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School shootings multiply, but we find no solutions

Posted: December 21, 2012 - 8:33pm

While waiting for the taping of “Arkansas Week” to begin Friday morning on the AETN set at Conway, I checked my iPhone just prior to turning it off and received an Associated Press bulletin about a school shooting in Connecticut. There were no details, but the phrase “school shooting” is always chilling.

I told fellow panelist Hoyt Purvis, professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas, about the bulletin. Originally from Jonesboro, Hoyt also he feels the same emotions. Neither of us lived there in 1998 when two teenagers gunned down 15 students and teachers, killing five of them, at the Westside Middle School, but we all still feel some pain when a new tragedy reminds us.

After the taping I checked my phone again and learned how deadly the toll had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Days later, we don’t know why 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into the school and killed 20 children and six adults, and we probably never will. Earlier, he had murdered the one person who might have been able to explain, his mother, and he ended his own life as first responders closed in on him and stopped his rampage.

Worse, we have no idea how to stop such massacres, which are happening much too frequently.

Since 1997 we’ve had 13 shooting incidents in U.S. schools and colleges resulting in two or more deaths. Morbidly, we rate them by how many people were killed, and the latest one jumps to No. 2.

These murderous outbursts are not limited to schools; we’ve seen similar murders recently at a political rally, in a movie theater and only a few days earlier at a shopping mall. They are not limited to the United States, but a world map shows that we have the worst problem.

That’s, no doubt, because we are a free nation. Our Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms so we’ve always had guns, and we always will.

We’ve always had school shootings, too. The earliest recorded was in 1764 when four Indians killed a schoolmaster and several children in Pennsylvania. But the death tolls have grown with the technology for killing. Most of the shootings prior to the 1990s involved two people who had a personal dispute.

With every massacre come new calls for stricter gun controls. Lanza used a .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle, designed for military and law enforcement use, to kill his victims, according to news reports. Using 30-round magazines, he fired as many as 11 shots into each victim, leaving little chance of survival. This is no cheap gun, costing around $1,000 new, and he had plenty of ammunition left.

He also had two powerful handguns, each capable of firing five bullets a second. Those weapons, as well as a couple of others, were owned by his mother, and she apparently had a right to own them.

She surely never dreamed that her son, despite his personality disorders, would turn them against her and others.

The Bushmaster, also used in the 2002 District of Columbia sniper killings, has a dark history, and the manufacturer settled a lawsuit filed in the wake of those murders. It’s not clear, though, that it would have been illegal to own one under the federal assault weapon ban that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Police said the 30-round magazines would have been banned.

We should have a federal ban on assault weapons and other mass killing devices such as the mega-round magazines. The Second Amendment guarantees our right to bear arms, but it doesn’t define “arms.” Does that include a bazooka? A cannon? A bomb? We’ve already drawn some lines. It’s reasonable to ban assault rifles for many reasons, but that won’t stop school shootings.

Lanza could have killed as many with the two handguns he had. Seung-Hui Cho used semiautomatic handguns and 10-round magazines to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

And no matter what you ban, you can’t eliminate the guns already out there. Nor can you guarantee they won’t be stolen. The Westside shooters stole guns owned by a family member who kept them locked in a gun cabinet.

Connecticut already had some of the most stringent gun-control laws in the country, including one that allows police to confiscate weapons that might be used to harm someone. Lanza had apparently never shown any sign of harming someone else until he did, and that’s common among school shooters.

If gun laws won’t help, we’re left with other measures that also restrict freedom. Already many school buildings have become more like forts. Sandy Hook’s doors were locked, but Lanza shot his way in.

Some urge that every school building have an armed guard. If that were financially possible, would an armed guard have been enough against an attacker with an arsenal of semiautomatic weapons? Others suggest that teachers and staff members should arm themselves, somehow “deputizing” them in case of attack.

If that’s the answer, we could still have problems — a teacher shooting it out with a student in a classroom, or a crazed staff member going on the attack.

Somehow we must find answers, or we will again see 6-year-olds being interviewed on national TV about what they saw during a massacre.

Roy Ockert is editor emeritus of The Jonesboro Sun. He may be reached by e-mail at royo@suddenlink.net.

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reader
18404
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reader 12/23/12 - 01:20 pm
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It is a terrible conundrum

We have the right to own guns to protect our freedom, yet we also have those willing to misuse their freedoms and their rights to abuse us all.

Reaganesque
4414
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Reaganesque 12/23/12 - 01:35 pm
4
4
Well...........

Liberal upon liberal laments our right to bear arms, but rarely mention the mentally ill and how society should cope with them.

Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

357
1789
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357 12/23/12 - 03:46 pm
5
3
The late Paul Harvey is

The late Paul Harvey is quoted as saying, "Self government won't work without self discipline."

