The following letter was submitted to me by a member of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society for anonymous publication. He pieced this together from the ideas expressed on a recent Gun For Hire Radio Podcast featuring Sandy Berardi, Anthony Colandro, and a number of other guests including yours truly. It is an EXCELLENT treatment of the issues we are facing today. ~ Frank
The media, the uninformed masses, as well as those with their own agendas have once again focused on guns, avoiding an inconvenient truth. The root cause of atrocities like these are far deeper than the superficial solutions which are being force-proposed by the media.
The first step in solving a problem is to clearly identify it. And that’s done through careful, critical examination of all elements. When trying to solve complex problems, scientists look for the constant. What I mean is, what is the same in all the situations and outcomes?
By examining the constants and subjugating the variables, we can often see causes and then possibly solutions will emerge. We have to consider the totality of the event. So in an attempt to gain insight into some possible solutions for the complex problems we’re facing today, let’s apply some critical thinking. Let’s examine the totality of some similarly historically relevant events.
The single greatest mass murderer of school children in this country’s history happened on Dec. 1, 1958 in Chicago when an arsonist set fire to Our Lady of Angels School. Gone were 92 children and three Nuns.
On May 18, 1927 in Bath, Michigan, a disgruntled school board member used 500 pounds of dynamite to murder 38 innocent school children and six adults along with injuring 58 others.
He murdered his wife the day before with a blunt object.
The oldest account of mass murder in a U.S. school happened in 1764 in colonial Pennsylvania. Four Lenape Indians entered a schoolhouse and killed 10 children and their teacher by scalping them.
In 1995, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people including 19 babies who were in the nursery with nothing more than a rental truck and fertilizer. Over 800 others were injured in the blast.
On the very same day that Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and six teachers in Connecticut, another madman in China walked into an elementary school and hacked up twenty two children with a butcher knife.
The constant here has nothing to do with guns. Not one of those horrific crimes involved a gun.
Yet the media, the politicians, the opportunist, and ill-informed public focus their attention, once again on the device, rather than THE DO’ER. On the method, rather than the MADNESS behind it.
Why are atrocities like this growing more frequent and deadly? We’re being told that it is because of the availability of “military-style” assault rifles. These rifles are wrongly being pursued which are simply, semi-automatic rifles. Pull the trigger once, only one bullet comes out. Pull it again, another bullet comes out. Nothing automatic here. Not a spray of bullets coming out like Mayor Bloomberg alludes to in a recent television interview only to be corrected by the TV anchor Lauren Effron on ABC Nightline on December 20th. Evidently he thinks all these rifles he is targeting are fully automatic and hunters are using them. If the top echelon of our local government doesn’t know what they are targeting as a ban, that should tell you something about their intentions and real knowledge of the effort.
Guns have always been available in America. The semi-automatic rifle has been around since 1885. In fact, in 1958 you could order a semi-automatic rifle from the Sears catalog. Yet the madman who killed 92 innocent school children in Chicago that year chose gasoline and a match as his weapon, not a gun.
So the availability then of firearms becomes a constant. If anything, it was far easier to get a firearm in the 1920’s than it is today. Back then, you could buy a fully automatic machine gun through the mail. So we must ask. Why then as the firearms restrictions get tighter, does the violence get worse?
The rise in violence that occurs with the tightening restrictions of legal gun ownership is not an aberration. Worldwide historical evidence suggests that it is also a constant. In countries like the United Kingdom or Australia where total bans were placed on legal gun ownership, violent crimes against innocents skyrocketed. But one has to look no further for evidence than our own American cities. The cities with the most frequent violent crimes against its citizens…..Newark, Jersey City, Camden, NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and the like have the most restrictive (some might say anti-gun) gun laws in the country. Gun free Chicago has quadruple that of New York and double Los Angeles’ murder rate. Homicides in Chicago outnumber the U.S troop killings in Afghanistan.
