The Connecticut School Slaughter: We Have Heard All the ‘Buts.’ It Is Time Now for the ‘Hows’ (Updated)

Paul Zanetti, Australia


In the most eloquent and powerful words I have heard thusfar on the Newtown tragedy, conservative Republican Joe Scarborough, “a conservative Republican who received the NRA’s highest ratings over four terms in Congress,” said, “I come to you this morning with a heavy heart and no easy answers. Still, I’ve spent the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers — while daring to question my own long-held belief on these subjects.”

Urging for action, he said:

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.

Watch below, via MSNBC:

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You can read some of the more stirring excerpts here


Original Post:

Twenty beautiful children, twelve girls and eight boys, all of ages 6 and 7, and six adults mowed down by bullets fired from the semi-automatic rifle of a lone gunman.

“They’re wearing cute kid stuff…I mean, they’re first-graders,” said Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II.

Noah, the youngest of the children, had just turned six on November 20.

But, but, guns don’t kill children; psychopaths and sadists do.

Ana was only six.

But, but, if they take our guns away, only the criminals will have guns.

Olivia was only six. She was to have had a role in her church’s nativity play.

But, but, I am sick and tired of people always wanting to exploit a tragedy to take our guns away, to push their gun control agendas…

Dylan was only six.

But, but, if the teachers had been armed, this would not have happened.

Madeleine was only six.

But, but, our schools have become a place of carnage because we have systematically removed God from our schools.

James was only six.

But, but, a larger percentage of people die in motor vehicle accidents, suicides, falls, poisonings, drowning and choking on an ingested object.

Catherine was only six.

But, but, as gun ownership has expanded over the past decade, crime has gone down.

Jesse was only six. “He loved working on his mom’s farm.”

But, but, we cannot disarm honest, law-abiding citizens and leave our children and ourselves vulnerable to these psychopaths

Benjamin was only six.

But, but, the total violent crime, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault rates are higher in the restrictive states than in the less restrictive ones.

Allison was only six.

But, but, the slippery slope…

Caroline was only six.

But, but, people have always killed people.

Avielle was only six.

But, but, a law-abiding citizen plus a firearm does not a criminal make.

Jack was only six.

But, but, we can’t do anything about mail order gun purchases, they are protected under the Constitution.

Charlotte was only six.

But, but this tragedy only underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones.

Jessica had celebrated her seventh birthday on Tuesday.

But, but, we must enforce the laws that are currently on the books before suggesting new gun laws.

Chase was only seven.

But, but, there are at least eleven other countries with worse gun violence rates than in the U.S.

Grace was only seven.

But, but, there is no real evidence that gun bans reduce gun violence.

Daniel was only seven.

But, but, making schools “gun-free zones,” has made schools safer for the shooters.

Emilie was only six. “She was always smiling…She always had a kind thing to say about everybody.

But, but…

Sometimes there are no more buts available, no more reasons left to make sense of such tragedies.

Let us at least agree that the slaughter of our most innocent demands fewer “buts” and more “hows” by both sides in order to even begin to “take meaningful actions to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

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EDITOR’s NOTE: But after the school shootings Washington remains quiet on gun control.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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  1. Very well put, Dorian. An amazing piece of writing.

  2. The rights and safety of the many trumps the pleasure and convenience of a few.

  3. The juxtaposition is PERFECT Dorian.
    AS long as we allow the NRA to weild such power over our elected officials, we as a nation will remain vulnerable and as a people damnable.

  4. Outstanding post…Thanks Dorian…

    Last evening i listened to gun rights activists and the degree of allegiance to guns was truly frightening…if we do not find ways to turn the oppositional around to cooperation as you share i could see how the U.S. could be in Civil War in less than 20 years or so…

    For many they deeply believe: ” First they take our guns,then they take our Nation, then they persecute us and take our God.” and the THEY is One World Government, that wants one currency, one Nation, one Religion. What they cannot see is the degree of entrenchment reveals the degree of their own projections…

    Dorian, How do we begin to combat that? The issue of guns tied to a pervasive ideology that leaves no room for any consideration beyond their fear, beyond their tribalism.

    It seems to me that the ‘Founding Fathers’ could of never dreamed how the First and Second Amendments are the very things that will likely be its destruction…

    We are not in a box Canyon created by a brittle Constitution…

    I will now re-read this post and continue to swim through sadness and unknowing with an earnest attempt to move to ‘How’….

