Lambs to Lanza’s Slaughter

Lambs to Lanza’s Slaughter December 13, 2013


“I haven’t been able to read a book  aloud since.”

Jackie Barden was speaking about the shooting death of her son Daniel at Sandy Hook. Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the day Adam Lanza stormed into the elementary school and using a gun – not a knife – killed 20 students, and 6 adults.

Daniel loved to cuddle in bed and have his momma read books to him.
“To think it’s been a year since I held him, it’s no time at all,” said Nicole Hockley of her son Dylan who will be forever six-years-old in his momma’s mind.

This passage of time that media and the nation marks is only an aching reminder of all the moments that the families of Sandy Hook have missed with their loved ones.

And what of Adam Lanza and his mother? Those that grieve them – and there must be some who do – have been relegated to the darkest corners to do their mourning, privately.

The rest of us? We have gone about this past year troubled by the evil that was unleashed in that tidy Connecticut community. We muttered heartfelt prayers. We sent money. We wrote out cards. We watched documentaries and tried to make heads and tails of what makes a killer kill. We’ve convened school board meetings and talked about safety. We’ve joined online communities and signed petitions seeking change, seeking protections, seeking mostly to make sure this doesn’t happen at our kids’s schools or to our grandchildren.

But the thing we’ve done best in the year since Sandy Hook is nothing much.

School shootings are epidemic in this country. In the year since Dylan and Daniel crouched behind their teacher’s outstretched arms, lambs to Lanza’s slaughter, there has been on average a school shooting in the US every two weeks, according to a report by The Daily Beast. Those shootings – all during the school day’s operating hours – left 17 people dead and 24 injured.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook, President Obama called on Congress to pass legislation that would have banned assault and high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks.

The bill died in the Senate.

Adam Lanza learned guns at the shooting range, where he, presumably, was taught gun safety. His momma bragged about her son and his skills on the shooting range. She was a proud gun owner, who, by all accounts, did all the appropriate things. She kept those guns under lock and key.

It is true what the NRA folks say: Guns don’t kill people.

But is also true that people with guns can kill a hell’uva lot more people than people with knives and box cutters can.

Adam Lanza was under medical care. He had been treated by mental health specialists. He was his mother’s primary concern. Yet no one, not one person, saw any symptoms of the terror unthawing behind Lanza’s frozen demeanor.

The only thing that could have prevented Sandy Hook – the only thing – would have been if Adam Lanza had never had access to guns.

Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and Daniel and Dylan and 18 others would have finished first-grade at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and principal Dawn Hochsprung would have wept at daughter Erica’s July wedding.

Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and Jackie Barden would be cuddling with Daniel as he read out loud “The Littlest Angel” or some other book to his momma this Christmas morning.

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  • Mike Murdock

    That’s not exactly true, Ms. Zacharias. It’s only partly so. I am troubled that this conversation and others like it invariably settle in on the guns. We said all the supposedly right things about addressing mental health issues at the time. But somehow we always come back to the guns and mental health issues have faded into the background once again.

    • Karen Zacharias

      Mike this conversation and others like it settle around gun control because it is impossible to control people’s mental states. As we saw yesterday at Arapahoe High, the nicest of kids have melt-downs. There is no getting around the fact that without a gun in his hand, Adam Lanza could not have killed a classroom of first-graders. Armed with a knife or a box cutter, he wouldn’t have gotten past the front office.

      • Sharon O

        I agree with Karen. it was the decision and ability to carry out that choice that created the issue.

        • Forensic psychologist Dr. Helen Smith: “It’s not the guns.”

          • Y. A. Warren

            Brian, I love the way your mind works, and I respectfully butt into your conversation.

            “It” is manufactured fear.

          • Mrs. Warren, my strong pro-Second Amendment opinion is a late one formed last spring, from studying anthropology. I’m from pacifist Anabaptist background and got married in a Conservative Mennonite church; both my father and father-in-law were CO status during the Vietnam war.

