Newtown, Connecticut

Want to make yourself sick? Google the words “false flag” and “Newtown, Connecticut.” This prose poem is pretty much the first thing that you’ll see.

Comrade obama and his fellow travelers will keep
on staging the mass murders of children with guns until
you capitulate :

they tried to elicit gun control sympathy with congresswoman
giffords , but the truth is, most americans would like
to see their congressional reps shot anyways.

then they tried to elicit gun control sympathy with
the batman colorado theater shootings, but everyone
clocked that right away as an obvious mk-ultra psy-op.

then they tried to take advantage of the kansas city
nfl football player who didn’t want to get punked by
his baby mama girlfriend, shot her, then suicided
himself – but they failed with the balky attempt by
nwo-shill faggot bob costas to force the narrative.

then they tried with the mall shooting in the northwest,
but americans have become more streetwise and have
adapted to run like heck when an mk-ultra shooter starts
spraying bullets, so the nwo failed on getting the
body count they wanted.

so, then, what does a man, who fears god, do in the
face of such wickedness ?

If you’re really a glutton for punishment, Google the words “God” and “Newtown, Connecticut,” as in “how could God let this happen?”

The word “theodicy,” which refers to ‘the philosophical attempt to reconcile the paradox of the existence of both an all-powerful, all-just God and Evil,’ was coined by Leibniz in the 18th century, who struggled with the problem at book length in Théodicée. Our own philosopher Mike Huckabee dispatched it with a soundbite yesterday, on Fox News:

NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): You know, inevitably people ask after tragedies like this, how could God let this happen?

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability? That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us. But one day, we will stand before a Holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.

Brian Fischer says that God forsook the children of Newtown because “we kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children but you got to invite me back in your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I’m a gentleman.’ When I think back to when I was in elementary school, we had prayer in school and we didn’t need guns.”

I don’t know about you, but Fischer’s God seems sort of small-minded to me, not like a gentleman at all. But I guess I’m a big part of the problem, being Jewish, a non-believer, and a progressive and all.

It’s kind of amazing to me how, before anyone knew anything–the identity of the shooter even, never mind what motivated him to act–so many people had all the answers.

I looked at a pro gun site this morning, which was reporting the news that the guns used in the killing were legally purchased by the shooter’s dead mother. The first comment reads: “Proves that Gun Control efforts are useless.”

Moreover, many posters seemed to believe that the real cause of the tragedy was that the teachers–the KINDERGARTEN teachers, mind you–weren’t armed. “Anytime I see a gun free zone or a state that doesn’t allow it’s citizens to carry oc or cc I see that the anti’s have created a climate that encourages these tragedies.” Guns don’t kill people, gun free zones do.

Someone posted this meme-worthy image:


Another anguished poster allowed that he had doubts, but then he wrestled them into submission:

These evil events make me physically ill every time they happen and they do make me question my sincerely held positions. I always ask myself if I am in some way unknowingly contributing to criminal violence. Then I stop and I think about it.

I didn’t pull the trigger. Neither did any of my friends. To all of us an act like this is unthinkable and evil in the extreme.

We’ve seen these monstrous mass shooting events occur in Norway, Finland, Germany, Britain (2010 taxi driver), etc. with far more restrictive gun laws than we have.

We know that the gun laws in this country just fifty years ago were far less restrictive than they are today. Back then we didn’t see these events occur that often or this severely. So what has changed? It’s clearly not the guns that are the problem.

The ATF estimates that 4.5 million guns are sold to private citizens every year–and that there are more than enough guns in circulation in the US to arm pretty much every man, woman, and child. And that’s still not enough for them to feel protected?

Let’s stipulate that guns aren’t the root cause of violence. People have been slaughtering each other since long before guns came into world, after all. But if you look at the issue through an epidemiological lens, it’s hard to deny that guns actuate and amplify evil impulses.

From yesterday’s Washington Post, I learned that the US has “four times as many gun-related homicides per capita as do Turkey and Switzerland, which are tied for third….Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.” (It could be worse, of course. Someone in Mexico is three times more likely to be murdered by a firearm than someone in the US; in Honduras, the odds go up by 20 times.)


It seems to me that guns are a lot like cigarettes. Anecdotally, everyone knows of non-smokers who died of cancer and smokers who lived to be 100; even when a smoker does get cancer, it’s an open question as to whether it was the cigarettes or something else.

Correlation and causation are different things–but correlation absolutely does tell us something meaningful about large populations. Populations that smoke less live longer.