In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia passed an ordinance requiring the head of each household to own and maintain a gun. They saw their violent crime rate immediately plummet as a result. In the first two years, home burglaries dropped 83%. The city enacted their counter intuitive law in response to the news of a total handgun ban in Morton Grove, IL. Of course exempt from this law are those with physical or mental disabilities. According to FBI statistics, Kennesaw has a violent crime rate that is 85.16% lower than the national average and has not seen a murder in 30 years. This is a community in the greater Atlanta area. While the population has grown immensely since 1982, crime has remained low and has not risen at the same ratio as with the growth of the population.
Now that we have looked at the constants relating to the history of violence against innocence, let’s try and identify a few possible contributing factors that have changed over time. The first is how we deal with mental health in America. Back in 1975 Jack Nicholson and Hollywood in the film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, told us that psychiatric hospitals were inhumane. The knee jerk political response to the public outcry that resulted was to close down many of the nation’s inpatient facilities and release mentally compromised patients into mainstream society.
Then, hope they stay on their meds and remember to show up for outpatient treatment. Now, most of them comprise of our nation’s homeless society whereas before they had a warm bed, shelter from the weather, three balanced meals, medication and regular treatment.
There is no shortage of potentially violent psychotics not taking their meds and are free to battle their imaginary demons in public parks, movie theaters, shopping malls and places of worship.
And as this problem grows unchecked, so will the likelihood that some of us will get caught in the crossfire.
With all the technology in our society, it has brought along with it problems. People seem to be losing contact with one another and as a result, they seem to be forgetting what it takes to make a society. Evidence can be seen reflected in our social morals and behavior. What has once been considered as morally reprehensible behavior is now commonplace. The sanctity of life, the respect for others, and general civility seem to be as distant notions as the horse and buggy. All you have to do is read any thread on an internet forum or twitter litany and you get the idea.
People say things and hurl insults online under the guise of a username which they would never say to someone’s face. There is a general meanness that seems acceptable in an online community that would never be tolerated in a real one where the guy you were berating could actually punch you in the nose.
And then there is this unhealthy need in society to be noticed by the world. Sure, personal recognition has always been a great motivator. But today it seems to have been elevated to an unhealthy level. Beginning with the reality TV show craze, going back to MTV, Facebook,
YouTube and Twitter, there seems to be an obsession in becoming famous. This has taken a hold of our society causing even the most shy and introverted person among us to bear their most intimate selves for a fleeting chance at fame. And TV shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars has turned audiences into TV zombies.
Because we live in a culture where the media runs to the sound of gunfire, and where loaners and losers can at last become famous, the desire for fame coupled with a dead soul can have deadly consequences.
What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School was no random impulsive act. It was premeditated and purposeful. The active shooter as they are referred to, knows exactly what he is doing. Since Columbine, law enforcement scientists have studied the pathology of crimes like these and discovered a constant of their own.
In the U.S., (the bad guy we’ll call him here), is typically a white male, 15 to 25 years old. Aside from this individual’s profile, the physiology of the crime remains the same. The bad guy, or actor as he is referred to by police, goes through five stages in carrying out his crime. First he’s fantasized about the act, he sees himself in the headlines and in the news breaking the record of the last mass murderer. Next, he begins to plan. He determines the logistics. The who, what, where and how. He carefully picks his targets and the locations where he will carry out his evil. How he’s going to get there, what weapons he is going to use, and how he is going to obtain them. He will even determine what he will wear on that particular day.
In the third stage, it’s all about preparation. He gathers the materials he needs, stealing them if he has too. He often makes practice runs, gearing himself up for the assault. Maybe he stashes items of destruction nearby for easy access. Next comes what experts call the approach stage. Here he is already moving toward his intended target location and likely carrying all the tools necessary to carry out the massacre. The final stage is the implementation stage. Once the killer starts his mission, he will not stop until he runs out of the tool he brought to use, or until he runs out of victims. Or in some cases, until he has to take his own life because his match has been met.
Experts say, it’s like a bizarre video game where the goal is to reach the top score, except this game is for real. And the game must end with the killer going out in a blaze of glory, at his own hand. He can’t allow himself to be captured or killed by police because that would take the spotlight off of him and place it on the hero who stopped the killing spree. These individuals have been captivated by the culture of violence, typically through video games. Next they become rampage artists.
