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Susan Orlins Headshot

Newtown Shooting and Campaign Finance Reform

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Like President Obama and everyone else, I am heartbroken for the families of the murdered children, teachers, and others in Newtown, Conn. last week. And I'm worried about our society in which this kind of massacre happens with alarming frequency.

By now the news has been so saturated with this story -- for good reason of course -- that there is little to add. Yet I wonder why the chorus is not singing out about campaign finance reform.

Gun control as well as more and better mental health services to assist those deranged enough to commit violence -- before they go out in combat gear with assault weapons and attack wee children and others -- would help. How do we make that happen, given the strength of the pro-every-kind-of killing-machine gun lobby?

One could say the gun control lobby needs more finances to become as powerful as the NRA, which is a bit like saying we should arm our teachers with assault weapons to fight intruders.

But why aren't more people talking about campaign finance reform?

At the root of the gun problem are campaign finance laws that allow the likes of Sheldon Adelson to pour millions into campaigns to try to defeat those who would support gun control and better health care for all. The funny thing is that a vast majority of those supported by Adelson and the NRA lost in the recent election.

Adelson's failure in the 2012 election makes clear that indeed the Tea Party and the Trumps and the Adelsons as well as the NRA are not as powerful as they would have you believe.

Then there is the argument that criminals will get guns no matter what. But consider an analogy that says maybe we should not have speed limits because people will speed no matter what.

As for having the National Guard or security officers guarding schools, does anyone believe that would have deterred Adam Lanza, the Newtown killer? Maybe if each school had two guards, after the first one is shot dead by the would-be intruder, maybe and only maybe the other guard could then shoot the attacker.

And what about security at movie theaters? And elsewhere?

For starters, it makes sense to see what is helping in other countries and in places like New York, where on one recent day there were no murders in the entire city. This was such big news that it made a headline in The New York Times. That brings up the city mouse/country mouse issue which must be considered; not every part of the country will benefit from the same approach.

Reports suggest that a majority of Americans now support stricter weapons laws. Everyone seems to have been touched by this slaughter of those kindergartners and the adults at their school. Even on Sunday's grand three-hour finale of the TV show Survivor, host Jeff Probst called for a moment of silence.

Some of the most powerful moments of the last week were when President Obama read the names of the little children who died. They have stuck in my head: Madeleine, Noah, Jesse, Grace, Benjamin, Charlotte, Jack...

When I was ten, I walked into a robbery in the front office of my father's factory. The gunman was locking the secretary in the bathroom and turned and pointed the gun at me. It was Christmas and instead of shooting me, he grabbed the bonuses and darted away. I thought it was a toy gun and that he was playing a game. In my best, though thoroughly unrealistic, fantasy I wish those kids at least had thought it was a game.

I welcome your comments.

In January, look for my new memoir, Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others.

Meanwhile, and on a lighter note, visit my blog, Confessions of a Worrywart.