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Following Massacre in Newtown, A National Call for Action on Gun Violence

Society & Culture  (tags: abuse, activists, americans, children, corruption, crime, culture, death, dishonesty, education, ethics, family, freedoms, government, law, media, movies, murder, politics, rights, sadness, safety, society, violence )

- 1983 days ago -
Can massacre in Newtown break pattern of US indifference to gun violence and cultural depravity that allows it?

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Kit B (276)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 9:04 am
(photo credit: Common Dreams) Alice Chen, right, and Alizza Manzoeillo participate in a candlelight vigil outside the White House for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (December 14, 2012)

As the horrific details of Friday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut crystallized overnight, a familiar but possibly heightened outcry has wrung out across the country that the US must finally release itself from the grip of the radical gun industry lobbyists to address the culture's deep problem with gun violence.

Paired with a call for better gun safety measures—including mandatory background checks, a ban on high-capacity clips and semi-automatic weapons, and an end to the various loopholes that allow for easy purchase and a thriving black market—others also say that now is the exact right time to acknowledge, discuss, and find a remedy for the mental health crisis that has long plagued the nation.

"How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation and the killing of innocents?" asked the Children's Defense Fund's Marian Wright Edelman.

Noting that 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence since 1979 (when such collection of such statistics began), Edelman said this number is larger than the number of Americans killed in any of the 20th century's largest wars.

"Where is our anti-war movement to protect children from pervasive gun violence here at home?" she asked.

Though White House spokesman Jay Carney received wide rebuke for saying that Friday "was not the day" to talk about gun control, the President reassured some mildly in his later remarks by saying "we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."

Within hours of the shooting, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, half a dozen online petitions had been started urging Obama and Congress to take action on gun violence.

The Brady Campaign, one of the nation's chief advocacy groups for stronger gun laws, said it was moved by Obama's emotional comments—where the president pushed away tears—and said it was ready with him "channel it into the change that is too long overdue."

A petition sponsored by the Brady Campaign under the name We Are Better Than This, was also spotlighted overnight, offering support for the victims and their families and saying, "We must work to make the voice of the American public heard. We all just want to live in a safer nation."

Other groups and commentators, however—having seen previous mass killings like Friday's spur discussion and lofy rhetoric but no action—were sadly predicting that even the death of twenty kindergarten-aged children will not be enough to break through the lock held by the nation's gun lobbyists and the industry's political operatives.

As the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said in a statement:

"Our elected leaders, in the coming hours, will issue the typical platitudes to those who have seen their loved ones gunned down in cold blood, telling them, “Our thoughts and prayers with you.” Then, if the pattern holds, they will immediately retreat into silence and refuse to engage in any meaningful debate about America’s catastrophically flawed gun laws, which directly facilitate one gun massacre after the next."

The group said that this pattern should be unacceptable to Americans of conscience, and that the day of carnage and death of innocent children should compel the nation to "Americans must demand immediate action by our President and Congress to reform our gun laws."

The CSGV also held a vigil outside the White House Friday evening, calling on lawmakers to move beyond promises towards meaningful action. As Time's Alex Altman reports:


As twilight descended on Washington Friday afternoon, about 50 gun-control activists clustered on the pavement outside the White House for a candlelight vigil to urge action from the President after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school left 27 dead. There will be an appropriate time for chewing over national gun policy, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters earlier Friday, “but I don’t think today is that day.” The activists disagreed. Many toted placards reading “#todayIStheday.” Another hand-scrawled sign bore a fatalistic warning: “Today: Sandy Hook. Tomorrow: ?”

The vigil had a slapdash feel; it was assembled on the fly earlier Friday by a coalition of anti-gun advocates already in Washington for meetings. Preachers, professional activists and sympathetic passers-by offered prayers for the President, testified to how gun violence had impacted their lives, or simply joined in chants of “We Shall Overcome.”

Many praised the tone of Obama’s tearful call for “meaningful action” earlier Friday, during brief remarks delivered in the White House briefing room named for a shooting victim. But they said the sentiments alone were insufficient. “It’s not enough, Mr. President,” said Toby Hoover, the the executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. “It’s just not enough.” Leroy Duncan, an activist from Minnesota, spoke movingly of the 86 Americans who die of gun violence each day. “These people need heroes,” he said. “President Obama, you can be that hero.”