    Here is a link to Chicago Tribune with little Ana Marquez Greene singing Come, Thou Almighty King


  5. I’ve always enjoyed your writing Dorian but this is some of the finest.

    I’m a gun owner but I’ve always been a gun control advocate as well. I’ve had some training on proper handling and use of a firearm, enough that when I corrected someone I later found out was a law enforcement officer he just nodded and acknowledged his mistake. On thing I’m slowly realizing is that the majority of the gun rights activists will only change if they see that they are in the minority. Most of them truly believe they are speaking for the majority of the people, which is why they are so passionate about it.

    The other part I’m realizing is that while guns are part of the problem, so too are the lack of alternative coping mechanisms for those that would perpetrate these tragedies. They don’t know of any other way of coping than violence. But teaching and providing alternative means of coping will things cost money.

    In a society where the only thing that seems to matter is the amassing as much money as possible I harbor serious doubt we’ll ever make any progress. There is a cost for eliminating social programs and reducing education funding, sizing government so it can drowned in a bathtub, and as long as that remains the priority we will continue to see mass killings.

  6. Traveling right now and difficult to address individual comments. Later.

    For now,thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  7. I agree Dorian, a great piece of writing. As a country we need some help from a mental health professional. Guns and god have become one in the same thing to be worshiped equally – if that’s not insanity I don’t know what is.

  8. “Guns and god have become one in the same thing to be worshiped equally – if that’s not insanity I don’t know what is.”

  9. Yeah, while we’re at it, let’s start addressing the end of the Federal Reserve and the eventual return to real money. Not relevant you say? Neither is gun control law related to this event.

    If we want to protect the kids, start protecting the kids. Armed guards would have protected them, “gun free” zones obviously don’t. Emotional appeals are great for swinging opinion, but they’re most useful when reason doesn’t apply.

  10. We should just hand guns out at birth and enterance into the country. Just think of how safe we will be with our weapons all pointed at one another! It will be just like the wild wild west, the safest period of American history.

    Something about a heavily armed fear and greed based society that makes me a wee uneasy.

  11. Prof…And you feel the solution to protect little children in our culture is to protect them with guns? surely we are more intelligent and better than that…surely a world that can reveal the Higgs particle can create societies where six and seven year olds are not slaughtered while they are being taught their ABC’s, how to count to 100, how to share their crayons, how to cover their mouths when they cough, how not to be a bully, how to be considerate of others…

    Armed guards for first graders…that is our United States?

    Can you see there is something wrong with that picture?

  12. Why on EARTH would we need “armed guards”? “gun control law not relevant to this event”?

    Yes, what lack of foresight on the part of our school systems not to post armed guards!

    Do you honestly believe the reason the NRA supports arming themselves and everyone else to the teeth is because it’s just a “SPORT” to them???

    There is an underlying paranoia that is part and parcel to that organization, and has been most notably seen in the far right element of our government since the 1920′s. So fearful are they that someone may take their guns away…that is all they are concerned with. Not restricted use of firearms…not commitment to the ABUSE of fireamrs…just continual PROTECTION of their firearms.
    I see it as a sickness.

  13. Just a note of interest….Hey kids, did you know you can apply for a gun permit ONLINE in N Carolina?

    Wonder when there will be an app for that on my Iphone!!

  14. HOW: A Good place to start.

    Dianne Feinstein to introduce Assault weapon ban on the First Day of Congress….

    ” On Sunday Feinstein laid out details of the bill.”

    “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively,” and ban the sale of clips of more than ten bullets, Feinstein said. “The purpose of this bill is to get… weapons of war off the streets.”

    It needs to be retroactive….There is no reason for a citizen of the U.S. to own a military style assault weapon…the excuse that some are proposing is they are needed for prairie dog hunting…which is such a poor excuse of hunting as the ‘hunters’ sit up their gun on a table then they sit in a chair and use big scopes and clips to turn the slaughter of animals into a carnival shoot….

  15. Yes, prairie dogs are a major concern to everyone in the country, and we definetely need to blast these poor little creatures to hell with as many 100 round clips as we can carry on any hunting expedition.

    That’s the best argument they could come up with? That’s one our congress will accept? I applaud the effort of Feinstein, and maybe “something is better than nothing” but we are still making concessions that are unacceptable to any intelligent person.

