Gun Madness Takes 27 More Lives

Here is the gun that killed 27 people, 18 of them children [UPDATE: According to the most recent reports, 20 of the 27 killed were children]. Is this the firearm that hunters use to kill deer or ducks? Is it the popular model for home protection? Is this the gun that a woman might keep on her person for protection?

Please. Tell me. I don’t know that much about guns. Maybe a woman or a homeowner or a hunter really does need a firearm that is designed to kill large numbers of people in multiple rounds without having to reload. So what is that reason?

Susie, sometimes I can’t bring myself to blog for days (weeks?) for exactly that reason. Writing about this stuff day in and day out is hard if you have a capacity for empathy.

I should stop looking at right-wing Twitter feeds.

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jim Fallows:

Here's the difference:

22 children, 1 adult injured in knife attack outside central China primary school.

Twenty-two children injured. Versus, at current count, 18 little children and nine other people shot dead. That’s the difference between a knife and a gun.

Guns don’t attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again — and again and again. You can look it up.
Thousands of people die every year from gun violence, an unspeakable number at schools, and — we mourn and “move on.” “Nothing to be done.”

For parents, siblings, and families whose lives have been forever changed (or ended), deepest sympathies. For us as a nation …. I don’t know what to say.

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Kathy Kattenburg

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    • Hope that Onion writer went out and got roaringly drunk. If I had anything to say about it, he/she wouldn’t buy a drink for the entire night.

  • I commented this at Susies place also:

    Fear of losing a seat in Congress is the biggest reason we have weenines in Congress that absolutely refuse to hold the NRA’s feet to the fire.

    Unless and until we get lots of folks continuously beating the drum for some form of gun control, nothing will happen.

  • It’s very unlikely that that’s the specific model of the weapon used. That looks to be one of the “Mk-12 type” rifles that have been floating about on the civilian market since Crane developed them – a quite tarted up version. They’re intended as something commonly called a designated marksman rifle – capable of considerable accuracy over near- and medium-distances, but not a full-bore military sniper weapon (they don’t use 5.56 mm NATO for that purpose). Something in the AR-15 family is quite plausible, but that specific type of weapon is unlikely.

      • Sorry, but no.

        From the text accompanying the tweet: “Suspect used .223 caliber rifle. This is a picture of a .223 rifle. This is legal.” [emphasis added]

        There are many, many, many different types of rifles chambered in .223 (generally these will actually be chambered in 5.56 mm NATO rather than .223 Remington – they are very similar rounds / spec sets, but not entirely identical in ways that are frankly too arcane for most of you to need to worry about). The specific weapon pictured is a pretty specialized piece – I haven’t been able to determine who specifically manufactured the upper, but the furniture, the magazine, and the yard of optics on the top indicate that it was set up as someone’s idea of a DMR.The thing on the front is a bipod and the buttstock is an aftermarket with an adjustable monopod so one can easily lay in position with the crosshairs of the scope laying on the target without having to hold the stock hard against one’s shoulder (this reduces muscle fatigue and increases accuracy). It’s set up as a short- to medium-range “sniper” weapon. One can never be too sure given the “fashionability” of these things, but more than anything it’s specced out as someone’s idea of what a police sniper weapon might be.

        • It was a Bushmaster 223. The same kind used by the DC snipers.

          Also, I should perhaps point out that this was only one of the weapons found in the school/car, and all of them were capable of accommodating an extended clip that could fire up to 30 rounds without reloading. I’m not sure why you are so focused on the exact specifications of one assault rifle that no one outside of the military or law enforcement has any need for in the first place. That’s the relevant point.

          • Uh, because you asked what the weapon was for, saying you don’t know much about guns. Sorry I wasted my time on your rhetorical flourish.

  • Tweet

    peteradediran ‏@PeterAdediran

    The problem with the USA is that it had no founding mothers, just founding fathers. #compassion

    A little boy who died wrote this during the lockdown.


    • Adrena, asperger’s is not a mental health problem. It’s a form of autism, and actually, the new DSM has removed it as a diagnosis.

