MY SAY: ON THE TRAGEDY IN NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT
First: I have had a home in Newtown, Connecticut since 1965. My children spent all school and summer vacations there. My grandchildren all learned to swim there and we enjoyed countless barbecues, lawn parties, and family milestones there. My home is not in the borough of the Sandy Hook district where the unspeakable tragedy occurred. However, as facts emerge, I am learning from neighbors about their friends and family members who were directly affected. Newtown is a lovely place to be. It is a town where neighbors help one change a flat tire, volunteer as ambulance drivers and firemen, and rush to plow one out in a blizzard, or help pump out flooded cellars or clean up lawns after severe storms. It is a town that always honored veterans and is always festooned with the American flag on its lawns.It is also a town where so many people own and use guns for recreational shooting and target practice. My husband owned and collected handguns for three decades. He was also a doctor who always responded to neighbors’ need for medical help in emergencies or second opinion advice.
The happiest years of my life were spent there. On Independence Day in 1996, the rescue in Entebbe occurred and my non Jewish friends rushed to my home with joy to break the news and we all danced a hora on the lawn. I love Newtown and I pray for its citizens confronted with this tragedy.
Second: There is another irony. Newtown is the home of Fairfield State Hospital, which was a psychiatric hospital in Newtown, Connecticut, which operated from 1931 until 1995. At its peak the hospital housed over 4,000 patients. It is set on beautiful and rolling hills, and the patients were housed in lovely and well maintained old brick buildings which rivaled any of the famous Ivy League campuses. It was closed during the de institutionalization movement which left so many of America’s mentally ill homeless and in the streets of America. Read Rael Isaacs book:
Madness in the Streets : How Psychiatry and the Law Abandoned the Mentally Ill by Rael Jean Isaac and Virginia C. Armat (Aug 1, 2000).
My hope is that this will not disintegrate into another hysterical demand for banning guns. My friend Daniel Greenfield says it best:
THE ONLY WAY TO STOP A MAN WITH A GUN IS WITH A GUN
America now has its second worst mass shooting. And it, as usual, accompanied by calls for gun control. It’s no coincidence that we have had quite a few spree killings in such a short time. The lavish coverage of every shooting by the media encourages every shooter to think that he will be famous if he goes out and kills. And that is exactly what happens.
Our shooters are creatures of the media, not the NRA. A media that turns killers into celebrities and then warns that the only way to stop more shootings is by cracking down on firearms.
But no amount of media coverage ever stopped a man with a gun. It only encouraged him. It takes a gun to stop a man with a gun. That is the hard truth of human affairs. It is why we have a Second Amendment, it is why we have armies and police, and it is why people own guns.
There is no going back to a time before people owned guns. There is no going back to a time when violence did not exist. There is only the reality that killers stalk the streets and that we can either defend against them or take comfort in empty outrage.
Guns stop shootings. Not all the time and not every time, but they do. Gun control does not. Media coverage calling for gun control does not.
Gun crime was up 35 percent in the UK which has harsh gun control laws. And Europe has had plenty of its own school massacres.
“Figures showed the number of crimes involving handguns had more than doubled since the post-Dunblane massacre ban on the weapons, from 2,636 in 1997-1998 to 5,871.”
Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children in the Dunblane school massacre in 1996 using 4 handguns.
In Germany, in the Winnenden school shooting in 2009, Tim Kretschmer, killed 16 people, including 9 students. In the Erfurt massacre in 2002, Robert Steinhäuser killed 16 people with a handgun and a shotgun.
In Finland, in the Jokela school shooting of 2007, Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed 8 people.In the Kauhajoki school shooting, Matti Juhani Saari killed 10 people.
The media will pretend that this sort of thing only happens in America. It doesn’t only happen in America. It happens where killings do.
Gun control isn’t about putting an end to horrors, it’s about controlling people. And people who are used to being controlled have even less ability to cope with the uncontrolled and the uncontrollable.
Regulators think about the big picture. They don’t think about the individual. They think only about how to control people who follow rules. But shooters, by definition, do not follow rules. They are men who have stepped outside the system and care nothing for its rules. They want to kill, and they will find a way. And when they come, the only way to stop a gun is with a gun.
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