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Dec 17, 201206:41 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Something must be done, indeed, to prevent the slaughter of more innocents

Something must be done, indeed, to prevent the slaughter of more innocents

(page 1 of 2)

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.)

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Dec 18, 2012 08:40 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

"... many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend "gun-free zones," such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. ... by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. ... when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved. At the Clackamas Mall in Oregon last week, an active shooter murdered two people and then saw that a shopper, who had a handgun carry permit, had drawn a gun and was aiming at him. The murderer's next shot was to kill himself.

Real gun-free zones are a wonderful idea, but they are only real if they are created by metal detectors backed up by armed guards. Pretend gun-free zones, where law-abiding adults (who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class) are still disarmed, are magnets for evildoers who know they will be able to murder at will with little threat of being fired upon."

-- "Guns, Mental Illness, and Newtown." Wall Street Journal 12-18-12.

Dec 18, 2012 12:49 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Okay Dave, if more arms are the answer, please reconcile this incident:

Dec 18, 2012 01:14 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Then there was the guy several years ago who boarded a Madison bus with a can of gasoline and lit it.....

Dec 18, 2012 02:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

To Anonymous that commented on Ft. Hood.
That incident proves Dave's point. Although Ft. Hood is a military base the victim soldiers were unarmed. Most of the time soldiers are not armed on most U.S. bases except durign weapons training.

The shooting was stopped by an armed police officer who confronted and shot the suspect. Again teh bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good girl (female officer) with a gun.

Only when people accept that it is not the tool (a gun, knife, club, etc.) that causes evil to occur, but rather the person using the tool, will we accept the responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

Those who are willing and able should arm and prepare themselves to stand in defense of those who cannot defend themselves. Passing laws to make this harder may make shallow thinkers feel as if they are doing something positive. The reality remains that it will take good guys with guns to stop bad guys who are intent on killing the innocent.

Dec 18, 2012 05:21 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Oh, anonymous (and so richly earned). (Matt?) Because a defensive firearm is no guarantee against every insanity does not mean it does not defend against many or most. But your illogic demands that -- because the murderer may come at your with a gan of lit gasoline, therefore, you must be disarmed entirely. Like saying: don't wear a seatbelt because your Honda Accord may launch into Lake Monona.

In many ways, you are crazier than the Sandy Hook killer -- in that, you are his enabler.

Dec 20, 2012 06:46 pm
 Posted by  ssquared

I would rather frequent a store/mall without a "GUN FREE ZONE" sign than one with such a sign.

What kind of psycho/felon would be stupid enough to cause a ruckus where someone might be armed (and therefore dangerous)?

Any idea who the chicken s**t is using "anonymous" repeatedly?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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