Elementary School Shooting December 14, 2012

Posted by Supersentai 
I was a bit surprised that there wasn't a posting concerning the tragedy today. Eighteen elementary age children and nine adults killed by a lone gunman. For all the "can't get much worse than this" moments I've lived in my 40 plus years, I had a hard time holding it together today, as did several of my colleauges. I think the abject horror of a room full of kindergarten age children systematically murdered in front of each other hits you hard whether you have children or not. Mine got an extra special hug when I got home today.

Politicians started emerging with the gun control debate mantra, as expected, but I'll give you my prediction. You will see those schools, especially those with younger children, either hire armed security or have teachers or administration become certified with access to weapons on campus. Many high schools have full-time armed cops as deterrent for gang activites, as well as in response to Columbine. However, elementary schools have been staffed, at best, with unarmed "patrol guards" who have little to no professional training or responsibilites other than opening the front door for deliveries and would be useless in a situation like today.
Given the demonstrated weaknessess of such a system, and the inherent threat of any repeat incidence, such a shift will likely occur in an effort to fight the "last war", as is always the empasis of security strategists. The alternative of calling 911 and waiting ten minutes isn't going to make any parent feel safe again.

One observation I made in a racially mixed work environment was that my minority, mostly black, coworkers were not as shocked by the events of the day as were my white peers. This isn't to say they didn't express sorrow for the situation, or sympathy for those affected, but after years of equally senseless deaths of innocent children from drive-by's and the like, there's a hardness that already has cemented in that culture that white Americans haven't had to develop as a coping mechanism.

The 2012 Chicago murder rate hit 400 recently, mostly involving minorities and gang violence. Whether it be a 12 year old girl on her porch or an 18 year old CHILD acting as a gang member, it almost has to serve as an uneasy sense of relief when tragedies such as this unfold in the white community for no other reason that maybe we'll all start to care about the one innocent victim of violence regardless of the community in which it occurs. It's easy for white folks to tune out the violence that goes on year-round in the black and minority communites, but every once in a while a white guy shows we can take crazy to a whole different and staggeringly inhumane level. It shouldn't take an incident such as today's to espouse serious political attention, but you'll be seeing the response to today's events continue for years to come.

I plan to remember the children, those who died, as well as those who survived; the brave and selfless teachers who died defending their students; and the families of those impacted by today's violence in my prayers tonight. Shamefully my most furvent prayer will be gratitude that I didn't lose a child today in this way, and can't even begin to imagine how I would get on with my life for some time in the shadow of such pain.
Not to be flippant about this tragedy, at all, but I'm not sure why you expected to see a post about it on a toy board. Personally, with the instant access to information, nonstop status updates, and 24hr news cycles, this site is a respite from all that.

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
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hillsy
Not to be flippant about this tragedy, at all, but I'm not sure why you expected to see a post about it on a toy board. Personally, with the instant access to information, nonstop status updates, and 24hr news cycles, this site is a respite from all that.

W/r/t to something like this, I imagine a toy board is where people would go to get away from being inundated with it. This shooting, as heartbreaking and horrific as it is, will remain just a pointless tragedy unless legislation arises that at the very least severely restricts gun ownership in this country. Otherwise, it'll just be added to a long list of examples of how dangerous a gun-enthusiast culture can be.

Another fantasy I have is that media coverage of shootings like these would be opposite of what it is now--sensationalized, gratuitous, and inspirational to aspiring psychos everywhere. Also, inflaming the various feelings of schadenfreude (e.g., I'm so lucky it's not my kid) inspired in people not directly affected by such tragedies. Which isn't to say that there's no such thing as collective grief and mourning, and I'm certainly not accusing supersentai of emotional rubbernecking, but it's unfortunate that in all likelihood, after the shock of this tragedy has receded from our collective consciousness and is replaced by the shock of a new one, probably not much will have really changed. I'd love to be proven wrong, though.
As to the purpose for posting on this site, there is a history of national and international tragedies landing here as conversation points, which serve as long term markers that life other than toys occupies our thoughts and energies.

