What journalists should know about school shootings and guns

In the coming days, journalists will have to provide clear-eyed context to help the nation come to terms with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Without question this incident will once again spark heated debates over gun-control and school safety. Let’s step back to see what we need to know to cover those stories.

Schools are safe.  After days like this, it can be hard to remember that schools are usually the safest place for a child. School violence has been in a steep decline since 1990.

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice points out: “A 2010 report on school safety found that during the school year 2008/2009 there were 38 school-associated violent deaths — in a population of about 55.6 million students in grades prekindergarten through 12.”

The same report said, “This report also noted that 83% of public schools reported no serious violent crime; 13% of public schools reported at least one violent incident to the police. The rate of serious violent crime at school was 4 (per 1,000 students) compared to a rate of 8 away from school.”

NPR reported, “School violence in the U.S. reached a peak in 1993, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That year, there were 42 [total] homicides by students and 13 ‘serious violent crimes’ — rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault — per 1,000 students at primary and secondary schools. By 2010, the latest figures available, those numbers had decreased to two homicides and four violent crimes per 1,000 students.” Update: After a commenter pointed out the implausibility of 42 homicides per 1,000 students, we checked the NCES data. The total number of homicides during the 1992-1993 school year peaked at 34. NPR is updating and correcting its story as well.

What journalists need to know about guns and gun control. In the days after the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado theater, I wrote this primer to help you use words like “semi-automatic” correctly. In addition to what I wrote in that piece, I would add some context about gun laws in Connecticut.

The Connecticut law (as in most states) affirms the right to own a gun. The statute says “…every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” Although Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven have more restrictive laws than the rest of the state, generally any law abiding citizen age 21 and over can own a rifle or shotgun without a permit. The state does allow concealed weapons to be carried with a permit.

The state has a ban against so called “assault-weapons” (a vague term). Early reports from the Sandy Hook shooting said police recovered two semi-automatic pistols. The Glock 9mm pistol is similar to what police officers nationwide carry. The Sig Sauer pistol is the standard issue pistol that Secret Service agents use. CBS News and others have said police found a “Bushmaster .223″ rifle in the suspected shooter’s vehicle. That rifle is similar to the better known AR-15 that critics commonly call an “assault weapon.”

Gun ownership is down but so is support for gun restrictions. The popular thought is that mass shootings will produce a movement toward stricter gun control. History indicates that is not true. Pew Research shows us that support for gun control changes very little after big incidents.

The LA Times points out that gun ownership is dropping in the United States. CNN said, “The number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50% in 1973 to just over 32% in 2010, according to a 2011 study produced by NORC at The University of Chicago. The number of gun owners has gone down almost 10% over the same period, the report found.” But at the same time, those who own guns sometimes own a lot of them. By some estimates, 20 percent of gun owners own 65 percent of the guns in America.

Some believe that the consistent drop in the nation’s violent crime rate may be related to the declining gun ownership.

But even after the mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, and even after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there was no increase in support for gun restrictions. Right after that shooting, Gallup found that Americans resist gun control mostly because they do not trust the government.

Gallup said, “Almost half of Americans say they perceive the federal government to be an ‘immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,’ and this percentage is up in recent years.”

Look at this trend described by Gallup, which has been asking about gun control for years:

Listen to kids. I have gotten quite a number of media calls in the last 24 hours from journalists who wonder what I think of journalists interviewing the children who witnessed the horrors at the Newtown school. In the non-stop viewing I have done since the shooting, I saw journalists talking to kids, but in every instance there was a parent in the video frame. I did not see one single child crying during an interview. I hear caring questions from  journalists. In some cases, the kids gave amazing detailed answers about what they did or did not see.

I especially appreciated that CNN has made an effort not to show the faces of children running from the school, masking the photo that has been so widely used online. Here are some guidelines I offer about interviewing children. In general, treat other people’s kids the way you would want yours treated.

When you talk with kids who have lost friends, focus on what they liked about the person, not so much about what they will miss. What did their friend like to do best, what made them such a great friend? Let the interviewee share their best memories, not their worst memories of what happened.

Give the kids space. If they start getting upset, back off. Kids can feel pressure to say what they think you want them to say, act as they think you expect them to act, remember what they think you expect them to remember. Keep the conversations mercifully short and be a real person, check up on them short term and long term. Leave your card with the parents in case they have concerns after the interview. If the kids have second thoughts, kill the interview even if you have put a lot of time and energy into it. Realize that could happen before you start interviewing a child.

Take care of yourself.  Journalists cover people in trauma and experience trauma themselves. This story will take weeks to unfold. You will hear many sad stories. Pay attention to your own emotions. Be honest with yourself and your bosses. When it is time to take a break, talk to somebody about your experiences. Remember what you learn on an airplane: If you do not have your mask on, you cannot help anybody else. We need you to be excellent right now.

