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Daddy's Corner Politics Reflections

20 Kids Wasn’t Enough

In the last few years, I keep it light around here. Mostly I write about blogging, WordPress, silly stuff about my kids. The heavy stuff is usually something about fatherhood and losing my own dad before I was a teenager.

I haven’t written about politics since early college, as far as I can remember. And I don’t think this is a political post either.

Monday was the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Three years ago, an individual whom I do not wish to give any attention to by even mentioning his name, shot through the entrance of an elementary school, killing six adults working at the school, and killing twenty 1st graders.

Twenty children. Sixteen of them were six years old. Four were seven years old.

I didn’t process that when the shooting happened. I didn’t really pay attention to what that really meant until this year.

First graders. Six years old.

My six-year-old daughter is a first grader right now.

Why do we not care about dead kids?

Thinking about Sandy Hook makes me sick. And brings me to tears. Those twenty kids: Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison.

Those twenty families:  The Bacons, the Bardens, the Engels, the Gays, the Hockleys, the Hsus, the Hubbards, the Kowalskis, the Lewises, the Marquez-Greenes, the Mattiolis, the Mcdonnells, the Parkers, the Pintos, the Pozners, the Previdis, the Rekoses, the Richmans, the Wheelers, the Wyatts.

The heroic actions taken by the staff at the school—six dead. Vicki Soto, 13 months younger than me, who hid her students in the classroom, told the shooter they were in the gym. Then when some of the scared kids ran out of their hiding places trying to get away, and the shooter began to shoot them, she threw herself in front of them.

The kids that survived seeing, hearing 20 fellow students and 6 adults they trusted and loved slaughtered. This poor boy who lost the two older kids on his street that made him feel safe on the bus. Thinking what the one single student left alive in one classroom must still be going through. The families still broken struggling to make it day-to-day emotionally.

And we don’t care. We don’t care about them. We don’t care about trying to fix the problem. We seem to care more about the people who do the killing than the victims or how to reduce the number of future victims.

Where is our outrage? Why has nothing changed? This individual committed no crime until he went upon school grounds with a gun.1

Not just a gun. A Bushmaster M4 with 30-round magazines. Within four minutes, this son of a bitch shot 154 bullets out of this gun into twenty six- and seven-year olds, and eight adults. All twenty kids killed. Six adults. He still had time to pull out a Glock handgun, take a random shot, then shoot himself. Four minutes. 156 shots. One shooter.  Bushmaster

I’m not anti-gun. My dad owned guns and enjoyed hunting. Majority of my family hunts. Majority probably own guns. I’ve gone hunting. The last couple of bachelor weekends I’ve been on, we’ve went to the range to target and clay shoot. I had a great time. I have an interest in the back of my head to take a concealed handgun course, not to carry, but to become proficient on how to use a gun (I’m a decent shot with a shotgun, since well, it’s a shotgun, but my handgun skills weren’t great).

So, I say this not as a bleeding heart liberal that want to take every gun out of every private citizen’s hands and throw it into a molten pit.

Why is this gun legal? Why does anyone need this? Why does anyone need a 30-round magazine? Hell, why is it manufactured?

NBC News reports at least 555 kids under 12-year old were killed by guns since Sandy Hook. That’s probably low as suicides aren’t usually counted and there likely are other unreported incidents.

Despite this, any type of conversation on guns seem to be killed in the political sphere. Universal background checks on gun sales failed in the Senate. There’s no waiting period in Texas. No registration. No limit to the purchase of magazines. Private sales between individuals is legal as long as the buyer is 18, sober, and doesn’t intend to use it in a crime with no licensing, registration, notice, of any kind.

Where is our outrage?

Maybe guns aren’t the problem. Then, what is? Do we need more mental health specialists? Do we need to find ways to reduce the absurd stigma in this country associated with having mental health issues?

Where is the action to improve that side of the coin?

In any case, the solution is not having more people with guns around. Do we seriously want people working and visiting elementary schools with guns? How many accidental gun death have occurred when there wasn’t a gun within shooting distance (literally)?

I like to be prepared. I’m the guy who checks for the location of exits when entering a new space. I don’t like to sit with my back facing a window.

I look at the entrance of my daughter’s school. Yeah, it is locked and requires you to be buzzed in via a video intercom. That wouldn’t have stopped this guy. From the door, I can see my daughter’s classroom. I can see my daughter’s desk.