As to the shameful pride element in the "glad it's not my kid" sentiment, for all the things that go through my head to worry about in this world, nobody, even in the wake of equally savage school, movie theater, mall, and place of worship shootings, had ever credibly offered the possibility of an attack directly on children in this manner. I took a sharp, penetratingly deep breath when I first saw this story unfolding, as much as I suppose someone with "top" this down the road, it will take something of a magnitude I cannot fathom, and am content not to, at this time. I remember how uneasy I was watching Episode III of Star Wars, where Anakin slaughters the kid Jedi corps, and how silly it seemed as a means to personify his turn to evil. Not that I take those movies seriously, but I can't imagine you'll see it on cable for a while.

I respect the thought that goes into many of the off-topic postings from you guys on this site, and appreciate the varied backgrounds and social lenses that punctuate these discussions. I just felt that putting something that I carried out of the day was something I felt like sharing, simple as that.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Yeah, I respect this thread, Adam. I'm not on facebook (thankfully) and I don't watch/read/listen to most mainstream media outside of sports, so I see threads like this the same as discussing shit in person with my boys or my coworkers. And I guess I've never looked at this forum as any form of respite or escape from the "real world"...

Anyway, that observation about people of color perhaps not being as *surprised* as white folks is interesting to me. As this shit unfolded, I was at work, and my group consists of a couple Asian guys and a white dude who grew up on the outskirts of essentially the murder capital of Massachusetts. None of us were shocked. Saddened, yes, but not surprised. The conversations that sprung up about the shooting were all related to systemic problems in this country: advanced capitalism, mental health oppression, the greater and greater separation and isolation of constituency/identity groups in our culture, etc...

Oh, and gun control. One weird thing (to me) is how fucked up events like these (which I think are only gonna get more severe and frequent as long as shit keeps heading in the direction it is) tend to lead to discussions about gun control. Huh? I'm all for gun control...but guns didn't make that dude kill all those people. That dude's hellacious life--most likely ultimately caused by a combination of those systemic problems--led to the shootings. Like I said, I'm all for gun control: AR-15's are pretty fucked up because they can be modded very easily from "lawful/reasonable gun" to "let's take out as many people as we can". But band-aiding these social problems with stricter gun control is dumb. You want stronger gun control? Cool. I'm down. Just make that argument completely separate from these tragic shootings.
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Sanjeev
Yeah, I respect this thread, Adam. I'm not on facebook (thankfully) and I don't watch/read/listen to most mainstream media outside of sports, so I see threads like this the same as discussing shit in person with my boys or my coworkers. And I guess I've never looked at this forum as any form of respite or escape from the "real world"...

I don't think I was all that clear, 'Jeev. Certainly, we’ve had discussions about real-world subjects here, but I wrote what I did to SS because he started off wondering why people weren’t posting about this on TBDX, and I responded by saying that people probably had been inundated by reports of this incident, which is of a magnitude that SS himself states (and which I agree with) is hard to bear.

BTW, SS, you may already know this by now, but the Amish school shooting was a previous direct attack on children. That incident has been on my mind since it occurred. So as terrible as this is, it’s not unprecedented. Not that that mitigates anything.

I wasn’t questioning SS’s right to post about it; I was just trying to explain why people weren’t posting it here, because a lot of the TBDX regulars I’m Facebook friends with have already posted about this incident on their personal pages.

As far as the lack of posting here and of the issue of respite, here’s the thing, ‘Jeev. I’m not a parent, and I’m assuming you’re not either, but I’ve got two nephews—4 and 10—that I love, whom I’ve watched grow up, babysat for on numerous occasions, changed the diapers of, put to sleep, and taken to and from their various schools. And even though I’m not their father, it’s still hard for me to think about these particular shootings because naturally my mind slips to wondering about something like this happening to them.

So having caught up on the news...if the whole point of posting about it here is to simply rehash the ‘terror’ and ‘significance’ of what happened, then that may be why people haven’t been participating. Because they’re probably worn out emotionally and have already thought/talked about it enough elsewhere, like me. Though if anyone else is game for continuing to discuss this tragedy here, then by all means, go ahead…fair?

