The fallout from the December 14, 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT seems never to end. It was, in fact, a partially fictional article–Connecticut: The Coming Storm–based on laws passed in Connecticut in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and reposted at TTAG in March of 2014 that caused RF to invite me to be a contributor. More recently, I’ve added Sandy Hook: Lessons and Legacy (12-23-14), and Gun Control By Any Means Necessary (01-30-15). All of these articles spoke to the never-ending compulsion by anti-liberty activists to trample the bloody bodies of the dead in the service of the destruction of the Second Amendment . . .
Shortly after the Sandy Hook attack, the virulently anti-gun Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, established a commission to make recommendations relating to the attack, which has now (03-06-15) issued its final, predictable report, available here.
It is particularly ironic, considering the content of that report and his usual smugly arrogant disdain for the Constitution and Connecticut residents that believe in it, that Gov. Malloy has recently announced there is no longer any “appetite” for additional gun control in Connecticut.
‘There’s just not a big appetite for even talking about guns at the moment in the state of Connecticut,’ he said.”
Even so, Malloy’s Commission produced a report that is the very model of the modern gun-banner’s rhetoric and desires. To understand gun-banner’s wishes for the nation, one need only read this report.
As Part III of my original Sandy Hook series at SMM noted, there were no warning signs that would have allowed anyone to predict or interdict the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary. The killer was diagnosed and treated by many mental health professionals over many years, and not one saw any sign of danger, let alone predicted or feared he might attack a school. This was actually reflected in the commission’s report, not that that recognition prevented it from making entirely predictable recommendations:
“While discerning no clear answers to the question of what role A.L.‘s [the killer’s] behavioral health challenges played in the violence he ultimately inflicted, the Commission nonetheless turns its attention to what we have learned about the role of mental disorder in violent events [p. 8].”
However, once the attack began, the killer could have been driven off or eliminated at many points during the attack if teachers and staff had been armed. No one had to die except the killer, At Sandy Hook and at every school in America.
The report, on pages 5-6, makes clear its true purpose: It is an anti-gun hit job from beginning to end, but a hit job that is careful to exonerate the mental health profession. In fact, the largest part of the report focuses on mental health issues, and states, again and again, that the mental health establishment cannot identify or predict who will commit violence in the future, nor can it be held responsible for that lack of ability. Even so, it recommends enormous expenditures for the establishment of massive bureaucracies, and, of course, the destruction of liberty.
“United States civilians own or possess in excess of 300 million guns: as of 2009, they owned or possessed approximately 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. The incidence of gun ownership/possession in the United States—nearly one gun on average for every resident—is the highest in the world. Most guns are lawfully owned by law-abiding persons who use them for recreational activities, such as hunting and target practice, and/or for self-defense. However, many guns are owned or possessed illegally or, even if legal, are used for unlawful purposes.
Beyond the sheer number of guns in the United States, the lethality of readily available firearms and ammunition continues to increase. The connection between the extent of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the lethality of weapons used in the attack on the school is self-evident and beyond dispute. The Commission is deeply concerned about the proliferation, throughout the civilian population, of weapons that were specifically designed for military use during wartime. ―Assault weapons like the AR-15, as well as large capacity magazines often used with those weapons, have no legitimate place in the civilian population. The Commission finds that the cost to society of easy civilian access to assault weapons and large capacity magazines vastly outweighs the benefits of civilian ownership. By contrast, the Commission finds that the significant benefit to society from eliminating civilian ownership and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines can be realized with only a minimal burden on persons who want to hunt, engage in target practice or use weapons for self-defense. They remain free to engage in those activities with a vast array of long guns and handguns. In short, the Commission‘s first goal is simply to limit the possession and use of weapons designed for wartime use to members of our military services and law enforcement personnel.”
The Commission is obviously not bothered by mere facts, such as the fact that rifles of any kind, and particularly AR-15 pattern rifles are used in only a tiny portion of all crimes. The fact that there is no such thing as an “assault weapon” is likewise not a concern, as is the fact that the 5.56mm/.223 cartridge fired by the AR-15 family is low lethality and of intermediate power.
The report also makes the usual, misleading disclaimer:
“The Commission acknowledges the United States‘ long tradition of gun ownership and the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. However, the Commission also notes that although United States Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a personal right, the court also held that the right is not absolute. The Supreme Court further acknowledged in Heller that society has the right to regulate gun ownership, possession and use within constitutionally permissible limits. Through reasonable, constitutionally permissible regulations applicable to long guns, handguns and ammunition, the Commission seeks to minimize to the greatest extent possible the number of gun-related civilian deaths, while respecting the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners.”
