Dec 17, 201206:41 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Something must be done, indeed, to prevent the slaughter of more innocents
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Nothing is more heartbreaking than tiny coffins.
The tragedy in Newtown, Conn., was worse than the Columbine or Aurora shootings because of the age of the victims.
To do violence to children is one of the few absolutely unspeakable acts. The movies won’t show it. The shootings of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary, all 6 or 7 years old, was truly the slaughter of innocents. For the little survivors, the joy and wonder of life – so effervescent in the Christmas season – was shattered by that dark adult secret: that evil walks among us.
Authorities are now saying the shooter had a personality disorder. Ya think?
Here is guessing that no one will fully plumb the rage of the shooter or capture whatever voices he was hearing.
There is no making sense of these tragedies, but we would not be human if we didn’t try.
By all accounts, the shooter, age 20, apparently defeated the security system at the elementary school by breaking a window. School personnel saved many lives by locking classroom doors; that wasn’t available during the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007. A custodian ran through the halls shouting a warning. The school public address system broadcast the ongoing terror in the principal’s office. All of that helped avert a worse disaster. But this one was very bad enough.
Somewhere in the editorialist’s word processor is a nostrum that reads: Something Must Be Done. What that “something” might be is the issue. For starters, the nation’s gun laws will be closely examined. As a legal bearer of firearms, I have no problem with that. Let’s examine the laws. I’m for anything that will help.
Ban the AR-15 class of “assault weapons” the shooter used? (He had two others.) That may help people feel better. But they’re no more lethal than any other semi-automatic firearm (they just look that way) and much harder to conceal.
One Madisonian (I have to think he is not terribly atypical) called for a constitutional amendment to abolish the Second Amendment altogether. Constitutional clauses have been struck down before, he said. Witness the 21st Amendment, which overturned the 18th Amendment – Prohibition.
A fitting analogy. The 18th Amendment prohibited a dangerous substance: alcohol. Backed by the Progressive movement, all very noble-minded. Read Daniel Okrent’s enjoyable study of Prohibition, Last Call. Alcohol abuse was a serious problem, a wrecker of homes, which explains the Women’s Temperance Union.
Prohibition failed because many people agreed it was a good idea – for other people. As one wag, quoted in the book, put it: “Prohibition is better than no alcohol at all.”
The lesson of Madison, Wis.
The state of Connecticut has some of the nation’s most stringent gun laws – the seventh most restrictive, according to a 2010 Brady Campaign ranking. (Ironically, the state is the birthplace of American handgun manufacture.) Schools everywhere are “No Gun” zones. Yet schools seem to be a target-rich environment (to work that cliché one more time).
We’ve seen that in Wisconsin, most recently in 2006 in small-town Cazenovia, where a principal was shot to death grappling with a 15-year-old shooter. Or the assistant principal at Wauwautosa West High School in 1993, shot dead by a former student there. Both administrators, like the principal killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, were unarmed. Nor was any responsible adult armed at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students shot to death 12 students and one teacher and injured 21.
Victims concentrated in a defined space, all of them defenseless. Perfect hunting grounds for the psychopath. Now consider what happened in Madison, Wis., on Jan. 15, 1988. A troubled young man by the name of Aaron Lindh walked into Madison’s City-County Building. He was enraged that Madison Police had not recovered his stolen music stereo equipment. (These things don’t have to make sense.)
During the rampage, he vowed, "I am going to kill everybody." He shot and killed a worker delivering legal papers on the ground floor. Her name was Eleanor Townsend. Then Lindh shot and injured a citizen paying a parking ticket in the same area, the lobby of the Dane County Sheriff’s headquarters. A sheriff’s deputy gave chase and fired once. The young man ran into the county coroner’s office, where Coroner Bud Chamberlain tried to talk him down. He was shot and killed. Back in the hallway, a sheriff’s deputy leveled his service firearm at Aaron Lindh and brought him down, just outside the building’s food commissary on the ground floor, not far from the Wilson Street entrance. (The story here.)