One week later: Exploiting the Sandy Hook massacre

When will the exploitation of the Newtown tragedy end? Photo: AP

CHICAGO, December 21, 2012 ― It was just one sorrow-filled week ago that a crazed gunman broke into an elementary school and killed 26 people, including 20 children. The tragedy that continues to unfold in Newtown, Connecticut is horrific, almost incomprehensible.

But the exploitation of this tragedy has made the pointless slaughter of these innocent people even worse.

Earlier this week, the Newtown Bee implored journalists to “stay away from the victims.”

In a letter to the New England Newspaper and Press Association, Bee Associate Editor John Voket complained about “reporters and media crews invading the yards and space of grieving survivors, school staff and responders.”

Residents complained that media were attending funerals and posted “no media” signs around; they shouldn’t have to. 

Newtown hasn’t even finished burying all of its tiny little bodies but there is no sign that these exploiters-in-chief are stopping.

Scam artists have set up bogus contribution funds for the victims. Media personalities jockey for position, demanding change – whatever that means – to boost their ratings. This week, there were more headlines for gun control than tributes to Sandy Hook’s victims and heroes. And, of course, there are the politicians; they can always be relied upon to exploit tragedy to advance their political agendas.

Last Friday, politicians and members of the media immediately began pointing fingers at the NRA, which finally broke its silence at a press conference this morning with a call to arm teachers and schools across the country. 

On Monday, Rahm Emanuel wasted no time calling for a national assault weapons ban – just two days after the massacre. Emanuel has said it before and meant it: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

But Emanuel is also a man without ideas. Powerlessly, he presides over a city with a murder rate that has shocked the nation: close to 500 murders in 2012 alone. Has the city’s ban on carrying concealed weapons stopped gang members from shooting rival gang bangers and innocent children caught in their crosshairs every weekend?

Chicago has nearly the equivalent of two Sandy Hook massacres a month and its own tiny Emilie Parkers shot and killed before their time.

Following the national trend, Chicago enacted a handgun ban in 1982. In the decade that followed, the murder rate jumped 41 percent as compared to 18 percent in the U.S. generally. Low-income residents of notorious Cabrini Green housing complex were still terrorized by gang members with guns.

The gun ban did nothing.

The problem is that criminals just aren’t that concerned about the law. Only law-abiding citizens are.

CNN’s Piers Morgan made headlines this week when he scolded Americans for their guns. The former TV host of “Britain’s Got Talent” compared the number of homicides in the UK, 550, to 12,000 in the U.S.

The UK banned hand guns in 1997.

But the UK’s murder rate has always been consistently low as compared to the U.S. In the decade before the hand gun ban, the number of UK homicides ranged from 599 to 650. Since 1997, UK homicides have ranged from a low of 608 to a high of 1048.

Leave it to a cable TV host, especially a former talent judge, to intentionally mislead his audience.   

As Americans, we have a different cultural and historical experience than the UK. We are socialized differently. Our population is much larger and more diverse ethnically, racially, and economically.  

Americans accept violence because violent messages in culture and entertainment have become acceptable. Hollywood profits from violence. The celebrities we admire become wealthy by glorifying it. Interactive video games allow us to participate in it. Children spend hours practicing blowing people apart, huddled in television-lit rooms, preferring video games to human companionship.

So why are we so surprised when the weakest among us snap? That the mentally ill are as desensitized to the violence our so casually culture accepts and creates?

If politicians and the media want to talk about the real causes of violence and premature death in this country, I am ready for that discussion.

But I want to know a few things first.

I want to know how government will guarantee that the mentally ill do not harm themselves or others. I want to know how President Obama will eliminate video games and the TV shows and movies that promote an acceptable culture of violence.

There are other causes of tragic premature death as well: U.S. traffic fatalities, due in part to speeding and drunk driving accidents, increased to 25,580 in 2012. Medical errors account for as many as 225,000 deaths per year. Obesity in the U.S. is responsible for an estimated 400,000 deaths per year.

President Obama could stop all this too: He could prohibit surgeons and physicians with a high medical error rate from practicing; he could impose speed controls on car makers; he could install breathalyzers in every automobile; and he could outlaw obesity and the food makers who contribute to it with their products.

If government can control the people, they reason, they might be able to control death. If government can eliminate freedom, they tell us death may be preventable.

The centralized planners want us to think they can control death through legislation. The reality is: They can’t. Human nature cannot be predicted or controlled. Killer Adam Lanza tried to purchase a rifle from a gun store just days before the shooting but was refused. He still found a way to kill.

How do you prevent – I mean, truly prevent – people from using guns to kill people? Government would have to round up every gun in every U.S. household, not just limit guns; gun manufacturers would have to be shuttered and eliminated; other countries would need to ban guns, international sales and trafficking of guns across our borders would need to be prevented; black markets for arms would form.

And only government could protect us then. But who would protect people from the government?

This is the kind of Huxley-esque Brave New World pipe dream that some still have. People who live in the real world understand this is not attainable or even desirable. 

Politicians and media have demonized advocates of the Second Amendment in wake of this horrific tragedy. But finding balanced solutions to preventing violence and death is a complex issue and should be dealt with by reasonable people, not those trying to score political points.

To those who have exploited the Newtown tragedy for media and political gain: Shame on you.

To those in Newtown who are suffering, you are forever in our prayers.


William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly  Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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