My reaction to the Sandy Hook Shooting: What does the science say about guns and violence?

Ani DiFranco released this song in 1999.  Listening to it, or reading the lyrics today, one would think she is a prophet.  Oh how I wish this song were a relic, a reminder of the last century, and not a heartbreakingly relevant commentary on the current one.

To The Teeth by Ani DiFranco

the sun is setting on the century
and we are armed to the teeth
we’re all working together now

to make our lives mercifully brief

and school kids keep trying to teach us
what guns are all about
confused liberty with weaponry
and watch your kids act it out

and every year now like christmas
some boy gets the milk fed suburban blues
reaches for the available arsenal
and saunters off to make the news

and the women in the middle
are learning what poor women have always known
that the edge is closer than you think
when the men bring the guns home

look at where the profits are
that’s how you’ll find the source
of the big lie that you and i both know so well

by the time it takes this cultural
death wish to run it’s course
they’re gonna to make a pretty penny
and then they’re going to hell

he said the chickens all come home to roost
malcolm forecast it this way
are we really going to sleep through another century
while the rich profit off our blood?

yeah it may take some doing
to see this undoing through
but in my humble opinion
here’s what i suggest we do

open fire on hollywood
open fire on mtv
open fire on nbc and cbs and abc
open fire on the nra
and all the lies they told us along the way
open fire on each weapons manufacturer
while he’s giving head to some republican senator

and if i hear one more time
about a fools right to his tools of rage
i’m gonna take all my friends
and i’m going to move to canada
and we’re going to die of old age

As a disclaimer, I should share that I am not against guns.  I got my hunting license at 12.  My gift from my dad on my 14th birthday was a shotgun.  We annually host a trap shooting event for friends and family.  I am not anti-gun.  I have spent my life using them.  I know how to properly handle them.  I know their usefulness. I know their destructiveness.  I do not want all guns taken away, because I know that would mean the loss of family heritage and tradition for many, including myself and my children.  However, nobody needs an assault rifle or a Sig Sauer to go hunting.   The science would say, you also aren’t making your family safer by having them.  I do not confuse liberty with weaponry.  I want my kids to come from school at the end of the day.

Is it possible to have guns and kids in the same house and be safe? Yes, I grew up in such a household.

Is it sometimes necessary to have guns in a house to keep kids safe? If you live in an area with bears bold enough to break into your house and/or come up on your deck while you are grilling and your toddler is romping in the grass, most definitely yes.

Does this mean that every family is the same in this regard? No.

Does this mean our country does not have a tremendous problem with gun violence? No.

Prior to Friday, I was not particularly thoughtful about gun control in the US. Did I think there were dangerous loopholes? Yes. Did I think our populace was too stupid to be trusted? Yes. Absolutely, yes.

However, I felt that perhaps existing laws, if loopholes were closed and they were properly enforced, should suffice to keep us safe.

Since Friday, I’ve done what I always do, research. My mind has changed.

Maybe it was the research alone.  More likely it was also because Newtown is not far from me.  It is a town I have been to many times.  I have spent Christmas Day in Newtown with family and friends.  I have dined at My Place, a favorite of the shooter’s mother, maybe alongside her.  I’ve taken my family pumpkin picking in Newtown, and it has crossed my mind if the kid’s birthday party that was happening on the farm that day was celebrated by or with one of the victims.  I’ve admired the flag pole in the center of town.  I’ve succumbed to the small town feel.  My mom is a school nurse, coworkers of hers were quietly pulled from their classrooms, told of the tragedy, and released early to rush home to Newtown and ensure their own children were safe (by the grace of God, they were safe).  Maybe geographically and emotionally, this was finally close enough to home for me to get it.  To understand the severity of this crisis, to make me open my eyes and do the research and think critically and make up my mind.

Do I think it’s possible to change someone’s mind?  That this post might help to change someone’s mind?  Not sure.  Not if they confuse liberty with weaponry.  Maybe not until the loss is theirs to suffer.

But to quote another Ani DiFranco song, Out of Range:  “If you’re not angry, then you’re just stupid.  You don’t care.  How else can you react when you something so unfair?”  Maybe this post will make you angry.

The shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary used his mother’s guns, guns she legally owned. Guns in several recent shooting were legally obtained. Yet, they were used to commit heinous crimes. Obviously then, the thinking that criminals would simply obtain guns via other means is insufficient to explain what is actually happening here.

Can we know what was going through the minds of these shooters? No. Is it safe to assume that at least some fraction of these shooting could have been thwarted just by preventing these men/boys from having ready access to guns? I think so.

Whatever is wrong with us here in America, we cannot be trusted to own the number or type of guns we do. We cannot be trusted with guns.

I scoffed out loud yesterday morning when I read the following from an AP article:

Marsha Lanza told the Chicago Sun-Times that Nancy Lanza wanted guns for protection. “She prepared for the worst,” Marsha Lanza told the newspaper. “I didn’t know that they (the guns) would be used on her.” Source.

It pretty much couldn’t be more obvious that Marsha Lanza did a piss poor job of keeping herself safe. She also did a piss poor job of keeping the entire population of her town safe.  Here is the heart of the issue:  You bring guns into your house to protect yourself, and you’re actually putting yourself at risk.  You are putting your intimates at risk.  Who is to protect you from yourself, from your own naiveté, stupidity, short-sightedness if not the law?

The media has done a piss poor job of reporting on this story, and given that it’s only 4 days since this event transpired, I’m taking all the ‘reporting’ with a big grain of salt (When the NYTimes is using Twitter as a source, you know you’ve got problems). However, if there is even a kernel of truth to the reports that Lanza knew her son was troubled and not to be trusted enough to even turn her back on him, why in the name of all that is holy would she have guns in her house?!?

Obviously Americans cannot be trusted to make good decisions about gun ownership- and given the number of guns we own, that’s a big problem. Americans need to wake the *$#% up when it comes to this issue.

Here are some facts:

A gun owned for self-defense is more likely to be used to intimidate an intimate than to protect one from a criminal. (Source)

Owning a gun increases your chances of being killed by a gun (most likely at your own hand) by 50%. (Source and Source)

Guns are rarely used as self-defense, even if TV makes you think otherwise. (Source and Source and Source)

Now you know.  “If you’re not angry, then you’re just stupid.  You don’t care.  How else can you react when you something so unfair?”  Maybe this post will make you angry.

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Filed under #scimom, Mother, Scientist, Wife

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