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Newtown, Connecticut: There Is No "Why"

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
The first I heard of the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton was from the security guard at the gate returning to my home in Naples. He was in shock, and you could see that he had been crying.

I headed to my condo and turned on the TV … and still have trouble believing what I saw --- what had happened.

By now all of us – even those who are glued to soap operas and entertainment news shows 24/7 – know the story, so there’s no need to go over the hideous details again. There is, though, plenty to address on the issue.

Here’s the headline of the Newton story in this morning’s Naples Daily News:

Investigators, Newtown, world still struggle with 'Why?' gunman shot 26 people

Why? There is no “why.” Clearly these were the actions of a mentally and morally depraved and deranged 20-year-old male. People this profoundly mentally ill don’t deal in “whys.” They act compulsively and without reason. They have always been with us, and always will be. One thing is for sure … you do not structure society or the rules that society lives by with your focus on the madman. None of us (I hope) would want to live in a society governed by rules that completely negate the possibility of harm ever befalling us, our families, or our friends at the hands of a deranged monster. If you’re looking for that degree of security, your perfect place would be a maximum security prison cell.

Still --- since the cable channels have seen fit to provide us with pretty much three days hours of wall-to-wall coverage of the Newton shootings, with endless repetitions of the “why” question, maybe I could give you a few rabbit trails to scamper down.

1. Let’s look into our celebrity culture, particularly as it’s designed for and aimed at children. I don’t spend a lot of time watching this type of TV … but it seems that a preponderance of these shows center around young people who become famous .. usually by being in a rock band, a singing star, a cool guitar player, a dancer or an actor. It’s all about becoming famous. Get just a bit older and you have American Idol. It seems that every child’s goal in life should be to have everyone know your name … to be a celebrity. It’s not enough to have a nice Collie named Lassie or a horse named Flicka to hang aroiund with. You must have fame, and without fame you are a failure. The question, then, is just how far you will go to make sure that everyone knows your name. Whatever your path to fame, you are NOT going to seek that fame by murdering 26 people and then killing yourself unless you are severely mentally ill.


2. Then there’s this phony self-esteem movement. For quite some time now our children have been told how wonderful they are – even those clearly not wonderful. Self-esteem is not a gift. It is not given you. It is earned by actions, moral behavior and achievement. Perhaps, as a young person, if you know in hour heart and mind that you are not all that wonderful – that you have not earned all of this self-esteem the world tells you that you are entitled to – you might seek a way to show that you really do count. But, you are not going to do this by murdering 26 people and then killing yourself unless you are severely mentally ill.

The “why” here is mental illness. The guns were the “how.”

And so here we are smack in the middle of a debate frenzy over gun control --- and who didn’t know this was where this tragedy was going to go as soon as the news started breaking.

Where did we get the first comments on gun control after the shootings? From liberals. From Democrats. You had New York Congressman Jerold Nadler, a Democrat. Then there was Michael Moore … an unidentifiable species. Obama hinted at the need for more gun control legislation in his otherwise exemplary statement on Friday afternoon. But … let’s remember Rahm’s Law: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” It became clear very quickly that the left was going to manipulate the nation’s horror and sadness into a quick acceptance of additional laws restricting the law-abiding citizen’s right to own a firearm.

Then – oddly enough – as soon as conservatives and Republicans stepped forward to comment on the shootings; suggesting, for instance, that one teacher or administrator with access to a firearm might have saved lives; the left immediately erupted into accusations that the Republicans were “politicizing” this horrible tragedy. Jerold Nadler, Chuck Schumer, Michael Moore --- they weren’t politicizing. Only conservatives were doing that. Yeah --- right.


Have you ever stopped to give any thought as to just why it’s liberals and Democrats who argue so strongly for gun control and against our Second Amendment rights? Clearly the idea that a person has the right to own a gun for self defense is one more often held by those on the right than the left, and the idea that gun ownership ought to be severely restricted, or even banned, finds its home on the left. Now here’s where the “why” question that needs to be asked. And yes, I have a theory.

There is a basic divide between liberal and conservative thought. Conservatives largely believe in individual responsibility; whether it’s the responsibility for raising and educating your own children, or the responsibility of providing for your own basic needs, including security and the security of your family. Liberals, on the other hand, are always all-to-eager to hand those responsibilities off to the government. I can’t feed my children, where’s my WIC money. I can’t feed myself, where’s my food stamps. I can’t pay my rent, where’s my Section 8 check. I can’t heat my home, where’s my heating assistance check. I can’t educate my own child, where’s that government school bus. I can’t find a job, where’s my unemployment check.

Owning a gun for self-defense, then, is seen by many as a basic conservative approach to the problem of personal security. Liberals love to tell us that your protection from criminals is a job that should be left to the police. Conservatives respond by saying “When seconds count, the police are only five minutes away.”