From Howard Friedman’s The Measure of a Nation: “In a family or intimate assault, death is twelve times more likely if a gun is present than if another weapon is used. Analysis shows that an estimated 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not have occurred under the same circumstances had no guns been present….in 2009, firearms were the cause of 67 percent of all homicides in the United States.”

I’m perfectly willing to leave God and Evil out of the discussion, if it will allow us to hone in on the problem of guns. I’m even willing to assume that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. But that still leaves an awful lot of room for registration, background checks, assault weapon and cop killer bullet bans, and more. There are gun show loopholes that can easily be closed. Criminal liability can be extended to sellers, especially when there are irregularities in the sales.

And where is private enterprise in all this? Do insurance companies take gun ownership into account when they are considering actuarial issues? They should.

It’s time to talk about all of this and more. Obama won his second term. As a lame duck, he doesn’t have to fear the NRA any longer. I like what he said yesterday, “that we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

I don’t know about the “come together” part–Mike Huckabee and Brian Fischer and most Obama voters are never going to come together about this or anything else.

But political action is another matter altogether. We won in November. As citizens and voters, we need to see to it that our victory actually means something. This is as good a place to begin as any.


24 thoughts on “Newtown, Connecticut

  1. Yesterday I pretty much predicted that someone would say this was a deliberate attemtpt by the current government to start taking peoples’ guns. That kind of paranoic nonsense would make statements like this inevitable. And of course we cannot have lots of guns without lots of bibles. Hopefully Americans will be about fed up with this kind of stuff and start to demand action. I think November 6th showed us what the people in America want and who they are. And they hardly the fools that watch the likes of Fox and listen to Rush. So they can continue with their stupid ranting but less people have a tolerance for it. And the problem of course is gun control but the other issue is the lack of services in our society for theose who need them -and in this case the mentally ill. As these services disappear-America becomes more dangerous. I was just watching a Thom Hartmann interview with Bruce Bartlett. and I think it occurred before this tragedy in Connecticut and Bartlett was absolutely merciless on how he characterized the Tea Party people and the Republican party-saying how dumb they are and how their utter stupidity comes from the likes of Fox News and venues like this. Maybe things will finally start to change.

  2. Well, Arthur, I received the following email yesterday from one of the sick and depraved neo-nazis who periodically sends me messages:

    “Subject: school shooting

    Is it true that a true American Patriot walked into a school today near Jew york and sent 27 little parasites to hell? please say its true. You’ll make my year.LOL.”

    I’ve reported this cretin to Google for a “terms of service” violation since he has threatened me with violence on several occasions.

    This type of irrational and sick mentality is, unfortunately, all-too-common in our world.

  3. Incidentally, did you notice that the “prose poem” website you linked to has a “report abusive post” link? I guess referring to Obama as a Communist who arranges murders around our country is not considered “abusive”.

    1. Shira, I think you are over-generalizing “preppers”. Not all preppers are governed by hate-speech. Survival preparation is in many instances is basic commonsense, and it could be as simple as storing canned goods or keeping emergency first aid kits. In this case, Nancy Lanza did express concern that her son was acting more withdrawn than normal. She certainly could not predicted his actions. You’re comment also seems to suggest that she somehow deserved her end because she “belonged to a group” that expoused a opinion about society that you do not agree with. People are allowed to have contrary social opinions in this country. I think we can all agree that committing acts of violence definitely crosses the line.

      1. I’m not saying that she “deserved her end”. I see her of a victim of the manufactured paranoia deliberately cultivated by outlets such as Fox News.

        Look, buying a variety of high-powered weapons is not the same thing as putting together an emergency kit in case of a big storm or an earthquake.
        The fear of “economic collapse” is peddled for profit by goldmongers and gunmongers. It’s peddled for the coin of power by politicians, trade groups and media outlets. And, yes, it is a socially acceptable form of hate speech, since hate is compounded of fear and anger. I’m willing to bet she wasn’t worried that the economy would collapse due to the actions of hard-working white salt of the earth country people. Nope, it’s always foreigners (these days, Muslims and Mexicans), inner-city blacks, libertine women etc.

