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As I have read today’s news stories rolling in from Newtown CT, I’ve been both saddened and angered by turns. I write this knowing that my beliefs put me at odds with many in my network of friends, but I feel compelled to break my respectful silence, even as my thoughts go out to the families and extended community affected by this tragedy . . .

We live in a world where there are violent, mentally ill, and desperate people. I’m certain we can all agree on that. The United States has a comparatively weak economic safety net, and a piss-poor mental health system that has been systematically under-resourced for decades. In the case of Newtown, it’s clear that both the social fabric of the shooter’s community and our collective failures in identifying and treating mental health issues permitted a dangerous person to commit horrific acts. This saddens and disappoints me.

On the other hand, when I consider today’s events, I also get upset at our collective naivety. Violent criminals, especially mass murderers like Adam Lanza, are drawn to low-risk “victim zones” where they can perpetrate their crimes to horrifying extremes before being stopped. There’s a reason that many of these awful events happen in school environments, and that’s because the perpetrators know that they, as the only ones armed, will have a significant window of opportunity to commit their crimes before there’s an effective response.

Would Lanza have attempted this had there been an armed school resource officer on the premises? Evidence from other incidents indicates that he would not — but it’s simply not realistic to expect that as a society, we can maintain an armed law enforcement officer at every school.

I get angry because had even a single teacher or administrator at that school been licensed and permitted to carry a concealed weapon after appropriate background checks and screening, today’s headlines could (would!) have read very differently. “Gunman kills 2, stopped by armed teacher” is infinitely preferable to today’s headlines.

Over 8 million US citizens are currently licensed for concealed carry, and they are the most law-abiding demographic group you could possibly imagine. Crime rates among concealed-carry licensees are vanishingly small compared to the general population, because it’s not the presence of a gun that causes violence — it’s a criminal with the motive and intent to commit a crime.

As a society, we need to rebuild our social and economic safety nets. We MUST make huge improvements in both mental health awareness and availability of mental health services. Parents and friends need to know the warning signs of mental instability and potential violence, and they need to ACT on those warning signs, and support one another through the difficult process of dealing with a loved one’s mental illness.

That does not mean that we should live in a world where the law-abiding are disarmed while criminals continue to use violence, including guns, to prey on the weak. For every incident like this, there are thousands where a responsible gun owner used force, sometimes deadly force, to prevent violence to themselves or their family.

Protection of my family, in every respect, is MY duty first and society’s second. When society falters in its ability to protect my family, my response is not to give up my ability to protect them and hope the criminals and the mentally ill will go along with the program.

I ask, instead, how we can better protect our loved ones against the inevitability of violent acts: through prevention, and deterrence, and if necessary, direct response. We have a collective responsibility to address this, and hoping that the police will be there to protect us is wishful thinking.

Hug your family and hold them close. Talk to them, and your friends and relatives, about the warning signs of mental health issues, not just today but as part of an ongoing conversation. Let us not react to today’s events by rushing to create a society of victims where criminals can assault the law-abiding with impunity.

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    • “When society falters in its ability to protect my family, my response is not to give up my ability to protect them and hope the criminals and the mentally ill will go along with the program.”

      – worth repeating

  1. Good on you AlphaGeek. We could get a lot more done as a nation to curtail these tragedies if we, pro gun and anti gun alike, could simply set aside the gun argument and concentrate on fixing the busted syastems in this country that are supposed to stop the Lanza’a from ever getting to the point where murder is an option.

    Unfortunately all we hear from the anti side is how to take the guns out of the hands of the 99% who don’t break the law. Which causes us 99er’s to expend a large amount of effort and resources to protect our rights. It’s a vicious circle and nothing gets accomplished.

  2. The truth about public schools: every last one of them should be immediately abolished, along with the governments that run them.

  3. Excellent write up, well done!

    My only hope is someone finally brings mental health issues to forefront.

    • Oh, they will. The solution will be to flag everyone as to be denied in the NICS data base who has ever been treated for any sort of emotional disorder. Including all youths who have been prescribed behavior altering drugs. How much would that cut down on the eligible gun-totin’ community?