I can’t pretend this is an isolated event. Sure, this guy only committed this one crime and no one else worked with him. Sure, the Virgina Tech shooting was the same. The Aurora Colorado shooting. The Charleston shooting. The Chattanooga shooting. The Colorado Springs shooting. The Roseburg, Oregon shooting. I’m ignoring the home-invasion or domestic shootings like the Houston shooting this year where an ex-boyfriend killed his ex-girlfriend, her husband, and six kids—no, this was the 2015 one. You might be thinking of the 2014 Houston shooting by an ex-husband of his former wife, her husband, and their four kids.

I can’t pretend this is an isolated event, no. Can gun laws stop this? Are there other things we can do to stop it? The most difficult question is the saddest too: Are we even trying anymore?


  1. He had shot and killed his mother just before this, so technically, yes, he had just committed a crime before going to the school. 
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By <span class='p-author h-card'>Brandon Kraft</span>

My life is an open-source book.

13 replies on “<span class='p-name'>20 Kids Wasn’t Enough</span>”

Some facts:

-Rifles and shotguns of ALL types (including the dreaded Bushmaster) account for less than 2% of all firearm deaths.

-The vast majority of firearm homicides are with pistols.

-“Mass shootings” which elicit the public’s sympathy are less than 1% of all firearm homicides.

The takeaway:

-We need something or someone to blame because “mass shootings” make us sick (as they should.)

-“Assault weapons” are scary so we blame them.

-Virtually all “mass shootings” happen in gun free zones where there are soft targets.

-The real problem is the 99% of the other shootings which happen primarily in urban areas with pistols.

Why do you need a scary Bushmaster?

-It’s not about need, it’s about your rights.

-We use them for hunting (Hogs in Texas for example.)

-Sport (3 gun contests for example)

-Protection (rated as the best gun for self defense by many military trained experts.

Would we give up those rights if it stopped the shootings?

-Maybe. Some would, some wouldn’t.

The question is irrelevant though because they absolutely would not stop the shootings proven by the facts above.

-Rifles and shotguns of ALL types (including the dreaded Bushmaster) account for less than 2% of all firearm deaths.

-The vast majority of firearm homicides are with pistols.

-“Mass shootings” which elicit the public’s sympathy are less than 1% of all firearm homicides.

Without fact-checking, I have no reason to question those numbers. Which, actually makes it all the more sad. It is extremely sad that these individuals who carry out the worst attacks that gain the most visibility are such a small percentage. To me, it is extremely sad that my kid being killed by a gun would more likely be something that merits only a 30-second blurb on the local news, if that.

The takeaway:

-We need something or someone to blame because “mass shootings” make us sick (as they should.)

-“Assault weapons” are scary so we blame them.

-Virtually all “mass shootings” happen in gun free zones where there are soft targets.

I’m sorry. I’m calling bullshit. This is not the takeaway at all. The takeaway that all conversations about trying to find the solution to American’s gun issues are blocked by commentary like this. Shootings like this bring attention to an issue, that as you stated, is only a highly visible small piece of a much larger issue. We don’t care about the kid down the street who was killed by a handgun enough to look up to the TV in the background, so, of course, nothing will change. But, when with these high-visibility events happen that could be used as an opportunity to reevaluate result in nothing, it is sad.

By that logic, we shouldn’t care about the terrorist shooting in California because terrorist killing in the U.S. accounts for such a small fragment of the homicide rate. It is just something that scares us so we need something to blame.

Do you think first grade teachers should carry guns on them in the classroom?

-The real problem is the 99% of the other shootings which happen primarily in urban areas with pistols.

I don’t disagree one bit. I didn’t say the problem was mass shootings. The problem is we don’t care about dead kids.

Why do you need a scary Bushmaster?

-It’s not about need, it’s about your rights.

This is a cop-out. I don’t think gun ownership is a God-given right, so I’ll default to the Constitution. The rights therein, all-in-all, have exceptions, rules, boundaries. I have the freedom to speech, but not the freedom to yell fire in a theatre. I have freedom of religion, but not to marry five woman in the name of my religion. By turning the conversation of “how can we help not have dead kids” into “I have my rights because I’m an American”, we turn it into a conversation of opposition. Who is patriotic? Who isn’t? We both are and we both believe in the Constitution.

-We use them for hunting (Hogs in Texas for example.)

I jest, but I’m really curious the kind of hogs that require 30-round magazines to take down.

-Sport (3 gun contests for example)

I can’t qualify this as a need. It is a want.

-Protection (rated as the best gun for self defense by many military trained experts.

I don’t have the data to really comment on it. I wonder what criteria was used. Protection in a war zone? Protection from a car jacking? Protection from someone stealing your TV? Protection from being mugged? I’m sure it is the best gun to kill someone, I’ll grant that.