      2. Shira, you are still making assumptions on the mentality of a dead woman. I would agree that paranoia can fuel gun sales, but what can be done about that? Gun laws are not going to stop determined people from carrying out massacres. Also there are people who still feel that they should have the right purchase rifles if not one, or two or many. As unpleasant as it may sound, people also have a right to hate whomever or which ever group they want to. You can’t control what people think (unless want to have thought police running around). Gun laws are not going to change a person’s heart. That takes activism on the part of a community, that takes speaking out against hate speech. You aren’t going to change people who are convinced that the government is after them, that such and such a group is responsible for the breakdown of society. I think pandora’s box has been open on that issue for a long time. What people can do is speak out against hate speech in the public forum to limit it’s influence. You are always going to have venues like Fox News, but as a counter to that you have Current TV, you have MSNBC, you have a very basic understanding that discrimination has no place in a free society. But we’re not a free society and the “gun nuts” aren’t going to see the light of reason just because it makes sense to you. I don’t know what Nancy Lanza was thinking, or if she realized that she may not have made the best choices with her mentally ill son. What I don’t think is productive is suggesting that people who own mulitiple guns are part of hate groups or watch Fox News. I guess we can also decry violent video games and television.

      3. Unfortunately, based upon the currently available information, there doesn ot appear to be any no existing or new law which could have prevented what happened.

        News reports are now suggesting a possible motive behind Adam Lanza’s attack.

        Apparently, Mrs. Lanza was considering one or two options: (1) moving to Washington state with Adam or (2) possibly pursuing a court action to commit Adam to an institution.

        The latter option, if true, could have triggered within Adam a sense of abandonment and deep resentment which would explain why his mother became his first victim and the school kids could have been his retaliation for believing that his mother cared more about them than she did about Adam.

        There is no law which could have addressed the rage which existed in Adam. The only thing I could think of (which seems very impractical) would be to require gun owners to keep their gun(s) and their ammo in separate locations. The ammo could be required to be secured somewhere (probably a safe) so that children or family members other than the registered owner would not have access to it.

        Much has been made about the high capacity magazines which hold 30 or more bullets. Yes, we could ban those. But who is to say that if Adam went to Sandy Hook school with five 10-bullet magazines, that he could not have quickly replaced the magazine 2 or 3 times and done the same damage? Or for that matter, he could have used the two hand guns he had on his person (instead of the Bushmaster) and killed just as many (or more) students and faculty.

        I wish we had some satisfying answer to this horrible situation — but we don’t. The U.S. will never ban all guns — nor do I think we should. Legally owned guns are used all the time to commit murder and attempted murder. Perhaps the only real way to prevent more Adam Lanza’s is through better detection of mental problems and more robust mental health options–without stigmatizing people who recognize that such problems exist and require intervention.

      4. C. — I would say, I’m making deductions from the evidence. She was (according to the testimony of folks who knew her) concerned about the “collapse of the economy” and she reacted to it by buying multiple high-power weapons. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that there is a propaganda machine pumping up fear of (among other things) economic collapse, and that that propaganda machine is financed by, among other sponsors, gun manufacturers. I agree that you can’t stop people from hating, but I’m not at all sure you can’t stop people from selling hate at a high profit. This does indeed get into the issue of rights. People used to think they had a right to smoke anywhere they wanted, until other people insisted on their right to breathe clean air. Just as free speech — a truly important right — can be limited for reasons of safety, it is reasonable to limit the right to bear arms. Around 2000 children are killed by guns every year. At least four times as many adults are killed by guns every year. I think it’s time to raise the cost of guns and especially bullets to the point where all of us, gun-owners and gun-haters, can live in a reasonable degree of safety.

      5. Ernie — I disagree with your idea that he would have killed just as many people if he had used the pistols. He shot at least 200 rounds in 10 minutes. He wasn’t aiming — just “sweeping”. Without a large magazine and the three-shot semi-auto action, he would have had to shoot more slowly. And to hit someone with a pistol, he’d have had to aim. Given both factors, he would have gotten far fewer shots off before the approaching sirens that led him to take his own life. Moreover, there would have been pauses in his shooting. It was during a pause to reload that an unarmed bystander disarmed Jared Loughner. Of course you can’t predict what MIGHT have happened, but you can look at the odds.

      6. Shira: I think you are underestimating the potential for multiple murders from using a pistol or “shooting more slowly” — particularly if Adam’s rage was such that he decided to use both pistols simultaneously i.e. one in each hand.

        Your “pause” theory is problematic too because many of these weapons (such as the Glock) can be reloaded in 3 seconds or less — roughly the same time as it takes to replace the magazine in the Bushmaster.

        Recently, there was an incident in China which you may have read or heard about. A crazed guy went into a Henan province school and stabbed 22 children and one adult with a knife. Several of the children were in critical condition according to initial news reports. I’m not sure if any subsequently died. Obviously, anybody who has such internal demons will find some way to act out his (or her) rage. It could be a home-made bomb thrown into a classroom or perhaps something even more diabolical.

