Heroism

The awful events in Newtown give us another chance to contrast the rhetoric of gun-toting imaginary heroism with the real heroism demonstrated by some of the wonderful people who’ve been lost in mass shootings in the past few years. This time, it’s the principal, school psychologist and vice-principal at Sandy Hook Elementary. When I was watching the coverage yesterday, one of the producers at CNN interviewed a parent who was at the school for a conference at the time of the shooting. As soon as the shots were fired, those three school officials, who were in the conference, went into the hall to see what they could do. All three were immediately shot, and only the vice-principal was able to crawl back into the room.

Today we can read friends, parents and former students remembrances of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal, and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist. It sounds like the students at Sandy Hook were lucky to have both of them. The picture of Ms. Hochsprung in particular is heartbreaking–she’s so full of life and excitement.

Like Judge John Roll, or the boyfriends in Aurora, who shielded others with their bodies and were killed, these two women did what little they could do in the face of overwhelming force. They acted instinctively with the goal of protecting their students, and their reward was a brutal, quick murder. That’s how heroism works in mass shootings.

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104 replies
  1. 1
    beltane says:

    This must be very upsetting to the NRA cultists. They would have preferred a scenario where the teachers abandoned the children in their care in favor of shooting in the direction of the gunman, thus increasing the body count from 28 to perhaps 40 or 50 or more. Given a choice between heroism and fear, the gun nuts will choose fear every time.

  2. 2
    lonesomerobot says:

    FWIW, this.

    Prior to 1996 (year of the Port Arthur Massacre), there were 13 gun massacres in Australia. Then came the passage of the National Firearms Agreement. There have been zero gun massacres since.

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    Right. A semi-automatic rifle with telescopic sights is an offensive weapon designed to kill a large number of people in a short amount of time. The notion that anyone ‘needs’ this item for self-defense is just loony.

    Also, fwiw, studies have shown that soldiers, given weapons and explicit orders to use those weapons, mostly do not pull the trigger. The few who do are haunted by that experience for the rest of their lives. The notion that, if everyone had guns, the resulting ‘armed populace’ would be safer ignores well-known facts about how actual humans behave in the real world.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    Coming soon, to America – a new school morning ritual:
    “Did you make my sandwich, Ma”
    ‘Yes dear.’
    “Did you load my gun?”
    ‘Yes dear. It’s in your holster on your kitchen chair, ready for you to strap on.’
    “Thanks, Ma!”
    ‘Son, before you go, remember The Three S’s.’
    “I know them, Ma!”
    ‘Ok, then recite them to me.’
    “Oh Mom…”
    ‘Don’t ‘Oh Mom,’ me, young man. Recite The Three S’s for me!’

    “Ok, here goes:
    Study hard,
    Stay safe, and
    Shoot straight. Now can I go?”

    ‘YeSSS dear.’

  5. 5
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @lonesomerobot: Just a gulag with koalas now, though. That’s what happens when freedom™ dies.

    (Freedom™, and Free™, are registered trademarks of the Republican National Committee and its subsidiaries. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)

  6. 6
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @beltane:

    Everyone who advocates “more guns” as a solution assumes that there would be 1 shooter and 1 responder, with the 1 responder taking on the 1 shooter. But in the confusion of an actual event, unless there is some sort of centralized control over who gets to be the responder, in practice there would be 1 shooter and many responders, none of whom know ahead of time who is playing what role. Each responder would have to decide in real time which of the other armed people present is a responder and which is not. It seems very likely to me that we’d end up with some combination of multiple responders shooting at each other, and/or the shooter being able to gain time passing himself off as a potential responder.

    ETA: and it gets worse when law enforcement arrives on the scene and has to sort out the responders from the shooter.

  7. 7
    lonesomerobot says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Yes, so horrible with its national healthcare, $15/hr minimum wage, 4 weeks of holiday, and all those happy Australians who love their free and SAFE country.

  8. 8
    Robin says:

    I don’t know if these teachers were members of a union, but besides the necessary conversations about gun control, I think it would be a really good thing if we started a new conversation about teachers.

    I believe that the gallantry, heroism, and devotion to the children in their charge the teachers at this school showed, as they risked their own lives to keep their charges safe, personify the commitment most teachers in this country apply to their task and to their charges on a daily basis. To those who think that teachers are overpaid, that they don’t deserve pension benefits, that they unionize for reasons of personal gain and to ensure permanent employment, take a look at what these teachers did yesterday, and tell us what you believe would be a fair compensation package for people such as these.

  9. 9
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I don’t recall us starting to worry about ‘collateral damage’. I do remember us inventing the term.

    After one of these new ‘freedom-enhanced’ massacres you’d get the abbot Arnaud Amaury’s defense after the sack of Beziers.

    A measured consideration of actions and consequences isn’t often a feature of revealed religions.

  10. 10
    lonesomerobot says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Don’t you realize that by the time law enforcement arrives, they’ll know who the hero is by the fact the he will have already skinned the shooter and prepared the head for mounting on his trophy wall?