  16. just brainstorming aka dreaming….. perhaps if we as voters take a little power back from the NRA. How about writing, calling, tweeting whatever our lawmakers and let them know that if they accept campaign contributions from the NRA, they can do without our vote. We have to hit them where it hurts, and we have to stop the purchase of elected officials by an organization and BACKERS of that organization who have no moral compass and no social conscience when it comes to the safety of our society.

  17. Hey Feinstein, too big to not fail.

  18. Yeah, but damn those little prairie dogs are fast. It takes a lot of bullets to bring one down.

  19. Ohio, the PDs are safe cause after the first shot they dive underground not to be seen again. Real hunters have to be good on their first and only shot. Humans aren’t so lucky on this front.

  20. Oh.

    Sorry Dorian; didn’t mean to highjack your post. Good job and – I’m waiting.

  21. Hi, The_Ohioan,

    Just got back home and reading through the comments–all very thoughtful and relevant, with the possible exception of one
    that incredibly seems to claim that “gun control” has no relevancy to this tragic event perpetrated with guns and that emotion — human feelings about the tragedy — have no place in the discussion.

    Oh well…

    BTW, you have not “hijacked any thread,” as this is not my thread but the readers’

  22. actually dduck one of the reasons that PD hunting is attractive is the hunters can: ” Not only can you fire literally hundreds of rounds in a day, but in much of the best prairie dog country, the wind is always blowing.” Guided Prairie dog hunts…i think they pop up to take a peek from time to time…

    And to be fair the hunters say the reason they do it is not for the meat, so it does not matter that the carcass is blown to bits , but rather it is excellent practice for long distance accuracy. No problem with hunters but wish they would go back to bow and arrow….then it really is about skill.

    The weapon of choice for many PD hunters is the AR15 which is the gun that the Colorado shooter used…

  23. I don’t want to go off-thread here, but a very good friend of mine and her husband used to love gun hunting. They stopped and became bow hunters because they felt it was unfair to kill animals without giving them at least some sporting chance. It’s one thing she said, to aim a rifle at an unsuspecting deer from so many yards out they can’t even sense your presence. It’s quite another to have to get into closer range. She said more than half the time you are heard, seen or smelled and they take off, which was fine with them.

    Perhaps all those “great” gun hunters would like to give their prey more of a fighting chance.

  24. I don’t think anyone is waiting with baited breath on my reactions to the comments on this thread, but since I started this discussion I thought I’d give some feedback by way of what I believe are the most relevant and thoughtful comments:

    I don’t know how we got on the subject of prairie dog hunting and killing — it really is a little out of place when discussing the murders of 20 innocent little children — but since it was brought up, someone mentioned that “great hunters” give their prey more of a fighting chance.

    If we are going to talk about hunting, I just want to say that those children had absolutely no “fighting chance”

    The comments on the seemingly limitless power of and what drives the NRA are absolutely on target

    The Dianne Feinstein bill to be introduced is a good start to the “Hows”

    @STinMN, it is good to hear from a gun owner who balances gun ownership and use rights with logic, common sense and the rights of others. I fully agree with you and others who have broached the subject, on the need for better awareness and emphasis on mental health, social programs to deal with it and the need for “coping mechanisms.”

    OS asks “Dorian, How do we begin to combat that? The issue of guns tied to a pervasive ideology that leaves no room for any consideration beyond their fear, beyond their tribalism.”

    OS, I truly believe (hope) that, after this tragedy, we will earnestly start to “combat” this national calamity — we just have to…

    I have separately commented on another comment.

  25. Thanks Dorian, i so hope we have bottomed out from no adequate solutions and we can move upwards from this tragedy…

    Sorry about the prairie dog comments, it started with the reason why the NRA crowd does not want to band assault weapons is because they are used in PD hunting which is the fastest growing hunting in the U.S. at the present time…And the attempt was to say how absurd that justification for assault weapons with big clips in the face of the current murders of children….

  26. sadly, like most things… change will require more blood. We dont really look at ourselves and our attitudes until after a tipping point of innocent blood has been spilled. Apparently, gun control requires a lot dead children.

  27. Yet another shooting tragedy in my home state of Kansas today… 2 police officers shot and killed… had they had armed guards, this would have never happened.

  28. I have just listened to Joe Scarborough’s –a former Conservative NRA supporter (and one supported by the NRA) — powerful, eloquent statement on the tragedy.

    He said it all — better and more convincingly than anyone else I have heard or read so far.

