Responses to Newtown

I don’t have anything in particular to say in response to the massacre in Newtown, CT. The usual folks are making the usual arguments, of course. Many are suggesting that teachers and principals should be packing heat. Unless you’re going to make combat training part of teacher certification, that sounds like a bad idea. Having more guns in schools does not sound like a recipe for increased safety. From the other side, it just seems obvious to me that certain forms of weaponry, automatic weapons and enormous ammunition clips for example, are so inherently dangerous and serve no function other than the killing of human beings that private citizens should not be allowed to own them. The second amendment counts for something, but we should recall that it was written at a time when muskets and bayonets were the most powerful weapons around.

I would, however, direct you to two important posts over at Pharyngula. In the first, Chris Clarke writes:

I’ve known quite a few grade school teachers over the years. Until 2009, I was married to one. And I realized as I was thinking about Soto that there’s not a single one of those grade school teachers I’ve known, my ex- emphatically included, who I could imagine doing anything but jumping between the gunman and his or her students.

I know that’s an argument from incredulity. I know teachers are human beings, and human beings freeze up when they’re frightened. But I’ve also seen the sacrifices grade school teachers make on days the media don’t notice. Over and over, day in and day out, with no hope of any relief outside of leaving the job.

And for this they get to be one of the most denigrated groups of professionals in the United States, targeted every single goddamn year for one “reform” after another, vouchers from the fundies and charter schools from the liberals, forced by law to take every spark of individuality and interest out of their curricula and then blamed when their students lose interest, resented their pensions and their health care by people who then blame them when their kids turn out to be apathetic.

Exactly right, and well said. Go read the rest of the post.

Meanwhile, P. Z. Myers rounds up statements from the religious ghouls, who served up the typical tripe about how this is what happens when you take God out of schools. Typical is this statement from James Dobson:

I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.

Charming God they worship. He did not allow judgment to fall upon “us.” He allowed it to fall on a group of young children and the adults trying to protect them. Apparently it’s not enough for God to settle up with apostates in the afterlife. He has to allow children to be murdered in this one.

Comments

  1. #1 Steven Carr
    December 20, 2012

    ‘I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.’

    So if really bad things happen, then that is a sign of God’s judgement?

    No wonder Christians are persecuted so much!

    That must be the real God , judging Christians who have rejected Islam.

  2. #2 Neil Rickert
    December 20, 2012

    Men created God in their own image. Judgemental men have created a judgemental God.

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    December 20, 2012

    “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is one thing. Innocent children in the hands of an angry God is a different matter. The former is a sentiment which, while I disagree with it, at least is within US historical tradition. The latter firmly crosses a line, as Gary Willis pointed out in the New Yorker. I won’t stop Dobson (or Huckabee, or any of the dozens of others expressing similar sentiments) from worshiping such a God, but he should not be surprised to find that he and his God are not welcome in many parts of this country.

  4. #4 Kevin
    December 20, 2012

    “it was written at a time when muskets and bayonets were the most powerful weapons around”

    It was also written at a time when these weapons were adequate enough to win a revolutionary war.

  5. #5 Blaine
    December 20, 2012

    It’s funny how an atheistic country like Denmark isn’t experiencing god’s wrath.

    Psalm 137:9 “Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks.”

  6. #6 Bob Carlson
    December 20, 2012

    Having more guns in schools does not sound like a recipe for increased safety.

    Especially given the evidence, as Kristof says today’s NY Times, that having a gun in the home simply makes it more likely that you will be shot. Why would it be any different in a school than in a home?

  7. #7 Sascha Vongehr
    http://www.science20.com/profile/sascha_vongehr
    December 20, 2012

    “I don’t have anything in particular to say in response to the massacre in Newtown, CT. The usual folks are making the usual arguments”
    A great opportunity to be quiet and let the unusual guys respond:
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/pathological_thinking_response_season_love_current_outrage-99575

  8. #8 Kevin
    December 21, 2012

    Meanwhile, Jerry Coyne’s blog rounds up harsh truths about the purpose of firearms from Adam Gopnik:

    “bullets designed to rip apart bone and organ”

    Compare this with Wikipedia’s description of intact D&X surgery:
    “The brain is suctioned out, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the cervix.”

    I agree that stating hard facts can and should prompt swift moral action to stop killing.

    Who else agrees?