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  • Free State Hunter

    I don’t understand how y’all don’t get it.
    If high capacity handguns weren’t effective self defense implements, why would every police agency issue them to their even newly hired, just off the street, officers???? Even the bobbies of the various cop agencies in England are now armed…If guns weren’t effective in a self defense role, why would all the lawsuit sensitive jurisdictions do it??? Can you imagine Michael Bloomburg putting all those guns on the streets if they weren’t necessary?
    Besides all that, the mainstream media is, probably intentionally, ignoring all the inconvenient truths from the various shootings, Have you heard how the Aurora shooter checked two other theaters before going into the one he chose? He was looking for a specific sign, and found it in the third place. What did it say??? No concealed carry allowed. Imagine why he wanted to find that sign. I’d think even you liberal media types could figure that out.
    And what about the Clackamus Town Center shooting…..why did that shooter stop after two other victims? Because he found himself looking down the barrel of a legally possessed handgun. What was it Wayne LaPierre said, something about bad guys with guns being stopped by good guys with guns???
    Can you fathom how the Newtown shooting would have gone if the first person to confront that less than stable individual would have had something to defend her charges with other than her professional ire at having her school disturbed?? In Israel they arm their teachers to defend their students. When is the last school shooting in Israel?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    But at least in this state, I would need a different class of license to drive it. I thought that was clear from above, but I guess if you were looking just at the previous post and/or using the NRA drone strategy of “be obtuse and literal at all times,” you might think I somehow did not know I needed a license to drive a vehicle.

    Thanks for pointing that out, though. You know, I think there might be unlicensed drivers. How can we expect to make people get driver’s licenses if a few people don’t do it?
    The original point, which has long been lost, is it seems silly to take an AK-47 and modify it to hunt just to justify buying an AK-47 to hunt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    (1) The arguments about cars, drugs, etc., are diversionary tactics used by NRA drones. The drug issue is complex, but no sane, logical person would argue for the days of the drinking age being 18 and no speed limits on the highways. Yet there are still people who die of drunken driving. The mere idea that someone might not follow the laws does not preclude having those laws.
    (2) I’d be glad if I didn’t have to keep pointing out Point No. 1 again and again and again to ignorant NRA drones who can’t think for themselves. All they know are the NRA talking points they have been trained to repeat. That’s why there needs to be a sustained push for a discussion. Too many times in the past, ignorance has won out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1111456204 Brian Lewis

    Not an NRA member… (has nothing to do it, it’s like the L word ) As long as every one agrees with your opinion, on your platform, then its not dumb? What would you do with your time if that was the case?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1111456204 Brian Lewis

    Yes, you need a drivers license to drive. No extra license need to modify your car into a truck. No additional license need to drive that modified car more like a truck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    How in the world can we figure out how to fix the problems when people keep insisting NOTHING can be done? That’s why we need to acknowledge a few things:

    (1) The pro-gun argument is not about individual gun rights. It’s about “showing” the government. The ownership and use of the guns are secondary.

    (2) The arguments about cars, drugs, etc., are silly distractions that have nothing to do with the issue. We know cars kill people. We know some people don’t follow drug laws. Those arguments are irrelevant.

    (3) The arguments that certain types of weapons are for self-defense or hunting are also silly. Hunting is a sport. If you need to fire more than a certain number of shots in a specific span of time (any attempt to use numbers here will just confuse gun people), then you shouldn’t be hunting.

    To your idea: The idea that a single SRO can defend every entry point of a large school, or even a medium-sized school, is asinine. It goes against the basic sensibilities of a rational person who has actually seen a school building. Try to think first, then post. Right now, you need to give your posts much, much more thought before you can even begin to hope to advance a point. You are operating at the low-level NRA drone skill level now. You must escalate thoughts.

  • http://twitter.com/JustDeanJameson Dean Jameson

    No, the “silliness” is found in using tragedies to attempt to further your own political agenda, instead of figuring out how to actually fix the problems that contributed to the tragedy. Even though no gun control laws currently being proposed would have done ANYTHING to mitigate this tragedy, guys like you pretend they would’ve helped. CT has some of the strictest gun control laws out there, yet those laws didn’t stop Lanza. Chicago has super-strict gun laws, but the murder rate there is extraordinarily high. There are underlying issues with the “softness” of schools as targets for madmen, but you don’t want to address those issues, because some of the solutions (putting a School Resource Officer in every school, for instance) make you uncomfortable, because they involve having a police officer with a gun on campus.

    No, the only gun control measure that I think might have at least MITIGATED this tragedy somewhat is a limit on magazine/clip sizes. Even that may not have made a difference, as it’s not clear how much time it would’ve taken Lanza to reload a 10-bullet clip several times instead of having an extended magazine as he did. But at least that proposal has the POSSIBILITY that it could have had some effect. No other proposal I’ve read would have changed the Sandy Hook tragedy in the slightest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    I don’t think I ever said any caliber or rifle of handgun did not do that. Some people seem greatly concerned about the use of the term “assault weapons,” and I responded with a more appropriate term.

