Tuesday, December 1 , 2015, 12:09 pm | Fair 66º

Letter to the Editor: Has Newtown Massacre Opened Your Eyes to Gun Violence?

By Toni Wellen |

In our great country, we send those closest to our hearts — our precious, innocent children — to a safe place, our neighborhood schools. But in the land of the free, our hearts are filled with fear because there is no safe place in a country where 300 million firearms are easily accessible. It does not matter whether these weapons are legally owned. What do we know about these gun owners armed with numerous firearms? A legal upstanding gun owner is one argument or one crisis away from violence. Where do the millions of unstable people who live in our communities obtain their firearms? These dangerous killing weapons are in homes, presumably protecting the family from harm.

We are outraged at the massacre of those innocent children at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school! We don’t want sympathy from elected officials. Thoughts and prayers are NOT ENOUGH. We demand action! Elected officials are to be held accountable! We are now experiencing mass shootings nearly every week in our country.

Every gun control organization, every faith-based organization is calling on the American people to add their voice to insist our elected leaders take action to prevent future tragedies.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy, ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Dec. 18. He also made a statement Friday afternoon about the shooting, saying, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics” and “I will do everything in my power as president to help.” We must hold him to his words. Gun laws matter. Strong and smart gun laws correlate to less gun violence.

The day you read this, 32 Americans will die and four times that many will suffer debilitating injuries from firearms. And this will happen again tomorrow and the next day, totaling 30,000 Americans killed from gun violence every year.

Has this latest killing of 20 young children and seven adults in a school finally opened our eyes? We hope it has, for how many more must die needlessly? We the people must demand action from our president and our legislators at all levels. Think: shootings in malls, theaters, schools and in homes — while loaded and unlocked weapons reside in the homes of millions of Americans, easily accessible — there is no safe and quiet community.

Toni Wellen
Chairwoman, Coalition Against Gun Violence
Santa Barbara

comments powered by Disqus

» on 12.15.12 @ 07:29 PM

Ms Wellen,  If you were truly concerned about children dying needlessly you would focus your attentions elsewhere.  10 TO 20 TIMES MORE CHILDREN DIE FROM CAR AND OTHER LEADING CAUSES OF ACCIDENTAL DEATHS AS DIE FROM GUNS.
Your statement that there are 300 million firearms accessible in this country proves that at least 299,999,968 guns were not involved in a injury or death.
GUNS ARE USED DEFENSIVELY BY GOOD PEOPLE 1 GO 2.4 MILLION TIMES PER YEAR, far exceeding all reliable estimates of criminal misuse.  A GOOD PERSON’S LIFE LOST BECAUSE A GUN WAS ABSENT IS AT LEAST AS VALUABLE AS A LIFE LOST BECAUSE A GUN WAS PRESENT.  50 to 75 lives are saved by a gun for every life lost to a gun.
I am confident that you will continue to ignore the facts and use this horrific event in a illogical attempt to sway public perception.  Never let a tragedy go to waste right?  Shame on you!

» on 12.16.12 @ 12:48 PM

In this, and any other tragedy, let us not confuse the tool with the perpetrator.

Would this horrific tragedy been less horrific if the perpetrator had used a baseball bat?  ...or a can of gasoline?  ...or any number of other possible avenues open to him?

It is easy to focus on the tool when the real issue is in the mind of the criminal, that which we cannot discern.

And also bear in mind that, according to media reports, it was 10 minutes between the school’s 911 call and the arrival of authorities. Is it possible that if someone in the school was armed he/she could have ended the killing spree sooner? We’ll never know.

» on 12.16.12 @ 01:07 PM

Well put interloper, we must stand up for the few rights we still have. This fear based manipulation is disgraceful and the people doing it should be ashamed of themselves. Using a tragedy like this to plant seeds of fear with the intent of striping away yet another right.

» on 12.16.12 @ 01:26 PM

Interloper, your use of statistics is illogical. People do die at roughly three times higher rate in transportation accidents than in gun violence, but to compare the two as equivalent borders on idiocy. Get the statistics on the use of cars as violent weapons, and compare them to the statistics for guns.

Sociopaths with violent tendencies do live among us, and they are too often allowed access access to weapons. We turn them out to their own devices, or into the care of irresponsible parents. They are allowed to roam among us, refusing to take their meds, and at the same time we do nothing to thwart their access to guns.