    • Yeah, all we need is to give more influence to the same shrinks that brought us Asperger’s, homosexual personality disorder, punitive lobotomy, etc., etc. How is banning people somehow better than banning guns?

      • WTF on the Aspergers comment?

        Autism spectrum disorders are real, and I know several people at the Aspergers end of the spectrum. The fact that Aspergers is being folded into the autism spectrum doesn’t mean it’s not a real thing, it means it’s being recognized as a subset of a well established disorder.

        • This reply is for hhhh down below. Sorry bub but the same thing is happening to gun owners. We know how you feel.

    • There used to be a state mental hospital called Fairfield Hills that was shut down by the state due, in large part, to the so called “mainstreaming” of patients. People who would otherwise be institutionalized were pushed out into the general public with little support and sometimes with tragic results.

      Ironically, Fairfield Hills was located in Newtown Connecticut.

      I grew up in the town right next door to Newtown. When I was a kid (and the hospital was still in operation) we would refer to someone who was crazy as “a guy who belongs in Newtown” which was local shorthand for the mental hospital.

  4. We all know that the proper response to this nonsense of establishing gun free (target rich) zones is for everyone who wishes to do so be armed. We also all know that that is not going to happen. So get ready, the assault on guns is about to begin full tilt.

  5. Murder has been illegal for well over 220 years in this country, but people still commit murder.

    The lesson: Laws cant prevent bad things from happening. If we lock down the entire country like a maximum security penitentiary, there is still no guarantee that no one will be harmed. If there was, prisons would be the safest place in the country.

  6. Thursday while at a restaurant that serves alcohol with around ten fellow workers. I was there as the only CCW in the bunch and I was not drinking, but everyone else was. Most had at least 3 beers and some probably had over six, and everyone of them left in their own vehicles, including one riding a Harley. Nine individual drivers of thousands of pounds of potential death and destruction, under the influence (no matter how intoxicated THEY felt) and me with a weapon on my hip, that never left my side, not drinking. But in the eyes of many in America….I was the dangerous one!

    • If you think government has the right to regulate my drinking habits, then yes you are dangerous, and dumb.

      • No, but they should have the right to regulate your driving habits if you decide to drive under the influence! And I guess you were drinking if you didn’t get the jest of what I was trying to say.

        • I get your point, but there are thousands of citizens that are capable of driving safely with a blood alcohol level that is over their state’s legal limit. Furthermore there are many who are capable of safely carrying and deploying their firearms while intoxicated and/or high. Political manipulation by liars has fooled a majority into giving up their rights and using coercive tactics against the innocent. This is no different than the gun rights issue.

        • I might add that I am passionate about this issue because I am a victim of coercion coming from otherwise upstanding individuals. The initiation of the use of force cannot be justified by pointing to statistics or facts of any kind. It is immoral, unethical and evil to lump common citizens together with murderers and negligent individuals.

  7. I would put my kids in a school where the the teacher responsible for thier safety had a CCL,

    the school supported my kids in standing up to bullies and weren’t punished if they fought them hand to hand;

    that my kids were allowed to carry a pocket knife that if they were ganged up on by fellow school bullies or a school mass murderer confronted them first they would have some ability of defending themselves;

    then I would consider having them in a public school, until then, as a parent responsible for my childrens safety, I would no more put them a public school than I would put tbem in a lions den.

  8. Blaming the gun-free zone is disingenuous at best.

    “Violent criminals, especially mass murderers like Adam Lanza, are drawn to low-risk “victim zones” where they can perpetrate their crimes to horrifying extremes before being stopped. ”

    The fact is these spree shooters usually go to the place of their grievance, regardless of its gun control status.

      • The facts are in the stories themselves. Cho went to VA Tech, Loughner went to the political rally in Phoenix, young Adam went to his mother’s school. They go to the place they have a problem with regardless of its gun control status.

        • A good number of idiots that snap have a problem with govt/authority, yet we dont see many people shooting up police stations now do we? I wonder why…

        • “young Adam “? Mike just thing of the worst flame you can relevant to calling this psycho “young Adam ” and use that as my reply 2 u.