Would we give up those rights if it stopped the shootings?

-Maybe. Some would, some wouldn’t.

The question is irrelevant though because they absolutely would not stop the shootings proven by the facts above.

It simply banning one gun or one size magazine would stop the shooting, then it would be an easy answer that would have been done a long time ago. The point is that we’re too busy stopping the conversation by saying “nothing will help!” that we stop trying to actually figure out how to help. How can we come together to figure out what are the actual concrete problems here? Obviously, I’m not the expert and I don’t see the whole picture. But, what are the problems then?

I don’t have the solutions, or else I’d offer them here. What ideas do you have? Is it a mental health issue and we need ways to better help those who are ticking timebombs? How do we reduce urban handgun deaths? Is it via guns? Community policing? Economics and job creation? I don’t know. There’s got to be something better than the status quo.

Or else, we just don’t care about dead kids.

I’m going to keep my response simple:

Yes, we care about dead kids. But my point is that if we REALLY do then we ought to actually pay attention to facts and not the media hype. Yes, it’s tragic that there were school shootings. Yes we should do something about it. But let’s look at the best way to solve the entire problem, not just the white kids dying at schools. Far more kids and adults are murdered by pistols in the cities on a daily and weekly basis. So if we want to solve the problem then let’s start there. Banning “scary guns” does nothing to fix this problem and instead you just have both sides pushing an agenda at the expense of dead kids.

Need some evidence? Look at your blog post. You admit you don’t write about this stuff often and yet the time that you actually do so you write about something that is part of less than 1% of the problem and expect to find a solution. Why not write about the shootings that happen everyday across our nation? Why not write about the facts that pistols are used which are readily available through straw purchases? Why not write about the fact that gun violence is obviously linked to urban areas and the proliferation of gangs, lower economic status, poor education and race? By selecting a school shooting and making the issue the scary looking gun you’ve simply fallen into the agenda driven trap of the media and our government.

Yes, we care about dead kids. But my point is that if we REALLY do then we ought to actually pay attention to facts and not the media hype. Yes, it’s tragic that there were school shootings. Yes we should do something about it. But let’s look at the best way to solve the entire problem, not just the white kids dying at schools. Far more kids and adults are murdered by pistols in the cities on a daily and weekly basis. So if we want to solve the problem then let’s start there. Banning “scary guns” does nothing to fix this problem and instead you just have both sides pushing an agenda at the expense of dead kids.

My point in writing this, which perhaps wasn’t clear, even when white kids are killed at school (which gets those not in high-crime areas to care), we can’t make any progress. It is a sad reality that, generally, we as a country aren’t that concerned with urban gun violence, but even when it is a shooting of twenty white first graders, we still can’t make any progress. Universal background checks failed. In about two weeks, open carry is legal in Texas. At least before, if you saw someone with a handgun in the open without a badge, that would trigger a “something is wrong” response. Now, we wait until they hold it in a manner that appears threatening before thinking something is wrong. I honestly don’t know if open carry will help or hurt, but now, instead of figuring out how to get guns off the street, the solution is steering put more guns on the streets?

The FAA announced that all drones need to be registered, even some of the smallest ones. But, a gun registry is seen as the first step toward Obama knocking on our doors and taking away our guns. Hell, I can’t use a HAM radio without taking a test and getting a license, but any gun? Maybe a background check, if that.

Would gun registration stop anything? Maybe, maybe not. But, this is a complex situation that needs to be addressed from a lot of different sides. I don’t want another “War on Drugs” by way of a “War on Guns”. Even if you pull every gun off the street, there would still be violence and high-crime areas. But, would everyone with a knives be as lethal as everyone with guns? I don’t know. Perhaps not.

I think some of the things I mentioned before should be on the table more—community policing, education, economic relief. I’m open to the form. Direct welfare? Tax-breaks for companies who build/hire within a certain zone? Something else?

That gets even murkier (and more divisive in our current political environment). I don’t think we, as a country, care about dead kids. Even with the majority being blind to and not caring about urban violence to any real degree, we, as a country through our representatives, voted in favor of not checking the background of those who buy guns, voted in favor of military-style semi-automatic guns being available, and voted in favor of high-capacity magazines within six months of Sandy Hook. They had the votes for background checks until the NRA told lawmakers that it would negatively impact their NRA report card grades.

No, it wouldn’t have solved everything, but we really can’t agree that running background checks at gun shows and for online purchases would be a good idea? Even with private sales between individuals being exempted?