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    @beltane:

    They would have preferred a scenario where the teachers abandoned the children in their care in favor of shooting in the direction of the gunman…

    That’s the problem with the concealed carry whackjobs solution; it only works in situations where there is 1 Good Guy and 1 Bad Guy and, more than likely, will only add more guns and more ammunition to the mix after the Bad Guy shoots the Good Guy (not to mention that when the cops or other Good Guys get there, if the Good Guy is mistaken for a Bad Guy, there will be a problem; this almost happened in Arizona). This concealed carry horseshit is dangerous.

    I think the first law should be if there is a person actively being medicated for mental health issues, all firearms in the Family have to have trigger locks.

    ETA: Or what ThatLeftTurnInABQ said.

    ETA2: Mary Bono Mack is now on the TV; stupid fucking bitch that is in Congress only because she married Sonny and he skiied into a tree. Fuck her.

  12. 12
    JCT says:

    There were also reports of how well the teachers at the school protected their students with one managing to herd 15 little ones into the class bathroom and keep them silent and calm. She refused to open the door to the cops until they obtained a key. There is no way to know how many lives were saved that day by acts like these under incredible stress. Can you imagine being locked in a tiny bathroom with tiny frightened children, soothing them while guns are going off in the hallway?

    This is the true meaning of heroism and professionalism. The irony is that these are the same folks who have spent the past few years being maligned for laziness (they get summers off!) and greed (union thugs!).

    And here we have the gun nuts screaming and yelling that they are the only “true” Americans and that this never would have happened if these teachers were armed. The gun forums are frothing at the mouth at present, alternatively calling for schools to be turned into fenced armed fortresses and declaring how they wished they had been there to take out the shooter. After they pissed their pants no doubt. All of this horror is to keep these angry, paranoid assholes from being inconvenienced when they buy their toys. Beyond fucked up.

  13. 13
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Robin: You can’t refute a theology.

  14. 14
    Antonius says:

    Hi folks.

    I started a White House petition:

    http://wh.gov/Rd7X

    Sign and pass on if you agree, do neither if not.

    Thanks,
    Antonius

  15. 15
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @The Dangerman:

    That’s the problem with the concealed carry whackjobs solution; it only works in situations where there is 1 Good Guy and 1 Bad Guy

    Great minds think alike, huh?

    It’s pretty obvious that concealed carry caters to the egos of people who in their imaginations each get to be the star of their own personal drama. And of course there can only be one Star of the Show.

  16. 16
    FoxinSocks says:

    I remember a conversation I had with a gun-owning friend in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting. I told him that if he and his wife had been there with their guns, that they couldn’t have stopped the massacre. He became enraged, insulted, then told me, “If my wife had been there, she would’ve had the will to take down the shooter.”

    “The will.” Yes, because the only reason all those professors and students didn’t stop the gunman was because they didn’t want to badly enough.

    Some gun-owners really see themselves as modern-day Dirty Harry’s or Bruce Willis from Die Hard. Their gun gives them magical powers and they have no doubt that put in the same position, they’d save the day. This is despite the fact that even trained cops and military have trouble identifying and stopping shooters in similar situations.

    One other thing, I’ve noticed with many of these mass shootings a certain victim-blaming going on. “If they had had guns…” “If they had had the will to act…” It’s sickening.

  17. 17
    RSA says:

    Those remembrances are heartbreaking.

    On what might be done: I’m imagining a school board meeting in a deep red district, in which someone introduces a proposal that spending on personnel, materials and supplies, and infrastructure needs to be increased by, say, 30% annually. This would cover firearms training and certification for teachers; higher teacher salaries to match new requirements for their demonstrated abilities; purchase, storage, and maintenance of firearms and ammunition; and improved security procedures. Yeah, that would go over well.

  18. 18
    bob h says:

    Attention is being focussed on the state of mind and motives of the shooter. But isn’t there something very incongruous about the fact that the guns used in the crime were legally owned by his Mother? Why would a kindergarten teacher in one of the most affluent and safe counties in the nation feel a need to own Glocks? There is something grotesque and unsaid about the Mother, whose reward for allegiance to the NRA, alleged Second Amendment rights, and presumed Republican wingnuttery was her own violent death, and those of her kindergarten class.

  19. 19
    MattF says:

    @bob h: Yeah, I’ve wondered about that. Not a happy family.

  20. 20
    The Dangerman says:

    @bob h:

    Why would a kindergarten teacher in one of the most affluent and safe counties in the nation feel a need to own Glocks?

    That and I’d like to hear more about the actions of the Father if it’s accurate that the Shooter has been medicated since he was a Teen (if medication was post-18, this may not apply). I’d be far from surprised if he has already retained counsel.

  21. 21
    Citizen_X says:

    @JCT:

    And here we have the gun nuts screaming and yelling…that this never would have happened if these teachers were armed.

    Oh, I know how to nip that in the bud. Just tell them that the best organization to manage that would be the teacher’s union. The NEA could acquire the firearms, give training, hell, even organize a teacher’s union militia.

    That would go over well.

  22. 22
    JCT says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: This. The mind-blowing part of this is just how this ego issue is so deeply entwined.

