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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  • A lot of it is this. Part of the solution is de-stigmatizing seeking help for mental problems.

  • I have 3 guns. They all have locks on them to prevent them from being loaded or fired without removing the lock. The keys for those locks, and the safe the ammunition is stored in, are kept on my person at all times. I really can’t fathom the level of irresponsibility it takes to not follow these simple basic safety steps.

  • 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.

    One of those killed in the school was a teacher.  This teacher was the shooter’s mother.  This was a case of matricide.  The students?  Either collateral (unlikely considering the number of targets killed) or were killed just to emotionally wound the teacher before killing her too.  

    It speaks volumes about the killer’s emotional state that this happened.  I wonder if it was some desperate cry for attention.  A “You loved these kids more than you loved your own son!  Manchild-smash!” kind of thing.  

  • SisterCoyote

     I know that. I just cannot fathom the amount of… wrongness, I guess, that it takes to believe one’s best option was to murder children.

    It’s slightly less random, and thus less terrifying in that sense, now that we know his mother was a teacher. But it’s still… just sort of painful to think about.

  • 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.

    I think that Random_Lurker was just being a little hyperbolic for the sake of expression.  Still, I have seen people who are afraid not necessarily of guns, but have a somewhat irrational fear and disgust over gun owners.  Part of it is, I think, a conflation of someone who owns a gun with someone who is a “gun nut”.  Not all the former are the later, but the later create a stereotype that gets labeled onto the former.  

    Events like this certainly do not help the image of responsible gun ownership, and it creates more paranoia about guns in the general population.  Likewise, some of the advocacy organizations and individual personalities have done a lot to undermine it themselves.  Again, the machismo I addressed earlier tends to attract the people we would least trust with guns to the idea of gun ownership.  

    The end result is a lot of stigma, a lot of polarization, and a lot of difficulty at actually implementing something like a preventative solution to events like this.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     I don’t remember the details – it’s been at least twenty years – but in the Philadelphia area, a woman shot a number of people at a shopping center. She was known to have mental health problems, and her parents had been struggling to get help for her, but there was no way to get her hospitalized until she proved to be a “danger to herself or others” by actually harming someone. Which she did.

  • 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.

    I recall one Dilbert strip where Dogbert is telling Dilbert about how he strongly believes in Second Amendment rights, and how he believes that everyone should have the right to own a gun.  However, he believes that only he should have ammo, since he would not trust any of the rest of us with anything more deadly than string.  

  • Water_Bear

    Unfortunately this isn’t very surprising. Well, that’s not entirely true; I was pretty surprised at the ages of the victims, but even school shootings aren’t really that unusual these days.

    What I’m really curious about is the body armor. What is it about an elementary school which made this dude think he needed to be bulletproof? Did he think he lived in the NRA fantasy utopia where school teachers are packing heat and a five year old can field strip an M-4? 

  • Or Chris Rock’s solution of making each bullet cost $5000.

  • I know that. I just cannot fathom the amount of… wrongness, I guess, that it takes to believe one’s best option was to murder children.

    I can see a certain logic in it.  If you want to hurt someone, I mean really hurt someone, you find what they love most and you take it away.  Most people love their own children.  In the case of an elementary school teacher, they might love their little students in a similar manner.  

    If you can take those beloved things away in such a manner that they can obviously never be recovered, well, that is going to hurt quite a bit.  No one wants that to happen to them.  

    Of course, because no one wants that to happen to them is the same reason we have such strong cultural prohibitions on say, murdering your rival’s children.  However, when the murderer in question has no children and really does not care what retaliation is visited upon them, well, suddenly the idea becomes a lot less unpalatable.

  • What I’m really curious about is the body armor. What is it about an elementary school which made this dude think he needed to be bulletproof? Did he think he lived in the NRA fantasy utopia where school teachers are packing heat and a five year old can field strip an M-4?

    I would hazard to guess that his equipping of body armor meant that he knew full well what kind of retaliation the authorities would deploy against him once his plans became evident, and he needed to survive long enough to… execute them.  


