[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Will Sandy Hook Propel Us to Take Rational Action? | 12-18-2012
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
63°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
August 22
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]


The Rational Center | Commentary by John Zaring
| Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012

johnzaring2012“Our hearts are broken,” President Barack Obama said Friday after the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. With those four simple worlds, our president gave voice to what many parents across the country, if not the world, were feeling.

America’s latest gun tragedy was just another in a long string of gun tragedies, and while it happened more than 3,000 miles away in Newtown, it could have happened anywhere, including Newhall. Newhall IS Newtown. Hart High School IS Columbine High School. The theaters at the Valencia Town Center could easily BE Aurora, Colo. Real Life Church could be OUR Sikh Temple.

On Monday, two 6-year-olds named Jack and Noah were laid to rest in Newtown, the first of 20 children to be buried by their parents this week. Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison are the others. This was a slaughter of innocents as surely as the biblical story; these little kids were gunned down in their classrooms with the same brutality that we see happening in the war zones of Syria and Afghanistan.

Since the ban on assault weapons expired in 2004 – which Bill Clinton enacted at great political expense in 1994 – there has been little appetite to tackle gun control in America. That’s eight years of inaction in Washington, just one more example of how the political ineptitude gripping Congress affects us all.

The statistics are chilling, and telling.

There are more than 300 million weapons in America, essentially as many guns as people. According to Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, more than 40 percent of weapons sold legally are purchased without a background check, either at gun shows or privately.

Most Americans don’t know that in many states, it is easier to purchase a weapon than it is to get a license to drive a car. There’s no safety test, written or otherwise, and while the qualifications vary from state to state, essentially there are few restrictions beyond one’s age.

Over the past 30 years, the National Rifle Association, which began after the Civil War to improve soldiers’ marksmanship, has mutated into a lobbying organization that spends millions through court action to overturn state and federal laws regulating the private ownership of guns. Just hours before the killing began in Newtown, the Michigan Legislature passed an NRA-backed law that allows concealed weapons to be carried onto school campuses.

Yes, you read that right: In Michigan, you can now take your gun to school.

Weapons are a big business in America. The NRA raised more than $200 million in 2011, with corporate donations from weapons manufacturers growing twice as fast as dues payments. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the U.S. firearms industry generated $31.8 billion in 2011, and Smith & Wesson’s stock jumped 126 percent on the New York Stock Exchange this year alone. Another major, publicly traded gun manufacturer, Ruger, rose 53 percent. Jobs in this industry are growing at a 30-percent clip – no pun intended – a level more than double that of the health care industry, which is widely considered the hottest sector in today’s labor market.

You will surely hear the NRA say the second amendment to the Constitution guarantees our right to bear arms, and that’s true. The exact clause, written before this country had an army or even police, says the following: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This single sentence, which is the flag in which the pro-gun crowd wraps itself, was ratified by the states and authenticated Dec. 15, 1791, by then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

1791. That’s 321 years ago, folks. There were only 13 states then.

Gun enthusiasts will say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But while deranged people certainly do pull the trigger, they’re no longer carrying one-shot muskets like in Jefferson’s day. Today’s America has not only this historic attachment to arms, but also a culture of violence desensitized by the movies we see and games of war we play on X-Box and PlayStation.

Thanks to landmark decisions taken by the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 and 2010, today’s weapons bring military strength to the killing, and as a result, Americans are dying in staggering numbers. More than 100,000 of us are shot each year, and roughly 80 percent of the world’s non-war gun deaths happen in the United States.

Every year, 3.3 of every 100,000 American citizens are killed by guns. The next closest nation – Canada – has a rate of less than half of 1 percent. In Japan, where gun ownership is illegal, 8 people were killed in 2008 with a gun. By comparison, there were more than 12,000 gun deaths in America that same year. On the very same day as the Newtown massacre, a man burst into a school in China, where guns are also illegal. He was armed with a knife, and 22 people were wounded. But none died.

Is this the new normal? Or will the Sandy Hook massacre be the event that propels rational people to take rational action?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we ban all guns. But semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity magazines are not built for hunting deer or rascally rabbits; they’re built for killing people – and lots of them. In my opinion, if you’re not standing on a battlefield in service of our nation, you simply don’t need one.