    The whole concealed carry fetish gets even more frightening when you consider the fact that a number of states do not require any permits for concealed carry. So now you have untrained Rambo wanna-bes going to the local gun show, picking out a high caliber semiauto with no background check and sticking it in their waistband. Or, and don’t forget to chamber a round first so that you don’t have to rack the slide when the bad guy attacks you . These nut cases live in a deeply paranoid violent fantasy world where only they can protect themselves- From all of the scary things in their fevered minds and putting others at risk in the process.

    I took a friend’s young son to look at motorcycles recently and realized he was giving a man a rather worried look. I asked what was up and he said the guy freaked him out because he had a gun on his hip. All I could think was that he would really be freaked if he knew that probably 5-6 other guys there were carrying concealed.

  23. 23
    Nina-the-first says:

    @beltane: I took a look at the NRA site just now. It starts loading as a black screen, and I thought for a moment that this organization might at least mention or make reference to Newtown, but instead as it finished loading, a ticker started running. Their eagle emblem appeared, and the running ticker alongside their emblem referenced the concealed carry law in Michigan, and then some Oliver North book. I shut it down–no mention at all of Newtown or any other massacre. Supposedly the majority of their members favour at least adhering to current laws requiring a wait period and background checks. The NRA, members views notwithstanding, is nothing more than a dangerous, quasireligious hostile cult.

  24. 24
    lou says:

    Not only does that ridiculous theory only work in a one good guy, one bad guy scenario, but you also have to be a pretty damn fine marksman to bring down the bad guy. He was wearing a bullet proof vest. The only way you stop him from continuing to shoot is to hit him in the head. That’s why law enforcement always aims for the torso — it’s easier to hit.

    And word on the teachers’ heroism, Robin and JCT: I was thinking the same exact thing. Here were people willing to risk their lives for their charges. I hope the anti-teacher bashers eat their words, starting with every pundit on Faux News.

  25. 25
    Robin says:

    @Davis X. Machina: No, but when each of my right-wing relations in turn starts kvetching about another distant member of the family who, when he retired, was earning more than $80,000 pa as a school principal, I ask them specifically what they believe would be fair compensation for at least 6 years of higher education and 40 years of on-the-job experience, and silence tends to ensue for while before we move on to other topics.

  26. 26
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Robin: Don’t have to tell me. I’m one of those unionized, time-serving, unaccountable, pension-chasing, civil service drones myself.

  27. 27
    YellowJournalism says:

    @bob h: I thought it’s been confirmed that she wasn’t a teacher in the school. The coverage of this event has been horrible in terms of details getting messed up and reported as fact all day long. It is a lesser issue by far, but the local and national news organizations need to rethink how they cover these situations in the future. They probably contributed greatly to some grief and confusion in the beginning. Thank god the local law enforcement remained professional and did not release names or possible names of the children, despite many reporters digging at them for those details.

    I woke up to my two boys running into our bedroom to dance to the radio alarm this morning. My oldest just turned five last week and is in kindergarten. My youngest used the potty all by himself today and announced to the entire house that he pooped in it. I’m the luckiest woman in the world this morning.

  28. 28
    hep kitty says:

    No less than 80 percent of the perpetrators in these 61 cases obtained their weapons legally. Acute paranoia, delusions, and depression were rampant among them, with at least 35 of the killers committing suicide on or near the scene.

  29. 29
    kay says:

    @The Dangerman:

    I just wanted to push back against this a bit, because I represent a lot of kids with mental health problems when they wind up in the court system.

    It is very difficult for even engaged parents to keep a 14,15,16 year old on track with mental health treatment and/ or medication. These kids aren’t 6 years old. They have their own ideas about what’s good for them and they often don’t want to go/ stop taking meds/ lie about meds, etc.

    The issue gets much more complicated when they age out and become adults, because of course then they have all the autonomy of an adult.

    How he got access to weapons is a good question, but keeping a 20 year old in treatment and medicated is not simply a matter of providing treatment and ordering them to comply. These parents may have tried. I don’t know. I do know we don’t have a whole lot of leverage with a 16 year old, and we have less than that with a 20 year old.

  30. 30
    MattF says:

    Note this:

    http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?p=38440

    wherein Margaret Soltan (Professor of English at GWU) observes Glenn Reynolds approvingly quoting William Burroughs on the subject of guns and shooting sprees. Soltan, who knows a thing or two about literature and authors, notes that Burroughs was a lunatic who killed his wife with a gun.

  31. 31
    The Dangerman says:

    @YellowJournalism:

    The coverage of this event has been horrible in terms of details getting messed up…

    I saw one media report that said the Principal had buzzed in the shooter because she recognized him as the son of a Teacher; that, of course, is wrong on at least one level now that we know he shot his way in. Sadly, the target (i.e., school) was hardened, but not hardened enough. Why?

