Connecticut dodges answers on Sandy Hook school tragedy

The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate recently released a report defining the factors that led to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut nearly two years ago but authors ignored obvious ideas about preventing similar events from occurring.

The 114 page document titled “Shooting At Sandy Hook Elementary School” offered condolences for the 27 people murdered on December 14, 2012, but asserted that only the murderer was responsible for his actions and buried news that ready access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips were a significant factor in the shooting.

Connecticut Child Advocate report made recommendations in seven categories: screening, evaluation, care coordination and information sharing, training and workforce development, support and engagement with families, education, and increase expertise and services to support children with developmental and mental health challenges.

An alternative report “The Truth About Kids and Guns” from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence showed that 68 percent of school shootings, as occurred in Newtown, involve a gun from the shooter’s own home or that of a relative.

In addition, the Brady Center also launched a public awareness campaign for a future where no child is killed by a parent’s gun that includes a nationally-released PSA and digital advertisements featuring David Wheeler, whose son was killed at Sandy Hook.

While carefully ignoring the massive substantive omission, the Brady Center praised the official Connecticut report.

“This carefully researched report by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate confirms that access to guns in the shooter’s own home was a significant factor contributing to the horrific tragedy in Newtown on December 14, 2012,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “No one in the shooter’s life, let alone his own mother, recognized the danger of allowing him to have easy access to guns. Their ignorance had dire consequences.”

Gross also said:

“We cannot ignore this simple truth: Too many shootings occur because proper weight has not been given to the risks that come with gun ownership. A gun in the home increases the risk of an unintentional shooting, suicide and homicide. And, in the case of Adam Lanza, a gun in the home enabled him to kill 20 children and six adults. But we can prevent many of these tragedies by helping families understand these risks so they make better choices around gun ownership and use. We as a community – parents, friends, relatives, mental health professionals, school officials and others with opportunities to intervene in situations involving potentially dangerous people – share a responsibility to recognize when people are in crisis and ensure they do not have access to a gun.”

“We realize most Americans bring a gun into the home legally, with no intent of doing harm. But, too often, the result is tragic. We can have an impact by educating parents about the risks of having a gun in the home, which include homicide, suicide and unintentional shootings.

“If school shootings and other violent incidents at schools are to be stopped, the effort must begin at home. It starts with parents, who need to recognize the risks of guns in the home and make safer choices about gun access and storage.

“The death of a loved one due to gun violence is tragic, preventable, and a grief no one should have to live with.”

The Brady Campaign for Gun Violence and the National Rifle Association agree on almost nothing, but President Barack Obama received a failing grade from both groups during his first year in the White House.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave President Barack Obama an “F” rating in every category that it assessed but in subsequent years, the organization has stopped commenting on the White House’s ineffectiveness on firearms issues.

Obama not only failed to win support for new laws to close dangerous loopholes, but he actually signed repeals of more federal gun polices than President George W. Bush did in both of his terms. In May 2009 President Obama signed into law legislation allowing firearms to be carried in national parks. A later bill allowing guns onto Amtrak trains was enacted in December 2009.

“Today’s NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. “While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the ‘freedom’ of individual gun owners, it’s actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory.”

“Several groups remain dedicated to enacting sane laws to restrict the transfer of firearms to people who should not have them but for the most part, humanity worships death and agents of destruction more than life itself,” said James J. Devine, a Democratic strategist and philosopher who has studied the process by which communities act against their own self interest.


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