A year after the horrible tragedy in Newtown, it seems nothing is big enough to change our gun culture
On Friday, December 14th, 2012, a young man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and massacred 26 people including 20 children. He had murdered his mother prior to traveling to Sandy Hook and ended his own life as first responders made their way to the school. The Newtown shooting was the second deadliest mass shooting in America, after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
In the 12 months since that man slaughtered his mother, 20 first grade children and 6 educators, there have been 26 more school shootings in America. We have lost 194 children aged 12 and under to gun violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics has studied the statistics and concluded there is a “significant association between the percentage of gunshot wounds occurring in the home and the percentage of households containing firearms, loaded firearms and unlocked loaded firearms.”
Sheine Steine, a 3-year old Colorado boy, found his stepfather’s loaded handgun shoved under a mattress in October and accidentally shot himself in the head. Sheine’s mother, Dione Warren, has been charged with criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death. Court documents reveal that Warren’s young daughter told police that Sheine was left home alone while Warren took her to school. The stepfather has not been charged.
Google “toddler dies in accidental shooting.” Or “toddler shot.” Google “school shooting.”
Over the past year, the NRA and their paid politicians have gone all-out, trying to convince Americans that the only way to “stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Which begs the question, when a 3-year old kid shoots himself in the head with his stepfather’s loaded handgun, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy? Is his mom the bad guy?
The NRA and the right wing tells Americans every single day we need more guns, we need more access to more guns, we need guns in schools and malls and bars and churches. So, who’s the bad guy? When a 2-year old girl dies after finding a loaded handgun and accidentally shooting herself, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy? Is her grandmother or her aunt the bad guys, who were at the home with her? Is the 2-year old the good guy?
Some things have changed since Newtown. Colorado has passed sweeping gun safety legislation, as have Connecticut and California. We have nothing on a federal level, however, because our elected officials are terrified of the NRA and gun manufacturers. Make no mistake, the NRA no longer represents sane, law abiding citizens. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, violent predators and monsters.
Why do I believe that? Because the NRA fights any suggestion of universal background checks for online and gun show purchases. They fight any suggestion of limiting ammunition. They fight anything and everything that could possibly help stem the tide of gun violence in this country. Australia doesn’t have the NRA, so when a mass shooting occurred there in 1996, politicians were able to pass sweeping gun reform. And that reform has worked.
After a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 18 others in Port Arthur, Australians came together and chose not to follow what then-Prime Minister John Howard called “the American way” on guns. Polls conducted during the enactment of new gun laws found that 90% of Australians approved of the legislation. Australian athlete and student Christopher Lane paid for the difference between Australia and America with his life.
This past August, 22-year old Lane was shot and killed by 3 teenagers as he jogged along a road in Oklahoma. One of the teens told police “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.” The somebody they killed was an Australian college student, attending school on a scholarship. Christopher was shot in the back and left to die in a drainage ditch.
Sean Hannity recently said on his show, in response to a guest’s statement that we need background checks on all gun purchases, “We already have that.” No, Sean, we don’t. A violent predator, a person with a restraining order out against them, a severely mentally ill and dangerous individual can go online to Armslist or to a gun show and purchase a firearm with no background check whatsoever. My state does not require background checks for gun show purchases. Sean Hannity flat-out lied, and his base, the NRA’s base, believes that lie. They believe that criminals don’t follow laws, so it doesn’t matter and all this is just a plot to take every single gun out the hands of every single American.
Newtown should have been a wake-up call, and for some states it was. On the federal level, the Manchin Toomey bill, an incredibly weak piece of legislation, failed to garner the support it needed to pass because of the NRA. Decades ago, the NRA supported gun control and leaders of the group helped draft the Uniform Firearms act in the 1920’s. Those days of sane thinking are long gone. The NRA is now part of the anti-government, borderline Sovereign citizen brigade, ginning up fear at every turn.
These are the names of the 20 children and 6 educators who were murdered Friday, December 14th, 2012. Kids who didn’t have all their adult teeth, kids who still believed in Santa, teachers who loved their students and tried to protect and save them. And I ask again, if Newtown couldn’t change us, what will?
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Anna Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6