Here in Santa Barbara we had seven people killed in one day in 2006, by a mentally deranged woman who had access to a pistol.

They are among us. If you know somebody who is unstable and owns a gun, you potentially know the next Adam Lanza.

If we can’t control the crazies, then we need to better control their access to guns.

» on 12.16.12 @ 02:18 PM

Good point, Interloper. Good place to start would be to regulate guns like we regulate other potentially dangerous implements like automobiles: (1) require signed and dated title and registration tag at the point of sale; (2) require licensing to own and possess the gun, including training, a written test, practical (like driving) test, and health (eyesight, aptitude, mental health) exam in order to ensure the owner can properly, safely and responsibly operate the device; (3) mandatory liability insurance; (4) annual registration renewal and safety inspections and license renewal requirements. John Douglas

» on 12.16.12 @ 04:38 PM

Johndog: Your less than astute observations seem to forget about that darned Bill of Rights, which protects us from people such as yourself. 
Will banning guns will take them off the street and prevent their abuse? We should make heroin and meth illegal too!

» on 12.16.12 @ 06:18 PM

I think John Douglas’ response is very astute. Your reaction, interloper, is illogical. Would you take away the regulations presently in place for a person to operate a car, based on some weird interpretation of the Bill of Rights?

And since when did the Bill of Rights guarantee you the right to have an unregulated militia? Regulation is the key to the second amendment. Without it, we submit to the will of every criminal and psychopath who wants to own guns.

» on 12.16.12 @ 06:54 PM

Interloper: time to read the fine print – the 2nd Amendment talks about a “well-regulated militia.” Following your automobile analogy, I don’t see a problem with the regulations I borrowed from an internet post, as regulation is called for in the 2nd Amendment; and I don’t see what folks buying guns without restrictions at gun shows and online so that they can contribute to the tidal wave of accidental killings, criminal homicides and mass murders in the USA has to do with a militia.

As to Art’s point about implements of murder, no doubt it is immaterial to the parents and family members of those killed at the school in Connecticut whether the victims were killed with a gun or a baseball bat. However, it is beyond argument that many fewer people would have died if the perp had been less lethally armed, say with a knife (e.g., the guy in China who went off with a knife in a school, and injured 20 with no deaths). My guess is that if the Connecticut murderer had been armed with only a bat, the school personnel would have been able to surround and subdue him long before 27 people were killed.

Amazing to me why the NRA and others rush to the defense of the rights of mass murderers whenever someone talks about common sense gun control like other so-called “Western” nations have.

John Douglas

» on 12.16.12 @ 09:53 PM

John says that the NRA and others rush to the defense of the rights of mass murderers whenever someone talks about common sense gun control like other so-called “Western” nations have.

I must admit that I have never read or heard of the NRA or anyone else defending the rights of mass murderers other than in the context of the rights of our society in general.

And to what ” ...common sense gun control like other so-called “Western” nations have” do you refer? England? They’ve just about outlawed all private gun ownership and the robbery/burglary rates have sky rocketed. British police never used to be armed. Now they have to. Criminals know that their targets are unable to defend themselves. Australia? Same story. Canada? Required the registration of rifles and shotguns but after spending billions of dollars rescinded the law because it was unworkable. Nazi Germany? USSR? China? North Korea?

In all of this discussion, I don’t believe anyone thinks the killer was in any way “right.” But in the rush to emotionally respond to such a horror, we should consider the fact that private guns save many lives too. Those events seldom make the news. But documented accounts reveal thousands of lives protected by the use of guns each year.

We already have thousands and thousands of gun control laws on the books. If we paid more attention to enforcing the laws we already have AND to the mental problems of potential perpetrators of tragedies such as this one, I think that we would all be better off.

» on 12.16.12 @ 10:56 PM

Art: I’ll take Great Britain any day of the week on this issue. The facts and statistics speak for themselves, regardless of the selfish, avaricious, faulty logic of the U.S. gun lobby that somehow more guns make us safer because we can somehow defend ourselves better if we just have that loaded piece within reach. Too bad for the kids that live in such dangerous households - and too bad for the gun owners like that mass murderer’s dead mother in Connecticut - I guess the guns didn’t help her defend herself this time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_Kingdom

» on 12.17.12 @ 01:18 AM

QUOTATION:  Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

This quotation, slightly altered, is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

AUTHOR:  Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)
ATTRIBUTION:  BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755.

