 — in 2010/11.”

      “the past seven years in the U.K. have seen successive drops in gun crimes”

      • Paul says:

        Gun crimes are also declining in the US. That really isn’t the issue.

      • Paul says:

        If my stats are right (100K gun related crimes per year in the US population 300 million and 11,000 gun related crimes per year in the UK population 62 million) he have about twice as many gun related crimes per year per capita in the US compared to the UK. That isn’t a huge difference? Twice is too high but these stats should always be looked at per capita. I would have thought that we would be way higher than the UK given the access we have here to guns?

        • Dave says:

          I know we are conflating gun related crimes and gun related deaths a bit here, but going back to the latter, the US has a gun death rate (per capita) that is about 40 times higher than that in the UK. If you remove suicides, and only factor in homicides, that rate is something like 90 times higher.

          The numbers are not even remotely in the same hemisphere, these are shocking statistics.

          • Paul says:

            That is why these bans on certain types of guns are a good idea. Like I said I think that is a good idea.

          • Paul says:

            But also if you look at some of the stats John gave us links to there is not a good correlation in many instances on gun restrictions and death rates. Many countries with the restrictions we are suggesting now have higher rates than the US now. I think this is good evidence that more than these restrictions are an important part of the solution.

          • Dave says:

            The only countries that have higher gun death rates (per capita) than us are: El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, Swaziland, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico.

            Those are poor, developing, or drug cartel infested countries. If any of them did actually have gun restrictions like the ones we are suggesting (do any of them?) they certainly do not have the governments to enforce them.

            Of the modern, industrialized nations, the closest one to us seems to be Canada. And our gun homicide death rate per capita is well over 4 times what theirs is.

          • Paul says:

            do any of them?

            Not sure about some. Mexico, which has a government that can enforce its laws, has very very strict gun regulations. Some folks think that gun possession in Mexico is illegal. That isn’t quite true but it is very restrictive.

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              “Mexico, which has a government that can enforce its laws”

              Huh? No government can enforce its laws, except at a very low level. ANY criminologist can explain to you that crime is like a funnel, the top (the widest part) is all crime being committed, the small part at the bottom where the funnel narrows represents those arrested for crime, the smallest part at the bottom are those convicted. The vast majority of crime goes unenforced, the tiny part of crime for which arrests are made, essentially become the same amount that are convicted.

          • Paul says:

            Dave, why would you remove suicides? If we widdle away everything and consider just “mass shootings” the numbers are very low even here in the US. They are high profile and certainly get our attention and we should do more to prevent them but statistically speaking “gun related” deaths are the issue. Even if new restrictions prevent only mass shootings the numbers won’t even move a blip. It is sad to say but the numbers killed in mass shootings are nothing compared to the numbers killed every day by guns. The largest percentage of those here in the US come from gun related suicide (usually the fate of a mass shooter). This points to a very high correlation with mental illness. If you kill yourself you are (were) mentally ill.

          • Paul says:

            “Those are poor, developing, or drug cartel infested countries.”

            This may be where we are heading? Perhaps we give ourselves too much credit?

  13. Paul says:

    I don’t think that an assault weapons ban is a bad idea as well as restrictions on bullet types and clip capacity. Most reasonable people don’t have a problem with a ban on automatic weapons. This is similar and it will have zero effect on people’s ability to protect themselves with guns.

    Once you do that then you will have to focus on some of these other more difficult issues that have nothing to do with guns.

  14. Big Burly says:

    Diane, I am with Pete Nelson in congratulating you on your important input to what is a deeply troubling event for anyone with children, grandchildren and friends with same.
    I am a strong believer in gun ownership — for many reasons that this medium is insufficient to address. Suffice to say, as an owner and shooter, extreme care for safety is part of our lifestyle and for sure what I teach my child and grandsons.
    One of the least reported elements of the Newtown tragedy was the heartfelt requests in the community for the media to go away and respect the need for families and the community to grieve and heal — of course it was observed in the breach.
    I have never understood our society’s fascination or maybe fixation is a better word? with the “dark side” of human nature. It exists and evil must always be confronted — somehow though 24 hour news coverage, often misleading and for sure intrusive does not address evil — IMO instead the media glorifies the perp with a twisted notoriety.
    The complexity of all this may be beyond what we can share with and explain to our kids. Somehow we need to find ways to reapply the veneer of civilization that was a lot thicker when I was growing up — it is an effort that will succeed best within families. Our civilization in this great country would benefit from a greater emphasis on the goodness of our fellow citizens role models by our news media, our entertainment industries, and our law enforcement agencies instead of highlighting the minority that is responsible for atrocities like Newtown and too many others in the past four years.
    There needs to be a much more thoughtful, inclusive response than yet again adding to the multiple laws already in place to regulate gun ownership.

  15. John says:

    What does this have to do with the Adirondacks? Totally disgusted with this poor piece of writing on many levels. It is shameful.

    • Big Burly says:

      Many of us in the Adirondacks are gun owners is what this has to do with and our kids and families are asking difficult questions that have no easy answers.

    • John Warren John Warren says:


      This is a discussion, be reasonable or I will remove your comments. If you don’t want to read about this issue and don’t care what people who live here think, go somewhere else. We won’t miss your intolerance.

      John Warren

      • gregor says:

        Ahhh… if you don’t agree with me then I’ll CENSOR you. Me too?

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          No, if you post a comment that is potential libelous or slanderous, you become a threat to this site and your comments from there on out require review for additional potentially legally threatening material before they are posted. “Guest”‘s comments were in fact posted after one potentially slanderous line was deleted from one comment – this is a better policy than other sites which would have simply deleted the comment – if you’re allowed to comment at all.