Adam Lanza knew exactly what he was doing when he pumped four bullets into his sleeping mother’s head. He knew by day’s end, he would be famous. The killer was following a precise plan when he headed for Sandy Hook. He was certain because of the “Gun Free Zone Act” that he would encounter no armed resistance. He knew as he slaughtered those innocents, TV crews would be on their way. He knew when he heard the police coming down the hallway and pointed that gun to his own head that he would be the most talked about person in America. The world would finally know his name.
Some of these rampage artists engage purely in personal revenge. These persons largely have been personally humiliated. They hide their humiliation, often faking it on the outside while it is burning them on the inside. What they want is to reverse the scenario that has dominated their lives; being looked down on by others. The habitually dominated, seek a moment of dominating others. The rampage artist or killer rarely makes any plans for escape. The mass killing is the final, overwhelming symbolic event of his life.
Yes, this is a complex affair. To distill the search for a solution down to a single source called “Gun-Control” serves only to insure that a true lasting effective remedy to this growing malignancy will never be found.
The Columbine incident in 1999 involved two high school seniors. They used thirty year old sawed off shotguns each. One with only a two shot capacity, the other a five round capacity. Hardly high-capacity items, but with planning and slow Police response, they were able to do plenty of damage. They also had ten round 9mm firearms, one a rifle, the other a handgun.
No so-called “assault weapons” were used. But the real carnage was planned with a variety of “bombs”, pipe or of other types. A total of 95 bombs were prepared and ready to be used. It is only because of the two main failed bombs that were planted in the cafeteria that 400+ people weren’t killed. Because the bombs didn’t detonate, they had to take to plan B which was to shoot their victims. These two killers hated the world. They had a problem with just about everybody. They also were carrying quite a few knives. It didn’t matter what they used, all they wanted to do is kill. The instrument didn’t matter. They were rampage artists, previously humiliated wanting nothing but revenge.
The Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 used 9mm handguns, not so-called assault rifles. This Columbine copy-cat loving martyr had a real ax to grind against wealthy people calling them out for being hedonists (self-gratifying and the pursuit of pleasure). He had a strong and lengthy history of delusional mental illness who was humiliated in his life and had lots of revenge in his soul. Yet he slipped through the cracks or was ignored. That is until the day of his mass killing, he toyed with NBC sending them videos and pictures declaring his mission that he would do.
I wonder if the same people that were tweeting for an end to the violence while calling for the killing of NRA members would support a restriction that would limit their ability to only one tweet a month? Do you think all those Hollywood celebrities that have made fortunes toting around the very same guns they’re screaming about banning might support a total ban on violent shoot ‘em up films? How about restricting the sale of gangster rap music which glorifies immorality, cop killing and violence? Especially against women.
And how do we deal with those on psychotropic drugs for many years and their decision making process that is flawed. Add in being dominated like I mentioned before and they are delusional.
And what about video games? Once develop by and used by the military to systematically train human beings to robotically perform what is a fundamentally an unnatural act. To kill another human being. Should we be requiring finger prints, mug shots and a background check for mental illness of purchasers of these violent video games? Maybe someone somewhere should institute a video game buyback program to get the violence out of our homes and away from our kids. Oh what a minute, that would mean that parents would have to do more parenting. Are you starting to get the picture here with our society?
Now let’s get to the topic of Gun Free Zones. Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people and children. Period, plain and simple! Do you really think a violent, homicidal madman looking to make a statement is going to refrain from committing mass murder in a Gun Free Zone just because it says so? It is not some kind of cross that wards off vampires. The only people that obey the No Gun signs are people who obey the law. Law abiding people with firearms.
Let’s think for a minute and compare the recent tragedy in Connecticut with the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. After that horrific event, we changed the way security is looked at and handled at all of the airports in this country. PLUS the FAA program adopted after this put an armed Air Marshall on every airplane. And since then, we haven’t had another attack. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have an armed policeman at the school when Adam Lanza came to do his harm, only to be stopped in his tracks?
