The Day Gun Rampage in Elementary School MI Passes Bill Allowing Guns in Schools

There is absolutely horrifying news coming out of Newtown, CT, where 27 people–18 of them young children–are reported dead in a gun rampage.

The President’s spokesperson, Jay Carney has already said today is not the day to talk about gun control laws. (Update: Obama did speak briefly. It was a very touching statement that promised action.)

Can we talk about this, then? A bill passed in the MI legislature’s last day frenzy last night will expand concealed carry to include schools, day care centers, churches, and stadia.

Changes to the concealed weapons law passed the state House and Senate late Thursday, allowing trained gun owners to carry their weapons in formerly forbidden places, such as schools, day care centers, stadiums and churches.

Schools, however, and privately owned facilities could opt out of the new law if they don’t want people carrying guns in their buildings.

The bill also would transfer the power of granting concealed-weapons permits from county gun licensing boards to the county sheriff.

State Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, called the bill a “pro-public safety bill” because it allowed gun owners to be an asset to public safety in volatile situations.

Again, this bill is not yet–at least according to reports–law. Governor Snyder has not yet signed it.

If we take one immediate lesson from Newtown, shouldn’t that be schools and day cares are no place for guns?

Update: The MI House GOP just issued a statement in response to the CT massacre. They start by saying the culprit was intent on spreading evil–not death. (h/t Josh Pugh)

Regarding the school shooting in Connecticut, our first concern is thinking about the families and the tragedy they have suffered at the hands of a criminal bent on spreading evil.

After that show of concern is done, they spend four paragraphs defending their bill in the name of public safety.

Therefore, having well-trained individuals with the freedom to carry a concealed pistol may be considered a public safety asset that could act as a deterrent against such shootings or, if an evil criminal does strike, may prove to serve as protection for innocent bystanders.

It is the belief of many representatives in our caucus that it is criminals who have no intention of following any law that are the perpetrators of such heinous crimes as school shootings. Strict gun-control laws do not stop criminals from committing evil acts, they merely infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens who might be able to take action against evil if given the chance.

The only way this statement makes sense in the context of the CT shooting is if they imagine kindergartners as the “law-abiding citizens who might be able to take action.”

Finally, in a press release lobbying for their bill in spite of the massacre that four guns in a school just caused, they beg people not to politicize CT.

Regardless of where anyone stands on the gun-rights debate, however, we will encourage everyone to try to refrain from politicizing the tragedy in Connecticut.

As you read this, remember that these are the “pro-life” people who also just rammed through a bill requiring that women be counseled on burial options if they want an abortion.

Incidentally, the gun bill is still on Governor Snyder’s desk. But don’t worry. He issued a tweet offering thoughts and prayers, but not veto.

 Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the families in Connecticut.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

31 replies
  1. katie jensen says:

    If each of those kindergarners had been packing heat, this would not have happened…thats what’s wrong with this country…we need more concealed weapons at school…geeesh! Its obvious that if more people had guns there would be less gun violence. obvious. (said with as much snark as possible).

  2. angry bitter drunk says:

    The problem isn’t that people can get guns by concealed weapons permit. I seriously doubt that the sick fucks who perpetrated today’s madness had concealed weapons permits.

    The problem is that sick fucks can get guns without, really, any difficulty at all. And — not that I wouldn’t be willing to try — but with so many guns in circulation now, I’m afraid we’ve long passed the point where sane gun laws would make any difference. God what a horrible day.

  3. Bruno says:

    “Schools and day cares centers are no place for guns” Well, that’s apparent from this incident since in CT they are “gun free zones.” Gee, I wonder why the shooter didn’t respect this rule? I also guess the knowledge that no one at the school was armed never crossed the shooter’s mind either.

    It’s truly a wonder that everyone doesn’t have “Gun Free Zone” signs on their front lawns. That would stop this type of violence overnight.

  4. angry bitter drunk says:

    @prostratedragon: I keep going back to Taibbi’s HSBC screed I read last evening. (It’s linked in EW’s post above).

    Just think if we took all the effort we currently use to round up people (and their cash) for minor drug offenses and redirected even 10 percent of that to, I don’t know, monitoring gun shows, tracking gun sales or busting rogue dealers? Erza’s piece is good, and it really is confounding why we as a country are like this — I still think it starts with the constantly manufactured and mined paranoia, which to me was actually best illustrated in Bowling for Columbine.