          This site, which has been created for you for free, has a nearly 8-year history of providing space for people to comment on all kinds of topics relevant to the Adirondacks. There are plenty of disagreements. You are obviously a new reader (welcome!), but take a look around before you start claiming censorship.

          John Warren

  16. Pete Klein says:

    I would argue mental illness accounts for about 95% of violent crime anywhere world.
    This would include suicide bombers.
    It also accounts for day in an day out common suicides.
    It also includes temporary insanity and over reaction such as road rage.
    But insanity is a separate issue from guns.
    The issue here is assault weapons, automatics, semi-automatics and clips holding more than 10 rounds. All of these should be banned. Period.
    This won’t stop mass killings but it will curtail them. Plus, it is simply insane to own or want to own such weapons whose purpose is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
    You sure wouldn’t buy them to pump 30 bullets into a deer.
    Time to get real.

    • John Warren John Warren says:


      Mental illness, as Dave pointed out, accounts for about 5% of violent crime. As a reporter, I think it’s time you got a better understanding of people who suffer from mental illness.


      • Paul says:

        This is an interesting article:


        And I pull this out:

        “Although it may not seem like it, America is less violent than it was two decades ago, according the FBI crime statistics. The homicide rate, which peaked at 10 per 100,000 in the early 1990s, is now about half that rate. However, the same can’t be said of mass murders, defined as involving the deaths of at least four people.”

        It sounds like once we enact some reasonable restrictions that we can all agree on, it appears that this 5% is where we need to focus to stop these kinds of incidents.

        I read recently that mental illness is up 50% among the prison population. So maybe the numbers are low but things are changing in a bad direction.

      • Paul says:

        Since the largest number of gun related deaths each year are from suicide I wonder if this is considered a “violent crime”?

  17. Pete Biesemeyer says:

    No need to repeat what others have said, often better than I could, but here’s a point I haven’t read yet; one reason for people to wish to see guns better regulated is that so many gun owners are scary, with their angry defiant rhetoric, and they would be less scary without their guns.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Scary? 11 people like calling gun owners “scary and angry”?

      What is angry defiant rhetoric? Is it really just a matter of you don’t agree with them, so rather than accept thier different point of view you use words which cast aspersions on thier character? Is it just simply that its a lot harder to discredit someone who appears “normal”, and that describing them as “scary and angry” paints them in a light where its easier and less of a burden to your conscious to deliberately make them into bad people?

  18. Bob Meyer says:

    Thank you Diane. Well said.

  19. George Nagle says:

    Yes, thank you, Diane. What you wrote is thoughtful, sensitive, reasonable, and respectful of those who unlike you are gun owners. If all participants in our national discussion rise to your level the conversation itself would contribute to healing.

  20. Pat says:

    Thanks Diane, great article. I wish I was more optomistic about real reasonable gun laws being implemented. Seems to me the politicians have lost site of their purpose, to serve the interests of the majority of Americans. And the majority of Americans(acording to the latest polls) favor the enactment of some restrictions, not bans or confiscation, of some types of weapons and clips. Why is it so hard for the Pols to do what is obviously the will of the majority and the logical thing to do?

  21. John Marona says:

    “When every second counts, the police are only minutes away”, in this case 10 minutes away. People balk at the mention of teachers having guns in school , and I will too unless they are properly trained.
    Here is a thought, there are 10’s of thousands of returning veterans from war zones, many thousands of whom are taking advantage of the GI Bill to attend collage and many of those men and women are studying to become educators. These soldiers are well on their way to being able to provide security in our schools. If they , or other educators for that matter, volunteered to take a school security course, administered through the college or university and taught by the State Police training facilitators. This course of training should be at least 2 semesters long , and, especially for the veterans be paid for by the State (these men and women would be volunteering for potentially hazard duty). One or two of these well trained individuals in our schools would make for a safer environment for our children.
    Here in CT. firearms are not legally permitted anywhere (1000′) near our schools, a murderer intent on harm now knows that there is no one there to stop him, just the knowledge that there is armed force there may deter a crime. Airline pilots can choose to take a course to carry on their flights with required training, why not teachers, administrators or janitors.

  22. Sean Sullivan says:

    You are correct in the view a police presence at the school is a knee jerk reaction. However if the police were not to be visible, especially after this latest shooting, would be unrealistic. Policing is a reactionary field of work, most of the time. They react to certain anomalies within their field and perform an investigation, whether from personal observation or from another source.
    Regarding your request. Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness: these rights come from G_d not from man. Our founders knew these truths to be self evident, especially since they were well versed living under tyranny. The founders understood the need to protect themselves, their property and their liberty. Many say we have evolved and have no need for protective weapons. I disagree. A well armed/trained citizenship is the most proactive measure to prohibit crime. Anyone living in a city knows which block to avoid or in the country whose land not to trespass upon. The same goes for criminals, once they realize no one is armed…only they will have a gun. Drugs are illegal yet it is a booming business. Had each teacher borne a weapon, this individual would not have made such as significant tragedy.

  23. Dave says:

    “One or two of these well trained individuals in our schools would make for a safer environment for our children.”

    Are we going to have returning veterans stand guard at movie theaters? Malls? Political Rallies? Street Corners? All of which have been the victim of gun mass murders in recent years…

    I understand the urge to think only about schools in the wake of this recent gun mass murder, but this problem is larger than just schools.

  24. Guest says:

    Someone has got to pull back the curtain and start asking the hard questions.

    The mother was getting nearly $300K per year in alimony? Would it be safe then to assume the ex husband was making around $1.5 million per year? Did he have pathological greed? Were their family values skewed? Was he some kind of weird greed monger? The mother and father; were they responsible for creating the little Satan by coddling him at every turn, and by avoiding him completely? Was his “mental illness” caused by unhealthy family values? What single mother do you know, who is making over $300K per year, keeps combat arms? Who trained the little Satan? He knew what he was doing.

