The Sandy Hook shootings: It is time for a national conversation

Is it time to revisit the ban on assault weapons? The answer, following Sandy Hook, is yes. Photo: Flag flies at half-staff over Newtown, Conn. AP

WASHINGTON, December 15, 2012 — In the wake of the tragic slaughter of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, it is not too soon for a national conversation about guns.

The biggest question before us is why such horrible weapons of mass violence such as the Glock 9mm and the Sig Sauer are sold to the public. Guns like this make it easier and faster to kill lots of people with just one gun; think then of the damage two assault weapons can inflict.

Already the country is talking about gun control and putting teeth into our existing laws. It is time for politicians to quit being ostriches and confront this important national issue. And it’s time for President Obama to step up and lead the way. This is the time for responsible gun owners to stand up for real licensing requirements.

But are we ready as a nation?

Volunteer firefighters bring flowerrs to Sandy Hook memorial AP

The Guns Used Are Legal in Connecticut

The gun control laws of Connecticut are some of the strictest in the country, so the ownership of such guns does not violate any statue. “Connecticut allows possession of assault rifles, except those with certain features, such as a fixed bayonet type lug, or a collapsible stock, according to attorney David Clough of Southbury, Conn.” These guns did not have any of those forbidden features.

We also know the mother of the shooter, who herself was killed by her son, owned five guns.

Three of those guns were taken from by her 20-year-old son for his deadly rampage: a Glock 9 mm, a Sig Sauer, and an AR-15-type rifle.

What Are the Glock 9 mm, Sig Sauer, and AR-15?

Simple: They are efficient killing machines.

The Glock 9mm, plastic and therefore lightweight, is a favorite of law enforcement and the military, but unfortunately for the rest of us and all of the rest of the good guys, they are also the “The Favorite for Mass Shooters,” explains the Washington D.C. based Violence Policy Center. Before Friday’s school massacre, the Glock was used in the killings at the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre and in the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and those with her.

The Sig Sauer 223 is a semi-automatic rifle, favored by those in the global military and law enforcement. Or as Ron Cohen, the president and CEO of the Swiss based company likes to say: “We are proud that many elite military and government forces including the U.S. Navy Seals, the Federal Air Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security and the U. S. Coast Guard carry SIG SAUER firearms.” He can now add that it is the choice weapon of a killer of children.

An AR-15-type rifle was found at the scene, but law enforcement has not yet identified it as one of the guns used. But we know this about that light assault weapon: It was first built to be used by our armed forces. And it has now found its way  in the hands of civilians since the Assault Weapons Ban expired.  Once again it’s for sale except in California.

Congresswoman McCarthy Leads the Fight

Hug A Teacher Today AP

Just to remind you: Congress let the Assault Weapon Ban expire in 2004, and while we talk about bringing it back, Congress has shown remarkable – or is it their usual – cowardice in not doing so.

That is why the first step in this national conversation must be to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has repeatedly tried to bring it to the floor of Congress only to be rebuffed. Congresswoman McCarthy lost her husband, and her son was grievously wounded in the Long Island shooting that killed six and wounded 19, leading her to run for Congress on the gun control issue in 1997.

No one wants to take guns from hunters or clay pigeon shooters or rifle-range enthusiasts. Gun control means understanding what the intent of the Second Amendment was and what unlimited access to assault weapons and unregulated guns and gun sales mean. Unlimited access to modern firearms is something you know the Founding Fathers never intended.

It is not enough for us to grieve. We must begin to address the issue, starting with the Ban on Assault Weapons.

Is it too soon to start the discussion and move forward? The day after Sandy Hook? The answer is no. Now it’s up to our political leaders.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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