    Events like this certainly do not help the image of responsible gun ownership, 

    Indeed not.

    So, as I’ve said on a different thread, I don’t generally buy into the “because I’m an X, it’s my responsibility to address the bad stuff other Xes are doing” mode of thought, but I do buy into the “because I’m able to address the bad stuff Xes are doing more effectively than others, it’s my responsibility to do so” mode of thought, and I agree that Xes are often able to address the actions of their fellow Xes more effectively than non-Xes.

    I suspect that X = gun owners is an example of this.

  • Water_Bear

    Ordinarily I’d dismiss that because anyone with any sense would realize that this isn’t Minority Report and cops tend to arrive after shootings, but then I remembered this guy didn’t have any sense.

    Luckily the body armor didn’t seem to help keeping him alive. Enjoy not existing, dickweed.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Lady, this really isn’t the fucking time.  Please take your axe and grind it elsewhere.  Thank you.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    No, I can’t. After all, you’re not Christian and you seem to have embraced hatefulness with great glee. Not really seeing a common denominator of any religion or lack thereof.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    In a little while, I’m going to sit down at a table with my mother,  and we’re going to eat chili and fried cornbread. 

    While we eat something guaranteed to fuck up our stomachs for the next week, we’re going to talk about our dogs, we’re going to talk about her niece’s bratty kids, we’re going to talk about her sister who has a birthday today.  She just turned 60, and really wonders why the hell she doesn’t feel any different today than she did at 18, except more tired and and a thousand times more aggravated.  We’re going to discuss the greenhouse I’m building beside the house, eyesore that it is.  We’re going to talk about James Lee Burke’s last book.  We’re going to watch something mindless-Rudolph is on now–and talk about absolutely stupid shit.

    In short, we’re going to talk about anything and everything EXCEPT what happened today, because this is ALL we’ve been talking about all day, what we’ve been seeing all day, and what’s running through our heads on an endless fucking loop. 

    God help us all. 

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Was the “body armor” actually body armor, or was it just a scary looking tactical vest? Until I see any confirmation of the former, I’m going to assume the latter.

    I own four handguns, personally, but I’m really not married to the idea of private gun ownership the way most gun enthusiasts are. Personally, I think some of the biggest challenges you’ll run into are simply financial. The worth of my personal gun collection is probably between 2 and 3 thousand, and others’ are worth far more. I could eat the financial hit personally, but there are those for whom it’d be a much bigger hit. Either because they are less able to weather the loss of several thousand dollars worth of wealth, or because instead of a 3000 dollar collection they have a 20,000 collection. How would we deal with that?

    Personally, I think we should have very strict national standards, and I think mental health care should be basically free (I think we should move to a single payer system anyways, but especially so with mental health). I think high capacity magazines should be illegal. I think ammunition bans are essentially a non-starter; a thousand rounds sounds like a lot of ammo until you actually start going target shooting.

    I guess I’m just interested in hearing specifics, really. Generally, the suggestions I hear either mirror what we have here in California already (which I am totally fine with), or are so out on the extreme (outright gun/ammo bans). There are a lot of gun laws that I think are well intentioned, but ultimately are either ineffective, address a non-existent problem, or are easily circumvented. This is a smart group here and I’d be interested in hearing thoughts.

  • Stressfactor

    Earlier Fred posted the video from Dan Savage about the ‘NALT’ Christians with the advice that those of us who are NALTs need to stand up to our brethren and sisters about the issue.  If that’s true then the same really needs to be said of responsible gun owners.  They need to stand up and call for better enforcement of existing laws or more responsible gun ownership which keeps access to guns limited except by those who are owners or trained to handle them and etc.

    Instead of letting the NRA be a constant roadblock they need to stand up to the NRA and say “You know what?  Some things need to be fixed so instead of just saying ‘no’ how about we actually work with the government to craft good legislation?”