» on 12.17.12 @ 04:23 AM

I am sorry that your heart is filled with fear. Take an NRA gun safety class. Shoot some holes in a paper plate. Be able to speak from experience instead of ignorance.

My eyes have been open for many years. May I suggest a book entitled “On Killing?” It is not what you would expect from the title. It is a pretty scholarly work about what the military has learned about getting soldiers to avoid being killed. The final chapters, where the logical conclusion is developed, were a big surprise. It will not change your mind though!

Where did you get the 32 number? Did that come from the Brady Bunch’s collection of wild numbers? If I recall correctly their number includes police shootings, military deaths, suicides, gun brandishing, gang wars, self-defense cases and a few accidents. It is a very misleading number. Do some research for yourself.

A few years ago, I was curious and looked at the Texas gun permit statistics. I suggest that you do this for yourself on the Texas web site. See the percentage of crimes committed by Licensed Concealed Carry holders vs. the General Population. It was a very small percentage, much less than 1%. Even smaller, was the number of crimes involving firearms. I could not locate similar information for California.

“Strong and smart gun laws correlate to less gun violence.” Chicago, New York, Detroit and Wash DC have had very strict gun laws for tens of years, and they are the killing grounds of America. Is it only a coincidence that these cities have long histories of Governmental Corruption?

Mexico has one licensed gun store and very strict gun laws. Therefore, the Mexican people are safe, right?? And, no, US made guns are not a significant factor, even though our Strong and Smart leaders sent thousands of guns across the border. Which of our self-serving, corrupt politicians do you trust to pass and enforce these magical laws?

Why have the number of mass killings jumped since the current President took office?

» on 12.17.12 @ 12:11 PM

When those responding to this story remove their knee from their prefrontal cortex, they may begin to realize that this horrible tragedy has absolutely nothing to do with gun control.

This evil, cowardly young man was determined to kill. That he used someone else’s weapons to do it renders the gun control issue moot. If he hadn’t used his mother’s guns it would have been some one else’s or perhaps a truck full of fertilizer and diesel fuel. If your left wing propaganda addled brain prevents you from seeing that small but significant fact, then I suggest that Toni Wellen and those agreeing with her are in fact too far gone ideologically to assess any situation rationally and logically.

Lets all take a deep breath, allow the dead to be buried and the other psychotic weirdoes who use events like this as an excuse to copy cat, time to cool off and then use that prefrontal cortex, free of jerking knee, to assess why a 20 year old would commit such a heinous and cowardly act of evil, regardless of what ever tool he used to do it.

Keep in mind the worse act of mass murder committed in recent history was done with passenger jets, not assault rifles, pistols or any guns at all.

» on 12.17.12 @ 12:53 PM

AN50 is completely correct.

“This evil, cowardly young man was determined to kill. ... Lets ... assess why a 20 year old would commit such a heinous and cowardly act of evil, regardless of what ever tool he used to do it.”

» on 12.17.12 @ 01:12 PM

As a parent, my heart goes out to those who are griefing after this senseless act perpetrated by a mentally unstable young man.

As for gun control, the following article was on the internet and speaks for itself—-

Gun control—dictator-style

  “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The Communist Party must command all the guns; that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”—Mao Zedong, Nov 6, 1938

Bradlee Dean says how ironic that those who are calling for gun control are those who want the guns so they can have the control.

It is of interest to the American people to take note of those they entrust to serve them. We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people, yet time and time again in this country we have leaders in government who put on the guise of “patriot” and then turn out to be the criminal in garb.

We learned last week about the criminal acts of anti-gun mayors. We found that anti-gun mayors are criminals themselves, guilty as charged within their own ranks of such crimes as tax evasion, extortion, accepting bribes, child pornography, trademark counterfeiting, perjury – and one demigod mayor was even convicted of assaulting a police officer.

The crimes these anti-gunner mayors are convicted of suggest they are public enemies rather than public servants. No wonder they want to take guns from law-abiding citizens.

These politicians know full well that where the citizenry operates in the rights given to them without government interference, namely the right to bear arms, crime diminishes. And with mud on their face, they know when they interfere with the right to bear arms, crime skyrockets.

What we see is that some of today’s politicians are magnifying the crimes they are placed in office to prevent.

They allow crime to be promoted through entertainment; and when the crime is committed, they are there hoping to grab the guns away.