    But these shootings are coming most every week now. It’d sure be nice to take a really big problem and actually make any attempt whatsoever to begin to do something about it.

    Oh and a big fuck you to Jay Carney and his masters for saying we can’t politicize today’s events.

  5. lefty665 says:

    @angry bitter drunk: …or to mental health services.

    One of the things we don’t talk much about while bitching about bailouts for the rich and screw the rest is the cost in stress as more people twist slowly, grinding ever further into debt or losing what assets they had accumulated. That does not excuse acts like today. It can help us understand that it is not just personal tragedy. It is to all of us as a society,

    Would that some of our politicians would consider those costs as they talk of “bargaining chips”, trimming “entitlements” like Medicaid, and refusing to tax the rich.

  6. lefty665 says:

    @angry bitter drunk: …or to mental health services.

    One of the things we don’t talk much about while bitching about bailouts for the rich and screw the rest is the cost in stress as real people twist slowly, grinding ever further into debt or losing what assets they had accumulated. That does not excuse acts like today. It can help us understand that it is not just personal tragedy, it is to all of us as a society.

    Would that some of our politicians would consider those costs as they talk of “bargaining chips”, trimming “entitlements” like Medicaid, mean spirited “compromise”, or refusing to tax the rich.

    Old Ben Franklin had it right with “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. These days we call both the “public sector”.

  7. orionATL says:

    there are 300 million handguns in the hands of americans; there are 360 million americans.

    this must be yet another instance of unfair distribution in this country.

  8. orionATL says:

    @orionATL:

    to be more precise:

    the
    nra in 2010 estimated there were 300 million firearms in the usa.

    of this number an estimated 100 million were handguns.

    the “let’s not politicize ______ event” is a well-established right-wing public speech tactic used to make opponents feel uncomfortable and onlookers feel irritated at those opponents.

    thus, this “let’s focus on tragedy and grief” rather than talk about the terrible toll of death and grief guns take in the usa, especially in the last few years with repeated massacres, is an effort to suppress and limit discussion of the tragedies handguns repeatedly promote and an effort to control any discussion of handgun control.

    i have no problem at all connecting today’s tragedy with the ease of acquisition of handguns in
    the usa.

    i have no problem at all believing and saying aloud that the nra’s ceo, wayne lapierre, his organization, and handgun and ammunition manufactuerers inside and outside of this country bear a direct responsibility for creating the circumstances that allowed the school shooting to unfold.

  9. NRA yeah says:

    These are little babies… their first days into the outside world!!! wow. Show em the ways of “freedom to rampage with my gun”

    Politicians will just end up fighting empty words again.

  10. Linnaeus says:

    “a criminal bent on spreading evil”

    WTF? That sounds like something out of a fucking cartoon or comic book.

  11. P J Evans says:

    @katie jensen:
    I’ve read several suggestions like that, and heard another, from people who apparently believe that that’s a reasonable way to handle someone with a gun. I think that’s insane, and will result in bystanders being killed by crossfire, as well as armed people who think they’re doing the right thing being killed by other armed people who think they’re doing the right thing, because neither one realizes the other isn’t the shooter.

  12. orionATL says:

    @P J Evans:

    p.j.,

    i read katie jensen as being acerbicly sarcastic when
    she wrote:

    “If each of those kindergarners had been packing heat, this would not have happened…thats what’s wrong with this country…we need more concealed weapons at school…”

    i think you and she are both appalled at the suggestion that more gun ownership would have averted this tragedy.

    my wife and i were talking thru a scenario in which the teacher had a gun.

    – she is teaching young children who are notorious for getting into aspirin, darvon, paint, kerosene, insecticide, automobile ignitions, etc. so would she not have this gun locked up?

    – son shows up at classroom door. does mom intuit his intent and plug him?

    – son threatens mom and looses a tirade of psychotic anger. does mom have time tp unlock the drawer, rake off the safety, snd plug son before he gets in his kill shot?

    -if “public safety officer” or principal is armed, how do they determine who to shoot in the chaos? anyone who is not a student or teacher? how about a hapless visiting
    parent?

    – what training and protocol are required of a policeman re shooting into a crowd?

