The Rachel Maddow Show covered Sandy Hook in crystal clear terms. If you are at all squeamish about discussions over how the students and teachers of the school lost their lives…watch this anyway. She bases her report on an article in the Hartford Courant
Don’t want to take the time to watch? Let me save you some time. Here’s the transcript of Rachel’s show, dated March 14, 2013, published on the same site.
This summary of all that Rachel’s report represents, the timeline of the murders (a graphic description of the event and not for the faint of heart, but mandatory reading for anyone who wants to block the efforts to ban high-capacity weapons), including how the Bush Administration’s deconstruction of Senator Feinstein’s law ultimately led to this tragedy, together with the unspeakably snide, condescending, patronizing attack by Texas Senator Ted Cruz leaves me absolutely speechless.
So, frankly, does any pro-gun attack on Senator Feinstein.
I dare anyone–ANYONE–who speaks against Senator Feinstein’s experience in San Francisco, at ground zero for Mayor Mosconi and Supervisor Harvey Milk’s assassination, or in that office building in San Francisco in 1993 to put themselves in her place and still tell me they don’t understand the Senator’s views about assault weapons.
Let me summarize: It took just over five minutes for the shooter to walk into the school, shoot every one of the teachers and kids in his path and exhaust his four high-capacity cartridges before turning the pistol on himself.
Here’s an exercise for you.
Look at your clock. The one over the stove, next to the desk, on your computer, on your phone. Whatever.
Don’t look away from the clock. Don’t listen to the radio. Turn off the video and stop reading.
Feel how long five minutes is.
Imagine the horror of being in Sandy Hook Elementary School as this is happening.
Imagine being six.
Being the only student in your classroom to make it out alive, and then only because you played possum.
Imagine how this experience has changed you.
You’re just six. You have your whole life ahead of you while your classmates are gone.
And then tell me why you need that high-capacity cartridge again.
Because if you can still feel so strongly about the right to promote this carnage, to allow unfettered access to these weapons, you can go find somewhere more appropriate for your exercise of that particular freedom. You do not stand for the right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.
These weapons do NOTHING to support our three basic rights as outlined by the Declaration of Independence.
I don’t particularly want you or your high-capacity guns near me, my friends or family.
The holidays seemed to have brought about a suspension of sorts from all things political and gun control-related. It was dreadfully quiet. Even the terrible shooting in Webster, NY failed to make a serious dent in the calm before January’s Fiscal Cliff voting storm.
It took me over three weeks to publish my last post, and only a few hours to follow up.
Today’s gem, coming (as many of my articles seem to show) from Slate.com, illustrates just why the AR-15 rifle is not just the gun of choice for lone gunmen itching for a rampage, but why it’s so important to recognize whose rights are being infringed.
The article gets it right, here, with this money quote:
The lobby’s fervent defense of military-style semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 seems motivated primarily by a desire to protect the profits in the rapidly growing “modern sporting rifle” segment of the industry.
Here’s the problem, and it’s a whopper. We are bent on locking up anyone who we feel might be a threat to our personal safety, instead of focusing on treatment and taking the time to find the underlying cause of the problem in the first place.
We have companies trying to keep their bottom lines from collapsing. This includes gun manufacturers, who make up a percentage of the companies receiving federal subsidies. What’s that, you say? That’s news to you?
We devote so much of our time and resources to buying drugs that we’ve forgotten there are other ways to improve our lives. There are also other ways to improve people’s lives than jail-time. Yet, that’s exactly what we hear proposed. It’s not about giving these people access to better health care, so they can work through their problems without the use of deadly weapons. It’s just so much easier to assume that we can put them away and keep them out of our space. Only, that’s not possible, thanks to Reagan’s dismantling of the existing health care infrastructure 30 years ago.
We got where we are today because we were sweet-talked into believing we were doing what was best for our country. Now we’ve got prisons overflowing (and privatized), and we don’t know when the next gunman is going to go off like a powder-keg.