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Sanjeev
Oh, and gun control. One weird thing (to me) is how fucked up events like these (which I think are only gonna get more severe and frequent as long as shit keeps heading in the direction it is) tend to lead to discussions about gun control. Huh? I'm all for gun control...but guns didn't make that dude kill all those people. That dude's hellacious life--most likely ultimately caused by a combination of those systemic problems--led to the shootings. Like I said, I'm all for gun control: AR-15's are pretty fucked up because they can be modded very easily from "lawful/reasonable gun" to "let's take out as many people as we can". But band-aiding these social problems with stricter gun control is dumb. You want stronger gun control? Cool. I'm down. Just make that argument completely separate from these tragic shootings.

Wow, seriously?

Yes, guns are not animate objects; yes, the shooter had ‘issues’; and yes, gun control policies won’t magically solve this problem. However, if a deranged outcast with a penchant for making bombs moved in next door, would you say that trying to keep him away from bomb-making materials is pointless and stupid? Because bombs don’t kill people…people and social maladjustment kill people?

Because that claim—and it’s not yours alone, so please don’t take this as a personal hit—strikes me as both naïve and irresponsible.

You’ve probably seen this, as it’s been floating around:
[www.washingtonpost.com]

I think it’s relevant as far as your statement—But band-aiding these social problems with stricter gun control is dumb. You want stronger gun control? Cool. I'm down. Just make that argument completely separate from these tragic shootings—specifically, the assumption that the easy availability of guns is a separate issue from shootings carried out by the easily available guns.

Or, see link above; points 3, 8, 9, 10 are particularly relevant in pointing out statistical correlations between gun violence and availability of guns.

Of course, as the author himself said, correlation is not causation, but is suggestive of a relationship. That said, to run to the other extreme and say that the two issues have nothing to do with each other doesn’t make much sense to me.

Gun control is not simply about getting rid of all guns. First of all, that’s not happening in our lifetime. But it can mean restricting access (to those who shouldn’t have guns) as much as humanly possible, or actually forcing states to comply with rules that are already in effect:
[www.huffingtonpost.com]

Would this have stopped the shooter, who apparently used his mother’s guns? Probably not, but it would make things harder, potentially, for the next few psychos in line. And I’d rather have that than nothing.

As far as ease of access, all I had to do to qualify for a gun purchase (hey, I was curious) was to take a basic firearms course with a live-action Yosemite Sam, and then take a multiple-choice test that any idiot with half a brain could pass. Voila, I was then given a Handgun Safety Certificate allowing me to purchase a gun at any retailer of my choice.

You and I differ on how the world should be, but in my world, it shouldn’t be that easy. Why?

Well, what about this: [www.latimes.com]

This happened hours ago. Considering I was just at that mall a couple of nights ago Christmas shopping with my girlfriend, considering that he hails from a city just a few miles from mine, considering that he is in essence a 'neighbor,' I’d have to say that, at the moment, my preoccupation with this type of person is less with the nature of his sociological pathology than with whether he is able to procure a gun.

See, to me, the first step to addressing this crisis of gun violence isn't really through talking about 'systemic problems' or shooting the theoretical shit with my boys. (Not that those things are irrelevant...they're important, but there are other things we can focus on now.)

It's more dumbed-down, if you will. This is about many, many people getting shot to death on too regular a basis. This is about the aforementioned happening due to many, many people who shouldn't possess the capacity for grand destruction possessing that capacity.

Or, more productively, ‘Jeev—and this is a sincere question—what would be to your mind a more concrete and more realistic first step we could take toward addressing the gun violence problem, if not through tightening or adjusting gun control laws?

And if I sound pissed, 'Jeev, I apologize. I'm not.

Also, I never bought that gun I was thinking about buying.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2012 06:39AM by gingaio.
Sanjeev (Admin)
It's all good, man. I was posting pretty hastily last night as I'm at my girlfriend's apartment for the weekend, and would rather not spend too much time interneting. Of course, she's fast asleep at the moment, so here I am!

