Post 254: One year after Newtown…December 14, 2013

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Twenty-seven words. The same number as the number of innocent people who died in Newtown, Connecticut, one year ago today. Twenty children. Six school staff who tried to protect those children. The mother of a mentally unstable gunman.  Twenty-seven lives snuffed out in a shooting spree.

The gunman whose 2nd Amendment rights and weak gun control laws and enforcement, society’s poor handling of people in need of psychiatric help allowed him to become the agent of murder and mayhem, then took his own life.  Arguably, the world is better off for his suicide death, a 28th death by the same hand, that awful day. But we’ll never learn why he did what he did.

The nation was in shock, and the President took steps to establish a bi-partisan committee to develop a legislative response, the start of a solution to these all-too-common mass murders. Congress failed to pass the recommended changes. The families affected by the murder of their first graders were visibly stunned, saddened, appalled, amazed at the irresponsibility of Congress. Something needed to be done. Anything!

How many children need die before the nation’s legislators take effective, serious action? It’s a question that remains unanswered.

As awful as Newtown was and is, children continued to die in America in between Newtown and now, if not in multiple shootings in a few incidents: Does one child dead from gunshot stand as a “better” situation than 20 at once? Ask the mother of the one dead child. The father. The siblings. The grandparents. The neighbors. America, people! Ask America! How many children, people have to die before the gun culture and Congress recognize every death is a loss in incalculable possibilities, is unnecessary, has nothing to do with a “well-regulated militia” or a “secure free state”?

Want to see the results of nothing? “Mother Jones” makes it easy for you by bringing these photos and stories together in one article. View the photos and read the stories of 192 children 12 and under who died by gunshot (murder, accidental) in the year since Newtown, and ask yourself, again: How many children need die before the nation’s legislators take effective, serious action?:

December 15, 1791: In a bitter irony, tomorrow is the 222nd anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Of those 10 rights codified, the 2nd Amendment rights continue to be problematic in ways the people who wrote those murderous words couldn’t possibly have imagined. Of course, back then “well-regulated militias” of one didn’t go on murder sprees and kill 20 first graders, six school administrators, and their own mother.

“…beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Up front you should know I call them all “guns”. A “clip” and a “magazine” kind of register as two different things with me, but the reason to differentiate is needless since I wouldn’t have either in my home, let alone the “gun” they attach to. I’m not comfortable with “guns”.

The George Zimmerman self-defense trial verdict, too, left me uncomfortable. That he is “not guilty”, an attorney will tell you, doesn’t mean he is “innocent”. The distinction is much more important than that between a “clip” and a “magazine”.

George Zimmerman shot a 17-year-old kid in the heart. He isn’t “innocent”, no matter how “not guilty” he might be in Florida, a state with its NRA-friendly “stand your ground” law. To Zimmerman’s credit, he confessed to the killing. It seems he gets a free notch on his pistol grip and accolades from the “stand your ground” folks. Trayvon gets nothing, though, arguably, he was defending himself, too, against a stranger stalking him in the dark.

The trial is over. I hope, in my life time, that America wakes up and a kid can leave his father’s home to buy Skittles and a can of iced tea yet make it back alive. I pray with Trayvon’s family for at least that much.