  32. 32
    marv says:

    I’m sorry but this is our Mayan 2012 apocalypse a week early, our American Passover except we’re the Egyptians if we don’t do something about this. I don’t even much care what – overreact, underreact – negotiate with the bastards at the NRA, or not, but Something, else to me the Ritualized Aftermath we’ve grown so used to will be like Jodie Foster at the hypnotic command of Rush Limbaugh, or the head of the NRA, or every other psychopathic-phallic power-hungry male gun-god from the beginning of time, simply reciting numbly the slaughter of the lambs.
    I’ve been lucky enough to teach at a small k-12 school for 15 years. I love k-12 schools (I teach secondary students) because even the hardest teen rebels have a very nice kind of “make way for ducklings” attitude when the lines of toddlers come trucking down the hall. I’m now 60 (became a teacher after 40) and it’s just hit me this year that I saw my current crop of seniors, many of them, walking these halls as kindergartners so long ago, and now with retirement looming a little sooner than I had planned (60 can hit pretty hard – losing the energy to deal with 5-6 classes and 125-150 students a day) I realize I’ll never see the little kids walking the halls now when they’re grown. This was actually sort of a sweet taste of my own mortality, somehow, but now to have a whole class of these innocents sacrificed…just Goddam the NRA!
    I apologize for this probably un-Balloon-juice like rant. I’ll get my own site for stuff like this if I ever feel the need again but this morning it’s like I have no blog and I must scream.

  33. 33
    Elizabelle says:

    We need more respect for teachers, and for the “adults in the room” in our society.

  34. 34
    The Dangerman says:

    @kay:

    How he got access to weapons is a good question, but keeping a 20 year old in treatment and medicated is not simply a matter of providing treatment and ordering them to comply.

    General agreement, but mental illness “awareness” and weapon access will have to be addressed, or so it would appear from this matter and Aurora (in the latter case, the school knew, but they may not have taken all the actions they could). I would agree it’s a tricky problem in light of the rights of the ill, but something will have to be done.

  35. 35
    Tim I says:

    @lonesomerobot:

    Those Aussie crazies actually elected a Prime Minister who is both a lesbian and an atheist. She even has a sense of humor!

  36. 36
    aretino says:

    @YellowJournalism:

    I thought it’s been confirmed that she wasn’t a teacher in the school. The coverage of this event has been horrible in terms of details getting messed up and reported as fact all day long. It is a lesser issue by far, but the local and national news organizations need to rethink how they cover these situations in the future.

    I’m sure McCain and Butters will be on the case.

  37. 37
    Robin says:

    @Davis X. Machina: As a librarian, I’m in a somewhat related field… but one of the motivating factors for me in choosing librarianship, was that my mother was a teacher and some of my earliest memories are of going to bed, as she returned to the dining room table to continue preparing her lessons for the following day. Way too much work for me, so I chose a profession that has a discrete work-day end to it. We would be a better country if we started thinking of teachers in the way most people think of firemen, policemen and the military.

  38. 38
    honus says:

    @lonesomerobot: This. Gun laws do work. That they don’t is a big lie repeated over and over by the NRA and its minions until it has become part of the accepted wisdom.

    I learned in West Virginia history back in the 1960s that, unusual considering it’s rural nature and mountaineer image, West Virginia had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The image of a redneck in a pickup truck with a rifle in the gun rack did not apply, because throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s it was illegal to carry a firearm in a gun rack or otherwise visible, except during the daylight during hunting season. At night, and at all other times of the year, long guns had to be unloaded, broken down and hauled in the trunk or out of sight behind the seat.

    Handguns were pretty much unheard of, it being illegal to have one at any time in a vehicle. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that it was technically illegal to drive to a shooting range with a handgun in the car. (That wasn’t a problem, because hardly anybody I knew had a pistol or revolver, and anybody that did just walked to the woods out back of the house for target practice.)

    I was taught that the reason for the restrictive laws was that due to feuds and such that homicides were common in West Virginia in the 20s. (I also imagine that UMW activism was a factor, with returning WWI soldiers being trained in the use of the suddenly numerous new and very effective assault weapon of the day, the high-powered rifle and smokeless cartridge.)

    The state passed highly restrictive firearms laws, and in only a few years West Virginia had one of the lowest homicide rates in the country, which lasted for decades. The idea that you can’t legislate gun safety is a complete fallacy. It’s been done in a number of places and cultures is invariably effective.

  39. 39
    kay says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Schools are really central to getting kids into treatment. They often see the problems/ behavior first, and they have a huge stick, because they can mandate treatment as a condition of remaining in the school.

    That control/ constant observation mechanism ends when kids leave high school. Then they’re adults and unless they “act out” in some way where they encounter a court, no one can order them to remain in treatment, take meds, etc.

    An employer can do it, but only if the person has a job and cares whether they KEEP the job.

  40. 40
    Tim I says:

    @The Dangerman:
    Almost every school in America has glass doors which can be broken or shot out. We could replace them with steel, but even then they couldn’t stop someone with explosives. We could put armed guards at the door, which is already done in a number of urban school districts.

    I can’t imagine that it would be healthy for kids to think of school as a fortress in permanent lock-down mode. The kids will also be exposed at recess and at the beginning and end of the school day.

  41. 41
    Tripod says:

    Well, I would have saved everyone. Plus I should be able to ventilated anyone that makes me uncomfortable in quick mart parking lots.

    I’m a white man in America, I’m exceptional.

  42. 42
    JCT says:

    @Tim I: Ah yes, all in the name of FREEDOM. And in support of the holiest of holy, the 2nd Amendment.