    The comment about number of guns per person stemmed from the statistics many posts up. If you and others can’t see the difference between many people each owning a small number of guns and few people each owning a large number of guns, then I don’t think there is much that can be done to make you understand.

    Your comment about “cars …” is the typical useless droning that emanates from people with no real argument. It’s also incorrect. Vehicles have to be insured and registered. Your other examples are simply silly hyperbole that gun proponents spout to cover their lack of an argument.

    “If a person is law abiding, the number of guns they own grater then one doesn’t matter as those guns will never be used to commit crimes.”

    Also incorrect. Remember the mom who owned guns that were then used to kill her and others? I’d say that mattered. Those guns were used to commit crimes.

    Try to think, then post. I know that might be difficult, but you should try it.

    In summary, most of your argument is the usual maze of inaccuracies and illogic that we often hear from gun proponents.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kerry.stottlemyer Kerry Stottlemyer

    Can you explain to me exactly which caliber of rifle or handgun is not designed to “organ blast” and “Tissue destroy”??
    I really would like to know so I can get the kinder, gentler machine gun

    Now as to your comment on the number of weapons one may own. There is no law restricting how many cars, bikes, toys, tools, trucks, shoes, or panties a person may own. If a person is dangerous, the number of guns they own grater then one doesn’t matter. If a person is law abiding, the number of guns they own grater then one doesn’t matter as those guns will never be used to commit crimes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    No, the silliness is that after each of these events, we keep hearing from people like you about how NOTHING can be done for a variety of reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/JustDeanJameson Dean Jameson

    There are no laws that will keep evil people from doing evil things. Unless you are proposing confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens (as Nancy Lanza, the owner of those guns, was), no potential gun laws would have changed even one thign about this tragedy. The only “silliness” here is that there are people who are pretending that what Lanza did is anything other than an evil, crazy man doing an unspeakably evil thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Which means there are flaws in the current laws, or that there need to be alternatives. Now you reply — in the same breath — that “if only the existing laws were enforced …” but “criminals won’t follow the rules anyway.” And on and on and on. More of the public is starting to see through that silliness.

  • http://twitter.com/JustDeanJameson Dean Jameson

    No, it does not. It indicates that a disturbed man stole 3 guns from his law-abiding mother, and used them to do great evil.

  • http://twitter.com/JustDeanJameson Dean Jameson

    No. The guns he used were guns his mother acquired legally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    That always has been and always will be a dumb argument, perpetuated by NRA drones. People don’t follow laws, so we should get rid of the laws? Brilliant response. You must have thought really hard about that one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    I’m glad those words bother you. They are accurate representations of those weapons. For too long, people like Al Tompkins have been caught up in the debate about semantics. Discussing whether people are ignorant because they call a killing weapon an “assault” weapon has been a waste of time, and it steers the debate away from necessary topics.

    Also, if you look at the recent Heller decision, it says quite clearly that the ruling does not intend to permit the use of any gun at any time. I believe it says this early in the ruling, so you wouldn’t have to strain yourself by reading for very long.
    Make no mistake: The NRA drones are lacking facts. It is a huge problem that people have not been calling these things out sooner and that politicians have been buying into those claims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Well, NRA drone, as soon as the argument became something like “If Xxxxxx had a gun, then those people wouldn’t have died,” we started to cross over.

    The rest of your arguments are just talking points and not really any sort of sensible response. The dumbest argument of all is the one based on the idea that criminals don’t obey laws, so we shouldn’t have laws. That has never made sense, and it shows an important problem. The NRA relies on poorly educated people like you to spread misinformation.

    When groups work to counter the damage of the NRA — and that is going to happen — they need to keep that problem in mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    That’s funny. I thought everyone other than the gunman was an innocent last Friday.

    The NRA needs to train you better for your work as an uninformed, uneducated drone. Bad logic.

  • TomScott

    Which platform? This one allows for anyone to post. If you want a closed echo-chamber where you will never have your deluded views questioned, but only affirmed by the similarly deluded, then go find one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAVID.E.ATHERTON David Atherton

    When, exactly, did the arguments cease to be about individual rights? What is your solution? What new rules would prevent tragedies like this? We have laws, regulations and restrictions out the wazoo already. There is one simple fact that all you gun-grabbing jackasses can’t grasp. Criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws. The opposite of criminal is lawful. We, as lawful people, have the right to protect ourselves against the lawless. We don’t have a gun problem, we have a crime problem.
    Your use of the terms “organ-blasting, tissue-destroying weapons” is quite disturbing, but I assume that’s your intent. These “organ-blasting, tissue dstroying” weapons are the very same weapons used by the police every day to defend themselves and the public. Why do you think they should be allowed to use them, and the general public not be afforded the opportunity?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAVID.E.ATHERTON David Atherton