When a knowledgeable conservative tells a liberal that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled has ruled that the police have no duty to protect they roll their eyes and will flat-out tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Refer them to a 7-2 Supreme Court decision in June of 2005, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, No. 04-278. You can Google this phrase, “supreme court rules police have no duty to defend”, to come up with much more information on the state’s duty to protect. You will learn that the police have a duty to investigate and make an arrest if a suspect is located, but not to be there to protect you against the criminal with a gun --- even if they know who that criminal is and that he has threatened you. When you have shared this knowledge with a liberal their usual response will be to call you a “right-wing gun nut.” Yeah … I know, an irrational reaction to be sure. But remember, we’re dealing with liberals here.


It is clear then – the Supreme Court has told us as much – that the primary responsibility for your own safety and the protection of your life and the lives of your family – is yours. Some see fit to recognize that responsibility by avoiding areas and cities with dangerous levels of crime. Some make a conscious decision to seek additional security in their living arrangements by choosing gated communities or secure high-rises. Other’s have firearms in their homes and obtain permits to carry concealed weapons where allowed in public.

There is no downplaying the tragedy of Newton, Connecticut. But on that very same day guns were used in self-defense perhaps a thousand times across America. No 24/7 reports of defensive gun uses, however.

Liberals simply do not want to be educated on how often citizens use firearms for self-defense. They need to be, however, and here’s a start. The Cato Institute has published a book titled: “Tough Targets, When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens.” You can download book by clicking on the link.

You can also click here for The World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock, an effort by Gary Cleck, PhD, an expert on the issue of the uses of privately owned weapons for self defense. In this article you will find the following excerpt:

A national survey conducted in 1994 by the Police Foundation and sponsored by the National Institute of Justice almost exactly confirmed the estimates from the National Self-Defense Survey. This survey's person-based estimate was that 1.44% of the adult population had used a gun for protection against a person in the previous year, implying 2.73 million defensive gun users. These results were well within sampling error of the corresponding 1.33% and 2.55 million estimates produced by the National Self-Defense Survey.

The debate on this one is going to be furious. Obama has been making it clear for quite some time that part of his “fundamental transformation” of America is to go after our guns. This shooting has given him more ammunition than he will probably need. If you speak out against additional laws the “right-wing gun nut” label will come out, as it will if you ask why a weapon should be classified as an assault weapon simply because there’s a thumb-hole in the stock. You will be derided if you ask someone to define a “non-assault” weapon.


The proggies will cite a statistic that only a small number of people are killed by a private citizen with a gun in an act of self defense in any given year. If you respond by telling them that in the vast majority of cases where a gun is used for self defense the trigger is never pulled --- that the mere showing of the gun is enough to avert the attack --- once again you will be on the receiving end of the “right-wing gun nut” appellation.

Perhaps we could try to popularize the term “left-wing government nut” to identify liberals who have never seen a government program they didn’t swoon over. Rational conservatives and libertarians, however, recognize that there is an appropriate role for government in our society and lives. Liberals, however, generally won’t acknowledge that such a role exists for the private ownership of guns.

While the media is focusing on the issue of gun control as a result of the Newtown shooting, why are we reading so little about the role a private citizen with a concealed weapons permit and a gun played in that mall shooting in Portland, Oregon a few days ago? Did you wonder why only two people were killed before the gunman took his own life? Only two? There’s a story out there that the shooter was confronted by the private citizen with his own gun. At that point the shooter put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Here’s that story. Share it with a liberal friend, I’m sure they’ll be interested. Perhaps you might like to spend a few moments wondering why you heard this for the first time right here. Could it be that the story of a private citizen stopping a potential massacre with his own legally-carried gun is one that just does not fit the current media narrative? Oh … and do you know how many school shootings have been stopped in the last 20 years by a private citizen with a gun? Maybe you might want to look that up. The mainstream media damned sure isn’t going to do that for you.


More laws? Really? Imagine the impact on our liberties if we were to enact laws that would absolutely protect us from every possible evil that could be visited on humanity by a psychopath. The problem here is that there is no shortage of people who would be at all concerned with the loss of those liberties. It’s security they want, not liberty, and whatever the cost of that security, it’s a price they’re willing to pay. If a lunatic wants to kill a large number of people he will find a way. Guns, this time. Knifings in a Chinese school just this past week.

I just spent the weekend with my three and one-half year old granddaughter. Watching her with her Gwanny and seeing the joy in her life my heart just ached for the parents in Newton who lost their children last Friday. I pray that God will somehow heal their wounds in time, but this Christmas is going to be pure torture for them.

The proper response to this tragedy is to try to improve our ability to identify people with the mental depravity necessary to commit such an act and to intervene beforehand. We don’t have a case of a nut-job buying guns here. Those guns were legally purchased by his mother and stolen by the depraved shooter.

Oh .. one more thing. You will notice that I never once mentioned the shooter’s name here. I’m not going to be one of those who gives him the notoriety and fame he sought through his heinous action. I wish others would follow suit.

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