Now, what if that wasn’t possible? But a professionally trained school staff member; principal, teacher, janitor, a random member or two of the school staff. This wouldn’t be public information. Now would one of these rampage artist be willing to come to the school and be prepared to be met with force on force? You can count on them not to, they are cowards.
Did you know that Utah has teachers, principals and other school staff legally carrying a concealed weapon on school property? Regular conceal carry folk with the proper license can carry on school property. This became law in 2004 and Utah does not have any school shootings. And other states like Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma are looking at changing some of their laws so there can be legal firearms available to protect their schools. These would be random people and it wouldn’t be public knowledge as to who is carrying and who isn’t. Just this week the Arizona Attorney General proposed arming one principal or employee to defend against attacks such as the recent Newton school massacre. Several Arizona sheriffs have joined in to support the proposal. I think the bad guy or rampage artist would think again if he thought his delusional plan would be foiled.
In Colorado this year, a madman unleashed his video game terror at a Batman movie. There were at least 10 theaters to choose from with the film debuting. He didn’t attack the closest. He didn’t attack the smallest or largest. He attacked the one that had a sign posting, “No Guns Allowed”. He left his apartment rigged with explosives with the intent on mass killing. One look at this guy with dyed red hair and you knew something was greatly wrong with him. Yet prior psychiatry and others let him slip through the cracks without reporting him. Classic example of a rampage artist who was delusional and thought he was “the Joker”.
In the last 50 years, with only one exception (Gabby Giffords – Arizona), every single mass shooting or other violent act with more than four casualties has taken place where guns were not allowed.
William Spengler just this past week set his home on fire in Webster, NY near Rochester. He served 18 years in prison for beating his 92-year old grandmother to death with a hammer.
He used any tool that he had at his disposal. As a convicted felon, he couldn’t own firearms.
Yet with strict as can be New York State gun control laws that are already in place, with mandatory background checks on anything and everything, he had enough to kill two firefighters as he lured them into an ambush. Just prior to that, he killed his own sister before setting the house and car on fire. He left a note claiming “he liked to kill people.” Do you think this guy should have been roaming the streets? There is a constant here and it is mental illness. Who let this guy out?
The law abiding firearm-owning citizen is not your problem. They are the community’s friend. A great donor of charity, humanity and care for others. The gun is not your problem. Don’t demonize a tool that could be a knife, explosives, a hammer, gasoline and a match, you name it. The magazine (clip to some of you) even if it held hundreds of rounds is not the problem. You could have a bag full of magazines to change in a moment. Don’t seek to incriminate the innocent citizen here because this will have absolutely no effect on the bad guy. We all want to stop the violence!
We need sane people within our government, not someone that will draft up any crazy legislature (Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, 2007: didn’t even know what a barrel shroud was, but she wanted it banned. It can be made of plastic or metal, a shroud that covers the barrel so you don’t burn your hand while holding your rifle. She called it a shoulder thingy that goes up). We need you to think sanely. Not one thing you write today will save a child tomorrow. Remove the emotion from the latest situations and deal with the facts.
You can’t legislate human behavior. Criminals do not follow the laws. Insane people do not follow the laws. You can’t fix broken people with more laws. I know we are all grieving, we’re frustrated, some are angry. I myself, have been in great sadness over this and I didn’t even know anyone in Connecticut. But you can’t legislate crazy. The laws only affect those of us who obey them. More restrictions and banning won’t fix our culture, the problem is much deeper.
New York already has a repressive “assault weapons ban” on the books since the sunset of the original federal AWB bill in 2004. Plus auto-loading rifles and pistols of all types are already limited to 10-round detachable magazines by the current NY AWB. All this does is penalize law-abiding citizens, all one million plus of them in this state, not the criminals.
