Jesus. Not again.

Children among 27 dead in Connecticut school shooting

Twenty children and six adults have been killed in a shooting attack at a primary school in the US state of Connecticut, police say.

Lt. Paul Vance said the gunman was also dead, but did not identify him.

However, officials told US media the killer at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, was a 20-year-old son of a teacher at the school.

… Lt. Vance said 18 children were pronounced dead at the school, and two died after they were taken to hospital. Six adults were also killed. The gunman died at the scene.

According to US reports, the gunman’s mother was a teacher found among the dead at the school.

One person was also injured, and police were investigating a “secondary” crime scene, where another victim was found dead, Lt. Vance said.

He gave no details, but said New Jersey police were providing assistance.

Transcript: President Obama’s Remarks On Conn. School Shooting

We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.

Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

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  • Haven

    “And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
    Hearing these words from the president’s mouth is a ray of hope. 

    This wouldn’t have happened if we could have been galvanized by any of the other high-profile shootings this year, or in years previous. This wouldn’t have happened if our every discussion hadn’t begun with “there will be no discussion”. 

    If people start realizing that these tragedies are preventable, that they are not isolated incidents but have common causes, and that there WILL be more if we don’t do anything? Maybe we can snap out of our collective learned helplessness and remember that even if a specific constitutional amendment is interpreted in a specific way that ultimately contributes to the violent death of children, it can be changed. (That’s how it got there in the first place, that’s what amendment means!)

  • HelenaConstantine

    Why don’t you let us know when Jesus does something about it. The majority of his followers here in the real world seem pretty intent on making sure nothing is ever done.

  • Nirrti

    What happened today just leaves me dumbfounded. Here we are, a supposedly first world nation with all the material advantages….and our babies can’t even be safe in their classroom while doing their finger painting, coloring, or whatever little kids do at school.

    This isn’t Iraq, Syria, or Sudan. This is America; land of the free, apple pie, opportunity, and all that. And a class of 5 year-olds can get gunned down via 2nd amendment and “from my cold, dead hands”? Oh, but try to bring a bottle of water on an airplane and you’re a potential terrorist?

    This country is beyond help at this point. If this nation were a person, a shrink would’ve had it on a regimen of Thorazine and ECT a long time ago.

  • Kadh2000

    I pray for the survivors and the families of the victims. 

    This is an Anerican tragedy.  As bad as 9/11 because we did it to ourselves.  After every one of these tragedies, I send an email to my congressman and my senators.  I get very nice replies.  Now I have to send another one.

  • hidden_urchin

    Not me. That’s what the politicians say after every massacre. They then let the discussion quietly die and we move on with our lives, leaving only those who have been shattered to remember. I’ll have hope only when a politician puts the blame squarely on our culture first. Such a thing will indicate that zie understands the problem and has the courage to confront it.

  • I am somewhat eager to hear the pundits and Fox News try to downplay this or reassign blame to desperately avoid casting any kind of gun control in a positive light.  

    Their acts of mental contortion will be like watching a circus performer practice their show.

  • fredgiblet

    The guns didn’t go into the school and kill those kids by themselves.  Stricter gun laws won’t prevent things like this, they will simply change the methods from guns to something else, bombs, poison, something like that.

    What we need to do is determine why the PEOPLE are doing this, and deal with THAT.  There are countries with large numbers of guns where violent crime is minimal, not because they don’t have any guns, but because they don’t have a culture that is geared towards producing emotionally damaged people.

  • redsixwing

    The Onion nailed it.

    I, on the other hand, have no words.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yes, again. And again and again and again until American society decides that it loves its children more than its guns.

    This is sickening but not at all surprising. Speaking of which, get some help Helena.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Bullshit. You want to know when was the last mass murder of children in my country?

  • Sorry, but the Onion was much more accurate a couple months ago.

    This is “Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On” because that’s the way we want it. If it wasn’t, we’ve had every opportunity to do things differently.

  • HelenaConstantine

    You can’t see that Christianity is part of the problem?

  • redsixwing

     That one was good too, but you’ll not convince me that heartbreak is not appropriate in the face of tragedy.

    We still do have opportunity to correct this.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     WILL you stop calling us all NRA-brainwashed rightwing gummint-hating trolls?!? This is not the moment for Internet-atheist-religion-bashing.

  • Emcee, cubed

    In what way? Sorry, I know plenty of atheists and other non-Christians who are 2nd amendment fetishists who insist that any gun control for any reason is anti-freedom and refuse to discuss it ever. Just because you want to blame all the ills of the world on Christianity doesn’t make it actually true, you know.