Need some evidence? Look at your blog post. You admit you don’t write about this stuff often and yet the time that you actually do so you write about something that is part of less than 1% of the problem and expect to find a solution. Why not write about the shootings that happen everyday across our nation? Why not write about the facts that pistols are used which are readily available through straw purchases? Why not write about the fact that gun violence is obviously linked to urban areas and the proliferation of gangs, lower economic status, poor education and race? By selecting a school shooting and making the issue the scary looking gun you’ve simply fallen into the agenda driven trap of the media and our government.

Sure. You got me right there. I’ve said before that I want the conversation to continue. You’re right, Sandy Hook is the exception. But how do we make it so that every time an eight-year old is killed by a stray bullet, it gains the media attention as Sandy Hook. I had a friend in elementary school who was killed in a drive-by years later when he was in high school. He got thirty seconds on TV, literally—his body in the doorway of his house was the local news B-roll of the event. What do we need to do to make his death so rare that there would be a neighborhood memorial for him, without the people across town shaking their heads and saying he should have done something differently to stay out of the way of that bullet?

You’re obviously more researched on this topic. What are your ideas on how we can solve this problem?

“We can’t make any progress”

Here’s why:
1. Both sides are pushing their agenda:
Liberals: Let’s just stop pretending that there isn’t an agenda to ban all guns. There absolutely is and it’s barely hidden. In fact, some are coming right out into the spotlight and finally admitting it.

Conservatives: Led by the big money NRA they are pushing paranoia that the government will take your guns and you won’t be able to defend yourself (or is it paranoia?)

The problem is that both sides are going overboard because they are scared of what the other side will do.
For example, I am a gun owner. I am a believer in that the 2A allows me to protect myself from tyranny which I full believe is coming. I also believe 100% in background checks and would be more than willing to give up some of my rights so that others are protected. However, I am not willing to do so based on the word of a liberal that it is “common sense.”

Liberals are abusing the language and fighting about something they know nothing about. For example:
-The creation of the word “assault weapon” which doesn’t actually exist and is simply out out to scare people.
-The focus on scary assault weapons when they encompass a tiny fraction of gun violence.
-The focus on more gun control laws which only effect law abiding citizens.
-The ridiculous notion that “gun free zone” signs make us safer.
-Their idea that the bloated, inefficient federal government can be trusted to manage who ought to have a gun or not.

If we want to have both sides compromise then we need education and honesty.
-Stop arguing about the 2nd Amendment. It’s there, it’s clear and it isn’t going anywhere.
-Admit that every single shooting ends with a good guy that has a gun.
-Focus on training more good guys with guns.
-Admit that gun free zones are simply target rich environments and that shooters pick them on purpose.
-Stop being scared of guns and start being scared of criminals.
-Stop using erroneous, emotional driven language that has no bearing on truth (“assault weapon” for example.) It’s very hard for a gun owner to take someone seriously who has no knowledge of guns.

(continued)

Current laws need to be enforced and be stricter. If you are guilty of gun violence you need more than a slap on the wrist for example. By and large though, the biggest problem is what is called a “straw purchase.” This is the case where someone buys guns legally and then goes and sells them illegally. The law against this needs to be drastically enhanced and finally enforced properly. This will significantly reduce the number of guns in the hands of “bad guys.”
Liberals need to make a choice.
-They are against the militarization of police and cry out that police are too violent and shoot people.
-They proclaim that we shouldn’t have guns and that we ought to just let the police handle it.

The reality is that a badge and gun does not make you trained. Many civilians have far more training than police officers. The way to fix the problem is to offer increased training for qualified citizens. The police do not exist to protect you, they exist to investigate after a crime has taken place. We need to start protecting one another.

Political Correctness needs to go: “if you see something, say something” is the best deterrent against any type of crime. However, if you say something today you are criticized for not being politically correct (take the case of the SB Shooters neighbor for example.) We need to get our heads out of our asses and bring back common sense. Everyone of the mass shooters was a complete wack job and there’s no reason why we couldn’t as a society know that before they went and killed people.

When you see some movement on these things then you will see that gun owners are more than happy to move on allowing things like closing a gun show loophole, background checks, etc. Most of us take our responsibility very seriously. For example, I won’t sell a gun to anyone who hasn’t passed a background check even though technically I could do so in many places.

A perfect example of what I am talking about is the argument over “open carry” in Texas. Many people think, “OMG, the wild west!”

The reality is far different. Open Carry exists only because of what is called “printing.” For years CHL holders have had to worry about this. We are breaking the law if the “print” of the gun shows through clothing or if the wind blows your shirt up or whatever. Open Carry solves this problem because the gun can be seen. However, the caveat is that in order to Open Carry you must have a CHL. So, it’s not that everybody is suddenly going to be walking around with a pistol on their hip. It’s that CHL holders no longer have to jump through hoops. Oklahoma has had this for a long time and there have been no issues.