Writing at Common Dreams, Ira Chernus, professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, put focus on the mental health aspects of the violence in Connecticut and the troubling fact that the "mental health problem" in the US is not a problem simply because some individuals are afflicted with mental and emotional illness, but because the nation—as a communal whole—has a problem it has for too long ignored.

Chernus writes:

When we talk about mentally or emotionally disturbed individuals, our society puts the emphasis on “individuals.” Without really thinking about it, most of us assume that we’re dealing with peculiar cases, each one caused by some unique set of problems encased in one individual’s brain.

We just don’t have many cultural resources at all to think about mental/emotional disturbance as a societal problem. Oh, there’s shelves full of books in university libraries which can teach us to see it that way. But that academic perspective has not percolated through to our shared public myths. We still tend, as a society, rather reflexively to see troubled people as individual “weirdos,” unique outliers from the norm. [...]

What we have here, to some degree that’s impossible to quantify, is a living legacy of the days when mental and emotional disturbance were interpreted as signs of sin. (“Evil visited this community today,” said Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, as if the the tragedy were caused by some distant, utterly alien metaphysical force.) Just as sin was seen to be the responsibility of the individual, so mental/emotional disturbance is still seen to be, if not the individual’s responsibility, at least an individual problem. The proud American tradition of individualism is also, I suspect, at the root of the popular resistance to gun control.

Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams|

***A new trend on Twitter began after Carney's comments, with many following the hashtag #todayIStheday, meaning the day to "talk about gun violence."

Happening Now: Common Dreams’ Live Coverage
Elementary School Shooting in Connecticut
NomadicAmerican profile

NomadicAmerican I'm so incredibly saddened by the shooting in CT on Friday. I worked as a nanny less than one hour from Newtown. #todayistheday 9 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
AnthonyM601 profile

AnthonyM601 Reading through list of deceased in Newtown shooting. God be with those an their families #todayistheday 18 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
randyyagi profile

randyyagi Widespread outrage in wake of shooting in Connecticut #sandyhook, #todayistheday, #gunviolence, #newtown 21 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite
superdeazy profile

superdeazy #Todayistheday RT @guardian: Top story = Newtown gunman kills 20 children in elementary school shooting

++These are but a few of the millions of comments on tweeter - People are in shock and horror about the death of 20 babies in New town, Connecticut and maybe - just maybe this will finally be ENOUGH.

. (0)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 12:34 pm
Enough has been enough for years. Obama, with his teary eyed speech now has to become a President and enact federal regulation on gun control. The individual states must give up their gun laws, and a federal law has to be enforced.
If this man has any Presidential skills, this is Obama's time to prove it. LBJ had a higher mountain to climb to enact Civil Rights.Is Obama up to the task?

JL A (281)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 7:21 pm
People need to stop worshiping violence and condoning it in our society--especially leaders...and Christians should never put a viewpoint of how to interpret the constitution ahead of what their Bible tells them Jesus commanded--where the lives and safety of children such as these must come first.

Laurie H (817)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 7:27 pm
This last act of unspeakable violence has sent shock waves through our very souls!! YES---This is the final straw-we've had enough-we're all engrossed in grief, but I pray finally ready to face and deal effectively with what needs to be done. THIS HAS TO STOP NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~ Thank you, Kit.~

Joy Wong (103)
Monday December 17, 2012, 12:47 am
This is a great tragedy. There are no words to describe the pain and anguish that people all around the world are going through right now. Just praying for the families that God will grant them the strength to get through this difficult time.

Gloria picchetti (304)
Monday December 17, 2012, 5:41 am
Gun control is the only answer.

Andrea Turek (0)
Monday December 17, 2012, 5:42 am
There is no need for assault weapons here...strong , tough,gun laws with "real" background checks...
Please, we need to protect our children...please, protect our children now.

Arielle S (313)
Monday December 17, 2012, 6:59 am

NY Times: In past 6 months, more Americans killed by guns than COMBINED total of dead Yanks in Iraq, Afghan & all terrorist acts of past 25 years.