  • hidden_urchin

    Stricter gun laws won’t prevent things like this, they will simply change the methods from guns to something else, bombs, poison, something like that.

    This has been a consistent argument of the NRA and it is designed to do nothing more than deflect attention from the reality of firearms.  To create even a crude functioning bomb takes significant planning and some skill.  Finding the instructions on-line is the easy part.  (And one could very easily kill oneself doing it.)

    It is the same for poison.  To kill this many people with poison would take a fair amount of planning and skill.  Furthermore, a lot of poisons people have ready access to would be hard to use on a large scale necessitating greater planning and skill to use.

    A gun, on the other hand, is easy to get and easy to use.  It is also something intimately associated with power and violence in our cultural consciousness.  Closing background check loopholes and restricting access to high capacity magazines and assault style weapons would go a long way to make things more difficult for would-be mass murderers.  For those acting in the heat of the moment, or with too little skill to use other methods, it could very well mean the difference between carrying out a massacre or not.  It could mean the difference between being able to act relatively quickly and having to take time to prepare in which one might be caught.  Will every murderer be stopped?  No, but even a reduction in numbers is better than what we have now. 

    What we need to do is determine why the PEOPLE are doing this, and deal with THAT.

    The solution isn’t an either/or arrangement.  We can very well make it harder for people to get and use firearms while simultaneously addressing things like economic stressors and a lack of mental health resources.

  • Their acts of mental contortion will be like watching a circus performer practice their show.

    Which is different from any other day on Fox how?

  • [right wing nut mode]

    Well, it’s not like the children are in a woman’s uterus.  It would be a
    violation of personal freedom to deny potential murders of *born*
    children the right to


    (Okay, I’m going to shut up and cry now…)

  • I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve seen along the lines of “If only the adults there had been allowed to carry, someone could have stopped this guy!”

    Do these people honestly believe that they’re living in an action movie? Have they ever fired a gun? Do they know how HARD it is to hit stuff? Even when there’s not someone shooting back at you, and 20 5 year olds you have to avoid? Have they never read a story about an officer involved shooting (an officer who, mind, spends a good amount of time training to shoot) where they empty their clips and hit maybe once or twice?

    More people carrying wouldn’t result in fewer tragedies like this, only more innocent bystanders.

  • hidden_urchin

    Unfortunately, Alex B, the people suggesting an increase in the number of CCLs are generally the ones who do have a familiarity with guns and so they do know how difficult it is to hit a target (in theory).  My guess is that a.) it’s like driving, every gun owner thinks zie is an above average shot, and b.) our culture is so steeped with narratives of the Hero that many do internalize it.

    I would give such arguments far more weight if the speaker acknowledged the danger to bystanders.  Not only have we seen such incidents play out (e.g. the Empire State Building shooting) but when one reads news accounts from 19th century US, western towns one will read many stories of bystanders being wounded or killed in shootouts when town citizens acted to stop bank robberies.

  • Which is different from any other day on Fox how?

    Watching that contortionist performing on a spotlighted platform is entertaining.  Watching the same contortionist performing on a swinging trapeze above a pit of crackling fire is thrilling.  

  • My internet connection has been slow as all fuck, so while I was waiting for this page to load all I could think was “Bowl of petunias.”

    Gigantic mood whiplash when I saw what it was about.

    I have no words.  There are solutions, but the odds of any of them making it through congress are basically nil.  Which means we’ll see more.

  • Those comments always strike me as an attempt to place blame on someone, anyone – even if it’s a victim. I understand the impulse to make sense of something that’s senseless, but there has to be a less heartless way to express them.

  • You can’t see that Christianity is part of the problem?

    I have to voice my objection to this assertion.  

    The problem in this case is a certain kind of machismo culture which prizes guns as symbols of masculine expression and restricts efforts to keep them out of the hands of people too unhinged to be allowed to have them, or get those same people treatment that will keep them from becoming so irresponsibly unhinged in the first place.  

    Granted, there is a great deal of overlap between gun-culture and the religious right in America, but gun culture itself is not an inherent part of Christianity (understandably as Christianity predated guns by many, many centuries) and this is not necessarily a religious issue (though it may well be a tribal issue.)  

    Further, Sgt. Pepper identifies as Christian, but she is about the furthest thing from a gun enthusiast you might find on this board.  I very much doubt her conception of Christianity includes anything like this.  Though some Christians here in the U.S. would desperately love for Christianity and gun ownership to be conflicted, the two are very unrelated things.  

  • Worthless Beast

    I haven’t seen any comments like that yet, but I haven’t really been looking (getting most of my news from TV).  But… What. The. Fuck? People think *elementary school teachers* ought to be packing heat now?  No, no, I don’t even.  My brain’s already exploded today.