    I’ll try to post it. Please try to listen to him — it will hopefully be available soon on line on MSNBC

  29. Thanks Dorian for a fine post. Nothing will ever bring these children back, but there is one way we can honor them. It won’t be by repeating NRA and libertarian talking points either. It’s time we started growing up as a society and this will never happen if we can’t be honest when talking about our problems, their causes, and possible solutions. If we are too cowed and intimidated by the gun lobby to do even this much then we don’t deserve to have beautiful children to begin with.

  30. It seems to me that disarming the public in an attempt to stop gun violence is about as appropriate as disarming our military in order to stop war deaths.

    The only thing that’s changed recently is that we’ve announced that schools are safe killing grounds. Why is it considered inappropriate or dumb to protect our children using means that everyone knows will work?

  31. It seems to me that disarming the public in an attempt to stop gun violence is about as appropriate as disarming our military in order to stop war deaths.

    No one is talking about taking self defense or legitimate hunting or sports weapons away from law-abiding people — and you know this prof.

    We are talking about the craziness, the irresponsibility, the tragedy of non-military, non-law enforcement personnel freely buying, owning — and using — military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines and the craziness of gun manufacturers and dealers selling these “to whoever the hell they want.”

    Please listen to the speech by conservative Republican, NRA supporter Joe Scarborough, above,

  32. Here are a few more “buts” by conservative John Fund

    But, but, “Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.”

    But, but, “The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.”

    But, but, “Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.”

    But, but, “Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive.”

    But, but “Disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks..”

  33. The point is, Dorian, that changing the gun control laws won’t save a single child. The politicians put up armed guards, the president is surrounded by armor and guards, even my county’s courthouse has several policemen guarding the entrance at all times. They understand perfectly how to protect people from kooks, and it’s not with “gun-free zones”. No, it’s only someone else’s kids that need to be put up for the slaughter.

    I have kids in school right now, and I fear for their safety now, because I see how defenseless our politicians have made them.

  34. Beautiful post Dorian. As a parent whose oldest is 5 and a half years old, my wife and I have grieved for these parents all weekend. Our only hope is that Washington will actually be able to do something positive with this tragedy when it comes to gun control.

    I also watched and (for once) agreed with Joe Scarborough’s speech. Here’s the link in case you haven’t gotten it yet:

  35. Yes Dorian, rationalizations do not yield results—even admitted by Joe Scarborough! Now all we need is for Exxon Mobile to end its negative propaganda campaign against global warming.

  36. The point is, Dorian, that changing the gun control laws won’t save a single child.

    If a change in our gun laws — no matter how large or small — saves even one single child, it will have been worthwhile, in my opinion.

    P.S. I have no problem whatsoever with making our schools more secure by, for example, having trained, professional, armed security guards, by having metal detectors, etc. But I just can not see arming teachers and students as many are proposing. But that is just my opinion

  37. Thanks, brcarthey. I have been able to include the Scarborough video in an update, above.

    Hug your children even tighter…

  38. My point is simple: the idea that gun control will save these lives is a shaky connection, at best. Connecticut already had such laws, and they obviously didn’t work.

    I’m also glad to hear that you wouldn’t mind, you know, actually protecting the kids, because some of the posters here have spoken against that. I wouldn’t suggest arming the students (kids aren’t know for their self-control), but well-trained and trusted adults, especially if no one know who is and isn’t armed, would make schools much riskier places for shooting sprees.

  39. Interesting article about Newtown. Turns out that there are a lot of pro-gun people there and they have noisy legal and illegal shooting ranges close to town.

  40. thanks dorian for your ‘few more buts’… comment. Please consider putting this on the front page all of its own post. It is cogent.


  41. Better late than never. Good work, Joe.

  42. Several statistics from various universities now show that states which have greater gun control have fewer shootings. Period. While correlation cannot necessarily lead to causation, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction since we are blindly walking around in the dark.

    Among the theories about why mass shootings have risen at an alarming rate since 2007, is that they have become “popularized” to the mentally ill by the very media that covers these horrendous events. Those looking for as much carnage and hence attention as they can get, even when considering their own death. Accessibility to the types of weapons that would do the most damage is usually by legal means, which is another argument for making these types of weapons illegal.