Anyway, I didn't mean to imply that you and hillsy were somehow NOT respecting this thread (or Adam's right to post about something like this). I meant more to say that *I* personally haven't been inundated with reports/discussion about this particular tragedy, so I'm happy (not the right word, given the circumstances) to particpate. I've always thought that people can take the OT threads on this board any way they want to. I've heard some long-time posters complain to me off-line that this shit gets WAY too serious (not that I think that about you or hillsy)...and that they miss the "simpler days" of just toy talk. That's a fair statement. I can dig it. But I would just recommend those folks *not* participate in these sorts of threads...but still stick around for the toy talk they still dig. The response has been mixed at best.

But not to digress. I didn't see this thread as an attempt to rehash the terror or significance of the shooting. I just sorta saw it as an opening of this topic, in general, for anyone to say whatever was on their mind about it. In this case, we seem to be heading into a discussion about gun control...

And so speaking of that subtopic, I kinda feel like have to apologize for taking you on a bit of a ride, Chieh! My take on gun control is probably quite similar to yours. It's just that my whole frustration is with the politicizing of gun control (for or against) ONLY NOW, in the wake of white, suburban shootings like these. In other words, it's just the timing, really. I find it disingenuous, at best...and tragically racist and classist at worst. This is something that should *always* be in the sphere of public consciousness. How else are we going to find solutions? Throwing straw men every which way after a mass shooting in the 'burbs (on both sides of the debate) is not the answer. Not that I'm accusing you of that, of course--I'm just referring to the misguided arguments on a lot of these websites (again, for OR against stricter gun laws).

Y'know, I'm guessing that MOST of the handgun violence in the US does NOT come from mass murders, where some white dude in the suburbs buckles under the shit piled on top of him and shoots up a bunch of people in a public place. I'm guessing that MOST handgun violence in this country comes from inner city gang/drug related shit involving people who got their guns illegally. Of all the people I personally know who have guns, I'd say half got them legally, half illegally. Why am I telling you all this? I dunno...it's mad fucked up, for sure. I guess that gives a little more perspective about where *I'M* coming from. 'Cause when I talk to my boys are involved in very bad things--the illegal category--I just don't see their possessing guns as being even remotely near the top of the list of things wrong with this picture...
No worries, dude, and no apology needed. Statstically, yeah, gun violence covers way more than just freak white suburban shootings, and you're right in that this should always be in the public consciousness. What I find disingenous is the pro-gun's argument that in times like these we shouldn't politicize gun control, an argument that itself is a politicizing argument. It sounds like what you're saying, but I know it's not.
Sanjeev (Admin)
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gingaio
What I find disingenous is the pro-gun's argument that in times like these we shouldn't politicize gun control, an argument that itself is a politicizing argument. It sounds like what you're saying, but I know it's not.

^^Oh, I agree with the above 1000%.

Again, maybe it's partly because I'm shielded from the idiotic shitstorms on facebook and other places where netballs reign supreme...but I guess I don't get much exposure to those gun nut arguments. The white dude in our group I mentioned from the murder capital of MA is actually a gun enthusiast/teacher/whatever. He's into guns, but he's not what we'd call a "nut". He's all for discussing the topic of gun control that makes sense...but he, too, is frustrated by the timing of these discussions.

We talk pretty often about what constitutes "making sense". See, we're in MA, a state where it's notoriously ridiculous (not difficult, mind you) to get a gun. If you wanna buy a gun in this state, you have to jump through an absurd amount of hoops (so I'm told by my co-workers). It's not HARD to jump through these hoops...it just takes a long ass time. And those restrictions don't actually stop potentially dangerous people from getting guns. At all. Unless they have short attention spans. The bottom line is that if you want a gun even here in liberal Massachusetts, you can...you just need to be determined.

And my coworker and I both agree that ain't a good thing.

Regulations that make sense--like that article you linked referring to expanding background checks to mental health history--are absolutely necessary. I also added that the type of guns that are legal should be controlled more carefully. We got into a big discussion about the AR-15. I just feel that a gun's performance (a combination of its range/accuracy, rate of fire, ammunition capacity...and its ability to be modified to improve any of these characteristics) should be the only factor in it being legal or not...and yet it's not. Not even remotely. See, there is, what I feel, an appropriate "legal" performance regime that allows a gun to fulfill everything a mentally-stable, law-abiding citizen (for lack of a better term) would want. Then...there's a performance regime that makes a gun really nothing more than a highly efficient weapon. There's a pretty sizable gap between these two regimes, and it's gonna take some research and frank discussion to define what makes sense to keep legal.