    You are not alone in wanting us out of your platform, because you are on the wrong platform. Anyone who is anti-freedom, pro-government control does not belong on the same platgform with us.
    Enough of the overdramatic buzzwords. Organ-blasting? Tissue destroying? ANd once again, AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ARE NOT THE ISSUE! You morons have a problem with facts. The Constitution does not prescribe what weapons are to be kept and born, only that the right to do so shall not be infringed. A peaceful, law abiding citizen ought to have access to the same types of arms as the police and military that would be used to enslave them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAVID.E.ATHERTON David Atherton

    Who has ever said that everyone HAS to own a gun?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAVID.E.ATHERTON David Atherton

    You bitch about over penetration, then you bitch about rounds designed to stay in the body. The purpose of having hollow point rounds stay in the body is to prevent the bullet exiting the body of the intended target and hitting an innocent.

  • jfh1945

    They are, and they can be–i.e., the standards needed for self-defense shooting within the generally-defined guidelines for self-defense (an immediate lethal threat within ten yards, typically directed at the shooter or his immediate party) require little extended training.

    A person well ‘familiarized with his particular self defense gun should not have any trouble shooting for defense accuracy–e.g., not bullseye / target shooting–out to ten yards. Well-familiarized to me means at least 100 rounds or more of ‘thoughtful’ shooting at a range, meeting one’s permit standards, and the standards of one’s instructors.

    We don’t expect auto drivers to have Indy 500 driver’s licenses, do we?

    2. Note that I corrected the typo in word selection I made last night, and the statement now reads–…with as much force as I can muster. So, if you want to restate or refine your comment before I answer, please do. As it stands, I don’t understand your reply.

    Then–this morning I got hooked up to this link–it deals with the notion of the relatively unprepared defender having unexpected access to a handgun for self defense–notably, perhaps, a teacher–at an active shooter scene where a first responder has dropped a handgun (draw your own conclusions).

    Does that teacher ignore the gun, try to secure, or try to do an active defense. Watch the video, I’d be interested in your reaction–but please, watch it carefully and honestly.

    http://video.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/001504_using-a-dropped-gun-to-stop-an-attacker/

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    “For carry use, almost any is good, but some are better than others. Novices tend to shoot modern semiautos better than revolvers.”

    Problem #1 with your theory. After all, haven’t we heard that the people carrying concealed weapons will be skilled?

    “For assholes, it is evilness and craziness, and I want to meet that event with as much need as I can muster.”
    Problem #2. As I said, this debate long ago stopped being about gun ownership rights. Now it’s about how much someone can accumulate.

  • jfh1945

    Well, you have hit on the two most important reasons to not consider on a rifle for residential usage in self-defense, at least in my thinking. But who cares if the bullet is “flesh-tearing” (AK-74 / 7.62×39 ammo typically is not; the usual load is inclined to be over penetrative–Geneva convention, you know.)

    But, it depends–

    I have a gunsmith friend who lives in a remote area of NW WI–and, besides at least one handgun around his bench, his go-to gun is an AK-47. He is at least 20 minutes out from police help; neighbors are not particularly an issue, and he will need to turn out some necessary firepower if he needs to deal with a robbery or invasion. He’s a former marine; he has the mindset.

    A second element is bound up in the first notion of fitting the firearm to the anticipated scenario. Handguns may or may not be effective for self defense for a couple of reasons: They are difficult to shoot well at any significant distance, and they simply do not typically offer the power a rifle will. For carry use, almost any is good, but some are better than others. Novices tend to shoot modern semiautos better than revolvers.

    However, once I get beyond needing a handgun for home defense use, I move up Consequently, my ‘go-to’ gun is a semiauto shotgun, staged with #8 shot to # 4 to 3-000 buckshot–and the go-to gun after that is a .223 ar-type.

    I have never heard of a gunfight ending and the survivor saying he wished had had less ammunition or less gun.

    However, my personal self-defense scenario, as in carry gun self-defense, is much more limited than using a rifle, for any number of reasons. My own perspective is that if I am is involved in an immediate need for lethal response, it will be sudden and close. So I carry a j-frame (5 rounds), maybe carry a reload, and I plan on probably having to deal with this within 5-7 yards. I can typically put five shots into a five-inch circle in 5-7 seconds, unaimed–but I also practice with a laser on the gun.

    OK, that’s my take: use the gun you need for your self defense needs, but plan ahead. Practice–practice, practice, practice–I have shot over 25,000 rounds out of my j-frames. (I reload my own ammo, so I can afford doing that).

    And then, of course we move over to the social considerations, if one is willing to use a firearm for self-defense, does it really matter whether it is a .380 auto, a 5-shot 38/357, a 6-shot 44 Spl, a Winchester 94 lever action .30-30, an AK-47, or an AR-15? All firearms are lethal under nearly all circumstances; what difference does it make? In sum, then the criteria for self defense rests in the concerns of the law and of the actual event, not in the firearm.