    We are constantly told that our government has the capacity to record all digital communication, and can look for key words in conversations. Let’s see a search warrant and get transcripts of ALL TELEPHONE CALLS FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS, AND ALL E-MAILS, AND ALL INTERNET TRAFFIC.

    It’s not about guns. It’s about screwed up families. The Obama administration needs to put forth policies that will promote healthy family structures. There are too many of these little Satans running around on Ritalin with phony and bogus psycho diagnosis.

    Fix family values first.

    Ask the hard questions.

    • John Warren John Warren says:


      You seem to be implicating someone else in some weird conspiracy theory – what exactly are you talking about? I assume you don’t have any evidence whatsoever, so why are you trying to spread a rumor at a horrible time like this?

      You’ve got lots of blame to go around, but how about a solution, or part of a solution?

      Be constructive. Offer evidence for your claims.

      • Guest says:

        I’m insinuating that it’s more about broken family values. The solution is a reconstruction of healthy family values. It is not a knee jerk reaction like a seditionist tampering with the US Constitution; it is a stark realization that our society is broken, and a long term fix is necessary.

        I don’t know how you could think what I said meant otherwise.

        Ask the hard questions to find the real problem (broken society) and use the technology at hand to prove they had a dysfunctional family.

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          And how does that end or even limit these types of mass killings with assault weapons?

          Do you have ideas for fixing “broken society”? How are we supposed to do that? And who decides who in society are broken?

          I think people who blame society around them are the broken ones.

          • Guest says:

            There were “assault” weapons when I was a kid, and none of this happened then (M-1 Garrands, Thompsons, lever action rifles, etc.)

            We had more balance in our lives. You came home, and your mother was there fixing dinner. She wasn’t out working two part time jobs to help make ends meet. We had lessons in morality in public schools. We started class with a pledge of allegiance, and a prayer. We shoveled our neighbors’ walks with no expectation of pay. Charity was community based. Charity has been replaced by Welfare and Charitable Contributions to non-profits. We abhorred violence, and never saw it on TV (until the Viet Nam atrocity came into our living rooms). We learned the Ten Commandments, The Declaration of Independence, and studied the US Constitution. Cops weren’t called when you got a spanking in school. You straightened up and got your manners together. We used guns all the time and were expected to be responsible with them. There were no Amber Alerts. We respected women, and held the doors for them. We knew the farmers who grew our food. We’d pick up a hitch hiker. We’d help a stranger change a spare tire. When the family down the street had a house fire, all five of us kids were told to go to our closets and get three outfits we didn’t wear anymore and bring them to the kitchen table; they were given to the family in need. The list goes on and on and on. We had compassion for our neighbors

            It’s a lot different now. It’s broken. The shooter was a freak punk kid, a social anomaly, a result of skewed family values, and a dysfunctional family life. I think his parents are to blame.

            We need to reinstate policies that promote peace, love, prosperity and happiness. This will end aberrant behavior (for the most part).

            Let’s not fool ourselves about the intent and purpose of the second amendment.

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              Great, again you’ve identified the problems you think exist. What are your suggested solutions? Requiring mothers to be home making dinner? Requiring your religion’s prayers in school? Laws against not holding doors open for the elderly? Requiring people to be friendly on pain of public beatings?

              We get it, you’re a christian white man who perceives that you’ve lost control of “your” country and nobody does it your way anymore. That is what a lot of these mass killers seem to be saying too.

              But WHAT would you DO? You say you want to “reinstate policies that promote peace, love, prosperity and happiness” – how?


              Provide some policies. Otherwise, you are really just a part of the problem, and indicative of why these things are happening. You’re blaming others for what you perceive to be some dreadful dissolution in society, somehow you are put-upon by an external other who has messed society up for you and needs correction.

              That’s a disturbing way to look at life. It’s the kind of approach that makes people want to fear their neighbors, not pick up hitch-hikers, call people in need leeches, feel threatened by others who don’t have the same religious values, and believe that they are under threat from someone breaking into their home or their government rounding them up for concentration camps.

              One wonders if you see your own role in all this. What that role might be. What you might do to help fix it.

              So far, all we’ve heard is that you don’t like society. What’s next.

  25. Guest says:

    John, have a look at this:


    Your opinion?

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      I’m not interested in what some YouTube video says – you made the comments. I’m asking for your solutions.

      • Guest says:

        reconstruct healthy family values.

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          OK, you’ve proven yourself incapable of honest discussion and a repeater of the arguments of others. You don’t have any solutions, only a disturbing dislike / hatred for the people around you. It’s no wonder you aren’t using your real name for these comments.

          Makes anonymous conspiracy driven statements on the internet, feels put-upon by society, lacks solutions to their perceived problems – sound familiar?

          • Guest says:


            So you’re saying we don’t have systemic problems in our society, correct?

            What’s your solution?

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              Don’t put words into my mouth. You made the comment, and now are offering all kinds of distractions rather than an answer to the first and only question I put to you – what are your solutions?

              We get it, you don’t like society. But you have nothing to offer since you don’t have any solutions.

              While I have your attention. I know that you use multiple sign-ins to pretend you are different people (your IP address is logged), so you can pretend your wacky ideas have the support of others, to troll, to pretend you live in the Adirondacks, to pretend to be an expert in forestry, marketing, and other industries. I’m giving you a warning now. Don’t be the first person who gets banned from this site because you can’t play by the decent rules of society. You are free to use anonymity as you have here to hide from your own ideas. But if I catch you using multiple log-ins to simply make it appear that your ideas have wider support then they do, to lie about who you are, or where you live, I will ban you. Congratulations on being the first person who has so foully misused the good will of this site and other readers and commenters here that I have to even consider blocking you.

              If you want a better society – start acting like you deserve one.