There is no easy solution, but I think we can all agree that children should not have to hide in a classroom closet for someone else’s “freedom.” The ban on semiautomatic weapons must be made permanent; high-capacity magazines with extended rounds of 10, 20 or even 30 or more bullets should be outlawed; and we need to do a better job of caring for and reporting mentally unstable people. In fact, a person seeking to purchase weapons of any kind should face the most difficult and strenuous application process ever, to ensure multiple opportunities for authorities to sort out the lunatics.

In Newtown, where a school became a battlefield, a homemade sign was hung outside a church, which read: “Our hearts are broken. Our spirits remain strong.”

What about our will?

We can no longer bury our heads in the sand of ignorance because silence is a tacit endorsement of gun violence, and if we do nothing, the blood spilled at the next school, or mall, or movie theater, or place of worship, will be on all of our hands. If even one child can somehow be saved, we must act.

Speak up, my friends. Shake off your blissful apathy and make your voices heard.

Massacres like Sandy Hook should never be accepted as an unstoppable fate. It is my hope that reasonable discussions between rational people will lead to an acceptable solution.

Pro-gun politicians who usually don’t talk about gun control – NRA members like Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia – are now calling for action, and that’s a good sign.

But apparently not every politician sees this as a national epidemic; our own Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, has yet to reverse his pro-assault weapons stance. Please call and ask McKeon to join California’s senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, in calling for the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons. And then contact our new state assemblyman, Republican Scott Wilk, and beg him to help strengthen California’s gun laws.

Together, we must end this country’s fascination with guns.

 

John Zaring describes himself as a reformed Republican turned moderate Democrat who believes democracy works best when its government actually functions because its leaders are working together. He serves on the Castaic Area Town Council’s Land Use Committee, Castaic Middle School’s Site Council, the Hart District’s WiSH Education Foundation, and he is the West Ranch High School representative on the Hart District’s Advisory Council. A self-proclaimed “New Democrat” a la Bill Clinton, he lives in Castaic with his wife of 21 years and their daughters, Fiona, 16, and Kylie, 12. His commentary publishes Tuesdays.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

6 Comments

  1. Stephen Petzold says:

    Why wasn’t the president’s heart broken after the Fort Hood shootings ? The Obama administration was running guns to Mexico under operation Fast and Furious. Eric Holder our AG is in contempt of Congress. We must protect our selves against the criminal element in our society and a government shown to be too willing to abuse it’s power and ignore the law. It is not for Mr Zaring to decide how many bullets can be sold in a clip. The answer is to provide law abiding citizens to exercise their freedom and liberty under the Bill of Rights to protect their person and property.

  2. E says:

    Great commentary. We will no longer be quiet. The time for change has come. Good for you sir. Rational adults making rational choices for the future of our children. It’s time. Thank You Mr Zaring. And the actual facts are astounding. Pay attention people to the lame attempts to get off topic below. Gun control is inevitable.

  3. Reason says:

    Since 1950 where there have been 3 or more people killed in a shooting there is one common theme – every shooting took place in a gun free zone. The one exception is the AZ shooting involving Rep Gabby Giffords. Any gun ban is nonsense and will not solve the issue. The anti-gun crowd can bang their heads against the wall as long as they want to try and create a law that would prevent lunatics from doing their sick deeds but they will never succeed. The only way to prevent or minimize the scope of these tragedies is to have a gun in the hands of a law abiding citizens who are present when they take place. To be sure they are lunatics that do these sick deeds but they are smart enough to know where they can go to inflict the most damage with the least possible resistance. A ban on semi automatic weapons would just create a black market for them where any lunatic would still be able to obtain one and would just give the thugs south of our open border another market to operate in. Why don’t we ever see liberals scream about closing our border when an illegal kills a U.S. citizen. That occurs more often then these mass shooting yet we don’t hear that cry. Yet, even in the face of the fact that the frequency of these shootings are decreasing liberals have no issue using the act of one person to further attempt to deny constitutional rights of 300 million.

  4. Discernment says:

    Even though I personally do not own a gun, I agree with “Reason”. If you place a ban on anything, those that cannot obtain the banned product are those that typically are law-abiding citizens! Do we as a society need to have a discussion about how to stop the violence – absolutely! Where you and I differ is where that discussion should be focused.

    Sadly, our society is filled with violence – from video games to Ultimate Fighting to abortion. So Mr. Zaring, when you speak of burying our heads in the sand, you have propogated this for your entire existance. I am deeply saddened by the dispicable act fallen upon Sandy Hook Elementary, but just because you can dress them, send them off to school and tuck them in at night really makes them NO different then those our society kills before they even had a chance to attend school. Since Texas enacted a law in 2011 requiring pregnant women to have an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat before choosing to abort, the abortion rate has declined by almost 40-percent! When we recognize and value life for what it is and when it truly starts, then maybe we can reduce the numbness our society has developed toward killing. A discussion about violence in society needs to start, but how about at the very beginning!