  • I wish I could be surprised at this. Or shocked. Or sickened. Something. Mostly it’s just kind of passing across my attention like sports news or celebrity romance reporting, there and then gone as I focus on something else. I’m not even numb anymore.

    I try to examine my disinterest and part of my brain just shrugs and says, “Hey, this is just how it is, and you’ve been aware of that for almost half your life,” and goes back to pondering video games or trying to get an earworm worked out (Ayreon’s “Comatose,” which has been bugging me for days now). Another, smaller voice in my brain is screaming at the rest of me that I should be freaking out over the mere fact of my indifference, to say nothing of the actual deaths, but it’s getting about as much traction as would someone proposing military cuts in the national budget.

    “This is just how it is.”

    Jesus. I know I’m not much of a bellwether, but at the same time I’ve not really had a serious thought that plenty of others aren’t already having. So, the thought about this that actually chills me is what this means, sociologically speaking, for my generation and those younger as this stops being the “new normal” and becomes simply normal. The price of doing business, so to speak, and thus something that soon won’t be questioned even so little as it still is.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Personally, though I think definitely something needs to be done about restricting access of guns to the clearly mentally ill

    Bugger that. Restrict access to guns full stop. There is no good reason for civilians to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Personally, I also think there’ s no goound enough reason for civilians to own handguns of any kind, but for practical reasons I’ll meet halfway and accept laws like ours–that if you want to get a permit to own a handgun, you’re going to need to demonstrate active membership of a regulated “sport” shooting club over an extended period of time.

    Fearless Son is correct in his characterisation of me. If there’s anyone more anti-gun than me on this board–hi. Violence is something I’m quite happy to be an extremist about.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Sylvia Seagrist. I was in high school at the time. My father worked (and was working) in the mall at the time. Luckily, he was nowhere near the shooting, but he was there. 

  • Worthless Beast

    { I know that. I just cannot fathom the amount of… wrongness, I guess, that it takes to believe one’s best option was to murder children. }

    I have a relative who went to prison for doing stupid stuff with an (unloaded) gun – the person he threatened was an adult… stupid lust-triangle stuff.  He told me that among all of the thugs in prison (people in for assault, murder, rape as well as just for theft and having too many drugs) that the *one thing* that they considered unforgivable was molesting/hurting/killing children.  This is why child molestors who go to prison are put in protective custody.  Among general population, they *will* be killed.

    This guy… he violated fuggin’ PRISON CODE.  That’s a special kind of evil.

  • That Other Jean

     From what I heard on the news, the shooter’s mother was found dead in her home, which means the shooter would have had to have killed her first, THEN go kill twenty little kids at the school where she taught, then, apparently, kill himself.

    I do not, cannot, understand how someone could do those things. 

  • P J Evans

    the people suggesting an increase in the number of CCLs are generally the ones who do have a familiarity with gun

    I suspect that their familiarity is shooting targets in a relatively calm and controlled environment. The people I know with police and military backgrounds are generally not in favor of arming everyone, particularly with concealed weapons. It’s too easy to decide that you’re looking at the shooter, when it’s really [another] armed bystander.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, I’m sorry that I wasn’t more clear.  In the discussions I have been a part of, the people who want more citizens to be armed are also the ones who tend to be the weekend target shooters with a hero complex but who have never actually been in a position where they trained to (or had to) take a life. 

  • P J Evans

     Today the Michigan state legislature passed a law that would, assuming it’s signed, allow concealed carry in schools and daycare centers. They are, of course,really really sorry about the shootings in Connecticut.

    Did I mention that this is a mostly-Republican legislature with a lot of lame ducks and a governor who is owned by wingnuts?

  •  That seems rather US-centric. Christians in almost the entire rest of the world are doing the opposite.

  • P J Evans

    She just turned 60, and really wonders why the hell she doesn’t feel any
    different today than she did at 18, except more tired and and a
    thousand times more aggravated.

    That … is actually a good question.
    I keep wondering why I seem to be turning into my mother (in the sense of wear-and-tear and generally getting older).