          • Guest says:

            John, so you admit you either don’t have any ideas on the matter, or don’t want to make your views public.

  26. Guest says:

    [this portion of this comment was removed as potentially slanderous], and my assumption is that Adam’s behavior problems could have been a result of unhealthy family values. So I looked up information to support my position. Here is an excerpt from a piece in The Washington Post:

    From the outside, the Lanza family portrait was one of wealth and privilege, of jobs landed at marquee corporations — he at General Electric, she briefly at John Hancock. They moved to a hilltop home in Newtown, a village exurb of New York City.

    But it was their difficult second son who came to dominate the family’s time and collective psyche, especially Nancy’s. He had few friends, had trouble in schools and had difficulty reaching the steppingstones of normal teenage life. At age 20, he had only recently begun to drive.

    As time passed, the family fractured and broke apart. Around the time of the divorce, Ryan Lanza graduated from college and moved to work in New York. Adam stayed with Nancy Lanza, and her life took on strange habits. She didn’t let visitors into their home. She collected powerful weapons. And she began to bring her increasingly troubled son to “multiple shooting ranges,” officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Monday, to practice using those guns together.

    Here is a link to that article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-lanza-family-son-adams-difficulties-dominated/2012/12/17/3c0e8eb0-4890-11e2-ad54-580638ede391_story.html

    Can anyone possibly say why she taught her dangerous son to use combat arms?

  27. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    I notice that some here are focusing on mental illness, a focus that mirrors the national discussion. I dearly hope a mental health professional will weigh in with a better comment than mine is going to be, but here goes.

    I think it is a disingenuous deflection to blame mental illness. It’s also dangerous, stigmatizing mental illness further even as it gives us false promises of some sort of “fix.”

    Here’s why. On the one hand to say that these shootings are perpetrated by mentally ill people is tautological – would anyone argue that a person capable of such horror was not mentally ill? Therefore that statement says nothing at all.

    Going the other way, do we have anything close to the kind of wisdom to classify those who will snap, before we round ’em up?

    We all snap, from time to time, lose our rational selves in a moment of anger and passion. No, of course it’s not the same thing as this shooting. But who is to say it is entirely separate? Domestic deaths by gun are often exactly this.

    I can only say this: there are moments in my life when I am glad to not have had at my disposal some device to amplify my rage to wicked proportions. We don’t need weapons like this and we don’t need to pass the buck onto the amorphous body of the “mentally ill.”

    In the mean time, Diane I see that the reactions you are getting are about as expected. However it is obvious from reading all of them that the positive and affirming impact of your column clearly outweigh any negatives. You have set a great example here.

  28. TiSentinel65 says:

    I find it ironic that everybody has a sollution without even knowing what the problem is yet. The police have not yet finished their investigation and many including the media are jumping to conclusions. Also people need stop repeating the liberal lie that this was because the perpetrator had access to assault weapons. The rifle he used was not, I repeat, NOT an assault weapon. It may be called that under the 1994 legal definition but thats because the writers of the law want people to believe that people have access to millitary weapons. This is a scare tactic to get people who are unfamiliar with firearm terminology, to side with their version of how they want our gun laws written.I just heard Piers Morgan on CNN call the gun the murderer used a “machine gun.” These are outright distortions. He used a gun that was cosmetically similar but not functionaly the same as what the military sends our troops into battle. He used a semi automatic rifle. The rifle he used is not any different than the popular semi automatic rifles used for hunting. The military uses select fire assault rifles. That means the user can toggle the safety between semi automatic fire(one shot fired for every pull of the trigger), or full automatic fire where by pulling the trigger and keeping it pressed will release round after round rapidly, until the magazine is empty or the shooter releases the trigger. The 1994 so called “Assault Weapons Ban” only banned a rifle from public purchase if it had two or more identifying features that would qualify it as a so called Assault Weapon. These were the features that if a gun was a semi automatic rifle with the capability to accept a detachable magazine and had two or more of the following, it made it illegal for public possession; muzzle flash suppressor, a grenade launcher, a pistol grip, a bayonet lug, or telescoping stock. Many semi automatic hunting rifles have none of these features except the ability to accept a detachable magazine. They are functionaly the same as the weapon used in this crime. People are entitled to their opinions about gun controll, but at least educate yourself to the law and how it applies to you. Do not use the mainstream media to do this. They are a buisness that makes money by attracting ad dollars. Sensational tragedies may bring in viewers but the media is doing a poor job bringing clarity to the debate. Read the law and determine yourself.

  29. Dave says:

    Oh cut it out Ti.

    There are videos on Youtube of people bump firing 30 rounds in less than 2 seconds with an AR 15. Go check it out.

    This kid unloaded hundreds of rounds into that school in around 10 minutes.

    For you to try to make the argument that these weapons are somehow significantly or functionally different from your definition of a true assault weapons is just beyond comprehension.

    If you want to play semantics, split hairs, or argue technicalities… more power to ya, but I think you will find that most people think this is not the time for those shenanigans.

  30. Dave says:

    Here, everyone can go watch and determine for themselves if these things are “machine guns”/”assault weapons”


  31. John Warren John Warren says:

    It would be helpful for people watching that video to know what bump firing a semi-automatic is:


    See also the Hellfire Trigger:


  32. TiSentinel65 says:

    From the video it is obvious they modified the buffer tube to recoil with the action. Normally the tube itself is fixed. This is a modified gun. Nice try. This was not what the murderer used. Also hundreds of rounds in ten minutes is not the same as 700 to 950 rounds a minute. This is the sustained cyclic rate of the standard issue m-4 rifle that is issued to our military. If you are advocating a ban on semi automatic guns, good luck with that. There are more semi autos in the publics possession than ever before. You can pass all the laws to ban them you want. People will simply not give them up.