We have not been able to keep illegal drugs out of the hands of drug users, we can't seem to stop illegal alliens from crossing our border, and prohibition did little to stop the flow of alcohol. So, how in the world are we going to be able to keep sicko's and mean people from doing mean things when even their own life has no value to them?

The issue at hand is not about guns and can't be solved with "common sense" gun control that will only impact the law abiding citizen.

notthisboy
1728
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notthisboy 12/23/12 - 04:09 pm
2
5
Well, lets see

We have armed guards at the local Social Security Office, the local and federal court buildings, in our hospitals, on armored cars, at all concerts and sporting events, in the malls, in many big box stores but the liberals whine about putting them in our schools. To show how out of touch they are, many schools now have uniformed SROs. It is not about protecting our children, it is about removing the firearms from the population.

crypted quill
10832
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crypted quill 12/23/12 - 04:56 pm
2
4
What to do? That's easy and

What to do? That's easy and the magic bullet is ready already...
drones 30,000 are expected to be in use by 2020.

"...the Pentagon can now send a domestic drone to hover outside your apartment window, collecting footage of you and your family, if the secretary of Defense approves it. Or it may track you and your friends and pick up audio of your conversations, on your way, say, to protest or vote or talk to your representative, if you are not "specifically identified", a determination that is so vague as to be meaningless."
...
"Domestic drone use is here, and the meshing has begun: local cops in Grand Forks, North Dakota called in a DHS Predator drone – the same make that has caused hundreds of civilian casualties in Pakistan – over a dispute involving a herd of cattle. The military rollout in process and planned, within the US, is massive: the Christian Science Monitor reports that a total of 110 military sites for drone activity are either built or will be built, in 39 states. That covers America."
...
"...the air force white paper. "Isn't the military not supposed to be spying on Americans?""

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/21/coming-drone-attack-...

Thanks for letting me drone on.

notthisboy
1728
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notthisboy 12/23/12 - 05:45 pm
3
3
Don't know about you.............

I don't have anything to hide, they will be very bored watching me. I could entertain them by smoking a couple racks of ribs.

mikeng1994
10162
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mikeng1994 12/23/12 - 11:16 pm
4
2
What to do..

Even if these ttype of guns are banned, what will they do with the countless already in circulation? I will be glad to support a ban if anyone can tell how it will prevent the next mass shooting.

And if the next shooting is with hand guns, do we then ban those? Where will it stop before we finally realize that it really isn't the gun that is the issue.

I would be in favor of stricter back ground checks. I would not be in favor of a psych exam. I have heard some say that they could use one like to get into law enforcement. Well failing that test does not make you a potential for mass murder , it just says you can't be a cop.

It is a tough decision and no clear cut answer. We do need to tighten up sales at gun shows. The seller should be an FFL dealer. We will never be able to stop private sales. How would one do a background check?

Gun bans, tho, are not the solution. It is more to do with the person, and that is where the focus should be.

crypted quill
10832
Points
crypted quill 12/24/12 - 07:29 am
3
3
Second Amendment “the security of a free state”

A little perspective please,

"Colonial America and the early US was a very unequal place. All the good, cleared, level agricultural land with easy access to transport was owned by a very few, very wealthy white men. Many poor whites were brought over as indentured servants, but having completed their periods of forced labor, allowing them to hang around the towns and cities landless and unemployed was dangerous to the social order. So they were given guns and credit, and sent inland to make their own fortunes, encroaching upon the orchards, farms and hunting grounds of Native Americans, who had little or no access to firearms. The law, of course did not penalize white men who robbed, raped or killed Indians. At regular intervals, colonial governors and local US officials would muster the free armed white men as militia, and dispatch them in murderous punitive raids to make the frontier safer for settlers and land speculators."
...
"Historically then, the principal activities of the Founding Fathers' “well regulated militia” were Indian killing, land stealing, slave patrolling and the enforcement of domestic apartheid, all of these, as the Constitutional language declares “being necessary to the security of a free state.” A free state whose fundamental building blocks were the genocide of Native Americans, and the enslavement of Africans."

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/american-history-black-history-...

The times they are not a-changin' ...you can not write it out of our history.

mikeng1994
10162
Points
mikeng1994 12/24/12 - 10:24 am
4
3
I generally try not to read

I generally try not to read racially motivated propaganda. It provide no worth to any conversation.

I don't understand why every debate winds up with a race issue. Its almost like you points have been countered and all that is left is the R-card.

Again, I don't know if there a true fix to the problem, but I do know this; guns and race are not the problem here.

sevenof400
7002
Points
sevenof400 12/24/12 - 10:56 am
4
4
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