            The foundation of the Second Amendment is Egalitarian Power-Sharing, something we humans have been doing well[1,2] for two million years since we invented fire. The gun-grabbers are not against guns; they merely want to concentrate firepower up the hierarchy to a few elite hands.

            Such is Philistine policy.

            “Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears.” ~I Samuel 13:1

            The Swiss had enough of that.

            “The inhabitants of Switzerland emancipated themselves by the establishment of a Militia, which finally delivered them from the tyranny of their lords.” ~Representative Jackson, first U.S. Congress, when it met and turned to defense measures in 1791

            There are always going to be guns. Personally, I wish they had never been invented. But they were, and they are impossible to eliminate. Any of my neighbors could make an “assault rifle” from a garden shovel, as this fellow did.

            The power of guns is here. So it is going to be either (a) Concentrated or (b) Shared.

            I choose (b) power-sharing.

            And, if we actually re-implemented a real Militia like the Swiss have, we’d probably be more peaceful, and spend 1/7th of the per capita spending on military. We spend way too much now. Our society is way too militaristic, and that violence bleeds into our civilian life in many ways.

            Let’s de-concentrate power, be more peaceful, and have a battle rifle in every man’s home. If folks need a Democrat to tell them, I know just who can:

            Gary Hart (1998) The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People

            My opinion is that our society would become less violent, more like Switzerland, who also has an “entrenched gun culture” as PBS puts it.

            P. S. Anabaptists (e.g., Mennonites) are now divided into two camps: Busy-body Left-liberal gun-grabbin’ power-concentrators, and regular country folk who can get along with guns and their neighbors having guns just fine, like the gentle yet well-armed Swiss. I associate with the later, and I buy my ammunition from a Mennonite gun-shop owner. Really!

            1. Christopher Boehm (1999) Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Harvard University Press.
            2. Elman Service (1975) Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution. NY: Norton.

          • Y. A. Warren

            I am comfortable with this approach. I will keep Gary Hart in mind.

          • Robin

            It’s not the gun that killed the children, but if the guns were not available then these precious little lives would be saved. I wish we could remove our labels and political affiliations and just talk about these important things as human beings and look for simple, common sense solutions. This includes the various societal problems we have that have caused these shootings to become a normal part of our lives, these were unheard of 2 decades ago! I wish we were all more human..

  • How do you propose to “take the guns out of Americans hands” without a bloody civil war?

    “It will require a domestic civil war against the gun lobby and against interpretations of the First Amendment…It could be as bloody….”

    The Coming Civil War Over Guns and TV Mayhem by Jim Sleeper, Lecturer in Political Science, Yale University

    • Karen Zacharias

      Brian: Do you mean Second Amendment? I am not proposing we take all guns out of all Americans hands. This is exactly the sort of distortions that gun proponents clamor to in their efforts to crank up fears among the ill-informed. But until we quit playing loose-goose with guns and until we decide that our children are more valuable than our right to semi-automatics then children will continue to be slaughtered by the dozens here in America. As long as we are clear about whose fault it is these children are dying – the adults who draft and enact the legislation that leads children to their slaughters.

      • I am not proposing we take all guns out of all Americans hands. This is exactly the sort of distortions that gun proponents

        No distortion.

        “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up everyone of them—Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in—I would have done it.” ~Dianne Feinstein, on 60 Minutes, 1995

        But until we quit playing loose-goose with guns and until we decide that our children are more valuable than our right to semi-automatics then children will continue to be slaughtered by the dozens here in America.

        That is exactly the sort of distortions that gun-grabbers clamor to in their efforts to crank up fears among the ill-informed.

        • Karen Zacharias

          No distortions there Brian. We have the dead children to prove it.

          But just what do you propose as an answer to the epidemic if not better and better enforced gun laws, then?

          What will you do to help prevent the next Newtown? The next Arapahoe?