  • That’s the awful part. I grew up in an age of shootings, when everyone was frightened. Every time there was another one, we’d go through a period of paranoia, with everyone watching everyone else. At the time, I didn’t think it would get any worse.

    We’re not paranoid any more, but only because we’ve become used to this sort of thing. Someone shoots up a school or a mall or a theater or a rally, and it’s just another hazard of life in the 21st century. Imagine what it takes to become numb to mass murder.

  • LL

    Yeah, I don’t think Christianity had anything to do with this. Obviously, there’s some overlap (illustrated in Venn diagram, if you will) of right wing Christian types and gun owners. 

    Personally, though I think definitely something needs to be done about restricting access of guns to the clearly mentally ill (there has to be some terrible family drama at the heart of all this, not that makes it OK or understandable), I also think that the treatment (or non-treatment, really) of the mentally ill also needs to be discussed. It is clearly inadequate. 

  • Random_Lurker

    >> I have to voice my objection to this assertion.  

    The problem in this case is a certain kind of machismo culture which prizes guns as symbols of masculine expression<<

    After all the posts about Patriarchy lately, this actually undermines your own point.

  • Nor is it the moment for atheist-bashing, but that didn’t stop the guy on Christian talk radio from saying that the cause of the tragedy was that people have “turned their backs on God.”

  • It might help to know that they don’t really think that teachers should be carrying guns.  They think they should be carrying guns, and be magically transported to the scene of any shooting, where they would magically know who the bad guy is, and because of their LEET SKILLS, be able to blow him away without hurting a single innocent bystander.

    It’s so easy to be a hero inside your own head.

  • So? Then that guy’s a jerk too. “He’s doing it too!!!” Has never, and will never be an acceptable excuse.

  • Worthless Beast

    Yeah… I think the apathy of my own soul terrified me today.  I was browsing this very blog, some topic to which I’d opined and was seeing the further conversation and I saw someone bring up “There’s been a school shooting in CT, prayers and/or thoughts appreciated” and my thought was “Wait, didn’t this happen a couple of weeks ago?” (I was sure I was browsing a back-thread). I thought someone was bringing up a “2-3 people dead” shooting that had happened some time ago for some reason. I barely batted an eyelash, did some errand-running, saw an email from my mother about it, then I turned on the news and saw “20 children dead” and only *then* went HOLY SHIT! 

    I seriously *did not register* it until I saw that. 

    It makes me worry about myself, how innured I’m starting to feel about our culture and what happens in it.

  • LL

    I do think there also needs to be some discussion of what seems to be a thread running through almost every shooting incident, not just school shootings, but mass shootings in general, and that is this “male rage”, if you will. 

    Women have committed shootings like this, but those instances are very, very rare. It’s mostly males who do this. Why the fuck is that? I think that needs to be addressed. Why are men so goddam angry in this affluent, mostly well-educated country, run mostly by males? I’m not saying their anger is or is not justified, just wondering. 

    If it was black dudes or white women going around shooting up schools and malls, I’d kind of (kind of) understand it, but the mass shooters look a lot like the people in charge of everything. Demographically, anyway. 

    Is it all just mental illness? Or mental illness abetted by something else?

  • But it seems SO EASY in Call of Duty!

  • Not just direct access to guns, but indirect access as well. That there isn’t a bigger push, even among gun nuts, for people to store their weapons properly (locked, with ammo in a separate locked container) is simply stunning.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Well. Him and the horse he rode in on. It’s not the time for bashing anybody, except those who want to turn this into a promo for their own pet hostilities. It’s a time for mourning. And tomorrow will be a time to start lobbying our politicians HARD to come up with ways to stop this nonsense; serious background checks for gun buyers, and restrictions on the types of guns and ammunition available, sound worth looking into.

  • Nequam
  • It wasn’t an excuse.  I was pointing out that it that is still something perfectly acceptable to say.  I was just waiting to hear it on the way home, and Christian radio never fails to live right down to my expectations.

  • Random_Lurker

    Adding in some of my own opinions.  As an NRA-certified safety instructor, my feelings are mixed.  On the one hand, I’ve seen firsthand how easy it is to teach 11-year old Boy Scouts how to handle a firearm safely, and how good they become at it after only an hour or two.  At the same time, I’ve seen how thing the line between responsible use and accident is (the line is about 10 degrees to the left… yeah, there).