          • Maybe we shouldn’t make any definite statements about what Adam Lanza’s problems were. I mean, ask yourself how the NYT could have any information solid enough to write a profile of Lanza on the very same day the shootings happened. The police and the experts investigating this incident don’t even know the answers to those questions yet. Also, if you look at the paragraph where the article mentions Asperger’s, it does not say Lanza has Asperger’s. It says that someone the reporter talked to said that someone else had told him or her that Lanza has Asperger’s. I mean, it isn’t even a direct quote, and the source isn’t even identified.

  • Beautiful!

    From Strong Fathers Maine

    Today makes it clear once again that I can not protect my children from every act of random violence. It is my job to keep them from walking into predictable danger, to keep them healthy and free of illness, to teach them to ask for help when they need it.

    I will not allow the actions of a man who chose violence directed at innocents to change the freedom I give my children to move through this world. I will not dehumanize the mentally ill or even the criminal. I will tell them that they are loved and that I will work every day to be the father that they deserve.

    #SandyHook #Fatherhood

  • “Uh, because you asked what the weapon was for, saying you don’t know much about guns. Sorry I wasted my time on your rhetorical flourish.”

    Uh, JustPlainDave, I was being sarcastic. I was not seriously asking for answers to my questions. My point was and is that there IS no legitimate purpose for which an ordinary person not in the military or law enforcement should have such weapons.

    • And there I got my hopes up at the thought that someone might actually admit that they didn’t know it all and hadn’t drawn their conclusions long in the past. Please do continue using the community as something to talk at rather than talk with, we do so appreciate it.

      Just to be clear, that last bit was sarcasm.

  • I find degenerates who flaunt their “knowledge” of guns and other weaponry to be repulsive, immature, self-absorbed twits. I see we have another one of these bed-wetting pedants on this thread. You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to understand this type of obsession is rooted in inadequacy fears about penis size and an ego that was stunted somewhere around the twelve year-old mark.

    • Aw, how sweet. While we’re sharing what we find repulsive, what makes my list is how increasingly what’s privileged is the emotive chest beating to the detriment of thought and understanding. If one gnashes teeth and rends clothes with sufficient extrovert draaawma, man that’s good. Facts, well those are bad. This rather neatly explains why your political opponents continue to run rings around you with manufactured data. I mean shit, who needs data – let the contest just be about jingoism and chest beating, what about the decades worth of getting your collective political asses kicked up and down the block by well resourced idiots would lead one to believe that strategy won’t be successful this time? While y’all are excoriating the NRA, you emoters should save some bile for yourselves – they’re assholes selling an evil agenda and you can’t quite seem to concentrate on what’s important so they can be defeated.

      This increasing focus in Internet mediated discourse on preaching back and forth to from the choir with the group approved hallelujah of the day seems to have robbed the body politic of what little sense of strategic thought y’all had. I mean shit, we’re how many posts in and no one’s pointed out that the reporting increasingly indicates that the primary weapons were handguns (and that the rifle that was the lightning rod stayed in the car). In fact, reporting seems to indicate that the weapons were legally held. For the non-emoters among you, that’s important for a couple of reasons: 1) it seems like handguns are increasingly on the rise in these types of scenarios, 2) the lethality of handguns in these things also appears to be on the rise (I would guess related to increases in ammo capability – maybe the frangibles – and capacity [oops, sorry – fact-based thought crime]), 3) it also seems like either increasingly these weapons are legally owned or there’s always been a high level of legal ownership of them, 4) the argument for gun control is at its strongest when focusing on misuse of legally owned handguns. All of which says to me that, hey, maybe there’s an actual opportunity to move the issue a bit based on issues of fact – that folks would rather chorus well-used tropes back and forth at each other, well, as I said at the top – some of us non-emoters find that every bit as repulsive as you emoters apparently find conscious seeking, construction and examination of data.

      That phrase up on top of the masthead says “Thoughtful, Global, Timely”. It notably does not say “Internet-mediated, group self-administered primal therapy on the cheap”. The latter increasingly is perhaps more apropos, but I live and dream.