  • P J Evans

     What I heard was that his mother was one of the teachers and was killed at the school. It was one of his brothers that was dead at home. Which doesn’t make it any better. (Apparently his mother was something of a martinet.)

  • hidden_urchin

    I agree with you but for slightly different reasons.  Gun ownership is still a Constitutional right.  If we focus on mental illness as an automatic disqualifier then we’re essentially denying a Constitutional right to a part of the population not based on a demonstrated threat but rather a state of being.  That would be like saying more gun violence is committed by X ethnicity so we are disallowing those people from ownership.  As Fred has said repeatedly, rights have to apply equally or they are only privileges.*

    Also, determining a cutoff would be difficult due to poor definitions for mental illness and the transitory nature of some of them.  Of course, someone threatening violence against zirself or others should be prohibited from gun ownership–greater good is more important than personal rights.  However, what about someone who just has a mental illness and is not talking about violence?  What about someone being successfully treated?

    There would also be the danger that this would further stigmatize mental health issues and also keep people from seeking treatment for fear of losing rights.

    So, since we’re throwing ideas around and none of them will ever get past Congress or the SCOTUS, I would agree that, first, the Second Amendment has to go and, second, that gun ownership should be widely and equally restricted.  Then, provisions could be made for people who want to own firearms but they would have to demonstrate at that point that they are sound, qualified, and dedicated over an extended period of time.  Years, preferably.

    *Which is what I think gun ownership should be.

  • I need a twitter-lenght reply to someone who helpfully informs me that correlation is not causation and therefore I can not conclude that stricter gun laws in the rest of the industrialized world and lower gun violence in the rest of the civilized world are related, and suggests that it could just as easily be because other countries censor violent TV and video games (He’s not for censorship; it’s him pulling a gotcha).

    I also wish people would stop letting gun control opponents frame “strict gun control” as meaning the same as “total ban on private ownership”. Pretty much every attempt I’;ve made to find out about countries with lax gun control laws has been stymied by people claiming switzerland is such a country. Which is false. Switzerland has VERY strict gun control laws, just not laws which ban private ownership of guns. (In Switzerland, to own a gun, you have to have military training. And everyone is required to. That’s not *lax*)

  •  Yes, which is why we hear of bomb and poison violence in other countries at rates comparable to the rate of gun violence in the US.

    We do, right?

  • Even Canada, with similar gun ownership rates, has less when you take into account population differences. Something about American culture seems to make the psychological barriers to gun use less stringent.

  • Guest

    This really isn’t the time to pick a fight with Christians.  There are many Christians who are in favour of gun control and besides, using a tragedy to launch an attack against Christians won’t convince anyone.

    The bible has been used to justify violence but it has also been used to justify extreme pacifist stances like the Quakers. You can’t really blame this kind of violence on Christianity.

  • Well, someone earlier mentioned Dunblane, Scotland, where a school shooting lead to strict gun control laws in the UK, and some cursory searching indicates such events have pretty much disappeared. (At the least, Wikipedia’s list of UK massacres stops, ahem, dead right after Dunblane.) You might want to give it a little more looking, but in this case even if you want to claim it’s not causation, then correlation is at least giving causation significant looks followed by a wink and gesture back to its room for a drink.

    As for specific Twitter-length way to put it, um… Beats me. I’m bad at Twitter. Too verbose.

  • hidden_urchin

    I think one of the answers might be found in our different cultural myths but I am not familiar enough with those found in Canadian culture to really come up with anything meaningful.

  •  A culture that has decided that machismo is the highest virtue, higher even than the obscenely elevated opinion they have of wealth?

  • esmerelda_ogg

     That’s her! Thank you. And I’m glad to hear your dad escaped harm.

  •  If increased gun ownership really did deter violent crimes, then we would be hearing EVERY DAY about a civilian hero who had saved the day thanks to having his trusty gun at the right place and time.

    The media would LOVE such a story. Fox news would show NOTHING ELSE TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY.