  43. 43
    smintheus says:

    Many of the teachers also deserve accolades for protecting their students from the shooter. These are the people who, at most times, would feature in right-wing screeds as “union thugs”.

    ETA: I see JCT and Robin made that point above.

  44. 44
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @lonesomerobot: “…all those happy Australians who love their free and SAFE country.”

    Yeah, well except for all the venomous animals. And crocodiles.

    Humans are worse, so it’s still a big improvement.

  45. 45
    The Dangerman says:

    @Tim I:

    I can’t imagine that it would be healthy for kids to think of school as a fortress in permanent lock-down mode.

    There are many facts of this matter still to come, obviously, but this school was already in “semi-permanent” lockdown, or secured during school hours if you prefer, so that bridge is already crossed. That lockdown or security wasn’t enough, apparently.

    The kids will also be exposed at recess and at the beginning and end of the school day.

    Well, then you get into concentration issues (i.e. kids aren’t confined to a class) but it’s clearly a weak point that doesn’t have an obvious solution…

    …and if I was a terrorist (Yo, FBI, I’m not) and wanted to create maximum chaos, I’d shoot up schoolyards on entry and exit. Again, I don’t have a suggestion for off-hour issues.

  46. 46
    honus says:

    @JCT: Your son’s reaction is why concealed carry is so insidious. Instead allow open carry to satisfy the NRA. An openly carried firearm serves all the stated purposes of concealed carry, only better. That’s why police, military and security carry exposed weapons.

    Concealed carry is a lie because because it allows people to carry weapons without the stigma or responsibility that such activity requires. A lot fewer people would be carrying guns if they had to do so openly, and couldn’t hide their fetish.

  47. 47
    geg6 says:

    @honus:

    This, this, this. Concealed carry should be outlawed. You wanna pack in public so you can stroke your ego about how brave and tough you are? Fine, but all the rest of us should know that you are packing and steer clear of your idiot ass and/or point and laugh at what a fucking coward you are that you need your lethal binky to make you feel safe

  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @Tim I:

    both a lesbian and an atheist

    You’re half right. While Gillard is both unmarried and an atheist, her partner is male.

  49. 49
    The Dangerman says:

    @JCT:

    …in support of the holiest of holy, the 2nd Amendment.

    I utterly detest how the 2nd Amendment has been hijacked (and not a gun owner)…

    …but it would appear to be roughly like a fire. A fire needs fuel, heat, and oxygen. Mass shootings need soft targets of assembly (schools, theaters, etc.), mental illness (generally speaking), and guns (obviously). Since I don’t see a solution to the guns issue, although I suppose one could go after the ammunition access, I would address the other two factors. Meaningful gun control just isn’t going to happen in the way that I would prefer it to happen.

  50. 50
    Anya says:

    These massacres should not be blamed on mental illness. It’s important to note that while providing adequate resources and attention to people with mental health services is important, it’s the easy access to guns and the gun culture that causes these tragedies.

  51. 51
    hep kitty says:

    @Anya: It’s both.

  52. 52
    lonesomerobot says:

    @Anya: The question is, are we allowed to have more than one thing to blame in these cases? Every time this happens, you have the crowd that rushes out and shouts “mental illness! we need to improve mental health services!” And this is offered as an opposing cause, instead of a contributing one. These things can be looked at separately, but side by side. Instead, the argument seems to always be either/or. And that’s nonsense.

  53. 53
    hep kitty says:

    The general attitude in the US is that if you have a mental illness, it’s really your fault for not curing yourself by thinking happy thoughts.

    Because I am a high-functioning individual with decent acting skills, people don’t understand that I am really sick.

    The meds help but they are not the only answer. Functioning in society and making others happy and not angry with you requires constant, endless self-analysis, suffering, self-censorship, and WORK.

    If you can’t afford therapy, which I really can’t, this process takes much longer and is fraught with mistakes, mishaps and humiliation.

    Either way, it’s a life sentence. It’s serious bidness. Just saying.

  54. 54
    honus says:

    @MattF: Burroughs also discoursed approvingly about using poultry shears to amputate digits, some thing with which he also had personal experience. I was somewhat of a Burroughs scholar and Glenn Reynolds is an idiot if he doesn’t realize that Burroughs was clearly being ironic. Burroughs didn’t take pride in the drunken gunplay that caused Joan Vollmer’s death.

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Dangerman:

    I think the first law should be if there is a person actively being medicated for mental health issues, all firearms in the Family have to have trigger locks.

    FTFY.

  56. 56
    smintheus says:

    @Anya: It’s also partly due to the culture that celebrates mass violence, especially the rise of movies and video games since the ’80s that treat mass killing as entertaining and fascinating, and portray shooters heroically as people who solve problems rather than causing them.

    I don’t believe that this kind of attack would be thinkable in a society that isn’t bizarrely fixated on mass violence. Even though many of these people are sick in the head, it doesn’t mean they can’t pick up the signals of what society glorifies.

  57. 57
    kay says:

    @Anya

    Too, the “mental health treatment” analysis in this case seems to be divorced from the facts. This kid DID have access to treatment, both his parents are employed and presumably insured, and appears to have received some.