          • You are distorting something; here is your contradiction which you must resolve:

            • You claim you’re not against the 2A, which states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

            • Yet you propose to infringe on those rights by taking away half the guns sold, semi-automatics. Gun-grab groups don’t much like revolvers either, or any other type for that matter, so braying against a singe type of gun is merely an incrementalist strategy* towards a totalitarian gun-ban agenda—as Dianne Feinstein was honest enough to admit.

            The “I support the Second Amendment but . . .” has been exposed as deceitful.

            * Question: So the assault weapons ban is just the beginning?
            Answer from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): Oh absolutely.

          • Karen Zacharias

            You haven’t answered the question, Brian. What do you propose as an answer to epidemic of school shootings across our nation?

          • Purposefully. You haven’t admitted your contradiction, and your questions are meant to distract from that.

          • Karen Zacharias

            My question isn’t mean to distract from anything. I sincerely want to know what you propose. Do these school schootings bother you? Do you care that children are dying at epidemic proportions due to gun violence in America? And if you do care, what do you propose as an answer to stop it, if not tighter gun restrictions?

          • My question isn’t mean to distract from anything.

            You won’t address your contradiction, yet you press on to falsely insinuate that I’m somehow uncaring.

            Let’s be clear about whose fault it is these children are dying. It’s your fault. Remember how the Appalachian Law School shooter was stopped? Would you like to restore safety to America’s schools?

          • Karen Zacharias

            Brian: thoughtful intelligent discussion is welcome here. Anything else is a waste of time. You clearly are not interested in thoughtful meaningful discussion. And this is exactly the sort of mentality that continues to put our children at risk.

          • I brought thoughtful intelligent discussion. If you want to derisively dismiss it, fine.

            Gun-free zones provide false sense of security
            Killers aren’t stopped by these policies.
            USA Today

          • Karen Zacharias

            So who was touting a gun-free zone? I don’t recall mentioning that. So we know you don’t think a gun-free zone will work. What do you propose will work? Do you suppose we ought to arm every man, woman and child and send them out the door to work and school?

          • What do you propose will work?

            For starters, once again:

            It simply does away with the failed law that has increased increased mass-murders in the US.

            Some school districts aren’t waiting for failed “gun free” laws to be repealed to protect school children, such as Montpelier Exempted Village Schools and Shamrock Independent School District .

        • Zeke

          That’s the problem with lumping anyone who advocates better regulations on gun ownership with the Feinstein’s of the world. It ends the conversation towards solutions.
          It denies there is a workable middle-ground between current regulations and the fevered ravings of LaPierre who concludes that even military bases are not sufficiently armed to prevent mass shootings.

          • the fevered ravings

            Yours is what “ends the conversation towards solutions.”

            even military bases are not sufficiently armed to prevent mass shootingsA

            Tell me about the “fevered ravings” of….Investors Business Daily.

            Navy Yard Shooting Another Clinton Gun-Free Zone Fail
            Investors Business Daily

          • Zeke

            Fine Brian, have it your way, Wayne’s a fountain of decorum and diplomacy, spouting common sense ideas that all Americans can agree upon. Complaining to Chris Wallace on Fox in the wake of Newtown, that the president’s kids have protection by the Secret Service: “You know unfortunately, I think there are parents all of the school, I mean all over the country that think their kids are entitled to the same amount of protection when they go to school.”
            Even Wallace called his statement “ridiculous” to his face. When Fox News points out you’re going over the crazy cliff, you have a PR problem.

            Clinton disarmed military bases? C’mon Brian, I sense you know better than this. The right-wing blame meme neglects to mention that it was a Bush-era directive, effective a year before Clinton was president, and of course it didn’t ban all guns. More inconvenient facts the Limbaugh and Nugent clans fail to ponder – if this was such a unconstitutional gun grab, why didn’t Dubya change the rules during his 8 years in office?


          • why didn’t Dubya change the rules during his 8 years in office

            The mass-murder consequences of the disarmament regulation didn’t impact during Dubya’s Administration. 2009, Fort Hood shooting, and 2013, Washington Navy Yard shooting.