Anyway...just more food for thought...
The tricky thing about gun laws is that state laws are so inconsistent and sometimes laxer than federal laws. Unlike in your state, it was ridiculously easy for me to go from never having used a gun to being in a position to buy one.

The thing about actually using one, though, is that a lot of people, even those who regularly go target shooting, are really not equipped to handle one in the very situations for which they bought theis guns. In my firearms class, I realized that I was a decent shot...when it came to peppering a static wooden board from a calm, static position. I think most "normal" people buy guns thinking that when the time comes, they'll bust out their semis and rattle off pinpoint shots, but that isn't how it works, and usually, the guns just end up being misused. Thing is, even a six-shooter can cause a lot of damage in the wrong hands.

As far as something like renewing the federal assault weapons ban, or differentiating illegal 'assault-style' weapons from regular firearms, I certainly don't think people should have high-caliber, high-capacity guns, but the research seems to indicate that the ban didn't really have much of an impact on violent crime...I guess because they're not exactly common weapons (or commonly used in the majority of violent crimes) to begin with.
If they do instate stricter gun regulation so people with mental disorders cannot access them so easily, then hopefully they will instate them properly and not like in my country, where they had rules in place for firearms permits, didn't bother to apply them, and so managed to give a paranoid schizophrenic with violent tendencies access to two firearms and marksmanship training, after which he snapped and went on a shooting rampage in a shopping mall.
During the inquest it came to light the police had 'lost' (yeah right...) his application file...and as usual noone was fired for gross misconduct.
Gaio, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the 2006 Amish school shooting had already fallen out of my head. 10 girls between 6 and 13 shot, five died/murdered, with the suicide check-out at the end for the shooter. I guess not being a parent back then, it didn't hit me in the same way. And it's not to say that you have to be a parent to be profoundly affected by events like Friday's, but so many events, such as the loss of children due to illness, accidents, etc. have become ultra-punctuated for me with that frame of reference since.

In a country of 300 million people, we likely have 400 million guns, which neuters most of the functionality of the gun control rhetoric. It's not like the ATF would go around collecting AR-15's from survivalist compounds, but that the sale of some new guns would be prohibited. Gun show and underground sales would continue unabated. Also, this guy was using fragmentation rounds, which I can't imagine a sport-shooting based use for, but similarly escape prohibition.

I understand that this site stands separate from the rest of the world for many people, but if you remember back to the Tsunami, not much toy talk happened for a while. I tuned into this site for a lot of news and links, of course, given that individuals on this site were actually IN Japan qualifies that situation as pointedly different than any particular aspect of this story.

As far as the NRA and the like pushing for de-politicizing such an event for political purposes, that's just lobbying, it's what they do. By the time the Dem's get any semblance of a workable bill on the table, the furvor over this story will have passed. Any impactful legislation WILL have to stand on it's own, free from the time constraint of proximity to such events. Although the aggregate body of such events has built a substantial histryonic which serves as an immutable backdrop to these conversations as they evolve.

The point I tried to make, and think I share with Jeevsie, is that gun violence occurs all year long with an apalling frequency in certain communities, and has failed to spark any substantive wave of sentiment or push for legislative attention and action. In fact, in the Chicago area, it seems that hands have been tossed in the air by all parties involved as we just passed 400 murders this year...again, predominately children of color.

Excuse the pun, and humor is not intended, but there is no legislative "magic bullet" on either side of gun control issue that is going to prevent the shootings that occur over the next five or ten years, as the genie is already out of the bottle, and there is no way to take the guns out there already back. With a worsening economy, and the rise in crime that follows, we're likely to head back moreso into the "Wild West" than most people think. And our current criminal justice system is not set up to prevent, but only respond, to the messes we will be facing again and again.
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