    I don’t know what causes this kind of tragedy, but the plain fact is that if the gun wasn’t available, it wouldn’t happened.  I suspect that we either need to pull back, or double down.  Either outlaw or restrict civilian gun use (“a well-regulated militia…”), or go full in and make gun awareness and gun safety part of public education.  Make sure everyone 6 and over knows how to recognize a gun and basic safety, and everyone 10 and over knows how to unload and disarm one.  Demystifying firearms would go a long way toward preventing this kind of thing… although restricting might be better.  Unfortunately, we are stuck and can’t go in either direction.  One side equates gun ownership with the right to vote, and the other side has a superstitious fear that even being in the same room with a gun will somehow contaminate them.  I’m not sure this is an issue that’s resolvable by public discussion, and I even more heavily doubt that our, ahem, beloved elected leaders have the balls to simply get it done.

    as a side note, where restrictions are concerned, any new law has to heavily emphasize the ammunition.  Once a gun is on the black market, it doesn’t generally leave.  Ammo on the other hand is a limited resource.

  • Countdown to “The shooter played violent video games!” in three…two…one…

  • Random_Lurker

     This is a fantastic point.

  • Fast_Moon

    Why are mass shooters always men?  Has there ever been a mass shooting in the US carried out by a woman?  If the main problem was actually “guns”, it seems like there should be more of a balance of genders here, since both genders have equal access to firearms.  But gun violence seems to a “man” thing almost to the point of exclusivity.  Which means there has to be something else going on here. 

    The only thing I can think of is that it’s culturally acceptable for women to voice their pain and emotional concerns, and seek the help and comfort of other people, whereas with men such behavior is looked upon as “weak”, and they’re constantly instructed to “man up” and deal with their issues silently and alone.

  • SisterCoyote

    Given the town and the neighborhood, I’m telling you plenty of those kids were Christians, and right now their parents are praying for peace, for solace, for their souls.

    Please stop. This isn’t what any of us need right now.

  •  Has there ever been a mass shooting in the US carried out by a woman?
    Brenda Ann Spencer. “I don’t like Mondays”. 

  • SisterCoyote

    I don’t understand. This was an elementary school. These were children. Some of them weren’t old enough to read yet.  I don’t get it. This.

    My sister called at work to ask me what town our cousins live in. They’re the next one over. The feeling of relief is monstrous. Children are dead. I don’t know what’s wrong with this world. I don’t know that I want to.

    I do know that if he’d had a knife, the teacher could’ve disarmed him. And that makes me sick to my stomach.

  •  This has been a consistent argument of the NRA and it is designed to do
    nothing more than deflect attention from the reality of firearms.

    And it’s nonsense. After a school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland in the 90s, handguns were banned in Britain. There have been no comparable attacks since.

    There is still violence and murder – and even guns, in some places. But there’s simply not violence on this sort of scale because getting access to weapons that let you kill so many people that easily is damn difficult, as it should be.

  • I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve seen along the lines of “If only the adults there had been allowed to carry, someone could have stopped this guy!”

    The problem I have always had with the “guns deter violent crime” argument is that deterrence only works if the agent you are trying to deter actually cares about their own survival.   It assumes everyone is a rational actor who seeks to avoid their own destruction and makes their decisions on that basis.  

    Take incidents such as this one.  Does this look like the actions of a person interested in surviving the violent episode they initiated?  Hell no!  The police are likely to drop someone with an assault weapon as soon as they can get their sights lined up, especially in a school, and especially if he was already known to have killed children there.  Even if, by some strange twist of fate, he managed to survive long enough to be arrested, there is no way he is getting out of this.  Ever.  If not execution, then life imprisonment is likely.  

    Simply having the weapons will not stop someone from going on a rampage if they are already so far gone that a rampage seems like a good idea.  And actually trying to interdict someone like this is more likely to lead to friendly fire incident than not.  No one there is wearing an easily identifiable uniform, the person who shot the killer might be themselves shot by the next well-meaning armed citizen to come around the corner who assumed that they were the one who killed all those kids now lying on the floor.  

    Then you have a bunch of adults dead on the floor too, all of them with weapons in hand.  

  • and the other side has a superstitious fear that even being in the same room with a gun will somehow contaminate them.

    I call that a mischaracterization and you should know better than to do so.

    I am not a gun owner and I’m not fond of guns, but being near a gun has associations that have nothing to do with the gun and everything to do with the way American culture imbues guns with the concept that He-Man invincibility is associated with having one.

  • After all the posts about Patriarchy lately, this actually undermines your own point.

    So do you deny that the language of emasculation is used with respect to gun ownership from the likes of the NRA and hangers-on?

  • hidden_urchin

    Yup, it’s looking like, this time, the guns were legally purchased and owned by the shooter’s mother.