    If the objective is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, I’m not sure that assuming this kid “slipped thru the cracks” or his parents didn’t recognize or treat gets us there. Maybe they did treat. Maybe they lost control of his actions. Maybe treatment failed.

    Family members of mentally ill people often feel really helpless and alone (like family members of addicts). They can try really hard and still fail.

  58. 58
    Anya says:

    @hep kitty: Since Jared Loughner’s Tucson Massacre, we had at least two other massacres perpetrated by individuals with mental illness (although, I am not sure if it was confirmed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer has mental illness), how many in Canada? They have people with serious mental health challenges too and they harm themselves and others.

  59. 59
    PurpleGirl says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: ETA: and it gets worse when law enforcement arrives on the scene and has to sort out the responders from the shooter.

    That is what happened one time in Greenwich Village, IIRC. A fast food shop was being robbed, an off-duty cop decided to stop it, and when the cops arrived they couldn’t tell who was who and the off-duty cop got shot. Also something similar happened in Harlem and the off-duty cop was killed. (I’ve tried finding cites for these examples and can’t. I’ll have to try again.)

  60. 60
    The Dangerman says:

    @Roger Moore:

    FTFY

    Yes, I think you are correct. Trigger locks would prevent so much heartache.

  61. 61
    smintheus says:

    @Anya: The majority of mass shootings in the world happen in the US, as do the majority of highly deadly shootings. They were rare before the 1980s. Now they’re increasingly common in the US, and increasingly deadly.

    Any diagnosis of the problem needs to look at those facts, and not focus only on things that have been common in other societies and were present earlier than the ’80s in the US.

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tim I:

    The kids will also be exposed at recess and at the beginning and end of the school day.

    Or during a fire alarm. ISTR that at least one school shooting involved the shooters setting off the fire alarm to get the students out of the building.

  63. 63
    PurpleGirl says:

    @RSA: One nitpick — there wouldn’t be a salary increase for the new requirements to be a sharp shooter. Don’t you know, teachers are overpaid as it is.

  64. 64
    jurassicpork says:

    Mike Flannigan’s brilliant article today on the Newtown shooting asks a chilling question no one else on either side of the gun control debate seems to be asking.

  65. 65
    debbie says:

    The question is, are we allowed to have more than one thing to blame in these cases?

    I can think of one thing that covers everything — American Exceptionalism. What else gives a person permission to do anything they feel like doing.

  66. 66
    smintheus says:

    @PurpleGirl: I thought all the teachers in the news were either union thugs or sexual predators abusing their students. I can see how arming them would help matters.

  67. 67
    debbie says:

    @ PurpleGirl:

    Ironic that conservatives would support arming thugs, no?

  68. 68
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @PurpleGirl:
    Maybe if teachers were allowed to carry guns, teachers’ unions would get better results in contract negotiations.

    Remember, gun-toting citizens at demonstrations are “heroic patriots”, while unarmed union members at demonstrations are “violent thugs”.

    @smintheus:
    @debbie:
    Wow, mind meld!

  69. 69
    honus says:

    @geg6: Exactly. Why hide your light under a bushel?

  70. 70
    PL says:

    @PurpleGirl: You might be thinking of this:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10750040/#.UMyqdKwYSZg

    or this one:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new.....bOl&B

    or this one:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.c.....ice-weapon

    Or this one, where a retired police officer accidentally killed his own son, mistaking him for a burgalar:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lo.....34492.html

  71. 71
    Anya says:

    @kay: I am afraid you’re right. This all has to do with the stigma of mental illness. When People yell about treatment every time someone with mental illness is linked to a crime, they generally mean, lock them up. This is dangerous.

    @smintheus: Maybe because gun nuts gained more of a hold in our society. This needs to be studied. But first, we need to institute a sane gun control policy.

  72. 72
    PL says:

    @PurpleGirl: You might be thinking of this or this or this.

    But, you see, the folks on RedState of course would *never* make that kind of mistake. They know that, in the same situaiton, they’d be able to unerringly put the shooter down. They know they’d be able to do better.

  73. 73
    PurpleGirl says:

    @honus: In NYC, your gun (handgun or rifle) must be in a locked case when you are transporting it to a firing range. And you must have your permit on you at the time and show it to any cop who asks to see it. I just carried my permit all the time in my wallet.

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m still trying to formulate this idea in my head, so it’s not entirely coherent, but it’s so odd to me that we’ve created a situation in this country where the actions of one group of delusional paranoids reinforces the delusions of another group of paranoids and we keep circling around and around in tighter and tighter circles where the delusion that “guns keep us safe!” contributes to more massacres, which only reinforces the original delusion.

    Also, I think it’s somewhat unusual historically that this most recent spate of murderers have almost certainly been paranoid schizophrenics having their first psychotic break (i.e. they were all young men in their early 20s). Most of the previous mass shootings were by men in their late 30s or early 40s — I’m thinking of people like the DC sniper, or that day trader in Georgia who killed his family and then went on a shooting rampage.

  75. 75
    JCT says:

    @PurpleGirl: Not to mention the fact that to even obtain that permit takes upwards of 6 months and personal recommendations from friends/colleagues.