  33. chuck says:

    why are you debating the difference between hundreds of rounds in minutes opposed to in one minute? its still alot of bullets. as a responsible gun owner ( i dont hunt anymore but still shoot ) i feel there is no place outside the military or law enforcement for weapons with that sort of capacity. if you want to fire those sorts of guns join the military. or take up paint ball.
    gun ownership should not be easier than adopting a cat from a no-kill shelter. purchasers of firearms should be required to be screened, and then take substantial training (beyond the 4 hour class i took when i got my first hunting license in ny state 40 years ago) in gun use and safety. if you cant take the gun apart and then put it back together again you shouldnt get one.

  34. Dave says:

    Ti, I’m sure someone with as much gun knowledge as you already knows this, but…. you do not need to modify the buffer tube, or the stock (which is also modified in that video), to bump fire a gun like this. Go ahead and do your own youtube search, you will see dozens of videos just like that, many on completely unmodified AR-15s.

    Regardless, I only brought up bump firing to show you how silly it is to claim that these weapons are somehow significantly, functionally dissimilar to “assault weapons” – they are not.

    More to the point of this conversation though, this kid did not have to know how to bump fire in order to shred that school apart in less than 10 minutes. He was able to do that because this gun can, without any modification or special technique, shoot upward of 100 rounds a minute. That capability is not necessary for hunting, it is not necessary for personal or home protection, it is only necessary for slaughtering as many people as you possibly can – and that is exactly what these weapons are being used for.

  35. TiSentinel65 says:

    Repeat after me. The second amendment is not about hunting. Also the wiki link John provided stated that the increase in firepower provided was completely negated by the fact that the weapon was uncontrollable. Not what the military wants. Also anybody making that modification could be in violation of Federal Law. Kind of ironic that the law does not prevent it from happening. In leaving I will put this question to you. When the same type of murdering madman shows up at your door to do your family harm, are you going to stick to your guns ( no pun intended) and offer the guy a beer? It is ludicrous to think that people who show total disregard for not just mans laws but God’s will be deterred by another law. The only way this crime would have been stopped is if a man, an armed man, was there to meet firepower with firepower. The Israelis learned this long ago. I wish the world had no need for guns other than hunting. Sadly it is not this way.

  36. Dave says:

    Ti, it sounds like you’ve watched too many westerns. The only way to handle this situation is to have shoot outs in the schools? What is this, the O.K. Corral?

    We are better than that, we are smarter than that, and we can come up with a better, smarter solution.

    If you restrict and tightly regulate access to these weapons, then you will not have madmen showing up at schools with them in the first place.

    Countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have done exactly this, and it worked for them. It is a tested, and proven method for reducing these types of crimes.

  37. Guest says:

    Here is a nice article about a community-based program that seems to be effective. It may be one of many solutions:


    I offer this in closing:

    Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,
    Give me my little angels; and, when they shall die,
    Take them and cut them out in little stars,
    and they will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.

    Shakespeare (Paraphrased)

  38. gregor says:

    For those here who believe that gun laws will solve the problem of the human condition – or that this is a phenomena unique to our gun owning society – check this link:


    This is from YAHOO news – not some right wing website. This guy killed FORTY FIVE people and THIRTY EIGHT children (the same age range as the SH kids)and never fired a shot. Thankfully his poor wiring prevented the death of even more.

    Evil will find a away – only the foolish and naive believe otherwise.

    • John Warren John Warren says:


      We’ve heard this argument at length now. The question is – what is your suggestion to change the state of affairs. It’s clear that some countries have far less gun obsession and crimes of this nature. What are your specific policy suggestions to curb this problem here in America? Surely we owe 20 dead children (just for a start), some attempt to reign-in these spree killings with semi-automatic weapons – don’t we?

      What are your specific policy suggestions?

      • gregor says:

        John, heaving “heard this argument at length now” does not invalidate the argument – anymore than hearing about the total or partial ban on specific weapons or accessories invalidate same. I’ve heard statistics batted around here – from other countries and cultures and I’m not sure it’s the answer here. It’s akin to treating metastatic cancer by removing a tumor – only to have it surface elsewhere. We’re all rushing to judgement on what caused this heinous tragedy and NONE of us (or the authorities for that matter) have all the facts.

        What were the “policy suggestions” put forth after the killings In Bath MI (the article I linked to from Yahoo)? Did you read It? So here’s a “policy suggestion” – let’s all stop responding to the ginned up media and emotional hyperbole (like “just for a start”) and get all the facts (the TRUE facts).

        To re-iterate: to believe that gun control is the whole answer is either foolish, naive, or perhaps both.


        • John Warren John Warren says:

          Your suggestion, “let’s all stop responding to the ginned up media and emotional hyperbole,” is not a policy. Would you like to ban discussion of these crimes? That would be a policy that could actually be put into action (maybe).

          So here we go again – you don’t have policy suggestions. The facts are this happens in this country much more than anywhere else, it will happen again and again. It’s been happening pretty regularly. Those are facts we surely can all agree on.

          What we need, and what we’re not hearing from those who apparently oppose all gun regulations, are some policy suggestions. You claim to have a rather vague cause for these mass killing sprees that overwhelmingly occur with semi-automatic weapons: “the human condition”. But if that is a legitimate reason, then surely you have some policy suggestions. If not, you throw your hands up and say there is nothing we can do about this – is that the argument you’re making? It appears that other countries don’t have this problem – do you think it’s OK that we do?

          WHAT do you want to do that is actually possible? It’s a simple question. But it’s clear that what makes it so hard to answer is that either you don’t have suggestions, you don’t feel it’s a problem, or you feel there is nothing that we can do and we should simply give up trying and wait for the next mass killing of children with an assault rifle. You seem to be in this last camp with your admonition that we shouldn’t talk about it.