The vast majority of CHL holders have no intention of strapping on a pistol in plain sight anyway. We would rather not look like a threat and be able to have a tactical advantage…

I could nick-pick a couple of things, but all-in-all, I don’t disagree enough to not come together with you on this (and I don’t know if it is all that helpful). The goal is progress, not getting everyone to 100% agree on everything.

I totally agree that gun laws need to have teeth. I think (or at least assume) the point of gun-free zones was to deter crime around the school, e.g. a drug dealer selling on the corner next to the school carrying a gun would have the book thrown at them. An honest question is why only make the laws more severe next to a school? I’d be interested in seeing data on the success of gun-free zones. If I remember right, the zones existed before CHLs. Did they actually do anything?

It is a myth that a gun-free zone makes an area safer through some magical bubble. Someone who wants to carry a gun somewhere will do so no matter what a sign says. I’m not sure if there is a causal link between the location of the shootings and the gun free zone piece. I think evaluating the success of the idea, what objectives did it meet or fail to meet, and how could it be changed (or removed) to better meet the objectives is a good thing.

I do think the language between people in the political space makes it hard. Perhaps it is naive, but I really don’t think the labels of liberal or conservative gain much of anything for us. I’m not a liberal. I’m pro-life. I think the last thing a police officer wants to do is take a life and if they do so, I defer to their judgement—though I think very careful review should still happen. But, the solution to gun violence being more guns (even in the hands of well-trained honest folks) concerns me. I’m not there. I really don’t want to disarm everyone either—as mentioned before, going to the range is a great time—but I don’t think the 2nd amendment requires what the NRA says it does (something former Justice and once-Republican, now seemingly unaffiliated John Paul Stevens has written about).

The company I work for has a saying that communication is oxygen. I think this discussion needs more of it and, truly, I appreciate your thoughts, John.

Yep, good dialogue, I appreciate your thoughts also and yes, we could nitpick at one another but that would be falling into the trap that everyone else does and accomplish nothing….

A couple of points:
“But, the solution to gun violence being more guns (even in the hands of well-trained honest folks) concerns me.”

Why? Think for a moment… the issue is not a badge… the issue is training. If someone is trained then who cares whether they wear a badge or not? Our country has a history (that we have gotten away from) of our citizenry being responsible for protection of our country. Why have we lost this?

A typical police officer has less than 20-30 hours of firearm training. They are instructed (as are CHL folks) that this is only the beginning of their training and that they need to continue on personal time. However, there is nothing that mandates this. The reality is that most police officers in the situation either freeze completely or miss their shots because of lack of training.

There are many CHL folks who are not trained and there are many who are trained far better than police officers. To give you an idea, I have spent probably in excess of 1,000 hours in training and have fired well over 10k rounds…. and I’m probably middle of the road trained…

Most people who train regularly do so with a community and that community is made of up CHL carriers, military and Law enforcement working together. Trust me the issue is training and not a badge.

On Gun Free Zones:
The problem is that these make it against the law to carry a weapon there. But if you’re going to shoot someone then illegally carrying your weapon doesn’t do much to deter you…. what it does instead is deters those well trained, law abiding citizens who could have stopped the criminal.

John, with your assertions that stricter gun laws won’t change anything, I wonder what your perspective is on what happened in Australia in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre?

Jack, I love when people bring this up for two reasons.

It shows their true intentions: They want to ban guns completely. This isn’t about making things safer, it’s about control. Luckily we have a constitution in America and as long as we follow it then this will be impossible.
Australia, as much as the media and our current administration would like to spin it, was a complete failure.
http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/19/america-dont-repeat-australias-gun-control-mistake/

Including this since that article references the Swiss situation. It is notable that the majority of males are in the militia and go through annual weapons training. It is notable too how strict their laws are.

High ownership, high regulation, low crime. (I don’t think this is that simple—adopt these laws and America will be crime free—or anything like that, but an interesting implementation.)

Absolutely not, it’s not that simple and anyone who says it is that simple is clueless. Having a weapon does not mean that you are trained. I’m not for more guns, in fact I think the idea of “less guns” or “more guns” is ridiculous. A gun is an inanimate object and cannot do anything without a human that operates it. What we need is tactical training. If we incentivized this you would see less fear mongering and more highly trained people that could protect themselves and others. It is frankly the only solution that will ever work and unfortunately it may take many more deaths for people to realize this.

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