      • Handy information in the second graf but JPD, you have author privileges and therefore owe an apology to Kathy for your curmudeonly attitude. She has the guts to put her name up there under a headline when you refuse to. You don’t have to “live and dream” when you could be doing something more concrete – posting. Don’t throw stones at my staff when you live in a glass house, please.

        • It’s not a lack of courage Steve. Believe me, I’ve told enough powerful people they were full of shit to their face for it not to be that. What it is frankly, is lack of getting anything out of it. I’m not wired like many of the folks who post regularly seem to me to be. I don’t actually care what someone else thinks in terms of their moral opinion – I care a very great deal if someone can contribute to making a set of ideas or interpretations better, but other than that, not so much. Situationally expressed morality doesn’t appeal to me – I’ve seen too much of what excesses it tolerates in the name of what it knows to be revealed truths. Given the current posting norms around here, frankly that means I can post something interesting, have a huge bunfight, be told in various ways that I fall far short of the rarified standards of my social, intellectual, moral and financial betters, and at the end of the day be no further ahead on understanding a set of issues, which is what I want out of things.

          So, no, I don’t put the effort into posting much, because there’s no worthwhile payoff. Being cognizant of the fact that there are some questions that are very difficult for others to gain much leverage on, but trivial for me to answer (the history and military role of accurized AR-15 pattern weapons would be an example), if I have the time* and if I think it will help someone, I post it. If there’s something short that I could say that might help someone see something in a more contextualized way or from a useful dimension they don’t appear to have considered, I post it. Other than that, that’s about the extent of my role. I daresay that many of the old regulars from ’03 and earlier who are still lurking about are in the same boat, only even more so.

          In any case, I do apologize, Kathy for being curmudgeonly. Kathy, I would ask that you understand that when you ask a question, I may well try to answer it if I think it will help you. I would appreciate it if you would pay me the courtesy of not seeking to play rhetorical gotcha when I do so.

          *(often I don’t have the time – on that note, check Foreign Policy for Jeff’s latest on the NorK test – the point I would have made had I the time – at the time – in response to your post on external support for Iranian missile development is that the technology flow from external players was never all that direct [being mostly from China funnelled through the NorK’s] and has for a while now been reversed)

          • “In any case, I do apologize, Kathy for being curmudgeonly”.

            Hey, JPD I almost missed it!

            Sometimes a good idea, when apologizing, even when pressed for time. at least to put the apology and the next volley in separate graphs:-)

            Great info, as usual..

    • Suck it up Skriz. JPD’s knowledge of weapons is professional, unlike yours.

      If the subject were computers instead of guns, there are damn few people around with my 50+ years of experience. Would you then condemn any of my posts-as-an-expert and attribute them to Freudian causes?

      The tone and wording of your evaluation shouts ‘pop psychology’ to me.

  • The exclusive focus on guns in this tragic story comes at the expense of taking a critical look at the culture that produces such troubled young men.

    Eric Michael Johnson, an evolutionary anthropologist, wrote an essay, following the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, on the ecology of gun violence in America.

    Except for my disagreement with using ape analogies (funny that Bonobos are never mentioned) to explain human behavior, I do agree with the proposed solution.

    Johnson cites the work of Ichiro Kawachi, who in 1999 led a study at the Harvard School of Public Health investigating the factors in American homicide for the journal Social Science and Medicine. His diagnosis was dire.

    “If the level of crime is an indicator of the health of society,” Kawachi wrote, “then the US provides an illustrative case study as one of the most unhealthy of modern industrialized nations.” The paper outlined what the most significant causal factors were for this exaggerated level of violence by developing what was called “an ecological theory of crime.” Whereas many other analyses of homicide take a criminal justice approach to the problem–such as the number of cops on the beat, harshness of prison sentences, or adoption of the death penalty–Kawachi used a public health perspective that emphasized social relations.

    Johnson cites a number of additional studies – his essay is well worth reading.

    The following is worth contemplating.

    As primates we don’t simply respond to our environment; we actively build it through our interactions with others and the shared culture we create in a process known as niche construction, to use the technical jargon. And, as any baboon can tell you, what we construct isn’t always good for the least among us. Fortunately, as Forest Troop has demonstrated, there is no law of nature forcing things to stay that way.