      • gregor says:

        John, please indulge yet another response. You state “It’s clear that some countries have far less gun obsession and crimes of this nature”. Where does this theoretic (not clear to me anyway) “obsession” come from? So if I raise a child in a society where he/she never sees or hears any of the VOLUMINOUS violence masquerading as “entertainment” today and then provide them with an automatic weapon they will then, as a result of the mere possession, perpetrate horrors on mankind? A simplistic argument I know, but no more than the ban.

        Yes we are all outraged and horrified at this situation, but again, let’s not just remove the tumor without looking for the cause.

        again, respectfully,


        • John Warren John Warren says:

          You are simply side-stepping the question. We have nearly one gun for every person in America, we are the leading manufacturer of these weapons, they are a major part of cultural life in America, we have more of these killings than most, if not all other places on earth. If you don’t want to use the word obsession, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean these things are not true. Maybe you don’t think they are important.

          Once you identify a cause, you do something about it don’t you? Or do you just say – ‘oh there’s the cause, let’s go get a beer’.

          • gregor says:

            There is way too much emotion and not enough rationality in your response (aside from weakly veiled insults and innuendo) to warrant an articulate response. I’d love to get a beer – when and where. Be cordial though.

            I generally don’t participate in these blogs. I have no intention of changing your mind or others who are like minded. My hope is that rational (undecided) minded folks read this discourse and are influenced by the logic – either yours or mine.

            cheers bloak!

          • gregor says:

            “we have more of these killings than most, if not all other places on earth” Cite your source. Be specific.

            You keep pushing for “policy” – like you can solve all the problems that way. And you have yet to comment on the incident in Bath, MI in 1927. You have no answer for that – it doesn’t fit your “paradigm”. You have no “policy” suggestions for that. BTW – no policy is in fact a policy.

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              The sources have already been cited:

              List of countries by firearm-related death rate:

              Number of guns per capita by country:

              The incident in 1927 is an anomaly – the vast majority of these attacks occur with semi-automatic weapons. They are burying kids today, it would be appropriate not to pretend they were really killed in some other way, or some different incident in 1927 offers some grand insight into their murder.

              No policy is in fact a policy?

              Congratulations. At least you have finally admitted that you don’t want to do anything.

              So your purpose in commenting here was essentially to say – I don’t like this, stop talking about it, I don’t want to do anything.

              Got it. Thanks for your contribution.

  39. Guest says:

    John, you ask, “what is your suggestion to change the state of affairs”. I have posted a link to an article from Huffington Post that talks about an excellent solution that could possibly have prevented this from happening, but my post is still pending awaiting your “moderation”.

    What is up with that?

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Your comments have been posted.

      Commenters who have previously posted comments that included slanderous or potentially slanderous statements are held for moderation.

  40. paul says:

    I think starting at the grass roots level, the American GUN OWNER should some how assemble, like we do when we gather in Washington,do not include the NRA or the government, and hash out some common sense answers to this crazy gun issue. It is your responsability as a gun owners to come up with solutions so you can continue to enjoy the right to own. DO NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE THE DECISION. I am not a gun owner but i support you who do.

  41. Guest says:

    A firearm is not a “weapon” until it is aimed at a human being.

  42. William Deuel,Jr says:

    I read the article and then read the comments and then I waited a day to respond. First the article, I have 2 issues. The author states she does not want to take away people rights but she does want to limit them, that could be a very slippery slope. What is the definition of an assault rifle ? Semi automatic ? Well that would eliminate many of the guns used by sportsman from shot guns for bird hunting and rifles for deer hunting. Do we need high capacity clips ? In my opinion no. Do we need to close loopholes in how guns are sold, no problem I would agree. What I do not want is to be limited as to what gun I choose to hunt with, if we go down that road this thing will really get out of hand. Secondly we do have laws regarding drinking and driving, how’s that working out ? How many deaths each year ? There is no ban on booze, quite the contrary it is promoted from tv ads to happy hours. There are so many variables in the comments and they should all be explored from mental health to how we raise our children. We all will never agree on these sensitive issues but we can discuss them , not to set policy, if you want to do that become a politician. In no way am I trying to diminish the authors views on this subject especially when it comes to our children, I am simply giving my opinion as a life long outdoorsman in the adirondacks.

  43. gregor says:

    John Warren – almost every one of your comments is laced with accusations and sarcasm and insults. I’m not going to stoop to that level. It’s like debating with an adolescent.

    You just want to frame this discussion to be about gun control and choose to ignore other realities. 1927 an anomaly? Really? How about Oklahoma City? Or the first WTC attack?

    Think I’ll pass on the beer. 😉

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      People can read for themselves how you bobbed and weaved, making-up theories, denying the most obvious facts, and in the end saying nothing at all. They’ll also see I never offered to have a beer with you – that’s a nice microcosm of this whole “discussion”.

      • gregor says:

        Never argue with a liberal – they’ll drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

        Yes let them read your tripe – I’m not casting my pearls to the swine – so there – I’ve stooped to your level.

        I’m outta here.

  44. Michael McGuire says:

    I have been waiting to respond until I was in a place where I thought I could offer something meaningful. I’ll try. First of all, I am moved by Diane’s piece. Primarily, for me, the tone of her article echoed the very same feeling of utter helplessness that I felt immediately following the news from Sandy Hook. One of my oldest friends John Gaines has been in Newtown since Friday afternoon. His best friend lost his son Ben Wheeler, who was six years old. He was an extraordinarily beautiful and intelligent young human being. We are heartbroken.

