Friday, December 14, 2012

When Will It Stop?

Courtesy Reuters/Michelle McLoughlin

New morning routine: 1) Pack lunches 2) Make sure homework is in backpacks 3) Pray sick person with a beef & access to firearms stays home.

~ Cassie St. Onge, on Twitter

Within hours of politicians in Michigan voting in the wee hours of the morning to abolish local gun boards and allow concealed weapons in formerly gun-free zones (e.g. bars, hospitals, schools, churches and day care centers), the news broke that 20 children and six adults were slaughtered by a heavily-armed lunatic at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut this morning. (Details are still emerging as I write this.)

Twenty children. All five to ten years old.

A source told me Governor Snyder intended to sign the bill into law before Newtown happened; whether he changes his mind or proceeds with the marching orders he received from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) remains to be seen.

I’m lucky enough to have four young, beautiful, amazing children – each with a charming, unique personality, specific likes and dislikes, and incredible potential to achieve goals and make the world better. I resent having to add “Getting shot in the head in the classroom” to the list of things I worry about each and every morning when they step off the front porch into unprotected reality.

Courtesy Shannon Hicks/The Newton Bee
I feel so bad for the parents and families of the victims in Connecticut. Their lives must be as horrific and their hearts as broken as mine would surely be. And I feel sorry for the victims, too, who were robbed of so many years and who must have been so surprised and afraid in their final seconds.

Some of the parents probably already purchased Christmas presents to place under the tree for their young sons and daughters to excitedly unwrap just ten days from now. How many of those little girls and boys already sat on Santa’s lap at the mall and shyly shared their hopes? How many stockings will remain untouched? How many toys and books will stay hidden on shelves in closets until someone musters the strength to take them out and give them away?

Aren't swayed by emotion? How about some statistics?
  • There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine in 1999.
  • The majority of Americans – including police chiefs, gun owners, NRA members, swing state voters and high school students – support common sense gun laws to reduce gun violence.
  • 94% of police chiefs favor requiring a criminal background check for all handgun sales.
  • 82% of police chiefs favor requiring a background check for all rifle and shotgun sales.
  • 87% of Americans support background checks on private sales of guns (including at gun shows).
  • 83% of gun owners support background checks on private sales of guns (including at gun shows).
  • 69% of NRA gun-owners support requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns.
  • 92% of high school students support background checks for all sales.
  • Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the U.S.
  • States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.
  • Gun violence impacts society in countless ways: medical costs, costs of the criminal justice system, security precautions such as metal detectors, and reductions in quality of life because of fear of gun violence. These impacts cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually.
I don’t care if the Michigan legislation mandates participation in pistol training and safety programs. It also allows authorities to suspend, rather than revoke, licenses of individuals found guilty of committing certain alcohol-related offenses and reduces the amount of time in which licensing authorities can make determinations on renewal licenses from 60 to 45 days.

This is clearly a bad idea. But so are restricting a woman’s right to choose, eliminating the personal property tax, busting the unions, making it tougher to recall politicians and replacing the emergency manager law that voters rejected just a few weeks ago with a new one that’s virtually identical, and that didn't stop 'em from doing all of that. It didn't matter to the short-sighted lame ducks who stayed in session until 4:30 a.m. that they were literally ruining the state of which I used to be proud.

It also didn't matter to GOP politicians that the bill was opposed not only by Democratic lawmakers but by the Michigan Association of School Boards, Beaumont Hospital, Sparrow Hospital, the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, the Michigan Municipal League, the National Council of Jewish Women, Spartan Child Development Center, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, among other organizations. All that mattered is that supporters like Michigan United Conservation Clubs and Michigan Open Carry, Inc. thought the change was in line with the Second Amendment and would make us all safer.

Safer like the 20 dead kids in Newtown?

“I'm sure glad the Michigan Legislature worked until 4:30 this morning to ensure we can carry guns in schools and churches. I guess that’s why the U.S. has the highest rate of gun-related injuries among developed countries. I’m going to get a wristband that says WWJP – What Would Jesus Pack?”

~ Kevin Shopshire

“Maybe if there was some sort of legislation in place to allow for all elementary school children to carry concealed weapons, they would be better prepared to protect themselves.”

~ A Facebook Group Moderator

“One jackass tries to light his shoe and every American has to take their shoes off at airports. Mass gun violence and there’s nothing we can do.”

~ Yousef Munayyer

“Awful things happen, we mourn them and then we shrug. And that’s why they keep happening.”

~ E.J. Dionne

Here’s a link to “Mourning and Shrugging,” the post I wrote following last summer’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead.

Sources: Reuters, WABC-TV,, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,,, Detroit Free Press, Michigan Legislature, Washington Post.

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