If only the first victim, Adam Lanza's mother, had been a gun owner, she could have stopped this before it started.

RT ‏@marlasuehale @MMFlint obviously that argument the NRA folks have been using doesn't work after all.

Mitchell D (87)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:06 am
Gun control is very long overdue. IF nothing else we need to stop the proliferation of assault weapons, and automatic and semi-automatic weapons, of any sort as well.
Regarding mental illness, and I have been a licensed psychotherapist for 40 years, the mentally ill are more often victims of violence than vice-versa. BUT, with the "Fiscal Cliff" still coming towards us, let us not balance any budget on the backs of human services. That is what St. Reagan did, destroying one of the best Mental Health programs in the country, when he was Gov. of California!

Past Member (0)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:42 am
TU Kit, spam reported.

Past Member (0)
Monday December 17, 2012, 1:06 pm
I hope with all my heart that real change finally comes about in the wake of this.

I have to say, though, I'm skeptical. Astonishingly, there are those who will do all they can to block change.

What kind of a society is this?

Jelica R (144)
Monday December 17, 2012, 6:01 pm
I'm putting this petition list everywhere:

1. Enough vagueness. We want gun control.

2. The PetitionSite: How Many Kids Need to Die? We Need Better Gun Control NOW.

3. The PetitionSite: President Obama: We Need to Talk About Gun Control, TODAY

4. Avaaz: President Obama: Time to Talk About Gun Control

5. Today Is the Day for Common Sense Gun Regulations

6. Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Demand a Plan

7. Newtown, today we tell our leaders "No more!"

8. Daily Kos: Now is the time to talk gun control

9. Faithful America: Mike Huckabee's unchristian rhetoric about school shootings

10. AVAAZ: Tell the NRA: ENOUGH!

11. We the People: Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.

12. Force Change: Stop Gun Violence: Urge President Obama to Enforce Stricter Gun Policies

13. Force Change: We Are Ready to Have a Conversation About Gun Control in the United States

Kit B (276)
Monday December 17, 2012, 6:27 pm

All signed thanks, Jelica.

Jelica R (144)
Monday December 17, 2012, 6:49 pm
It is a good article, Kit. Thinking of it, my country is generally perceived as very safe; with low crime and low violence rates; but I have noticed trends of elevated violence and selfishness here. With current concentration of wealth in ever less hands, future of populace is grim. Hungry, desperate and excluded masses will do whatever it takes to survive. I am not sure how this situation will resolve and I am worried about the outcome, and the price humanity will have yet to pay.

JL A (281)
Monday December 17, 2012, 8:41 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Jelica because you have done so within the last week.

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 3:53 pm
We must not let up on our pursuit of enacting laws to stop producing Assault Weapons, high density clips, and end gun shows where background checks are never done. I've signed all the petitions, and will continue to. My member of Congress, Ron Barber, is on board....and I will keep pestering my Senators. We must not let this die in the dust.

Janine H (105)
Sunday January 6, 2013, 6:20 am
maybe or maybe not... thinking about the news, that more weapons have been sold since these terrible killings... somehow it seems, as if everything to make the rights about weapons seems useless...

somehow wild west (or middle ages?) mentality?

Why not making these rights more strict: someone who wants a weapon has to have a minimum age (with 16 allowed to drive a car, with 21 adult and allowed to consume alcohol, and with which age allowed to use a weapon, isn't it weird?) and why not asking for a test about mental/psychic health? Someone who wants a weapon and who wants to use it should have a GOOD MENTAL/PSYCHIC HEALTH and he/she should be completely sure about this RESPONSIBILITY, that a WEAPON IS made FOR KILLING and that he/she does not use it for killing, running amok, etc. only as protection...

as child i went through hell (sexual abuse, caused by others in school and by confirmands - the priest left me alone, and so he killed religion for me, the others killed my childhood, and me, too) and too often i wished, i would have a weapon and hold it directly at the head of each of these tormentors, NOT to shoot, NOT to kill, but to let them feel, how it is to have fear...

i was thrown in hell, and still in it, without hope... i can imagine how the girl in India must have felt...
about the families i understand that they wish their children would survive, but what a life is this when it is only the body which is still alive, when the "soul" (or whatever)is
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