  5. FactCheckPlease says:

    “More than 100,000 of us are shot each year, and roughly 80 percent of
    the world’s non-war gun deaths happen in the United States.
    Every year, 3.3 of every 100,000 American citizens are killed by guns.”

    These numbers are contradictory. With 311,000,000 people living in the US, that’s 3,110 “sets” of 100,000 people. If 3.3 people get killed per set of 100,000, that’s a total of 10,260 Americans shot per year, just one-tenth of the value you report (100,000 shot per year). Go to Wikipedia. You’ll see more total people are killed with guns every year in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, and other countries than the US, so it’s impossible 80% of gun deaths happen here.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017
If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to some really bad outcomes, including kidney problems, glaucoma and other eye disorders, foot ulcers, amputation of feet or legs, stroke, diabetic coma, and even death.
Friday, Aug 11, 2017
There is no doubt the vast majority of Democrats and liberals loathe Trump. Certainly all of the leftists thoroughly hate him, and they have some company. They’re called Republicans.
Wednesday, Aug 2, 2017
In his August message to the community, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin details the city's emergency preparedness resources.
Tuesday, Aug 1, 2017
As our first president George Washington said, “We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”
Sunday, Jul 30, 2017
Many shocking surprises have shown up around the world as the ice melts. We’ve found a perfectly preserved baby woolly mammoth, a field of dead reindeer that died of anthrax, and then last year, infected people in Russia, and in Alaska, an Air Force plane that disappeared was finally found in the Colony Glacier. It had crashed in 1952, killing everyone on board.
Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017
When President Donald Trump ordered Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review the status of 27 national monuments created by three former presidents, many across the nation took it as a call to action to advocate on behalf of the monuments closest to their homes, and their hearts.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1891 - Future First Lady Lou Henry (Hoover), 17, poses for photo at R.E. Nickel's Acton store [story]
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a possible burglary call at a warehouse in the 29000 block of Avenue Sherman in Valencia Monday morning.
SCV Deputies Investigate Reported Valencia Warehouse Burglary
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a once-in-a-century solar experience took place Monday. Plus, on Saturday, dozens of people gathered in Newhall to celebrate the legacy of the old Saugus Speedway, its racers and its crew. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, August 21, 2017
The 28th Annual Fine Art Show & Gala presented by the Santa Clarita Artists Association and the county of Los Angeles takes over Hart Hall on Saturday afternoon, October 14.
October 14: SCAA, County’s 28th Annual Art Classic at Hart Park
Organizers of the city of Santa Clarita's quarterly photo contest are now accepting entries for the fall 2017 competition.
City Opens Entries for Fall 2017 Photo Contest
The Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club invites everyone who shares a special connection with the club to the Alumni BBQ on Saturday afternoon, September 9.
September 9: Boys & Girls Club Alumni & Friends BBQ
Comedian and magician Fritz Coleman brings his stand-up show to Santa Clarita with an intimate, one-time performance at the Keyboard Galleria Music Center on Saturday, August 26.
August 26: Comic Fritz Coleman Stands Up at Keyboard Galleria
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station issued 38 traffic citations Friday and arrested a Newhall man on a parole violation warrant on Saturday.
Deputies Cite Speeders, Arrest Parolee
Lancaster JetHawks right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco has been named the California League Pitcher of the Week for August 14-20, 2017.
JetHawks’ Tinoco Named Cal League Pitcher of the Week
The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Dodgers Aqcuire Outfielder Curtis Granderson from Mets
The TMU Mustangs' women's volleyball home opener proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered as the hosts dispatched Lewis & Clark State College (ID) in straight sets 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.
Lady Mustangs Dispatch Lewis & Clark in Straight Sets
The Master's University's men's soccer team inaugurated their 2017 season with a 5-0 win over Northwest of Washington on Reese Field Saturday afternoon.
TMU Men’s Soccer Blanks Northwest in Season Opener
The Master’s University women’s soccer team’s 2017 record improved to 2-0 after beating the No. 8 ranked Northwest University Eagles 3-1 on Saturday morning at Reese Field.
TMU Women’s Soccer Team Grounds Eagles 3-1 Saturday