  9. #9 derwood
    December 22, 2012

    Looks like Jason has attracted a troll…

  10. #10 Sean T
    December 24, 2012

    I don’t necessarily disagree with sensible gun control measures, but Jason, do you honestly believe that someone who is planning such a horrific act as to go to a school and kill innocent children would be stopped by another law? Obviously, there already are laws against comitting mass murder, so laws in and of themselves don’t deter such actions. Another law making the type of gun used illegal would likely not be much of a deterrant. There will likely be such weapons available on the black market for anyone who is depraved enough to commit such an atrocity. Besides, guns aren’t necessary to commit mass murder. Timothy McVeigh, for example, was able to do so without a single gun.

    Like I said, sensible gun laws do serve a purpose, but I don’t think they are going to stop a determined individual from doing what the shooter in Newtown did. The simple, and unpleasant truth, I think, is that there is no answer. That’s tough to accept, but a sufficiently determined and depraved individual will find a way to carry out his depraved actions. Maybe there are ways to mitigate the impact of such individuals. That’s where sensible gun laws might help. Also, in hindsight, who doesn’t wish that there had been a trained and armed security guard or police officer on duty at Sandy Hook elementary?

  11. #11 Sean T
    December 24, 2012

    BTW, Jason, I don’t necessarily disagree with your argument WRT the 2nd ammendment, but the logic is faulty. To see this, apply the same logic to the 1st ammendment. The Founders never envisioned computers and the internet; the 1st ammendment was meant to apply to speeches and newspapers, not to such things as electronic media, TV, and radio. Therefore, the government should be allowed to regulate speech on TV, radio, or the internet.

    The principle behind the 1st ammendment is that the free expression of ideas is a fundamental right that cannot be limited by the government. The medium for this expression is obviously irrelevant, so it makes no sense to limit expression on TV, radio or internet simply because the Founders did not forsee these media.

    Similarly, the principle behind the 2nd ammendment is that an armed populace can deter government from becoming tyranical and usurping the Constitution. The fact that the founders could not perceive the advances in weapons technology does not detract from this.

  12. #12 John Moreno
    Long Island, New YOrk
    December 24, 2012

    The president of the NRA is being vilified for saying the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It is a true statement. These stiuations start and end usually very quickly. By the time police respond to a 911 call the carnage is over. As a retired New York City police lieutenant I marvel at the courage of those teachers who confronted a maniac with an assault rifle with only their bare hands. If that principal had received a two week combat training course and then issued a firearm we might be having a much nicer Chrismas. If the school had hired a retired police officer, there are thousands of them who would welcome the opportunity to make a few extra dollars, the outcome would have been different.

    Whie I agree in the baning of assault type weapons I know it would not solve the problem. Trying to adjust the problems of how we deal with mental illness would help, however we face the issues of forced incarceration of someone who has not done anything illegal yet.

    The only answer, that is do-able, that can be done rather quickly, is a good guy with a gun/

  13. #13 jane
    December 24, 2012

    John Moreno – I believe in self-defense, and I don’t think that if the principal should have been forbidden to conceal-carry if she had been trained to do so properly and wished to. But I also don’t think that educational professionals should be expected to undergo “combat training” as part of their job duties. People who get Ed.D. degrees frequently are not the same sort of people who want to become police officers, air marshals or the like. Many will not be happy at being asked to assume such a role and won’t be able to do it particularly well in the very unlikely event that they are called upon to do so. Dedicated security officers in schools may not be a bad idea either, but on a large campus they can’t be expected to immediately stop any violence; Columbine High had a security officer. Without becoming a totalitarian society, we can’t stop all potential acts of violence. IMHO, our goal should be to reduce them with a reasoned combination of individual and societal-level measures, rather than just telling individuals “Better be prepared for a gunfight, you’re on your own.”

  14. #14 Kevin Sanders
    December 25, 2012

    Jason, I think you do not remember the Passover do you?

    God does judge nations who cast Him out of their society and for the last fifty years secularists, socialists, and marxists, as well as elite globalists have done nothing but try to eradicate God from America and from her history.

    I am not saying this latest incident was a judgement, but it can and does happen. God does use the enemies of a nation to judge that nation. I suppose you never read the Book of Daniel have you?

    As fas as your comment on “muskets” aka GUNS, and bayonets, I will have you to know that we still use muskets and bayonets. A mortar round is a modern version of a large musket and marines still use bayonets as recent as the Iraq war. So you are saying citizens have the right to attach bayonets to their guns now and use mortars? If, where do I purchase one?

    You gripe and grumble becuase citizens (and illegal aliens for that matter) can and should be ale to purchase a firearm here, but you say nothing about the stinger missles, RPGs, and grenade launchers given away fro free to Al Qaeda in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and otrhe places where the CIA are arming our enemies. What gives? How long will it be before mulism terrorists start smuggling thir American free weapons into South America and up through Mexico and across out border into the US to use them against us? A firearm that will kill at 500 yards might come in pretty handy then.