    • And the nutjob in Colorado coincidentally had a grievance against the local theater that banned guns, but not the closer ones that didn’t?

      • I don’t know, but most do it for the reason I said. I know it’s hard for you to think outside the box of approved gun-rights dogma, but think about it and try to be honest. Most of them go to the place they have a problem with, often in their minds, but they generally are not the calculating characters you say they are.

        • Stop saying things like that. You are a generalizer of the worst sort. Many of us are open to discussion and debate. I will accept any opposition that warrants my support.

          • That’s a beautiful cop-out. I don’t warrant your support with my weak opposition.

            I think you know I’m right about why spree shooters choose their venues, not every single one, but most.

    • So name one spree killing in the last 90 years that took place in a non gun free zone. Better yet please educate us on how this school was the source of this persons grievance????
      Or perhaps John Holmes got fired from the movie theater???

    • actually its not, considering a majority of mass shootings have occurred at a educational environment, which are traditionally no carry zones.

      • The point is not that they happen there. The point is that you guys are wrong to suggest the shooters choose those places for the target rich environment. They don’t, not usually.

        • “They don’t, not usually.”

          Absolute/Not absolute, way to cover ALL of the bases, fvcking pick one and back it up with a credible source.

          • The Loughner case illuminates two of your lies. Where he went was not a gun free zone and not one of the AZ concealed carry heroes present was able to stop him.

        • Longtime readers will recall that I ripped mikeb for his “weasel-words” a few months back, obviously to no effect. In my example it was saying “most of you guys” or “many of you guys” when casting his aspersions. That way, when someone took personal offense he could say, “Oh, of course I did mean you; I meant those other guys.” I eventually came to understand that it was just another of his rhetorical tools to avoid being tied to anything that required a citation.

          • I’ve been ripped by heavyweights compared to you. Don’t flatter yourself.

            And by the way, your comment is another one which has nothing to do with the discussion and is just about me. Bravo.

    • That is why the shooter in Aurora drove past 2 other theaters to get to the “gun free zone” he chose to shoot up. A location he had no notable ties to and no known grudge with. Your half truths and feeling portrayed as truth are getting old mikeynumbers.

      • We don’t know why Holmes did what he did. But we do know that most of the mass shootings are of the grievance kind. Why can’t you admit that much at least? Then we can get to the part about how armed good guys could stop the shooter, which happens to also be nonsense that you guys keep repeating.

  9. Let me pile on, this is just a beautifully written piece which needs a much wider distribution. Alphageek thanks for sharing!

  10. Well written Alpha Geek. Just waking up so I am a bit behind this fine Saturday.
    It is sad we have seen the decline of the mental health industry, yet the continued proclamation that no guns would fix everything.
    Well I Israel we didn’t have guns in the hands of the enemy, just law abiding citizens, but guess what? They used bombs instead.

  11. Mike is speaking with assumed authority. He states an opinion as though it’s a fact and expects you to treat it as such. He has made no presentation of a data and the methods he used in analysis of it. No framed hypothesis…Why do I bother? His statement is as “valid” as mine: All gun control proponents are either Fascists or emotionally disturbed.

    There, Mike, I’m as right as you are.

  12. While admirable, it’s futile to fight the antis’ emotionally and mentally defective reasoning with logic and fact. They simply can’t comprehend it. It’s like trying to explain verbally to a baby chimp why they shouldn’t throw their feces.

    It may feel nice to take the high ground when it comes to antis, but logic and respect will get you nowhere with them. They are undeserving of respect or the time it takes to talk to them.

    • You might be surprised. As a result of the discussion in the comments on FB, I will soon be taking a European immigrant on his first trip to the range. He has never touched a gun before, much less fired one.

      It also got several of my other FB friends to pull back a bit and think it through. I know this because they told me so.

      I’d call that a win.

    • Silver,

      I agree completely with your position on staunch anti gun rights people. I illustrate facts and the truth for the benefit of people sitting on the fence.