    I had just begun that process so that I could resume target shooting after a long hiatus — and then I moved to Arizona. Where I could pick up a handgun in 20 mins once I had a drivers license with my Arizona address. And hey, if I wanted I could even conceal it without a permit. Insane. Oh and a rifle? Just pick one up at the neighborhood Walmart.

    The NRA has had it’s destructive way for too long. And as someone upthread pointed out, they weren’t too successful in the last election — now is the time to push forward.

    And hey, where is that asshole LaPierre anyway? In hiding?

  76. 76
    mellowjohn says:

    @Robin: they were. Newtown Federation of Teachers, Local 1727 of the American Federation of Teachers

  77. 77
    kay says:

    @Anya:

    I don’t think all people mean that, but I do think that’s what conservatives mean, which is why I want to look at that deeper. It’s a really profound act to adjudicate someone incompetent and “take control”. There isn’t a lot of middle ground, legally.

    I love, love, love hear these liberty- loving Republicans screaming about locking down schools and mandating mental health treatment. Once again, the dumb- as- rocks contradictions inherent in their dogma fly right over their heads.

    They want everyone under lock- down EXCEPT for gun owners. I resent it. Why in the HELL are we locking down kids rather than regulating gun owners?

    I don’t own a gun. What about MY liberty interest? What if I don’t want my 7 year old inside a fortress when she enters school?

  78. 78
    JCT says:

    @kay:

    They want everyone under lock- down EXCEPT for gun owners. I resent it. Why in the HELL are we locking down kids rather than regulating gun owners?
    I don’t own a gun. What about MY liberty interest? What if I don’t want my 7 year old inside a fortress when she enters school?

    Their answer of course is that you are weak (read: a LIEberal) and don’t deserve liberty, especially because you are not willing to fight for yourself by carrying a weapon.

    It makes Alice in Wonderland seem like a technical manual.

  79. 79
    beltane says:

    @kay: The gun nuts would prefer that we live police state where everyone is under 24/7 surveillance by law enforcement so that they may enjoy the unimpeded right to own as many little metal killing machines as they want. They don’t care about the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, only their right to own guns.

    Their weird fascination with gun ownership makes me wonder if these people all had their peenees snipped off in the hospital when they were infants. It’s an obsession that speaks to the weakness, vulnerability, and emasculation of a certain type of white American male.

  80. 80
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay:

    They want everyone under lock-down EXCEPT for gun owners. I resent it. Why in the HELL are we locking down kids rather than regulating gun owners?
    __
    I don’t own a gun. What about MY liberty interest?

    This is what I find so disturbing about concealed carry. It sends the message that you are responsible for your own physical safety, and that if you are so foolish or weak as to be unwilling to protect yourself, you don’t deserve any liberty, because you haven’t done anything to earn it. You are a moocher/taker relying on other people to protect you.

    It takes the ethos of a civilized society and turns it inside out.

    And if you think I’m exaggerating, well I wish I was. I’ve been told to my face more or less verbatim what I just wrote above, by concealed carry advocates.

  81. 81
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @MattF: I saw that shit from somebody else’s link and wondered “Damn, William S. Burroughs? I enjoyed his writing and all, but damn. Dude, naw.”

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @beltane:

    Their weird fascination with gun ownership makes me wonder if these people all had their peenees snipped off in the hospital when they were infants.

    Actually, given the high rate of routine male infant circumcision in the US, they probably did. But, then, the rate is so high that it still doesn’t explain it since it doesn’t turn 90 percent of men into gun nuts.

  83. 83
    JCT says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Hah — looks like you and I have been talking to the same nutcases.

    @beltane: Actually — the real hardcore ones hate the police too.

  84. 84
    beltane says:

    @JCT: They hate the police only because they want to be their own militarily force. They hate anything that keeps them from murdering anyone and everyone they dislike for whatever reason. It is a disease. They live in a constant state of terror and they want to make damn sure everyone does too.

  85. 85
    kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    It’s amazing that we’ve put up with this from this ONE industry.

    I’m sure car dealers would sell a lot more cars if we got rid of licensing, registration and insurance but we don’t allow that.

    We’re obediently burdening everyone else to meet the demands of ONE lobby and ONE group who refuse ANY burdens on themselves. Screw that. It’s unfair and backward. Regulate THEM. I’m not the one insisting I need a gun to leave the house. I don’t care that it’s inconvenient or unprofitable to them.

  86. 86
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Robin:

    We would be a better country if we started thinking of teachers in the way most people think of firemen, policemen and the military.

    Yeah, but there’s a huge gap between the esteem in which we hold these people and the absolute shit wages we pay them all. Teachers are at the top of the heap, scary as that is.

  87. 87
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay:

    It’s amazing that we’ve put up with this from this ONE industry

    If we can get the safe and sane gun owners to disassociate themselves from the fanatics and/or to step up and assert themselves in determining the NRA leadership and the lobbying stance pursued by that organization, that would help immensely. Absent progress on that front, and I’m afraid to say I’m not very optimistic, it may also help that the NRA membership as a whole may not be as much of a swing voter demographic as they were a generation ago. If you only vote for 1 party, always and forever, then nobody in the other party should have to care what you think. But this too may take years to bear fruit because our elections are still very close.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    Something else that just occurred to me — I’m guessing that one of the reasons the teachers were able to react calmly and keep their students calm was that they had drilled everyone in the school on it.