    I was compelled to go to Ben’s service, but John posted that there were already over one thousand people waiting to get in and that the residents of Newtown, although grateful for the outpouring, want us to go away now and leave them alone. So instead, I remember Ben and comment where I can. John has been posting updates daily, primarily to keep his own sanity in tact. Anybody curious about the prevailing subject of discussion in Newtown? Aside from the obvious, it is the subject of mental illness, and mental health. If they’re talking about it, then it is our obligation to talk about it as well.

    Pete Nelson posted that he felt the national discussion about mental health was amounting to a disingenuous deflection. He imploringly wrote that he would love some professionals from the field to weigh in here. They have been weighing in all over the place. I think it was Adam who mentioned the program on WNYC. He was later shouted down here in the comments but, I too listened to that show. It was illuminating and encouraging. Representatives from the National Institute of Mental Health, parents of children who suffer from a myriad mental health issues and councilors were calling in for hours with an amazing amount of information. You have to seek out the information if you want to better understand. Don’t wait for somebody to weigh in.

    Pete, I find it Tautological to respond to Arizona, Aurora CO, Virginia Tech and Sandy hook by saying ‘Gun Control. There, I win.’ We simply cannot have this conversation without talking openly about how our American culture views mental illness. Your dismissal of this part of the equation is an example of part of the problem. The problem? Silence, ladies and gentlemen. Mental illness is already stigmatized Pete. By voicing it in an open national forum doesn’t further stigmatize, but points it out in stark clarity. It’s time. It’s time to challenge the taboo. It is too easily hidden away. Hidden in an abandoned basement in the South Bronx. Hidden in manicured Connecticut. Hidden away in our prisons. I’ve witnessed this comments section degenerate into a debate about stats, bumps, clips, rounds per second, modified barrels and what color sox you have to be wearing for your weapon to qualify as an assault weapon or not. That, my friends is a disingenuous deflection. So is the comparison to cultures that are not ours. It does nothing to respond to the helplessness in Diane’s voice, or the helplessness that Nancy Lanza felt every day. Aggressive, meaningful and long lasting gun control and it’s legislation is an immediate priority. Absolutely. But, in my opinion, it is a little better than a half measure. It must be coupled with the overarching priority of discussing mental illness as a public health issue.

    Earlier in the posts some of my colleagues here were bandying about a 5% rate for violent crimes attributed to mental illness. Is that accurate? I’m not sure. I actually don’t know. Is that federal or state numbers? Does that include suicide and suicide attempts? What qualifies as a mental illness in regards to that statistic? Are readers aware that Asperger’s Syndrome was not counted as a specific illness in many circles? Are they aware that many parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t want is qualified as a mental illness but, simply a character difference? I would like more information on that 5% please. Right now to my ears it sounds like an extrapolation, and a generalized one at that. Still, 0.005 is enough to have this discussion as Ben Wheeler’s death points out. By the way, any assertions that momentary road rage can be compared to a mental illness suffered by a shut in is hollow and pointless, let’s not go there.

    John Gaines recently responded to an nbcwashington.com news brief that incorrectly referred to Asperger’s as a disorder, not a syndrome. A number of others responded as well. The news outlet, in an effort cover the mistake and protect that wad-journalist who got it wrong deleted all of the comments. Censored them. Sadly in doing so also, muzzled the voice of parents who are saying that Asperger’s does not necessarily make someone violent, an important point. To dismiss that this conversation take place in the context of this mass killing is to unwittingly bolster the mean spirited dismissal employed by nbcwashington.com. Misinformation is an enemy.

    As we put unprecedented pressure on the gun lobby – and we must- let us also talk about mental illness as a public health issue.
    As we push for legislation that will allow the Federal and State law enforcement agencies to share information- and we must- let us also support families with mentally challenged members to share information and fight the stigma
    As we push for background checks at gun shows-and we must- let us also push for the need for preventative care in mental health, especially for the young.
    As we define and establish a permanent assault weapons ban – and we must – let us also educate ourselves in ways that an entire community can acknowledge and support it’s mentally challenged members.
    As we hold gun owners to account and ask that there ownership be a matter of public record – and we must- let us also remind ourselves that we too are accountable to meet mental illness with compassion and knowledge

  45. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:


    Since a significant part of what you wrote is directed at my comments, yet important to the debate over the role of mental illness, let me respond directly. What you wrote and the way you wrote it indicates that you misunderstand my arguments, my motives and my informational wherewithal. So let me clear some things up.

    I never stated that a national discussion on mental illness was a disingenuous deflection. You’re making that up from whole cloth. In fact I even referred to the national discussion as a positive thing.

    What I stated was that to blame mental illness is a disingenuous deflection: disingenuous because it not in the least supported by the facts; a deflection because the accusation – veiled or otherwise – is all too often made by people who don’t want to see any restrictions on guns. For gosh sakes, reread the comments and that fact will be stark.

    By all means let’s discuss mental illness, but not beginning from the premise that mental illness is the root cause with America’s gun violence. That’s a particularly disgusting and victimizing way to not hold our obsession with personal weapons of mass destruction accountable.

    I’ll come back to my argument in a moment, but first some further responses.

    For the record, I agree with almost everything you write about mental illness. I am as in favor of a national discussion of mental illness as you are. Would you really think I wasn’t? More specifically I am in favor of concrete policy in this country to address the stigma, the reality and the larger societal and public health issues surrounding mental illness through things like more funding for research, better and more complete insurance coverage, preventive care especially for youth, community programs and greatly increased occupational and educational services to move people coping with mental illness into the mainstream and support them there.

    I work with people who have mental illness every day, it’s an essential part of my job. That fact, along with my regular work and friendship with mental health professionals, has everything to do with my moral repugnance when I see mental illness – as stigma – being blamed for American’s epidemic of gun violence.