    So, I fail to see why it makes any difference that some asshole used an AR-15, much less a 10-20-30 / whatever round magazine in tragedies like the CR one. For assholes, it is evilness and craziness, and I want to meet that event with as much need as I can muster. Mass shootings are unique problems–and I refuse to gauge quality of firearms by what happens in those.

    Degree and quantify of lethality? Please. Since when is the measurement of civility one of degree of lethality?

    OK, your turn–

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    The first reason that comes to mind: At my current residence, if I fired an AK-47 at an intruder, chances are high that if the shot missed, it would then go into another residence. This complication would be relevant for metro areas, with high-density dwellings in small areas.

    Also, an AK-47 seems much more unwieldy than a simple handgun.

  • jfh1945

    Well, I readily found one–which I suspect you know, too: it was reported at the Democratic Underground. I know of two other uses, and I have a request in to those persons for permission to repost the anecdotes.

    However, in the conventions of debate and discourse at the forums I frequent, it is polite to answer and not ignore the queries a party makes–so, again, please answer my query about why an AK-47 is not suitable for personal defense.

    I know some reasons why it might not be, but I know of several compelling reasons why it would be. So, please, you go first and I will respond.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    You were talking about how one would modify an AK-47 to be like a Winchester. I assume that was to justify purchases of AK-47s for hunting.
    I was talking about how I would modify my car to be more like a truck. Of course, laws for vehicle use are more specific than those for guns, so I would still need to get a license to use my modified vehicle.

  • jfh1945

    Since I seem to be a slow learner for your style of writing, please explicate the analogy you were trying to develop in your ‘need for a truck driver’s license’ implied metaphor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Explain to me why it is. Explain to me why it is more suitable than a handgun or a revolver. Has any single citizen, in the entire history of the United States, ever used one for personal defense? If so, say when and who.

    I am quite certain that you cannot do this. Surprise me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    And yet you cite no point that is erroneous.
    Of course, that would require a level of dialogue that the “guns for everyone” crowd is incapable of having. But what can we expect from people who rationalize away the mass slayings of 5-year-olds with tissue-destroying, automatic weapons?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Also, privateers would be armed naval vessels. Are you seriously arguing that concept should somehow have bearing here, in 2012?

    It does raise a question. There is way more covered in international law about that issue than about bearing arms. The U.S. Constitution even numerates the use of privateers. Seems to me the people making the laws knew that spelling out when such things could and should be used would be a beneficial endeavor. Too bad they didn’t do the same with the knowledge they had about the slow-repeating weapons of the time. Then we’d have more of a legal foundation.

  • jfh1945

    Whatever is the fault that you are trying to express here? You clearly don’t know what you are talking about, even metaphorically.

  • jfh1945

    And just why is an AK-47 not suitable for personal defense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    And yet the murder toll just in 2012 from those organ-blasting weapons continues to rise. Of course, just looking at usage, I guess those incidents would be rare.
    Let’s see — rare usage, high body count. Hmmmmmm. Maybe there’s a conclusion to draw there.

    Also, many of the people killed by handguns are either in the act of committing crimes or they are associating closely with people committing crimes (drug sales, etc.) Yet many of the people killed in these 2012 incidents are bystanders.
    Let’s see — rare usage, high body count of bystanders. Hmmmmm. Another conclusion, perhaps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Hard to say it’s made up when the “guns for everyone” crowd claim that if people just had concealed weapons to defend themselves, then none of these mass slayings with organ-blasting, tissue-destroying weapons would happen. Sadly, I am not imagining those bits of insanity emanating from the “guns for everyone” crowd.

    There’s the dreaded “L” word again — I just want my platform free of people promoting arguments that ceased to be about personal rights quite a while ago.
    We’re in agreement — I want guns out of the hands of crazy people. The difference is you offer no solution and want no new rules. Your way never will succeed and should be euthanized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    You would do well to review the Constitution. No mention of organ-blasting, automatic weapons there. Try reading it sometime. It’s never too soon for a first!
    Gun owners long ago expanded the argument past individual gun rights. Now we need politicians to grow a backbone and stop the silliness. The “we need AK-47s for defense” argument has been brain dead for a while. Time to flip the switch and euthanize it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Oh, no — the “L” word AGAIN! Have to clarify — I want the “guns for everyone” crowd out of my platform.

    The discussion about a number will have to happen when politicians stop listening to a group that long ago expanded its agenda well past individual gun rights. No sane person argues that multiple organ-blasting, automatic, tissue-destroying weapons are necessary for “personal defense.” The Constitution does not guarantee that right, sorry to say.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Those laws don’t seem to do the trick. But your side will argue, in the same breath, that if we just enforced the rules, then all would be great, and that if any new rules came to pass, criminals would ignore them anyway. Of course, that’s what happens when the goal changes from gun rights to establishing a society where everyone HAS to own a gun. And that’s what has happened.

