December 11, 2014

Sandy Hook Families Renew Political Theater

Two years after the mass murder, some still stoke the emotional fire.

Two years after the Dec. 14, 2012, mass murder in a Connecticut suburb that took the lives of six teachers and 20 elementary schoolchildren, America is no closer to preventing mass shootings. Indeed, it may never solve just how to stop the violence. But Newtown’s teachers have turned into political activists and the parents of the victims are about to sue everyone in sight.

In the emotional aftermath of the murderous rampage, the Connecticut government enacted some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, and considered even more legislation – like regulating homeschooling – just because the progressive Nutmeggers believe more laws fix everything.

Now, as support for gun rights is at its highest point in two decades, teachers in the Newtown school district believe they are at the tipping point for fundamentally changing America’s gun culture. Four of them appeared on CBS News and said their work to roll back the Second Amendment has reached critical mass. Sandy Hook educator Mary Ann Jacob said, “We’re at a tipping point. We’re up against a really big lobby, but we know we can make a difference.”

The teachers have written letters. They have organized to defund the gun industry by persuading teachers unions to divest from businesses that support the gun industry. They have done their best to attack that great leftist Satan – the NRA. But they haven’t considered how guns stopped the shooter – and could have stopped him sooner. CBS journalist Jane Pauley asked the group of teachers, “Is there no one here that that day didn’t wish they had a gun?”

Two teachers said that they didn’t wish for a gun in the moments when the shooter sprayed more than 150 rounds in the school. Jacob said it wouldn’t have even mattered. “And you know what?” she said, “If there had been someone at the entrance to our school with a gun, they would’ve been dead, too. There’s a reason they call them assault weapons. It’s an impossible barrage to survive from. We survived because we were lucky and because he was stopped for whatever reason before he could do more damage.”

A few points: “They” call them assault weapons for all the wrong reasons. Handguns kill several times more people each year than rifles of any type. And Jacob fails to consider that while a deranged man attacked the school for five minutes, he stopped only when police surrounded the building with “assault weapons” of their own.

The parents of 10 of the 20 children slain that day are poised to sate their grief by seeking money in the courtroom, the Hartford Courant reports. (Never mind the outpouring of donations and support from around the country, from cash to offers to babysit.) Ten estates have been created in the children’s names – the first step in suing the Town of Newtown, Newtown School Board, the estate of the shooter’s murdered mother, and Bushmaster – the company that made the AR-15 Nancy Lanza legally bought and her son then stole to commit the crime. The parents and their lawyers have only a couple days until the window closes to sue these institutions.

Gun writer Robert Farago points out some of these lawsuits may yield useful information about how law enforcement may have failed to properly respond to active shooter situations. Others, like suing Bushmaster, are frivolous as defined by a 2005 law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prevents many lawsuits against the gun industry if the firearms are used in a crime.

Days after the Sandy Hook shooting, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy stood before the state’s legislature and broke down and cried as he gave his State of the State address. Many of the legislators wore green ribbons to symbolize solidarity with the Sandy Hook victims. If there was a political climate that would do all the wrong things for the sake of security and school children, it was there in that room.

The best Connecticut had to offer was its infamous gun bill, and more money. In the months following, the state threw millions of dollars to its school districts to boost security through the installation of cameras, ballistic glass, buzzer systems and panic buttons. Tellingly, this money didn’t extend to the state’s private schools. The security strategy seemed fatalistic: If another school shooting were to happen in Connecticut, schools would go into lockdown. Children would huddle on the floor and hope a shooter didn’t burst through their classroom door. Meanwhile, school administrators would hope ballistic glass and security cameras were enough to slow the shooter down until the police swooped in to save the day. When seconds count, police are only minutes away.

Connecticut towns were divided over the questions whether to even hire police officers devoted solely to patrolling schools. But despite the headlines, shootings are extremely rare. What do we teach kids about Liberty and self-governorship when we think the only way to keep them safe is to keep a G-man with them always? Besides, there are other soft targets in local communities, such as shopping centers and churches.

Security is not the endgame of education. Liberty is. As for double-doors, buzzers and cameras? They aren’t built to stop a shooter as much as they are for custody disputes. Divorce and domestic violence: These are the signs of culture decay found in every school system in the nation.

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