        My only point continues to be that Adam Lanza apparently did not give any perceptible signs that he was capable of, or intended to commit, such a horrible act of violence. Yes–we can certainly ban assault rifles (as we did previously). Yes–we can certainly limit the size of gun magazines to 10 bullets. But the sad reality is that anyone with a minimal amount of skill (and depraved reasoning) could easily use a pistol (or two) to produce comparable or greater carnage.

        I hate to write this next comment but I suspect that even after we implement the next round of gun limitations and “reforms” to the system of acquiring them — sometime in the not-too-distant future we will again witness a mass murder and we will have this conversation all over again.

      7. There will always be mass murders, unfortunately–they have been happening since the beginning of time. But if hundreds or thousands of other deaths could be prevented, that would be no small thing. And there is every reason to believe that less guns, and especially less lethal guns, equals less gun fatalities.

      8. But, Arthur, how do you propose that we arrange for “less guns” — particularly in view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision which affirmed the lower court decision (in the District of Columbia) that everyone has a constitutional right to possess a firearm?

        More to the point — it it estimated that 47% of U.S. households have one or more guns. Reportedly, there may be as many as 300,000,000 privately owned guns in the U.S. Supposedly that number increases by about 4,000,000 per year.

      9. There will be new cases and new courts; public sentiments are changing, I think. There is an obscene number of guns in circulation, but the vast majority are locked up in gun safes in the homes of law-abiding citizens. Many of them haven’t been fired in years. Criminals, I’m told, tend to use new guns. Banning big magazines is a start; closing the gun show loophole would make a huge difference.

        I look at guns as a public health problem like cigarettes or tobacco. Regulation is probably more effective than outright bans (if the drug war is any example). The sociopathic gun culture is a knottier problem, but it’s a little like racism or homophobia–it’s borne of an attitude that is changing. That’s precisely why they’re so defensive and angry.

      10. I think the best avenue to attack is economic, actually. I like the idea of a fund to pay damages to gunshot victims, with the money raised by taxes on guns and (especially) ammo. This ought to (but probably won’t) be unexceptionable to market conservatives, since all it’s doing is moving the external costs from victims and government back to the gun maker –> gun owner chain. Also, I like the proposal to regulate ammo like sudafed — that is, limit how much can be bought at once and keep track of who buys it in a robust national database. This in addition to banning assault rifles and large magazines would have the effect, *over time*, of reducing not just spree killings but also run-of-the-mill murders and suicides using guns.

  4. If a supermarket or bar in a high crime area can afford a full time police officer and a well organized security protocol, why can’t our schools? Suggesting that teachers bring guns into the classroom is insane.

    Gun control is best implemented locally. We need national politics to focus against the gun lobby and keep intervention (i.e. gun control) local.

  5. I don’t know if this is a fair analogy, but if the events in Newtown are analogous to a fatal lightning strike–a uniquely horrible and unforeseeable catastrophe (though I think a lot of people would have said before this happened that a gun collection and an anti-social young person could be a potentially lethal combination)–there are tens of thousands of other gun-related incidents a year that could be prevented by fairly simple legislation.

    I was looking at CDC statistics on gun fatalities. There are a lot of accidents, suicides, and impulse homicides that very likely wouldn’t have happened had guns been harder to obtain–in fact, when you count them on a state-by-state basis, as the CDC does, the states with the laxest gun regulations have significantly more of these incidents than those with tighter regulations. Angry spouses and drunks will still kill each other, drug gangs will still find ways to obtain firearms, but a lot of the casual impulse shootings (like the one that happened right under my living room window last month–no one got hurt, fortunately), would be less lethal fistfights or knife fights instead–posing less danger to innocent bystanders. I looked at some pro-gun sites’ parsing of those same statistics, and the callousness was incredible. They literally talked about “acceptable” levels of accidental deaths; many argued that teenagers that commit suicide unfairly inflate the statistics. The response to a story about a four-year-old whose parents didn’t allow guns in the house, but who got ahold of his 18-year-old brother’s handgun was to blame the parents for not providing both children with a proper grounding in gun safety.