    Also, there might not be 20,000 gun laws if state politicians had not decided they needed their own CCW laws.

    Finally, that initial post was more poking fun at the “guns for everyone” crowd who insist that there can’t be any rules because criminals won’t follow them. Using that logic, there would be no vehicle codes.
    It’s a brain-dead argument that should be euthanized. If anything good comes out of these mass slayings — committed with organ-blasting, automatic weapons that should have been regulated years ago, were it not for cowardly politicians, it will be that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    That’s funny — I looked back at my words, and I don’t see anything about buying a truck. I only see mention of a license analogy. But we know the “guns for everyone” crowd is good at reading only what it wants to read. And whining about the non-existent right to own automatic weapons. No mention in the Constitution about that “right.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Oh, no — the “L” WORD! You got me there. Of course, you’re entirely wrong. I actually want the “guns for everyone” crowd out of my platform. Your crowd is no longer standing for gun owner rights. Now you’re trying to create a society where everyone HAS to have a gun. We’ll be more blessed when that argument gets euthanized. It’s already brain dead. Now we just need to flip the switch. If any good can come out of these mass slayings, it will be that.

  • Bigfoot Steve

    Well, we can’t all be as objective as hacks who make up things like “guns for everyone crowd”. Where can one find this mythical group? Are leprechauns there too? Personally I would have no problem keeping guns out of the hands of liberals. Too irresponsible in every aspect of their lives, and not all there in the head. We should keep guns out of the hands of such crazy people as much as possible.

  • Bigfoot Steve

    It’s a huge issue. If you are claiming you need a weapon for defense, then how many are enough?

    I guess it depends….what number will appeal to your feelings, since that is what decisions like this are typically based on.

    Again, we see the “guns for everyone” crowd wants no new rules, no matter what.

    And again, as we see, the left wing handwringers are reduced to throwing one strawman argument after another against the wall, hoping one of their lame arguments stick. Let’s just do something, damn it. Who cares if it helps or hurts, just do it so I can feel better, lol.

  • Bigfoot Steve

    But, as we all know, you can’t require anything.
    20,000 gun laws on the books right now. But yeah, we can’t require anything, lol.

  • Bigfoot Steve

    And just 3 posts up you were whining about having serious discussions on this issue, lol.Meanwhile, back in the real world, I didn’t realize one had to be licensed to buy a truck of any kind.

  • Bigfoot Steve

    Well, liberals like you already know everything as you’ve made clear here, so no real reason to have a discussion anyway, is there? You already have the answers to everything. Society is so blessed to have such angels of virtue fluttering around.

  • jfh1945

    Insofar as the possession of personal arsenals, you would do well to review US history and its privateers early in the 1800s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Probably far more objective than the “guns for everyone” crowd, though. Way more objective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    It’s a huge issue. If you are claiming you need a weapon for defense, then how many are enough? There’s a right to bear arms, but I doubt the intention was for the possession of personal arsenals.

    Are you seriously saying that is not an issue? If so, I’d say you are the one who needs to worry about having problems. Again, we see the “guns for everyone” crowd wants no new rules, no matter what. We could have a gun-related massacre every day, and some people still would not get any wiser.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    (1) Again, I was being sarcastical. The “guns for everyone” crowd usually proclaim there can’t be rules because criminals don’t follow those anyway. Of course, they also claim that if the existing rules were enforced, then everything would be so much better.
    (2) People are required to have car insurance, wear seat belts, drive a speed limit, etc. Outside of Sammy Hagar and some brief resistance to the seat belt requirement, I don’t recall too many cries of government conspiracy there.

  • FybrOptx

    Robert, really? “You can’t require anything”? That will be YOUR little secret. See, this thing passed a couple years ago called the Affordable Care Act that says you are REQUIRED to have health insurance or you will be fined. Times are changing. Soon you will be required to have a permit just to practice freedom of speech in your house.

  • FybrOptx

    How is it an issue? Aside from the FUD you are spreading, how is someone who purchases more firearms an issue? There are tens (if not hundreds) of millions of firearms in the United States that have not harmed anyone today. If you are scared of numbers that get larger then you have a bigger problem then fear of firearms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    But, as we all know, you can’t require anything. After all, the criminals won’t use the gun safes. So those won’t work. Best to have no rules or guidelines at all, and to just hope things work out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    So, to summarize, one should be allowed to buy the AK-47 if one is prepared to make those modifications, and that justifies the purchase of an AK-47 — and not a Winchester — for hunting. OK. Got it.

    You know, I think I need a truck driving license. After all, if I added a diesel engine, a rig, and 18 wheels to my vehicle, it’d be just like a truck. The government should give me that license, and I shouldn’t have to test for it or prove that I need it. It should be a “shall issue” truck driving license.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    And? That sounds like “beyond assault” to me.