It’s not sane. No wonder we have gun control problems. We subsidize manufacture of the weapons that kill us. And we make our people pay out-of-pocket for health care.
In 2005, I lost eight people (either through direct relationships with them or indirectly through my friends). Children, parents, people with whom I was friends, and one I worked with weekly as a parent in a co-op nursery school. I found I couldn’t make sense of some of the things I heard during the funerals I attended.
In January, 2006, I began to attend the Unitarian Universalist congregation I now call home. I’ve begun to make some sense of my reactions, even though I can’t make sense of losses on days like yesterday.
I’ve dealt with loss all my life. Some days I handle it better than others.
Are you having trouble wrapping your mind around what happened yesterday? Feeling numb? Not sure why?
Not feeling anything?
People grieve differently. They process horror differently.
In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book that described for the first time the five stages of grief. When I was in 7th grade, I took a class on death and dying, in part because of my mother’s long-term illness, but nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close member of my family.
I learned a lot when my dad died in 2010, thanks to the hospice nurses in Colorado and the grief counselor I met with weekly near me at home. I understood on an intellectual level what I was seeing, knew the signs to watch for, and knew in my heart when my dad was truly gone for good.
I knew from the descriptions I heard that my mother in law was dying, that same year, because I had already experienced the steps with my dad. And I knew when I was going to lose two more friends in October and November of 2010.
I learned more when my friend Richard died at the end of that horrible year and took away Christmas for me. My greatest gift was the ability to talk with him before he died, and to be there with him and with friends the night before.
I will learn again as I watch one of my earliest friends in this area die from cancer over the next several months.
There are no words that provide as much comfort as a hug and a sharing of sorrow that comes from grief.
None of these deaths were brought about by someone else. None of them was the result of random violence, accidental association, or any other logical reason.
The deaths in Connecticut of twenty children and seven adults happened because someone took it on himself to play god, who had the means to accomplish this horrific act and who had no sense of the long-term, incomprehensible damage he would do, no thought to care about the ramifications of his act.
And more than anything else, he will never know the effect his senseless act of violence will have on our lives, on the lives of the people of Connecticut and most of all on the families of those he killed, because he killed himself, ending his mad spree of death.
As John Dickerson says in his article on Slate.com:
If you have trouble processing what happened yesterday, that might be one reason why you are numb. It’s too much to process all at once. You simply can’t do it.
There is no greater act of faith than waving goodbye to your kids on their way to school in the morning, thinking no matter how hard it was to get them to that point during the day, all the petty arguments or smiles you have with them might somehow disappear after they leave your sight.
Somehow, whether you are a parent or not, you can find a way to relate to the tragedy unfolding in Connecticut. Do what you can to come to terms with what you know, what you’re learning and what you will say to others, but take these things into consideration:
This is unimaginable. Christmas lights are already everywhere. In many of these houses, trees are likely already up, decorated and waiting for laughter and footsteps that won’t ever come on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.
There is still one day left to Hanukkah, one last, bright day when all nine candles burn brightly and then burn out.
Yesterday was the Sabbath, the day some people recognize for giving thanks for what they have, and bless their children.
Today we are left wondering what pushed the shooter over the edge. We are left to wonder whether we are still right to guarantee access to weapons that can do this damage. We wonder how we could have stopped this from happening.
But we’ve been wondering this for years.
We wondered at the tragedies in Blacksburg (Virginia Tech).* In Aurora. And in other places and at other times throughout our history. And I wonder how much longer it will take us to recognize that the question isn’t so much about access to weapons but how we treat our mentally ill and what we do to ease the pain of those who most need the help before they take it out on other people.
This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about our attitude regarding those whose brains work differently from ours.
Give yourself time. Hug your kids. Curl up with popcorn and watch a movie. Make it something innocuous. Or play a game with them today.
And let your brain do its work.
When the time comes, give in. You’ll get there. Everyone does.
When you’re done reading all these things, go sign yourself up for an account on whitehouse.gov and sign this petition:
Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
and this one, too:
Make Mental Health a National Emergency