          • Zeke

            Fair enough, but of course that’s completely besides the point that you suggest that Clinton has blood on his hands because yet another gun-nut decides to use his right to bear arms to perform mass-murder.
            Pro tip: if you dislike the term “fevered ravings” you might refrain from propagating the paranoid fantasies of LaPierre, angry tea-partiers, doomsday preppers, and other assorted anti-government folks who dream of “watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.”

          • you suggest

            Don’t put words in my mouth; I suggest that disarmament policies such as gun-free zones are a problem. I don’t care, and it never has been my point, about which Administration is responsible; if you’ve found a partisan-motivated journalistic error, congratulations. But you’re using it as a red herring.

            yet another gun-nut…angry tea-partiers

            Huh? The Arapahoe shooter was “Very proud of being a socialist.” (Of course, the Denver Post edited it out. Going to bang-away on that journalistic integrity drum all day, or will you go silent?)

            Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was a registered Democrat and Obama supporter.

            paranoid fantasies of LaPierre

            He has an opinion that I and many share: Gun-free zones offer no protection, but merely invite mass murder.

            The University of Chicago Press conveys that opinion from another pro-Second Amendment writer, author of More Guns, Less Crime.

            You have no rational argument against that opinion; only a vociferous smear-campaign of dehumanization, calling people paranoid and crazy, rather much like Stalin did for political purposes. Frankly, your tone is as irrational as the right-wingers who do the same thing on the abortion issue using Hell as their means of dehumanizing people.

            anti-government folks

            I’m not anti-government. I proudly fly a United States flag and Ohio state flag in front of my house.

            folks who dream

            Seems its the gun-grabbers side are the ones doing the dreaming of slaughter.

            “It will require a domestic civil war against the gun lobby and against interpretations of the First Amendment…It could be as bloody….” ~The Coming Civil War Over Guns and TV Mayhem by Jim Sleeper, Lecturer in Political Science, Yale University

            WV Professor Christopher Swindell Calls for War on the NRA

            Death Threats in Des Moines: Retired Columnist Wants to Kill NRA Members, Drag GOP Leaders Behind Trucks

            Paranoid fantasies, indeed.

          • Zeke

            irrational as the right-wingers who do the same thing on the abortion issue using Hell as their means of dehumanizing people

            While I disagree with you on the issue , I suppose you have a point in that LaPierre fans view any restrictions on firearms as the thin edge of the wedge. I have similarly argued with Christianists about various incremental restrictions on abortion, that seem common sense on their face, yet are merely thinly-disguised steps towards their goal of banning it for any reason. So I see your point and am somewhat embarrassed to find myself doing the same.
            That said, I think that’s where the similarities end. The overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to ban gun ownership, me included. But when the loudest voice on this side of the argument constantly comes across as, let’s face it, shrill and extreme, it makes people want to create distance between them and his embarrassing rhetoric. This tactic is backfiring, and polarizing.

          • But when the loudest voice on this side of the argument constantly comes across as, let’s face it, shrill and extreme, it makes people want to create distance between them and his embarrassing rhetoric. This tactic is backfiring, and polarizing.

            Then stop it.

            But no, I expect Karen to again wave the bloody shirt, as Dr. Timothy Wheeler, M.D. describes:

            “…the ancient rabble-rousing political technique of waving a bloody shirt…a dubious method based on cynical exploitation of man’s less noble nature. It hides facts and reason, and it encourages anger and prejudice.”

            Gun Control Playbook—If the Facts Aren’t On Your Side, Wave a Bloody Shirt
            by Timothy Wheeler, MD

          • Zeke

            Then stop it

            Hmmm…..seems like I was extending an olive branch of sorts, and you prefer to poke me in the eye with it. As the kids say, whatever Bri…..

          • Zeke, labeling people “shrill” and “embarrassing” isn’t something I’d consider an olive branch.