    @ Sean,

    You are right.

    The second amendment backs up our rights (Given by God, not men) to defend ourselves against our own government should that government become a tyrant led overlord menace to its people. Now muskets and bayonets may be of no use when fighting federal stormtroopers armed with grenade launchers and missles. We need better weapons than muskets and bayonets, though a bayonet would kill several off guard soldiers silently.

  15. #15 Tom
    United Kingdom
    December 27, 2012

    Honest question:

    What “arms” are you not allowed to carry in the USA? Is there an official line?
    handguns – yes
    hunting rifles – yes
    assault rifles – yes (but was “no” for a while)
    grenades?
    heavy machine guns?
    rocket launchers?
    howitzers?
    anti-aircraft missiles?

    If part of the aim of the 2nd Amendment is to bring the government to heel the last ones should be allowed but I don’t think they are. If not then this is not then the right to bear arms debate is not an absolute one, it is an exercise in line drawing (i.e. what is it reasonable for someone to own).

  16. #16 The freedom farmer
    December 27, 2012

    Tom

    We are not allowed to carry assult rifles in the USA. Semi-auto AR-15s are NOT assault rilfles. They are merely labled that for the political purposes of making them sound and look more menacing than they really are.

    A machine gun is an assault rifle and yes we can own them if we have a class three liscense.

    No we cannot own rocket launchers and grenades. Those are held in reserve in case the CIA wants to arm more mulsim terrorists in more countries like Syrai and Libya.

    If you are not a citizen of this country, or even if you are a citizen and do not pay taxes, then you should be denied access to this conversation since you have no role to play nor any input to give. Foreigners are not welcome in restricting our freedoms. Left wing commies in the senator can do than all by themselves without any outside help.

  17. #17 Sean T
    December 31, 2012

    To me, in a nutshell, the responses to this event point out the problem of partisanship in American politics. Half of the country just doesn’t want to even listen to the other half (and I’m blaming both halves here). We should have sensible laws limiting access to certain weapons by certain people. They won’t be perfect, but no law ever is. They won’t solve the problem, but no law ever does. However, the “red” half doesn’t want to hear it because it was the “blue” half’s idea.

    Similarly, we protect our little green pieces of paper anytime a lot of them are being physically moved around by having men with guns driving the vehicle that’s moving them. Do we really value our children less than we do our paper money? Having armed guards at schools is not a perfect idea, but no idea is. It won’t solve the problem in all cases, but no idea will. However, the “blue” half doesn’t want to hear about it because it’s the “red” half’s idea.

    Why can’t we do BOTH of these sensible things to protect our children? Obviously, it can’t be 100% effective, but it has to be an improvement on what we have now, doesn’t it?

  18. #18 Sean T
    December 31, 2012

    Tom,

    In Vietnam, the US military severely outgunned the Viet Cong. In Iraq, the US military severely outgunned the insurgent forces. In Afghanistan circa 1980-89, the Soviet Red Army severely outgunned the mujahadeen (sp?) rebels. It isn’t necessary that an armed populace must have equivalency in weaponry to deter the military forces of a tyrannical government. The 2nd ammendment can do its job even if the population is outgunned by the military.

  19. #19 Sean T
    December 31, 2012

    Tom,

    BTW, this would likely be particularly true in the hypothetical case of a US politician usurping the Constitution. Military members take an oath (which they take VERY seriously) to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the US, not any particular individual. If a US politician tried to blatantly usurp the Constitution, much of the military’s firepower would likely be at the disposal of the population at large, rather than the usurping politician.

  20. #20 jeremy
    Tokyo
    December 31, 2012

    The freedom farmer:
    “If you are not a citizen of this country, or even if you are a citizen and do not pay taxes, then you should be denied access to this conversation”

    OK…..

  21. #21 Mal Adapted
    December 31, 2012

    The Freedom Farmer:

    If you are not a citizen of this country, or even if you are a citizen and do not pay taxes, then you should be denied access to this conversation since you have no role to play nor any input to give. Foreigners are not welcome in restricting our freedoms. Left wing commies in the senator can do than all by themselves without any outside help

    As a U.S. citizen, I’d like to assure Tom in the UK that TFF doesn’t represent anyone but himself. Indeed, that kind of paranoid xenophobia is antithetical to everything I want the USA to be.

    The rest of you should know, too, that Mark Hoofnagle has identified “The Freedom Farmer” as a sock puppet for Kevin Sanders. It seems Kevin is afraid to say things like the above under his real name. What might we make of that?

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