CalArtians Mathieu Libman (Film/Video BFA 19) and Aram Sarkisian (Film/Video BFA 17) are among the seven finalists for Student Academy Awards in the Animation category.
Two CalArtians Named 2017 Student Academy Awards Finalists
Western singer and songwriter John Zipperer headlines the next episode of "SCVTV Presents The OutWest Concert Series" at The MAIN in Old Town Newhall the evening of Friday, August 25.
August 25: John Zipperer Headlines ‘SCVTV Presents The OutWest Concert Series’
The Lancaster JetHawks clinched a franchise-record sixth consecutive winning season with their 71st victory, a 7-2 win over the Inland Empire 66ers, on Sunday afternoon at San Manuel Stadium.
JetHawks Sweep Sixers Sunday, Secure Winning Season
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and the city of Santa Clarita launch the “Heads Up” campaign this week to combat distracted driving and increase pedestrian safety.
City, Sheriff’s Station Launch ‘Heads Up’ Safety Campaign
An 18-year-old man from Lancaster surrendered to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Special Victims Unit Monday morning in connection with an alleged sexual assault earlier this month on College of the Canyons' Valencia campus.
Suspect Arrested in Alleged COC Sexual Assault
The Lancaster JetHawks scored seven runs in the fifth inning, propelling themselves to a 9-4 win over the Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium.
Seven-Run Fifth Inning Carries JetHawks to Win Saturday
Hundreds of drivers were screened in a DUI checkpoint in Stevenson Ranch Friday night, but no arrests were made, CHP officials said.
CHP DUI Checkpoint Screens Hundreds of Drivers
1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]
The Santa Clarita Public Library invites residents to view the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21 at the Old Town Newhall Library starting at 10 a.m.
August 21: Solar Eclipse Viewing at Newhall Library
1967 - New Town of Valencia dedicated; homes sell for $25,000 [story]
1879 - Newhall civic leader Charles Henry Kingsburry born in Missouri [story]
Alerted by a concerned citizen Friday, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies once again rescued dogs the owner left in a car with the windows rolled up and no water.
Deputies Break Window, Rescue Dogs Locked in Car
40 oz. to Freedom arrives in Santa Clarita as part of its anniversary tour at Concerts in the Park at Central Park on Saturday, August 19, with showtime at 7 p.m.
August 19: 40 Oz. to Freedom Rocks Central Park
Two local environmental groups filed a complaint in L.A. Superior Court Thursday regarding the approved plan to provide water to the Newhall Ranch development, set to break ground in 2018.
Environmental Groups File Complaint Against Newhall Ranch Water Plan
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has provided $143,000 in funding to extend the season of youth and adult swim programs offered at the Castaic Aquatic Center through October 31.
Castaic Aquatic Center Programs Extended to October 31
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Los Angeles County firefighters and government leaders welcomed back the Super Scoopers Friday morning. Plus, the Old Town Newhall Library helped get the community ready for it as well by handing out free eclipse viewing glasses. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, August 18, 2017
CalArts alumna Audrey Chan (Art MFA 07) will host a free, all-ages interactive arts workshop in Little Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20, as part of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s 2017 Nisei Week activities.
August 19-20: Nisei Week Arts Workshop with CalArts Alum Audrey Chan
Habitat for Humanity SFV/SCV is honored to have received a $25,000 grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, which will fund trauma workshops.
Habitat for Humanity Receives $25K Grant from Disabled Veterans
Here are agenda highlights for the next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, set for Tuesday, August 22, starting at 9:30 a.m..
August 22: Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda
Ashley Olivier, a student worker at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, summited Mt. Whitney with her dad, a lieutenant at LASD's Monterey Park station.
SCV Sheriff’s Station Student Worker, LASD Dad Top Mt. Whitney
Looking to enter the win column for the first time in 2017 on day two of the Summer Slam volleyball tournament, the TMU Mustangs squared off against 11th-ranked Eastern Oregon but lost in straight sets.
Mountaineers Spike Mustangs at Summer Slam
Caltrans has released "Rail and the California Economy," a research report investigating how the state’s vast passenger and freight rail system contribute to California’s economy, as well as an overview of opportunities for rail to address the state’s needs and challenges in the future.
New Report Details Rail Role in State Economy
The Master’s University women’s soccer team soared to a 7-0 victory over the visiting Eagles from Sierra Nevada College Thursday.
Lady Mustangs Soccer Win Opener 7-0