            My background is pacifist Anabaptist historic peace church. My father and father-in-law were both COs during Vietnam. I’m well familiar with the whole gammut of peace and non-violence theology and philosophy. I’ve had a card from the ACLU for years. I’m also an RN and have taken care of gunshot wounds in an ICU.

            But after the extreme rhetoric last winter, I joined the NRA for the first time. (Along with millions of other Americans.) Call me gun-totin’-Mennonite if you want, I often do now to get a smile.

            You want to talk about “tactics backfiring,” the gun grabbers pretty much did that with me. And the whole country, it seems. You lost. Why?

            I’m simply tired of being demonized by the bloody shirt wavers in their fits of unreasonable rage.

            I have to own guns on a farm. The most of what I own, Karen wants to ban (semi-automatics) that I use to kill coyotes that raid the chicken house. The rest, she’ll want to soon ban, like my bolt-action Winchester hunting rifle—oh wait, it has a black composite stock—”sniper rifle!” And then my revolver, oh, that’s a “saturday-night-special” that is just as fast as a semi-auto—and is the symbol of UN gun twisters. Can I pretty please keep a fun little Marlin lever action cowboy carbine? It’s as fast as any semi-auto, see the video below, so what’s the difference? Gone!

            Keep waving bloody shirts, keep calling me a bitter clinger, keep demonizing, and I’ll keep sending money to the NRA.


  • kenofken

    We need to just drop the “pro-life” charade and the bogus “soul searching” exercises and the eyes-to-heaven “how could this happen” bs. These killings happen because we have come to a consensus as a society that such deaths are an acceptable cost of maintaining a status quo that we have decided is non-negotiable. We have decided that any different thinking about guns, or mental health is beyond consideration and will not work and cannot work.

    We will not be moved by Sandy Hook, nor the next one, nor the one after that. We will not be moved if we have a Sandy Hook every month, or every week, or every day. We are certainly not moved by the tens of thousands of killings which happen mostly individually. We tell ourselves that nothing can be done because we are unwilling to do anything. I live in the Chicago area, and for decades, it has been considered utterly normal for children to die of bullets. A natural, unforseeable cause of death like diptheria or tuberculosis in the mid 1800s. That has been the norm for poor kids of color, and we’re simply expanding that normality of homicide to the general population. Sandy Hook is the new normal, and unless and until we choose to do something different, we should not expect different results. These things happen because we decided they have to happen. We should at least have the decency and guts to own that.

    • Karen Zacharias

      Exactly spot on. Thank you. We are the embodiment of the Hunger Games. Sending children to their slaughters in a multitude of ways.

    • > I live in the Chicago area

      A local perspective:

    • Y. A. Warren

      First, we need real adults at the helm of society. Parents don’t have the courage to parent. Senators pander to politics instead of being the people who have proven wisdom in certain areas acting as informed, involved modern-day citizen-arbiters of the values on which our country was founded. Clergy enrich themselves with “God’s” gifts of money and earthly power through promoting fear of a “God” that they define. “Child of God” and institutionalized poverty are the ways to continue infantalizing the masses.

      Where is the Jesus in all the ways of those who call themselves “Christian?” There are no “soldiers of Christ,” if the christ is Jesus, creating no need for the hierarchy of high priests and prophets. There is no “kingdom” in a democracy, creating no need for Lords and Kings. There are people with individual access to particular powers and a Universal Sacred Spirit, joining forces for universal good.

      Violence leads to more violence. We have been shown, in the twentieth century, the the most lasting effects come from peaceful resistance, with well-organized sources of violent power standing at the ready. Sanctions work, but we don’t discipline ourselves to do without in order to have the patience to wait out the enemy. We are like babies or teen-agers. We want immediate gratification of our every whim with no accompanying responsibility. and no understanding of want versus need.

      We must wake up and grow up. We must stop acting as sheep, pretending that all who say they are leading us are leading us anywhere but to slaughter on their own altars of greed. This is the only way our democracy can stand.