    – what training and protocol are required of soldiers fighting our endless village/urban warfare? if shots are fired, do ypu kill all whom you can see or try to find the source of the firing?

    and the money-chasing morons at the national rifle association believe the answer is to ADD to the stock of 300 MILLION firearms (100 million handguns) in this country?

    EVERY time there is an event of this magnitude, gun shop sales go UP big time.

    is it not obvious that this entire “fuck-the-nation-and-the-public” rift-and-run by the nra is all about money – gun corporations making lots of money, gun shops making lots of money, and gun shows making lots of money.

    ew needs to ask what money was promised or passed hands for the passage of the MI gun rules to occur.

  13. orionATL says:

    @P J Evans:

    i don’t doubt that for a minute, p.j.

    sad to say, some of those characters could have been members of my extended family.

    how did good civic judgement so desert our society?

    i date it to 1996 and the advent – thinking of that christmas season term – of fox news/entertainment/lying-for-fun-and-profit which opened the lid of pandora’s box, releasing the reflexive, animal nature of our political “thinking”.

  14. orionATL says:

    “a 20-yr old wearing combat gear killed 20 children…”

    no, it wasn’t seargent bates;

    it wasn’t even a former soldier.

    the killer was a 20-yr old with autism.

    maybe the national football league and the nation’s corporations will reflect on the decade-long glorification of war and weaponry they have engaged in.

  15. bell says:

    anyone want to consider the glorification of violence that is a regular feature of the movie industry as feeding into this? then there are the video games and hand held games with a focus on violence that seem quite popular..

  16. orionATL says:

    @bell:

    a major issue in my view.

    these movies, tv shows, and games in their enormous, diurnal quantity desensitize us to violence in general and to gun violemce in particular.

  17. Kathryn in MA says:

    Therefore, having well-trained individuals with the freedom to carry a concealed pistol may be considered a public safety asset that could act as a deterrent against such shootings or, if an evil criminal does strike, may prove to serve as protection for innocent bystanders.

    So, I guess he’s referring to parking a policeman at the entrance of the school. Hmmm.

  18. Kathryn in MA says:

    @orionATL: When you look at the amounts lobbyists give our legislators, it’s chicken feed! Our legislators will sell their soul for such paltry amounts amazes me.

  19. tbob says:

    As a grandfather, of a child whose future looks bright and brimming with love and happiness, I grieve for those touched by the senseless tragedy of Sandy Hook.

    As a combat veteran, I shake my head in disbelief at the craven efforts of those promoting the increased availability of automatic handguns into our society. Handguns are designed to kill people and that’s how they have been quite effectively used for centuries.

    As I watched Obama deliver his halting message yesterday, I wondered if images similar to Sandy Hook were playing in his head. Images of dark-haired five to ten year old children, halfway around the world, huddled in fear of the dark-suited strangers bringing evil into their villages.

    As bad as the carnage at Sandy Hook was, think how much worse it could have been if that tortured young man had access to a drone. I realize that supposition is way over the top (and here’s my apology in bringing it up) but in dealings like this, it’s only a matter of degree. In any war, civilians end up sucking hind tit…that’s a fact. Thank you, NRA, for bringing war to America.

  20. orionATL says:

    @tbob:

    “Handguns are designed to kill people and that’s how they have been quite effectively used for centuries…”

    that is precisely their use; i wish others could see that as clearly as you state it.

  21. orionATL says:

    @Kathryn in MA:

    indeed. i would love to have on the public record the money, favors, and promises that exchanged hands in michigan prior to the passage of that gun legislation.

  22. posaune says:

    I keep thinking of the scale of the trauma inflicted on the surviving children, their parents and siblings. What will it take to try to heal the survivors, their families, schools, and community?

    This is direct, acute trauma that is so massive that it’s impact will be felt for decades and more than one generation. I’m the adoptive mom of a little boy diagnosed with PTSD at age 5. Yes, that’s real PTSD. It has taken 3 years only to begin to recognize his triggers, and they could be anything: a color of fabric, a smell, a texture, a certain hand motion, all things he internalized during a traumatic episode. My spouse and I have had to take so much training in de-escalation techniques and responses to avert a full-blown dysregulatory crisis. And we are not there yet at all even though we see significant and continuing progress.