    There’s no reason for a weapon used for “marksmanship training” ever to be unlocked, except at the training site or in transport. Same with hunting. That leaves only the dubious claim of using a rifle for “home defense,” which is a concept that makes little sense in an urban area.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Those weapons don’t assault, though. They kill. Very violently. One report said the beyond-assault weapon used Friday was designed for the projectile to remain in the body, destroying tissue. I’d say that’s a little beyond the use for self-defense.

    You and others are making my big point for me, though. These arguments about semantics are more useless with each of these mass slayings. We know that the “guns for everyone” crowd will pretend to decry these attacks, but they don’t want any rules to change. This is where politicians have failed miserably.

  • elmerf

    AR-15 Platform is the most bought rifle for marksmanship training, home defense and hunting in the US. Comes in calibers up to near .50 cal, but 6.8 mm is popular for deer and other big game.

    Modified AK-47 can be tuned up to deliver superior hunting performance.

  • jfh1945

    and the Brady reps are considered a respectable objective source? My god, they’ve been trying to spin that story for the last fifteen months or so.

  • jfh1945

    The term “assault rifle” has a specific definition in the standard firearms lexicon. Look it up. The term “assault weapon” was a term invented by Sugarmann about 1988 to deliberately confuse the general public about the nature of military-looking firearms with machine guns. It gained political acceptance as a legal definition in 1994. The bill that created it expired some eight years ago, and the only reason for its continued use is to save thinking time by journalists and others.

  • jfh1945

    The ballistics of the 7.62×39 / AK-47 typical chambering are virtually identical to the ballistics of the long-lauded Winchester 94 when chambered in .30-30–it’s most popular chambering. The 94, incidentally, is generally considered to be the all-time popular deer rifle and has been a favorite in brush and woods hunting for well-for nearly 100 years.

    Of course, the AK-74 may have the ballistics, but other characteristics–typically inferior accuracy and limited sights–limits its desirability, but these can be readily fixed.

    I’m not a hunter–were I a hunter, I would consider hunting with an AK-74 were I limited in funds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Just to satisfy my curiosity, I looked at a hunting site, and no one there agreed with the idea of using an AK-47 for hunting.

    I also have to wonder how an AK-47 is suitable for personal defense, but I know that is just a claim people make to justify owning those weapons. We really have a long way to go toward even having a reasonable discussion about guns in the United States.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    So the solution is for everyone to be armed, all the time, even when working with students?
    Sorry, but that is the type of insanity that has been developed through decades of political inaction on this issue. The idea that bothers me the most is having to walk around armed because the “guns for everyone” crowd’s response to every situation is: “If they would have been armed, they would have survived!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Luther/100000202717891 Robert Luther

    I agree They are trying to declare all guns as assault weapons and ban them all. I own a semi auto only AK47 it is not an ASSULT WEAPON ! I have never Assaulted anyone with it. I use it for hunting and personal defense !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Luther/100000202717891 Robert Luther

    The guns used in this recent incident were obtained illegally! He was denied a gun purchase ! Criminals will always find a way . Its to bad the teachers were not armed they could have defended the children with a gun much better then their bodies !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Luther/100000202717891 Robert Luther

    I am more of a proponent of requiring gun safes for storage if you own more then one gun ! Keep them locked away ! I keep my guns locked up in a locker when not in use. my personal defense weapon’s I keep handy and out of site !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Luther/100000202717891 Robert Luther

    Incidents like the present one will always happen the criminal element will always find a way . The guy wanted a gun tried to buy one and was denied so he stole guns and went on a rampage ! that is how most of these incident’s happen with illegally obtained guns !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Luther/100000202717891 Robert Luther

    Since Obama took office Gun Sales have SKYROCKETED ! He was the best thing to happen to the Gun industry. With his threat of banning guns people are out to buy them before they get banned !

  • atompkins

    Matt, you are exactly right I think. 42/1000 is FAR too high. Maybe they are missing a decimal? In any case we will make a correction in our data thanks to you.

    I just looked at the source and it lists 2719 homicides that happened in schools in 1992-93 and 1579 in 2008-2009. Even with a few blips, the trend line the stats establish is clearly downward. The data table lists deaths, not deaths per thousand. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2011/tables/table_01_1.asp

  • atompkins

    USA Today reported last week: “Gun-control advocates, led by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
    Violence, say existing gun owners are responsible for most new purchases
    (about 20% of gun owners possess 65% of the nation’s guns, according to
    a 2006 Harvard study). Brady Campaign President Dan Gross said concerns
    about new gun-control laws are part of a “marketing ploy” to keep
    firearms moving.” There have been some reports of gun sales soaring after the shooting last week but I would not trust such info just yet.