The section of the report titled “Guiding Principles Of Safe School Design And Operation Recommendations,” reads like a statist wish list of feel-good measures. Some examples:
“Outdoor environments and indoor spaces affect the way we feel, move, and contemplate. These known design consequences must not be unbalanced in favor of protective designs, which while improving personal safety, actually detract from the core missions of self-development through learning from teachers, interacting with peers, and observing how the social process of the ―internal school neighborhood operates successfully or unsuccessfully (25).”
Notice the focus on “feelings” rather than practical, quantifiable protective measures, in essence, feeling rather than being safe.
“Being in a place/space where one feels secure allows the focus to be on the school‘s mission and the roles teachers and students need and want to fulfill. Self-protection from perceived threats requires expenditures of deleterious and defensive negative energy, a fundamentally subtle distraction from core school activities and accomplishments [p. 29].”
Those that would deny children and teachers the only effective means of deterring and stopping active school shooters commonly speak of the need for schools to “feel secure” or to “feel safe,” which to them has to do with rhetorical, symbolic measures, such as talking about “safety,” running periodic “safety drills” or posting gun free school zone signs. Notice the code words disparaging effective methods: “expenditures of deleterious and defensive negative energy.” Such people also commonly argue that having even armed police officers in schools–talk about negative energy!–somehow magically detracts from a pristine educational environment, thus contributing to “a fundamentally subtle distraction from core school activities and accomplishments.”
The Commission obviously understood that its reasoning–such as it is–and its recommendations are so anti-liberty, so irrational and so in opposition to Constitutional freedoms, they needed to pro-actively claim otherwise:
“The lethality of the weapons used in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School requires that the Commission evaluate access to firearms and ammunition. The analysis of the Commission is not rooted in dogma or a particular ingrained ―world view, but rather a rational analysis of what type of firearms are available to citizens and what that means to the security of communities. In its analysis, the Commission engaged in a pragmatic, not dogmatic, review [p. 61].”
The entire section then engages in the dogmatic, ingrained, and absolutely predictable world view it claims to avoid: “In setting forth the following recommendations, the Commission does not seek to deprive citizens of their right to hunt, engage in target practice or own a firearm for self-defense…[p. 62]. Neither the Constitution, nor Heller, have to do with hunting, target practice, or even exclusively self-defense. Such deceptive argument is the universal lifeblood of gun-grabbers.
The commission’s recommendations–pp. 64-78–are a virtual anti-gun wish list. Some representative examples:
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 1. Mandatory background checks on the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, at private and gun show sales.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 2. Require registration, including a certificate of registration, for every firearm. This certificate of registration should be issued subsequent to the completion of a background check and is separate and distinct from a permit to carry.”
Neither regulation would have, in any way affected the Sandy Hook killer. His mother legally purchased all the weapons he used. He seized those weapons and killed her, as she slept, with a bolt action .22LR rifle before his attack on the school. Neither regulation would have in any way so much as inconvenienced any known mass shooter, nor would they stop any criminal contemplating mass murder.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 3. Require firearms permits to be renewed on a regular basis. This renewal process should include a test of firearms handling capacity as well as an understanding of applicable laws and regulations.”
This regulation too would have no effect on mass shooters and would serve only to enlarge government and inconvenience the law-abiding, which is its primary purpose. Deterring and catching criminals is difficult and not a priority for the statist because criminals serve useful political purposes. Harassing and controlling the law-abiding is much easier and more politically productive.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 4. Institute a ban on the sale, possession, or use of any magazine or ammunition feeding device in excess of 10 rounds except for military and police use. In proposing this recommendation, the Commission recognized that certain sporting events at times involve the use of higher capacity magazines. However, the consensus of the Commission was that the spirit of sportsmanship can be maintained with lower capacity magazines.”
“The spirit of sportsmanship?!” Magazines can be changed within 1-2 seconds. Replacing a 30 round magazine with three ten-round magazines would require only an additional 2-4 seconds to fire the same number of rounds. At Sandy Hook and elsewhere, this would have meant absolutely nothing, nor would it have saved a single life. The killer had more than sufficient time to kill. His stopping at 26 wounded, dying or dead was a matter of choice, not necessity. He could easily have continued killing for at least five more minutes. Such has been the case in virtually every mass killing of recent years. If ten rounds would be good, wouldn’t a six round limit be better? Why not three? Wouldn’t that be sporting?
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 5. Institute a ban on the possession or sale of all armor-piercing and incendiary bullets, regardless of caliber. First-time offenses should be classified as a Class D Felony.”
No actual armor piercing or incendiary ammunition has ever been used in an American mass shooting or school attack. Actual AP ammunition has, for decades, been illegal for citizens to possess, and “incendiary” ammunition–the report does not define it–is all but unavailable in any form except tracer ammunition, which is a tiny portion of the ammunition market.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 6. Allow ammunition purchases only for registered firearms.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 7. Evaluate best practices for determining the regulation or prohibition of the sale and purchase of ammunition via the Internet.”