  43. The point is, Dorian, that changing the gun control laws won’t save a single child. The politicians put up armed guards, the president is surrounded by armor and guards, even my county’s courthouse has several policemen guarding the entrance at all times. They understand perfectly how to protect people from kooks, and it’s not with “gun-free zones”. No, it’s only someone else’s kids that need to be put up for the slaughter.

    So there have been two themes from conservatives over the past few days. One is this is a mental health issue, not a gun issue. Two is we need more armed guards, more security.

    So here’s some rebuttals, right from the conservative playbook. One, they want this country out of the health care business, privatize everything. Private mental health care won’t help those with mental dispositions towards violence. Two, who’s going to pay for all these armed guards everywhere? Up go local taxes. Three, what about personal liberties? The Tea Party and other conservative groups are also afraid of a belligerent government violating their rights with force (hence their fetishism with guns). So their solution is … more armed officers patrolling everything?

  44. Just an added note: Mass shootings were at their height during the 20′s and continued on through the 30′s and 40′s, however these were done with sub machine guns owned by the criminal element as well as the police. Most were gang related and robberies. Private homeowners did not have them for protection of their homes and families and neither did hunters use them for hunting game. And sports gun enthusiasts saw no reason to have them.
    Today we have the equivalent of those rapid fire killing machines all throughout our society.
    And the National RIFLE association defends the “right” to own them.

  45. There’s an awful lot of misunderstanding going on around here. I’m not taking sides, though I may at some point, but we need to have our facts straight if we’re to have a meaningful discourse on the subject.

    “Assault style” weapons are not the functional equivalent of “Tommy guns” or “sub-machine guns”. Semi-automatic rifles are the most common type of sport rifle in the United States. Assault “style” weapons, as used in Aurora, Portland and Newtown, are semi-automatic rifles designed to “look like” assault rifles. Other than cosmetic appearance, they are the functional equivalent of common hunting rifles.

    Fully automatic “Tommy guns” and “submachine guns” have been effectively banned (regulated beyond beyond common ownership) since 1934.

    I very much appreciate the desire to find solutions to gun violence, but we really need to get on the same factual page. It’s possible that the appearance of these assault “style” guns appeals to a certain personality type, but the weapons themselves are not functionally more dangerous than other rifles that look more traditional.

  46. Hi Barky,

    Hopefully from my posts and comments it has become obvious that I am all for reducing the senseless killings, especially of our most vulnerable ones, with reasonable gun laws and effective law enforcement . But if it takes armed security personnel (not students and not teachers, but trained, professional guards — and other security measures, such as metal detectors, etc., to ensure the safety of our children, then, YES let’s do it and the hell with the cost.

    We are spending billions (trillions?) to protect planeloads of mostly adult passengers, a few more trillion to supposedly “protect” the people in Afghanistan, why not a few billion to protect “school-loads” of American children right here at home, in the good ole USA.

    Mind you, this is a last resort, if we are unwilling or unable to stop the use of these weapons of mass killings by any disgruntled, crazy or otherwise so-inclined individuals.

  47. Tidbits, it is true, though it hasn’t happened yet, that some of these military look a likes can be modified for full automatic or some variation like burst firing.
    And, the look of a product, and yes, a firearm does have some psychological effect on the purchaser/owner. Sort of like a fat balding 50-year old in a red convertible probably gets a jolt of testosterone and steps heavier on the gas pedal.

    I do empathize with the average gun owner, who isn’t necessarily a conservative Rep as some are bandying about on these threads, being denigrated unfairly. I would have and would enjoy guns if I didn’t live in NY, but I would not be doing speed shooting, just accuracy shooting.

  48. Duck,

    As to this,

    “Sort of like a fat balding 50[or more]-year old in a red convertible probably gets a jolt of testosterone…”

    I trust that is not a personal attack on a fellow commenter. :)

    My only point is that we need to understand that these are not military weapons in civilian hands. Can they be modified to fully automatic? Probably. Many semi-autos can be, and often in a garage or home shop. But, I am not aware of any evidence that the weapons used in any of these mass murders had been so modified.

  49. If the car fits wear it.
    Yes, my Hummer is not a military version, but you better move over anyway buddy. :-)

  50. Today we have the equivalent of those rapid fire killing machines all throughout our society.
    And the National RIFLE association defends the “right” to own them

    No we don’t. In the 20′s you could buy a “tommy gun” from the Sears catalog but that ended in 1934 when automatic weapons became restricted and they, and their equivalent, are restricted to this day,

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