    And yet, I can count the number of times in my entire thirty three and eleven-twelfths years that I have heard such a story on — on less than one hand. On.. On something I have less than five of.

    On my testicles. I could literally testify as to the number of times in my entire life I have heard a news story about a civilian hero who saved the day with his gun.

  • hidden_urchin

    I think that’s a big part of it.  I think the roots of the difference may be traced to different immigration patterns.  These differences resulted in different foundation myths which evolved into the ones we see today.  As I said, though, I don’t have a good enough grasp of Canadian cultural myths to really develop the idea.  I just have some very small and tantalizing pieces of information.

    Invisible Neutrino, what are the biggest differences you see between Canadian culture and American culture with respect to violence?  You seem to have a much better understanding of what’s going on down here than I do about what is happening up there, much to my embarassment.

  • I need a twitter-lenght reply to someone who helpfully informs me that correlation is not causation and therefore I can not conclude that stricter gun laws in the rest of the industrialized world and lower gun violence in the rest of the civilized world are related

    I’m fond of “Correlation does not imply causation, but it sure does point at it while giving us meaningful looks.” (Not original with me, and I’m likely misquoting, but I can’t find the original.)

  • Passerby

    Automatically calling the shooter crazy or claiming he must have had mental issues stigmatizes people with mental issues and isn’t necessarily accurate. The majority of people who are mentally ill are non-violent and sane people are capable of horrific acts. Anders Breivik was declared sane, for example.

    Something to keep in mind.

    It’s too early to know why he shot these people and it’s unlikely any answer will satisfy the ones who have lost their loved ones today.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought I’d heard of one at the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, but I went to look up the person’s name, and I was misremembering. When the shooter had to reload, two people jumped him and a third swiped the magazine. Nobody actually had a gun out except the shooter.

    (But how dare we suggest mandating smaller magazines, thus forcing more frequent reloads.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but the fact that most of the victims were in the kindergarten class taught by the shooter’s mother, herself a victim, that’s a little suggestive of what the shooter was thinking.

  • Fusina

     Yes, he is. He sent out a tweet that was quoted in the first article I found online about this (aside from the tragedy of children being killed by someone, I have a niece and nephew in Connecticut, close to this place, based on distances, so I was a little worried).  My daughter has a deep desire now to shoot him where it won’t kill him…just cause a lot of pain.

    Err, not that we have any guns–although I do have some very sharp kitchen knives…

  • Jessica_R

    See I actually *would* start believing in God if something terrible happened to Mike Huckabee, so there you go. 

  • Lori


    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.   

    I am so very over this argument. Give me list of other methods that would allow one person to kill 26 people before they could get away and/or something could be done to stop him. Now tell me what our attitude is toward people possessing those things. Now tell me why automatic weapons and the NRA’s paranoid fever dreams about them are so much more important than the lives of our children.


    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

    There are a few. There are far more countries that have low rates of violent crime and very few guns. More importantly, the countries with lots of guns and little violent crime don’t fetishize guns the way the US gun lobby and it’s supporters do. The number of guns we have and the attitude so many of us have toward them are part of the culture that produces emotionally damaged people, not some separate thing that just happens to occur in the same place.

  • Lori


    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.   

    digby nailed this a long time ago when she said that we’ve gotten to the point where we treat gun violence like severe weather—-just a tragic thing we can’t do anything to prevent. We’ve been lobbied and lulled into learned powerlessness on this issue and until we tell the gun lobby to STFU it isn’t going to chance because we won’t change it.

  • I think it may have to do with the fact that Canadian founding mythologies don’t rely as heavily on hagiographically exaggerated culture-heros (e.g. Davy Crockett and the coonskin cap), which points to less cultural embracement of individualistic behaviors.

    I also think it has to do with the fact that an “honor culture” never took root in Canada.

  • vsm

    Incidentally, how does one square weapon fetishism with Christianity, particularly the bits about cheek-turning and dying by the sword? Or is that something one doesn’t bring up in polite society?