The modern sporting rifle, both bolt action and semi-automatic has many uses for sportsmen of all ages. For target shooting, rifles like the AR-15 clones are extremely accurate, lightweight, offer minimal recoil and are fun to shoot. They are reliable, easy to clean, are durable and tend to be an excellent value for the investment. Modern auto-loading sporting rifles and carbines can also be used to hunt varmints, deer (where permitted by county law) and can help farmers control the growing population of feral pigs that are harmful and are devastating crops. These rifles are also used by thousands of avid NY sportsmen who participate in weekly service rifle target matches throughout the state and nation. They are also an excellent tool for self-defense in the home. Most home invasion robbers would run at the sight of one of these rifles brandished by a home-owner without a shot ever having to be fired. How many deaths have been caused by “evil features” such as a bayonet lug, a flash suppressor, pistol grip or a collapsible stock lately? None.
I close my letter today thanking you for your kind consideration of my thoughts that are expressed. But I do have one more topic for you to think about. Unless you are an avid sportsman that enjoys shooting, you wouldn’t know or understand the dynamics of why someone would want higher capacity magazines. For one, nobody likes to load and reload their magazines. All they want to do is shoot when they are at the range or some type of event. It is fun to shoot, not labor at loading your magazines. When it comes to carrying out a crime, whether someone has a 30 round magazine, or three 10 round magazines, it doesn’t matter.
Or the ridiculous notion of limiting firearms to 5 round magazines. The criminal isn’t going to care. The law-abiding citizen is the one being infringed upon here. The one that votes, the one that works and pays taxes, the one that contributes to society, the one that is honest in their daily life.
If your practicing at the range, you can be the greatest shot, and keep your grouping of shots to the size of a quarter at 10 yards or more taking your time. Now, let’s think of a defensive situation, at home perhaps. A break-in. As soon as you introduce movement into the equation, whether it would be you or the bad guy, your accuracy goes down at least 50%. So now your 10 round magazine is only a 5 round magazine. Now let’s introduce stress into the picture. So many people are not prepared for an attack. Even if you have some type of training for this, your accuracy will go down at least another 50%. Now your ten round magazine is maybe 2 rounds.
If you recall any police shooting in NYC, the media and public are shocked at how many bullets had to be expelled toward and/or into the bad guy. Hollywood would like you to believe that one shot always stops a bad guy. BUT, if they are on drugs, it will take quite a lot in most cases. The effect of having a 10 round, 15 round or 30 round magazine is not going to have an effect on mass shootings. Just bring more with you. But it infringes on the law abiding citizen which is far from fair and just. In reality for self-defense purposes, a citizen would want and require a standard 13, 15 or 17 round magazine depending on the type and manufacturer of the device.
Yet Senator Dianne Feinstein has an ax to grind again and this time is introducing a new assault weapon and magazine ban that will make the 1994 ban pale by comparison. I say ax because before she was elected to the Senate, she advocated banning even handguns although she carried a handgun for her own personal protection. She has carefully scanned pictures of rifles, everyday semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and has singled out close to a 1000 different models to target and go after. Worried about pistol grips (how else would you hold some of these?), that shoulder thingy that Carolyn McCarthy was talking about among other harmless mostly plastic cosmetics that don’t kill people. And now wants gun registration on long guns.
Here in New York, we already have an elaborate registration system tied in with our pistol licenses. Now a long gun (rifle) registration. History tells me this won’t end well.
After all, the rampage artist will do what he has to do to get the job done. But we can prevent some of this by identifying the causes and effects in our society and help to improve the constant.
Use logic and reason and loose the emotion as millions of law-abiding citizens are depending on you. In review of the facts and the chain of events I have listed in this letter, two recent events happened in Colorado and Connecticut this year that were beyond tragic, both that involved individuals with great mental deficiencies in which no one is working on or seeking to for a solution to the CONSTANT.
Evil acts do not exist in inanimate objects like knives, explosives, gasoline or firearms. An evil act solely exists in the hearts and minds of people. We have a real debacle in our health care system and in how we deal with those decomposing, psychiatric, mentally ill patients.
When it comes to the thought of banning so called “Military style rifles” (it is just cosmetics after all), the definition of what INSANITY is by Albert Einstein comes to mind:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”