This is exactly how they operate. They demonize the gun, not the criminal.

Friends, this mentality is like blaming spoons for people being overweight, as if to say the act is apart from the actor.

Since criminal politicians refuse to look at history, which can be at the present our greatest teacher, it is very clear that gun banners know exactly what they are attempting to do – put the Second Amendment in the crosshairs.

Looking back, who has committed murder in the largest degree? Dictators Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.

Time and time again it has been a corrupt government that is responsible for the mass murder of its own people under the deceptive guise of “gun control,” all of which the said dictators implemented.

Keep in mind these people promised their citizens protection and freedom upon the forfeiture of their guns.

How many times, I ask, does history need to repeat itself?

Our forefathers did not arm the American people for the purpose of hunting, but rather to protect themselves from those who were doing the hunting, namely the tyrant King George. The Second Amendment is only to vouchsafe our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and to ensure all of the other rights given unto us by our Creator.

The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution once again is found consistent with the lessons of the Bible they used as their bedrock for civil law. The people’s individual protection should always be a primary concern of government “of the people.” In a righteous country, self-government reigns by the constraint of Christian morals. The civil government that desires such a monopoly of force (i.e. they are the only ones with guns) is a threat to the lives, liberty and property of its citizens, for that government ceases to be “of and for the people.”

George Washington, our first president, said:

  “From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”

We are not victims and should not see ourselves as such.

» on 12.17.12 @ 01:24 PM

Believe it or not—mass killings are not on the rise—they are on the decline

Jonathon M. Seidl (AP) is reporting that:

    •  While the perception in the wake of this year’s mass shootings has been that such acts are on the rise, the Associated Press found that it’s actually the exact opposite when you look at the data on a macro level.

    •  “There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Boston’s Northeastern University.

    •  He adds that the random mass shootings that get the most media attention are the rarest.

    •  While mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929, Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass murders in America, says.

    •  Chances of being killed in a mass shooting, he says, are probably no greater than being struck by lightning.

» on 12.17.12 @ 05:56 PM

I am afraid logic and rational thinking will take a bath on this one. So quick were the anti gun forces to come out and blame a tool, the bodies of those innocent children were still warm. It sickens me that so many would politicize this, use it to further some insane cause based on knee jerk reaction and emotions rather than cool headed reason and rational thought. Some of you have brought up very good points, points I fear are lost on the overly indoctrinated.

Lost in this discussion is why this young man did what he did. Who gives a rats ass what he did it with? What does that matter? We didn’t ban passenger jets after 911 did we? Nor fertilizer and diesel fuel after Oklahoma City did we? Why the rush to purge the tool used while completely ignoring the hand that used it? Because we don’t fly an assault rifle? We were forced to examine the mind that would fly a jet full of people into a building full of people because banning passenger jets was stupid. Yet banning guns is fine because it lets us off the hook with this one and many don’t see a need for guns.

Well if that principal had a gun, was trained to use it and had it with her when she heard this monster shooting his way into a secure building, I dare say 20 little kids may still be alive today. And if it was an assault rifle she use to defend her kids all the better. Think about that one while your screaming your propaganda.

» on 12.18.12 @ 12:43 AM

Really johndog?  Mitchell Bard and facts?  You couldn’t have found a more partisan propagandist on a more partisan website.  His facts are selective and twisted, but he does write a good story.  I assume his films are just as entertaining?

» on 12.18.12 @ 11:13 PM

You cannot have inalienable rights if you cannot defend yourself.

» on 12.20.12 @ 05:20 PM

My thoughts on the SELF DEFENSE argument against gun control, and the “we gotta do something about MENTALLY ILL people” dodge.

SELF DEFENSE? The self defense argument for no gun control is a self-delusional fantasy. A few anecdotal accounts of store owners blowing away armed robbers and a few homeowners successfully defending themselves from burglars - sure there are a few stories like that, and it feels good to cheer them on against the bad guys. But compared to the overwhelming statistical preponderance of accidental injuries and deaths, and heat-of-passion, criminal and psycho murders, imaginary self defense is not worth the injury and death. Long-term, effective gun control will eventually reduce the number of guns in circulation, and will reduce the easy availability of guns for all purposes. But it’s not really about self-defense. It’s about profits for the arms manufacturing industry and related businesses.

