If you’ve been wondering why I’ve haven’t written about the 20 young children and 6 adults that were slaughtered at that elementary school in Newtown, Conn. over a month ago, it’s because I was, like most who heard that horrifying news stupefied and unable to rise above the highly emotional state of mind I found myself in for the longest time.
And as I’d learned the hard way, as I began writing newspaper columns some 20 years ago, that when one’s thinking and behavior are controlled mostly by their emotions logical thinking is difficult (if not impossible) with behavior tending to match the intensity of the feelings.
Fortunately, it was the wise mind-that comes with the overlapping of the reasonable mind and emotional mind-that lifted me out of the doldrums into a place of calmness, permitting me to write about it.
Now, when President Roosevelt used the phrase “a date that will live in infamy”-in his War Address before Congress on the day after the early morning, sneak attack by Japanese warplanes at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base at Oahu Island, causing 2,403 American casualties, it was, at the age of ten, a word I’d ever heard spoken or read of.
But even at that tender age, I soon became aware of how his stirring speech had aroused the patriotic spirit to a fever pitch throughout the country, with young men lined up for blocks at recruiting stations. And how it soon spilled over to us kids, who got caught up in the gung-ho mood, and contributed to the war effort by collecting newspapers and purchasing enough saving stamps to buy a War Bond.
Strange as it may sound, it was that horrific event that had occurred at that school in Newtown, Conn. which rekindled my memories of those epic times that monopolized the thoughts and prayers of one and all.
Now, I for one don’t consider it to be far-fetched in also referring to November 20, the day of that massacre, as a date that will also live in infamy.
Moreover, in my lifetime, the assassination of JFK would be the only other earth-shaking event I can recall when time stood still and tears were shed throughout the land.
And as we remember all too vividly, that what occurred at the Sandy Hook school was but one more unprovoked incident in a long list of mass killings-a la the random killing of 12 movie-goers at a theater in Aurora, Colorado., the murder of 12 students, one teacher and 20 students injured at the Columbine High School in 1999, also in Colorado, whose state motto is, ironically, ‘Nothing without the Deity.”
And that the common denominator in all of them was that assailants were armed with 9 MM semi-automatic handguns and rifles, equipped with high-capacity magazines, holding 14 to 30 rounds. And that the one used at the Newtown slayings (aptly named after the Bushmaster, the largest venomous snake in the New World) is a .223 caliber AR 15, the modified civilian version of the military’s M-16, that can fire 45 rounds a minute.
That caliber of bullets, as advertised by its manufacturer, have “better fragmentation,” a grim fact that the police at the scene can attest to as they examined the torn apart bodies.
So, the overriding question is, will this be the mass murder that changes the minds of those in Congress, who up to now have turned a blind eye towards reinstating the 1994 ban on assault weapons, that they allowed to expire in 2004?
Or will the gun rights groups, spearheaded by the NRA, once again succeed in beating down any and all proposed restrictions, banking as they always have following previous mass murders on the public’s short memory of such tragedies?
We’ll soon find out, what with Sen. Dianne Feinstein introducing a bill in the upcoming 113rd session of Congress that would ban them, specifying the 18 assault type pistols and rifles by name it would cover, including a ban on high-capacity magazines and more stringent controls over the selling of such weapons at the now mostly unregulated gun shows.
Given that gun rights groups’ political spending (a.k.a. influence peddling) crushes that of gun control supporters, and that a large number of legislators are beholden to them for the contributions they make to their campaign war chests-e.g., 89 percent of NRA’s contributions went to Republicans in the 2012 election cycle-it’s a toss-up as to which way the pendulum will swing.
To me, it hinges on the extend-if any- to which its membership, comprised largely by those whose main interest is to preserve the constitutional right to bear arms for hunting, self-defense and target shooting (rather than being unified in opposing a ban on assault weapons with the same obstinacy as do those heading the organization) are willing to break ranks and make their support for the ban known-loud and clear-to their legislators and thru public statements.
Nothing short of that will, I believe, turn the tide in favor of the propose gun controls within the public’s mind and the hallowed halls of Congress.
I would close with this quote by an unknown author that captures so well the heartbreak the parents of those 6 and 7 year olds mowed down by that madman surely felt: “No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodby, you were gone before we knew it, and only God knows why.”