    Though a determined criminal or an enraged psychopath can find a way to do terrible things even without automatic weapons (Andrew Kehoe, back in the 1920s in Michigan, killed 38 schoolchildren and six adults with explosives; Tim McVeigh did what he did with fertilizer, the 9/11 terrorists used box cutters and the element of surprise to kill some 3000), military style weapons do raise body counts. Taking them off the market, and more importantly, taking the big magazines off the market, might make a difference, even in these uniquely horrible cases. You need a license (and an expensive one at that) and all kinds of insurance to cut hair in most states, but unlicensed dealers can sell guns on the Internet or at shows to virtually anyone; a gaping loophole if there ever was one and pretty unique to guns (imagine the kind of money pharmacists could make if they were allowed to sell oxycotin at flea markets to people without prescriptions). Guns seem to be the only public safety issue where anything less than 100 percent effectiveness is taken as a reason to do nothing.

    1. I absolutely agree that we should concentrate on the much larger problem of daily gun mayhem. But this isn’t quite a “lightning strike” event. (Check out the excellent article at Slate on “Volume killers”.) Thanks for pointing out the insurance idea. Really hate to sound like a freakonomist, but I do think the way to solve this is to push the cost back on everyone in the chain from the original manufacturer to the eventual murderer. Requiring insurance (and making sure the insurers have to factor in the cost of misuse) would be an excellent step in that direction.

  6. Arthur:

    While I certainly understand your desire to think of guns as a public health problem like cigarettes or tobacco — I don’t think your analogy is appropriate because

    (1) nobody perceives tobacco use in the context of defending their own life or the life of their family, and

    (2) nor is tobacco linked to hunting, recreational activities, or the type of collector mentality that often is present among gun owners and

    (3) there is no comparable political movement organized around tobacco.

    Gun ownership is often based upon historical fears about the origins of government tyranny. Inevitably, you will start hearing questions like: what if the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto had a plentiful supply of privately owned guns? OR — what if the Syrian or Libyan or Iraqi people had access to 50,000,000 or more privately owned guns—including assault rifles. Would they have had to endure multiple decades of oppression and murder?

    You are certainly correct that future Supreme Court Justices might significantly limit the types of guns which can be sold or the number allowed per household. But it is difficult to imagine any scenario where tens of millions of Americans who own guns of various types would suddenly decide to turn most of them in or destroy them.

    If, as reported, there are currently 300,000,000 guns already in private hands and 4 million more are purchased every year — then any potential change to our laws (including a possible Constitutional amendment which might significantly narrow the current second Amendment) would almost certainly result in a huge buying binge before new law(s) would take effect. So we could easily wind up with 500 or 600 million legal privately owned guns.

    And that does not even address the inevitable black market which would come into existence (if it is not already extant).

  7. You’re right in many ways, Ernie–it would be naive in the extreme to think that gun control is a simple matter; the Second Amendment is etched more deeply in the national DNA than just about anything else. But I refuse to accept a counsel of despair. It’s taken this country more than a century and a half to even begin to reverse the damage from slavery, but I think that few would argue that we’ve come a vast distance (and people used to think of blacks as “things” too–as in, how can government presume to deprive people of their valuable property?).

    No one even remembers anti-Papism anymore. Gay rights have advanced at a pace that I would have never imagined possible even as recently as decade ago. So much is generational…..And as the NRA says, the issue isn’t so much the 300,000,000 million guns, the vast majority of which are in the hands of responsible people. It’s the comparatively few high-powered weapons that fall into the hands of crazy people, children, and opportunistic criminals. Professional criminals will find ways to get quality guns here, just as they do in Europe. Determined crazies will find ways to kill; they always have. But by increments, over time, with changing mores….A few less gun fights breaking out at family BBQs, a few less corner boys shooting their Glocks at each other (and killing little children in the crossfire). And I don’t believe that the NRA can remain as big and powerful as it is indefinitely if it doesn’t moderate its politics. Remember when George H.W. Bush resigned from the NRA after Wayne LaPierre spoke of jack-booted thugs? There will be more high-profile resignations, I suspect, in the weeks to come. Incremental change matters when the measure is human lives.

    1. I agree with your comments. I am just wary of panaceas which I see offered in various forums by persons who seem to think that one more law or some more robust regulations or a new national commission or spending x-amount more dollars will definitely improve the situation.

      And, of course, you are right about incremental change. A few years ago I had a nasty debate on Free Republic over the issue of gay marriage. I predicted, at that time, that sometime in the not-too-distant future, people would look back and wonder what all the fuss was about because gay marriages would become commonplace and none of the horrors being predicted by my critics (grandparents marrying their grandchildren; polygamy; fathers marrying their children, or even more bizarre scenarios) would come to pass. I had a very hard time getting my opponents to specify what, exactly, they feared most if two people of the same sex decided to get married and I asked them to give me examples from countries that had already legalized same-sex marriage. Of course, nobody could provide any.