MENTAL ILLNESS? The pro-gun rights crowd is pretty much the same crowd demanding cuts in public services in the so-called “fiscal cliff” debate, which necessarily means cuts to services to those with the least power to affect policy, like MENTALLY ILL folks. I mean, how many homicidal mentally ill people are walking the halls of Congress with pockets stuffed with cash and gifts for our representatives? (Actually not a rhetorical question.) Anyway, take it from one who knows (3&1/2 years as a deputy public defender in LA County mental health court): mentally ill people are statistically no more violent than any other segment of the general population. Mental illness is not the central issue here - easy access to highly efficient and highly lethal murder weapons is the issue. No one citing the problem of mental illness in addressing the issue of the rash of mass murders in this country as a dodge to avoid talking about gun control can point to rational and effective solutions to this problem. So, now it is time to take action and follow a plan of action with a proven track record of success - what has proven to work in all the other developed countries in the world: strict gun control. John Douglas

» on 12.20.12 @ 09:17 PM

I think that your idea of the facts is wrong. Here’s some scholarly research on the topic for you to review.

“More Guns, Less Crime is a book by Yale professor John Lott that says violent crime rates go down when states pass “shall issue” concealed carry laws. He presents the results of his statistical analysis of crime data for every county in the United States during 29 years from 1977 to 2005. The book examines city, county and state level data from the entire United States and measures the impact of 11 different types of gun control laws on crime rates. The book expands on an earlier study published in 1997 by Lott and his co-author David Mustard in The Journal of Legal Studies.[1] Lott also examines the effects of gun control laws, including the Brady Law.”

Lott contends that news media ignore or downplay stories and statistics which, he says, prove his claim that widespread gun ownership prevents crime.
He feels that some of this bias is because crimes committed with guns are more sensational than crimes prevented by guns. Even though there are millions of defensive gun uses each year, almost none of them are reported by the media.
He goes further, though, and explains that this is not enough to explain some of the bias present in media. For example, polls on gun control are systematically skewed to give pro-gun control results.
Finally, Lott examines how the media systematically under reports the benefits of gun ownership. He shows examples of stories where people, even children, have used guns to protect their families from intruders, which receive almost no media attention despite their sensational nature. He also cites a story that gained national media attention in which students were able to stop a school shooting. In almost every report, reporters not only neglected to mention that the students who stopped the shooting used guns to do so but also instead gave the impression that the perpetrator was tackled.”

» on 12.21.12 @ 01:41 AM

The Lott study is outdated and was shot down by any number of criminologists and public policy researchers, e.g.,  Stanford Law Review 55 (4), pp. 1193-1312 and ^ Criminology and Public Policy 2 (3), pp. 397-410 - these studies are downloadable from the Wikipedia page on the Lott book, and Wiki references a lot of other studies debunking Lott, his methods and his conclusions. The vast majority of studies agreeing with Lott were by Lott himself and his research partner.

» on 12.21.12 @ 12:44 PM

This “my opinion is superior to your opinion” bantering gets really old sometimes.  The facts are that currently there are more states with “right to carry” laws than there are those that choose to strip their citizens of this right.  The states with strict gun control laws have higher crime rates than those other states.  There are soon to be more states that have “right to work” laws than those who force their citizens to be in unions against their wills.  In the states that are giving their citizens a choice business is booming.  In the states that are bowing to the labor gestapo we have higher than average unemployment and bankrupted cities. 

Apparently, johndog and those that put forth evidence in support of gun and labor controls, are also in support of stripping citizens of their Constitutional rights and violating the very tenets of States’ enumerated powers by pushing for the Federal intervention in this matter.  I understand that johndog and those that think like him feel some level of moral and academic superiority, but I’m sick and tired of people like them trying to impose their values on me.  Even when those values have consistently proven to be without merit except to impose controls over their fellow citizens.  And especially when it violates the very process that allows them to have an opinion in the first place. 

Let the States decide for themselves and let the people go to the states they desire to live in to get away from those who would control them.  It sickens me that progressives more and more often legislate from the courts because they can’t convince their fellow citizens that their great ideas are actually great.  You see this all the time in California where voters decide one thing and the will of the people is overturned by the activist judges who are themselves progressives.  Let the people and the states have their freedom and stop trying to control them.

» on 12.21.12 @ 03:06 PM

Socaljay, Amen to that!!!

» on 03.02.13 @ 02:06 PM

Rambler do you enjoy the world of fear you have built up for yourself?

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