    The high level of inequality, both within the United States as well as between countries globally, was constructed through a process of social interactions. It can be deconstructed the same way. Source

  • Thank you, Adrena. I’m glad you didn’t take offense. 🙂

    Also, to add to your comment above about Eric Michael Johnson, anyone who has not yet read Dave Cullen’s book on Columbine, I highly recommend it. It provides a lot of insights that are relevant for Newtown and just about these types of mass killings in general.

  • Is the latest killer a psychopath or a depressed person who blew his stack such as the two Columbine killers? Is it important that a distinction be made? Knowing won’t bring back any of the 28 murder victims.

    From what I read Connecticut has the most restrictive gun licensing in the United States, yet in this instance all the guns were legally purchased by the Mother whom the killer shot, then drove to the school where he could kill more including himself. He chose to use the two repeating handguns and left the military-style, assault rifle in his deceased, mother’s car.

    The media sensationalizes these ghastly deeds and possibly causes future killings to occur at a higher level.

    Americans won’t be safe as long as its society accepts that innocent lives must be sacrificed. Sadly, increased numbers of victims won’t decrease the incidence of mass executions. Too many people become famous for being killers–death row will just have to be made bigger. Tragically, violence begets violence. American culture will need to reinvent itself in order to reduce mass killings.

    No one, living in a civilized country needs weapons. Or perhaps, the return to an American society using muzzle-loading shotguns will reduce crime, mass murders and satisfy its population’s need for Constitutional self-defense methods.

  • Kathy K wrote: “Is this the gun that a woman might keep on her person for protection”?

    Answer: not only did she own (and legally purchased) the weapons used, but she took BOTH sons to a nearby shooting range to practice. That does NOT imply that she as a female would have ever used a gun one-on-one and certainly not in a massacre like her son deployed the weapons. But, I am reminded of the Mexican Pancho Villa’s (paraphrased) remark that when one flirts with violence, one dances with the devil. Once she began exposing her son to shooting practice, given the boy’s shaky psyche, the genie was out of the bottle. It may have been laudable at first: self-protection, an injection of self-confidence for an insecure youth, “family” recreating together, whatever. Who knows at this point? The fact remains that she (mom Lanza) also had a considerable collection of additional firearms beyond these used @ the school, some sort of ‘antiquey’ and like any other tool that represents power and force and violence, it becomes something to reach for that is familiar and at hand when an imbalanced mind loses it. Yes, the explosive force of detonation IS violent; it is certainly not a monk’s gong nor the sound of serenity, so if a 20-year old disturbed mind is going to turn to such an expression of power, force, or violence, and the tools are readily at hand, there is the possibility the outcome will be a rampage. The outcome could also be a trip to the range to practice shoot and disperse such energies w/o any further ado. Because we are dealing with a school and twenty 6 & 7 year olds and the adults associated with education, this is a major tragedy which will not be forgotten for decades. Nonetheless the number of those innocents murdered @ mass shootings in our USA by these incomprehensible nutjobs is, over the last three decades of atrocities, barely four unfortunate humans each year. It is obviously much, much worse nationally in episodes of everyday rage. I do not think the Supreme Court has properly interpreted the Amendment that speaks to a “well-regulated militia” based on the Colonies’ of year 1800 and that guns of any sort are a serious societal issue that in fact bears on how humans evolve toward progressive and enlightened self-management. But, if Kathy or anyone reading about this atrocity thinks gun “rights” will be abridged as a result of incidents such as this massacre, they are deluded more by hope than a good dose of how the world works. Civilization will have to keep evolving with enormously less violent lessons of war, large and small, before in generations, we have mature human compassion and even then, there will be those beyond the pall. Want to limit the type of guns that can be sold legally? Then they’ll be sold illegally. Want to get rid of all guns at some unspecified time in the future of humankind? Then the nutcakes will do car bombs like go off every other day in the Middle East. We ALL have to tire of violence, reward caring, and learn to channel these energies throughout our society. As long as there are examples of such rage and insanity all around us, these events will occasionally burst upon ourselves and that is the fact of the matter. Stay safe, everyone; it’s a zoo out here.

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