      Ultimately, we can hope there will be a cultural change. Maybe even Hollywood will cooperate and produce one or two compelling films a year with no violence or mayhem.

      1. I think you’ve read me enough at this point to realize that I’m pretty circumspect for a radical.

        And yes to Hollywood, and God help us, the game industry. I don’t believe in censorship, but the level of mayhem in popular entertainment is beyond horrible. The bodies just pile up, and no one ever leaves a grieving parent behind–or even a mess. Unless it’s CSI, the crime scenes magically clean themselves.

        This isn’t new either. Some day when you have nothing else to do, tune into one of the Christian channels that just broadcasts wholesome fare from a more innocent day, and see what went on in our old TV westerns. You didn’t get the sadism that you do nowadays, the gratuitous torture, but the moral code they presented was Hammurabian in the extreme. When people had serious differences, they settled them with guns. End of story. Like you say, the roots of the gun culture go very deep.

  8. Charles K’s column presents some very compelling data — so I copy it below:

    The roots of mass murder

    By Charles Krauthammer, Published: December 20

    Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause with corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.

    Let’s be serious:

    (1) The Weapon

    Within hours of last week’s Newtown, Conn., massacre, the focus was the weapon and the demand was for new gun laws. Several prominent pro-gun Democrats remorsefully professed new openness to gun control. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is introducing a new assault weapons ban. And the president emphasized guns and ammo above all else in announcing the creation of a new task force.

    I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn’t work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry and repeal the Second Amendment, it’s almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.

    Feinstein’s law, for example, would exempt 900 weapons. And that’s the least of the loopholes. Even the guns that are banned can be made legal with simple, minor modifications.

    Most fatal, however, is the grandfathering of existing weapons and magazines. That’s one of the reasons the ’94 law failed. At the time, there were 1.5 million assault weapons in circulation and 25 million large-capacity (i.e., more than 10 bullets) magazines. A reservoir that immense can take 100 years to draw down.

    (2) The Killer

    Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free. As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people — often right out of the emergency room — as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the crushing bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today.

    Why do you think we have so many homeless? Destitution? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on.

    A tiny percentage of the mentally ill become mass killers. Just about everyone around Tucson shooter Jared Loughner sensed he was mentally ill and dangerous. But in effect, he had to kill before he could be put away — and (forcibly) treated.

    Random mass killings were three times more common in the 2000s than in the 1980s, when gun laws were actually weaker. Yet a 2011 University of California at Berkeley study found that states with strong civil commitment laws have about a one-third lower homicide rate.

    (3) The Culture

    We live in an entertainment culture soaked in graphic, often sadistic, violence. Older folks find themselves stunned by what a desensitized youth finds routine, often amusing. It’s not just movies. Young men sit for hours pulling video-game triggers, mowing down human beings en masse without pain or consequence. And we profess shock when a small cadre of unstable, deeply deranged, dangerously isolated young men go out and enact the overlearned narrative.

    If we’re serious about curtailing future Columbines and Newtowns, everything — guns, commitment, culture — must be on the table. It’s not hard for President Obama to call out the NRA. But will he call out the ACLU? And will he call out his Hollywood friends?

    The irony is that over the last 30 years, the U.S. homicide rate has declined by 50 percent. Gun murders as well. We’re living not through an epidemic of gun violence but through a historic decline.

    Except for these unfathomable mass murders. But these are infinitely more difficult to prevent. While law deters the rational, it has far less effect on the psychotic. The best we can do is to try to detain them, disarm them and discourage “entertainment” that can intensify already murderous impulses.

    But there’s a cost. Gun control impinges upon the Second Amendment; involuntary commitment impinges upon the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment; curbing “entertainment” violence impinges upon First Amendment free speech.

    That’s a lot of impingement, a lot of amendments. But there’s no free lunch. Increasing public safety almost always means restricting liberties.

    We made that trade after 9/11. We make it every time the Transportation Security Administration invades your body at an airport. How much are we prepared to trade away after Newtown?

    Read more from The Washington Post: Debbie Dingell: Gun-control fights won’t solve the real problem Greg Sargent: Dems to push for more sweeping “assault weapons” ban Jennifer Rubin: Ten ideas for addressing mass shootings Harold Meyerson: Why does America have so many guns? Dana Milbank: Obama struggles to keep focus on gun control The Post’s View: The president’s can’t-miss window for gun control Senator Charles Schumer: The Second Amendment, with sensible limits

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