  • atompkins

    Steve, usually when American governments at all levels discuss “assault weapons” they refer to a gun that has some combination of : semi auto, folding stock, flash suppression, bayonet mount, capable of accepting 10+magazine clip. These are vague descriptors because many weapons could fit. You would be hard pressed to find examples of a fully auto weapon being used in a U.S. crime. They are so regulated that it just doesn’t happen very often despite what you see in movies. Additionally, if you got rid of every “assault weapon” you would see no significant effect on crime because they are so rarely used compared to pistols.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thegutcheck Matt Waldman

    Perhaps I’m not fact-checking correctly, but I attempted to do this for you and I think you may want to contact NPR because that 42 homicides per 1000 students rate appears incorrect. Here’s a report from the source NPR cited. I searched “homicide” and found this table that I believe tells a much more plausible story. Unless I ‘m missing something you perpetuated an NPR error.

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2011/tables/table_01_1.asp

  • http://www.facebook.com/thegutcheck Matt Waldman

    Can you verify the stat NPR provided about 42 homicides per 1000 students? Wouldn’t that mean there were 42,000 children murdered in 1993 according to that stat? That’s seems impossible. Did you fact check your NPR source?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Still a problem. If fewer people are owning more guns per person, that’s an issue. Perhaps even a bigger one than if more people each owned a single gun. In fact, it’s probably an issue that should be addressed. Except we have politicians who are lost in their own dream worlds about what should happen, and we have media who won’t call them on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesse-Waldorf/746691608 Jesse Waldorf

    Um sales and % of people who own guns are not the same thing. Learn stats/maths.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    So, what use would the weapon have other than to “assault”? I’d say, if anything, the term does not fit the bill. I’d say “organ-blasting” or “face-separating” weapon might be a lot more accurate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Interesting point. But the world addresses many different types of issues, often during the same 24-hour period. There is nothing that says that issue and the gun issue cannot both be reviewed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KissMyWookie Steve Day

    A nice addition to this article would be to explain the difference between a military “assault rifle” that is capable of fully-automatic or burst mode fire, compared to a civilian semi-automatic rifle that only fires one round per pull (and subsequent release) of the trigger.

    Over the past 24 hours I have seen the Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle called everything from an M4 or M16 to an “assault rifle” just because it’s appearance is visually similar. People who are unfamiliar with them do not realise that military assault rifles manufactured after 1986 are not available to civilians, Period. Those manufactured before that time are strictly controlled items by the BATFE and cost upwards of $10,000 and $15,000. They cannot be sold or transferred to anyone else (except dealers) without prior BATFE approval which takes 3-9 months of background checks, LE interviews and form filing.

    Wikipedia has the correct definition of a military “assault rifle”, yet is often ignored.

    Nice to see facts though, rather than sensationalistic catchphrases (ie: assault weapon – which is any object used as a weapon to assault someone. An object can only genuinely be an “assault weapon” after the fact).

  • http://www.facebook.com/KissMyWookie Steve Day

    Yes, it indicates that there are severe flaws with how the mentally ill are treated!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    So doesn’t that indicate that legally, there are flaws? This is exactly what I am talking about. In one breath, the “guns for everyone” crowd will claim the existing laws just need to be enforced, but then they will refuse to look at any alternatives. This is usually “reinforced” by the almost contradictory claim that criminals won’t follow the rules anyway.

    My main point, though, was that discussing the intent of CCW law and the law itself is irrelevant here. This person was younger than 21, likely did not have a permit, and was not using the concealed weapon(s) for defense.

  • http://twitter.com/JustDeanJameson Dean Jameson

    So, criminals WILL obey the law, then? Listen, I’m a proponent of gun control. But this tragedy has NOTHING to do with that issue. Every gun was legally purchased, in a state that has strict gun control laws.

  • NoCommies

    “Gun ownership is down”? What are you people smoking? Gun sales have increased 400% in the last month alone: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/guns/gun-sales-violent-crime-down-again

  • http://www.facebook.com/alsmithjr Al Smith Jr.

    A well-presented and insightful article. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    “Although Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven have more restrictive laws than the rest of the state, generally any law abiding citizen age 21 and over can own a rifle or shotgun without a permit. The state does allow concealed weapons to be carried with a permit.”

    Worthless paragraph. Accounts have the suspect as younger than 21. Clearly he wasn’t using the concealed weapon for defense, so the intent of CCW was violated. Of course, he was younger than 21, so he likely did not have a CCW permit.

    None of that really matters anyway. It is virtually pointless to cite rules any more. The “guns for everyone” crowd will, in the same breath, cite what was legal and then tack on what is not legal, then add some nonsense about how “criminals won’t obey the law anyway.” They have yet to see the contradiction in this approach. You seem to miss that point as well.

    The debate on this issue plunged into nonsense years ago. Too many politicians were allowed to present complete, total B.S. as an argument. That should have been called out a long time ago. The media have failed, BIG time, on this issue.