  13. Good motives and intentions, but I disagree about a weak safety net, and the impact it would have. We spend twice what we did 20 years ago on entitlements and programs. That’s 2 trillion more. It has not helped, only made more dependent and frustrated citizens. Local support, ideally families, will help at the individual level with identifying mentally unstable people, not another federal money pit. Lack of funding for safety net programs did not cause this violence. Thinking we can eradicate violence or guarantee safety generally leads to worsening the situation.

    • Disagree about safety net too, but the rest of the article is good. Alphageek should cite the poor economy and lack of opportunities.

  14. It’s not realistic to have an armed law enforcement officer at every school? The two high schools in my town each have one. None at the lower levels though. Hopefully that will change.

    • In my city, one of the largest in the SF Bay Area, we have fewer officers on patrol during peak shifts than we have schools. School resource officers are assigned where the inmates, ahem, I mean students need watching, namely the high schools.

      Besides, with all the pissing and moaning about the size of government and high taxes, I didn’t think this point would be controversial in the least. The cost to recruit, hire and train the number of armed LEOs required to cover day shifts at all public schools is out of reach in today’s economy.

  15. @Alpha Geek – A very well written piece! Thanks for bringing it to us RF.

    This will come down to some sort of AWB and some sort of mental health evaluation added to the NICS for gun buyers, maybe more. What that will entail for those who already own a gun (and are not buying new ones) may get very interesting. I would not be surprised if some procedure is included to force existing gun owners to submit to a MH Evaluation, as a requirement to retain ownership. This is a thorny path and the potential for errors and abuse by the State (Federal, State, Local) is extremely high.

    • I disagree about the evaluations.

      I do, however, strongly support a system under which disqualifying events (involuntary commitment, adjudication of incompetence, etc) flow to NICS and local law enforcement agencies in real time. THAT will do more to prevent future tragedies than any AWB or gun control measure.

      • Now that the Connecticut State ME has stated the Bushmaster M-4 was the primary killing weapon, and that the seven children he personally autopsied were each shot multiple times, the likelihood of an AWB has gone up. The ME announced his finding this afternoon (Eastern Time). Jay Carney said yesterday that the President now “supports an AWB”.

        I would much prefer that available mental health information be included in the existing NICS Database, as you suggest, since NICS is not going away in the foreseeable future.

        Mental Health Evaluations are impracticable and would be expensive, but that’s what will be pushed for initially, so that inclusion of existing information in the NICS Database can be made to look like a “reasonable”, acceptable compromise by the gun prohibitionists and Politicians.

        However, I would point-out this would not have stopped Lanza, as he never took a NICS check. He did not get that far in his attempt to buy a gun, then switched to using his Mother’s guns.

    • Ralph, a nation divided cannot stand. I would rather chip away at the ignorance 1-2 people at a time than take the easy path and only associate with people who echo my own views.

      Might not always make me the most popular member of my peer group, but it works for me.

  16. I clicked on my Facebook late yesterday… I know I’ve said I don’t do Facebook in the past. I wasn’t lying. I have a page, but I don’t post. I just use it to read about/keep up with distant friends. If I want to talk, I text, email, or call. I don’t do Facebook.

    Anyway, I clicked late yesterday and was very pleased to see that while there were several posts about the incident, there was only one person spouting the knee-jerk, emotional… lemme pull a quote… “This is not about the right to hunt, to shoot a couple rounds or to protect your house. This is about the right of others having a chance to live a full life.” type stuff…

    I guess I’m hanging out with the right people.

    • You might be shocked to learn that even among my very liberal FB friends, my editorial attracted no vitriol.

      Likely that it’s half respect, and half anticipating that I’ll rhetorically eviscerate anyone who steps up with weaksauce arguments, but still…

  17. Excellent thought provoking article. However, I wish I would have seen this on the front page of the NY Times or Washington Post instead of the standard anti-gun dribble.

  18. I’m going to post this on my Facebook page, to spread this intelligent response to that horrible tragedy.

    Thanks for an excellent article, A G.

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