    I’m not sure what you mean to signal with the word “imploringly,” but yes, it would be good to have the professionals in mental health field weigh in on the Almanack comments. I’m well aware that many are weighing in in the debate elsewhere and I’ve heard a lot of that discussion myself. So far all of them share my concern, as do my mental health friends and colleagues. You said so yourself: mental illness is so misunderstood.

    You state Adam was “shouted down” over his comments on mental health. His premise was certainly disagreed with. I’m not sure I read much that felt like he was “shouted down” anywhere. The closest to “shouting down” was when I took him to task for saying that events like Newton are the price of a free society, which kind of tips his hand in the blaming department, doesn’t it? Or would you defend that statement?

    Next, you suggest that I should seek information out, not wait for someone to weigh in. Okay, let me return to my argument now. Here is some of the information I’ve been working from.

    First of all as we all know the United States leads high income countries by orders of magnitude in the rate of occurrence of gun violence. Why? Thank goodness there has been some hard medical science done, so that not all of this national debate has to be only anecdotal and emotional. I refer you the work of Dr. Matthew Miller and others at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/. These are the leading scientific authorities on this issue and their research is the most comprehensive there is.

    The research shows what other studies have consistently shown: there is NO correlation between mental illness and gun violence. In fact the mentally ill have slightly reduced rates of gun violence compared to the population as a whole. While we don’t understand mental illness in all its dimensions well enough to understand its contribution, there is simply no way that mental illness accounts for this orders-of-magnitude difference. Scientifically speaking, it is not the problem.

    Nor, according to Dr. Miller, is the oft-repeated trope that America is more violent than other high-income countries. In fact it isn’t; rates of violence, of suicide, of crime, are pretty close across these countries. What’s different is the rate of gun violence. In other words, we are not more violent and suicidal than Western Europe, for example. We just kill a lot more people with guns.

    And what is the one statistic that does match these horribly skewed metrics for gun violence? Not mental illness rates. Nope, only one thing,as it turns out: access to guns, especially guns that can kill with high rate and high capacity.

    That’s not hand-wringing; that’s hard data. And it is a call for a moral imperative to restrict access to such weapons.

    Readers, don’t take my word for it; go read the work if you are unfamiliar with these facts.

    Then let’s have a national discussion about mental illness for its own sake.

    Finally, I don’t know what you meant to imply by ascribing to certain people an attitude of “gun control, I win,” but since no one I have ever met thinks that way, I can only conclude that it is a belittling dismissal of a position that you apparently think means someone, cloaked in ignorance, wants to score political points and does not care as much about the people who suffer and die as you do.

  46. Michael McGuire says:

    Yikes. Well, I guess I screwed that up. My post was a careless reaction and not a careful response. Thank you for clarifying anyway. I think it was needed. Thank you also, for calling me out on my misrepresentation of what you wrote. I wholesale misunderstood your point. Again, I appreciate your careful response to me. I think actually it serves to put this whole conversation back on track. Bravo. Let me say also that I would never – ever assume that I care more than anyone else. If that was the tone of my last statement than I offer apologies to any reader that is offended by that. Also, let me state that I completely agree with what you had to say to Adam.

    Right now I am overwhelmed with fear. Fear that this will fade and nothing will get done. Fear that the push for better gun legislation will lose steam. Fear that it is only a matter of time before we see another newsreel of parents and state troopers rushing to a school, and another candlelight vigil. Fear mostly that we will not own up to our insatiable American addiction to violence. The only thing I can do is sign petitions, write our elected officials and encourage more dialogue with my colleagues. It just still feels so damned impotent. Thanks again Pete for the measured and thoughtful smack-down. Let’s talk further.

  47. Twin says:

    The politics of fear that have been used by certain politicians in a cynical attempt to win votes is a large part of the equation. Fear is what drives the funding of the NRA and other reactionary organizations. Limiting gun rights is no different than limiting free speech rights. It’s not the whole solution but it is one element of the solution.

  48. Michael McGuire says:

    That’s not the kind of fear that I am talking about. Perhaps fear is the wrong term. Perhaps it would have better to use the word doubt, or apprehension, or disappointment. But since you mentioned fear lets have at it. What is fear? Fear is a byproduct of ignorance. Certainly in this sense. Fear is what drove Nancy Lanza to arm herself and, by default her son – armed to the teeth – with the kinds of firearms no civilian, mentally stable or not, should have access to. Fear is what turns anybody that isn’t us into an immediate threat. This fear is bolstered to unprecedented heights by our immoral obsession with guns and violence. It’s the damn guns people.

    The NRA spokeswhack in his bizarre press conference named and blamed all of American societies ills – basically stating the obvious that anyone awake already knows – but dodged any accountability at all. He wants us to have faith that the good guys with guns will blast away the bad guys with guns. What he didn’t address was how to get the gun out of the bad guy’s hand to begin with. Why? He doesn’t know how. The NRA wouldn’t know where to start. That is something they don’t want you to know.

    Earlier I harped on mental illness and how we hide it away. The most wide spread mental illness is the collective mental illness we share in our constant thirst for guns and violence. Our culture is sick and it needs intervention. Not with guns but with education and information. It’s not terrorism – border security – crime – drugs or any of it. We carry violence around in us like a disease. It’s who we are. We need to start copping to that if we’re going to get anywhere. This is a collective failure and a collective imperative to change.

    By the way, my family may be surprised to learn that I have been saving up for 2 9mm handguns for me and the missus, a .22 hunting rifle for the hell of it and a SP101 2″ snub – nose for under the seat of my car. I’ll think I’ll spend that money on working towards ways that I can help keep children as far away from guns as I humanly can.

    • Michael McGuire says:

      Well, that’s actually embellished a little to be honest. I was close to the snub nose and the rifle not much else – but I wanted to make a point…..and I stand by it. This whole tragedy has completely focused me on what I feel is important. Massive and meaningful gun legislation, sweeping reform. It’s the guns people.