    So it will be for many, many of these children, and their families, and their teachers throughout their academic years. Learning will be severely challenged because of the setting of the trauma. A portion of these kids will never return to a formal school — they’ll need to be home-schooled or the equivalent because they will be triggered just walking into a school building.

    Some will be diagnosed with developmental trauma, disruption of development according to the neurosequential model — where brain function “freezes in place,” at the moment of trauma. For example, our son’s vision function was “frozen” at 38 months, the exact age at which he was the victim of sexual assault. Developmental trauma affects all the brain parts: the pons, where the emotions are stored, the midbrain, which regulates the emotions, and the cortices. Learning disabilities are a common marker, concurrent with emotional dysregulation. The more severe end of the continuum presents with PTSD, dissociative identity disorder (ada multiple personalities), and/or splitting.

    Developmental trauma requires sustained multi-disciplinary treatment efforts that are costly in time, duration and funds: trauma therapy, cognitive therapy, family therapy, and body-centered sensory therapy (because trauma is frequently expressed somatically secondary to the pons). Trauma is a lifelong condition, especially for a child exposed to trauma so severe,and he/she will need interventions at each developmental stage, where the child’s understanding of the trauma is necessarily reframed as his/her identity is formed.

    Sadly, the American Psychiatric Assn in writing the new DSM-V, has chosen to ignore developmental trauma as a diagnosis, excluding it from the diagnosis list, despite two decades of work by Bessel Van der Kolk, Bruce Perry, Peter Levine, and Joyanna Silberg. The result is that insurance companies are not required to cover trauma therapy! Does it take a Newtown tragedy for the APA and insurance industry to acknowledge child hood trauma?

    One has to wonder about the mental health care offered to the gunman, allegedly diagnosed with Asperger’s (a diagnosis eliminated in the 2012 DSM-V, btw). Was the suspect untreated? If so, why?

    And consider the state of pediatric mental health care in this country. It is extraordinarily difficult to find and fund pediatric psychiatrist. In the District of Columbia alone, there are 91,000 kids on Medicaid (61% of all DC kids), of whom 12,000 have mental health diagnoses. And how many board-certifed pediatric psychiatrists who take Medicaid? There are 2 –two psychiatrists for 12,000 kids.

    And how will this country pay for the trauma treatments for the kids of Newtown? Treatments that will allow these children to emerge as a acceptably functioning adult (who might pay taxes in the future)?

    How about a tax on the NRA to fund psychiatry and trauma therapy?

  23. posaune says:

    Oh, and here are some references:

    Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, Child Trauma Academy: http://www.childtrauma.org/index.php/articles
    Bessel Van der Kolk, PhD, Brookline Trauma Center: http://www.traumacenter.org/products/publications.php
    Peter Levine, PhD, Somatic Healing Center: http://www.traumahealing.com/somatic-experiencing/bookstore_all.html
    Joyanna Silberg, PhD, Sheppard-Pratt: http://traumaatsp.org/treatmentteam.aspx; The Child Survivor, Routledge, 2012.

  24. orionATL says:

    @posaune:

    the ineradicable consequences of psychic trauma are unpredictable and numerous, as with a severe head injury in football or boxing. the difference is that the trauma is “psychological” rather than “physical” – there are not yet tests or machines that allow a physician to “see” that “psychological” damage.

    but we know from observation that the damage is there.

    further, and repeatedly ignored by the gun violence number crunchers, is that there are others, like posaune and spouse, who are more or less permanently affected by trauma to a family member.

    now multiply this number by some thousands and then extend it over, say, a decade.

    the result is hundreds of thousands of traumatically scarred family members in one single decade.

  25. lefty665 says:

    @tbob: “As I watched Obama deliver his halting message yesterday, I wondered if images similar to Sandy Hook were playing in his head. Images of dark-haired five to ten year old children, halfway around the world, huddled in fear…”

    Seems to describe our drone warfare as much as Sandy Hook. We could only hope the President has images of the children his personally authorized drone strikes have killed and maimed. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. All the same.

    Where is our grief for those children and their families? Do we only have outrage for our fair haired own?

  26. fitley says:

    @Bruno: Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle at close range to kill children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

    “I believe everybody was hit more than once,” said Dr. H. Wayne Carver, the state of Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner.

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