Neither recommendation would have had the slightest effect on any known mass shooter.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 8. Evaluate the effectiveness of federal law in limiting the purchase of firearms via the Internet to only those individuals who have passed the appropriate background screening.”
This is a feel good gesture. No state’s laws or recommendations override federal law.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 9. Limit the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at any given time.”
This too would have had no effect on any known school or mass shooter. This is merely a harassment measure intended to annoy the law abiding in the hope they will not purchase ammunition and firearms.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 10. Prohibit the possession, sale or transfer of any firearm capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading. This prohibition would extend to military-style firearms as well as handguns. Law enforcement and military would be exempt from this ban.”
This was tried in the Clinton Gun Ban. While the ban didn’t actually ban any firearm with greater than 10 round capacity, it did ban such magazines, which amounts to essentially the same thing. It was a ten-year national experiment that utterly failed. It accomplished nothing at all for public safety and even Democrats did not champion it when it sunset. As with ten-round magazines, it would not in any way deter attacks or save lives. Such a ban would, however, ban entire classes of firearms–primarily semi-automatics–and even many tube-fed .22 rifles or shotguns. Banning as many guns as possible is ever the gun-banner’s goal.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 11. Require that trigger locks must be provided at the time of sale or transfer of any firearm.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 12. Require that the state develop and update a ―best practices manual and require that all firearms in a home be stored in a locked container and adhere to these best practices; with current minimum standards featuring a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety (including biometric) device when they are not under the owner’s direct control or supervision. The owner should also be directly responsible for securing any key used to gain access to the locked container.”
Such measures are merely harassment for the law-abiding. Who, planning the mass murder of children, would so much as consider obeying such lunatic requirements? These two would do nothing at all to deter or stop school attackers. Such rules would make self-defense–even in the home–difficult or impossible, and would also require wholesale violations of the 4th Amendment to enforce, which, apart from obliterating the Second Amendment, would seem to be the goal of the Commission.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 16. Require that any shell casing for ammunition sold or possessed in Connecticut have a serial number laser etched on it for tracing purposes.”
This is merely another form of microstamping. Not only could this have no public safety benefit, it too is an attempt to force gun and ammunition manufacturers to withdraw the sale of their products from Connecticut, and to make ammunition so expensive few could afford it.
Two final recommendations reflect nothing other than doctrinaire statist articles of faith, nothing more than feel-good measures.
“RECOMMENDATION NO. 29. Programs should be developed that focus on violence reduction through the educational process or other entities.
Rationale. When people feel that their concerns are being heard and addressed by a community that cares, such individuals are less likely to resort to violence as a solution to their problems.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 30. Alcohol awareness programs should be included at appropriate points in the K-12 curriculum.”
Unlike the other recommendations, all of which include a rationale, I included the rationale for #29 because it so clearly illuminates the magical, wishful, dim-witted thinking that went into these recommendations. There is no evidence whatever that any such “gesture” would have in any way inhibited any past mass killer, including the Sandy Hook killer. People planning mass murder are hardly going to say “Oh! You have now heard my concerns, and I perceive you care. Thank goodness! Now I don’t have to kill innocent children and teachers!” This, of course, assumes such people would seek out community forums or the “educational process or other entities” where they could engage in such group hug moments. Likewise, there is no evidence that prior mass shooters, including the Sandy Hook shooter, were in any way inspired or fueled by alcohol, or that any “awareness” program would have had the slightest deterrent or preventive effect.
Any “commission” or other body studying school attacks and making recommendations on how to deter and stop them must, of necessity, consider all means available, including the only truly effective means: arming willing teachers and staff with concealed handguns and publicizing that fact, but keeping the names, numbers and distributions of those carrying concealed secret. Failing to so much as consider this renders any effort, at best, an exercise in well-intentioned futility. This Commission does not so much as mention this possibility.
At worst, failing to consider the only way to stop armed killers inescapably reveals that those issuing supposedly authoritative reports–and in this report there is much self-referential back-patting and appeal to authority–are willing to accept some number of wounded and dead in any school attack to maintain their ideological purity and their never-ending compulsion to disarm those that not only pose no threat to anyone, but who would, given the chance, save lives.
Connecticut has, for the moment, been forced to back away from imprisoning the law-abiding for daring to believe the Second Amendment applies in Connecticut. But this report serves as an anti-gun primer, for Connecticut and the rest of America. Those that wish to preserve liberty would do well to be familiar with it. It could, at any time, be coming to a state near you.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.