    Think about it: our schools now have fire drills, tornado drills, and “crazy guy with a gun walks into the school” drills. Because “crazy guy with a gun walks into the school” is now considered just as common and likely as a fire or a tornado.

  89. 89
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Think about it: our schools now have fire drills, tornado drills, and “crazy guy with a gun walks into the school” drills. Because “crazy guy with a gun walks into the school” is now considered just as common and likely as a fire or a tornado.

    One of the traditional roles of the schools is to socialize children by training them in what is considered “normal” by society, what it is that adults consider, like it or not, to be just part of the world we live in.

  90. 90
    chopper says:

    ah, the inevitable post-mass-shooting hero stuff.

    no offense to those at the school who lost their lives, but one of the first stages of dealing with these tragedies in America is to find some heroic acts to focus on. it sure beats stopping and thinking about where we’ve come as a society, how we glorify and fetishizes guns and gun violence. we get to continuously rationalize doing nothing because hey, there were heroes there too. so we really aren’t as fucked up as it seems.

    problem is we are and it’s gettin worse. this culture needs an intervention.

  91. 91
    WereBear says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: One of the traditional roles of the schools is to socialize children by training them in what is considered “normal” by society, what it is that adults consider, like it or not, to be just part of the world we live in.

    When I was in third grade I remember being taken to the hallways (no windows) in case the Russians started to nuke us. When I began reading books that described what would really happen, I lost a lot of trust in the system.

    Because unlike gun drills, what we went through wouldn’t have helped.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m watching that armored car for the CT State Police and just reacting like, WTF?
    And we’re wondering where the normalization of violence has come from?

  93. 93
    kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Juvenile judges here gave been making ” no guns in the home” a condition of release to the parents, only while the kids are still under court sanctions. It makes sense, the kids are pissed off, screwed up, depressed, etc.

    One would think a judge wouldn’t have to order that, that parents would have concerns for their own kid, if not anyone else, BUT, they don’t. They’re often angry because we’re “punishing” them for their kids situation. The selfishness is just breath- taking. It’s ALL about them.

  94. 94
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Dangerman:

    There are many facts of this matter still to come, obviously, but this school was already in “semi-permanent” lockdown, or secured during school hours if you prefer, so that bridge is already crossed. That lockdown or security wasn’t enough, apparently.

    Does anyone have a sense if this is common in “affluent” suburban schools?

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Absent progress on that front, and I’m afraid to say I’m not very optimistic, it may also help that the NRA membership as a whole may not be as much of a swing voter demographic as they were a generation ago. If you only vote for 1 party, always and forever, then nobody in the other party should have to care what you think. But this too may take years to bear fruit because our elections are still very close.

    Many D House members need the NRA’s endorsement, or at worst non-aggression, to maintain their seat.

  96. 96
    Dieter says:

    @lonesomerobot: You never saw the Aussie movie “The Horseman”?
    Brutal.

  97. 97
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Many D House members need the NRA’s endorsement, or at worst non-aggression, to maintain their seat.

    After the GOP directed gerrymandering of House districts in 2010, is this still true?

  98. 98
    whidgy says:

    @Corner Stone:
    My favorite was watching the FBI guys roll up in their jumpsuits and knee pads. At least two of the FBI guys were toting sniper rifles over their shoulder in addition to their M-4s and their pistols.

    This was over an hour after the shooting stopped and after there were already scores of officers on the scene.

  99. 99
    El Cid says:

    Clearly it’s time to take all these teachers’ pensions and benefits away and to give them larger classes to teach and longer hours and cut their pay, because FREEDOM.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    @El Cid:

    okay, we’ve cut your pay, increased your class size, nixed the heat and A/C and stripped your pension and benefits.

    in exchange, here’s a gun. god bless america!

  101. 101
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:
    @Corner Stone:

    It’s getting to be a routine occurrence — not a drill, but the actual crazy guy. Father, in elementary and middle school. Already-graduated or dropped-out boyfriend in high school.

    Annual, anyways.

    Custody battle fallout, or busted romance. The guy’s never been armed in my school district — yet. But never a year goes by without an episode.

    Part of the confidential folder in my desk, with the IEP’s and Americans With Disabilities Act paperwork, is a list of who’s got restraining orders on a loved one, or a restraining order on them, and the terms of the order.

  102. 102
    El Cid says:

    @chopper: Let’s fuck with them: Propose a law banning anyone engaging in union activities from carrying firearms.

  103. 103

    @bob h: Perhaps, but she certainly didn’t deserve to die because of it.

  104. 104
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @JCT:

    hey, where is that asshole LaPierre anyway? In hiding?

    I imagine that he has the keys to Cheney’s “undisclosed location”, where he gets to hang out and stroke his guns.

    I’d love to see a 24-hour vigil around the NRA HQ in Fairfax Co., to force the fuckers who work for the Concerned Gunpushers Of America to walk past them. Occupy the NRA.

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