One of the guns was a Bushmaster .223 rifle. The second was a Sig Sauer pistol. The third a Glock pistol.
All were semi-automatic. This means that, once a bullet was fired, the guns automatically reloaded and were set to be fired again. There was no need to re-cock or manually reload the guns.
On Friday in Newtown, Conn., Adam Lanza used them to kill 20 children and six adults in an elementary school. He then killed himself. It was reported that he had fired more than 100 rounds. He apparently had previously killed his mother, with whom he lived in that town. He also reportedly suffered from a personality disorder or some other mental illness.
Most of the dead children were first graders.
The Sig Sauer is advertised as a "weapon of choice for elite units around the world." Its P220 model pistol, which was created in 1985, "led the semi-automatic revolution" in gun manufacturing. There are at least 23 models of Sig Sauer pistols. Like the elite car companies, they even sell "certified pre-owned" guns.
Glock tells potential customers that "Armed forces all over the world count on Glock. Why shouldn't you?" According to the company, "When you carry a Glock, you carry confidence." It also targets woman. Glock's webssite says "We believe in empowering women. That's why we've packed full-size performance into even our smallest pistols." For its part, Bushmaster claims that "With a Bushmaster for security and home defense, you can sleep tight knowing that your loved ones are protected." Its "lightweight carbon models" are supposedly "perfect for women." "Any gun will make an intruder think," it says, but "a Bushmaster will make them think twice."
The guns carried or used in Newtown were legal. The were registered to Lanza's now dead mother, Nancy, who apparently did not consider the possibility that a personalty-disordered (or otherwise mentally ill) young man and pistols might make for a lethal combination. In any case, she almost certainly was not asked about the condition of her son when she purchased the guns, and the website manuals and safety materials provided by Sig Sauer and Glock are themselves silent on mental illness. According to those same sites, neither company is "frequently asked" about the issue either.
President Obama was near tears yesterday when he went to the podium to offer condolences. So were many of the television journalists reporting the story.
I too am very sad.
I remember when my son and daughter were first graders. I remember them as first graders in this Santa-Claus-Is-Coming-to-Town week, when their combination of joy and innocence could melt the hardest hearts.
But mostly I am very angry.
We live in a country where there are more than 300 million "non-military firearms." Of the guns in the United States, at least 40 percent were purchased without a background check. Though the guns used in Newtown were legal, those used in many homicides are not. And calling the Newtown firearms "legal" doesn't change the fact that their presence in that home was simply stupid in view of who lived there. Nor does it change the fact that no one -- not Bushmaster or Sig Sauer or Glock or the retailer or any government -- asked about the household or warned about the dangerous mix it presented once firearms were introduced.
We will now go through our customary period of mourning. The NRA will be silent for a week or so. Then it will point out that Connecticut has some of the strictest gun control laws and claim that, since those laws did not stop these killings, gun control is ineffective. Others will say -- in fact, some already did yesterday -- that if the kids had firearms, fewer would have been killed. The same thing was said after the shootings in Aurora earlier this year.
Apparently, however, the guns-uber-alles crowd now thinks first-graders should pack heat too!
This is nuts.
No other country has this problem.
We can do sufficient background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous. We can criminalize multi-clip ammunition magazines. We can permanently ban possession of assault weapons. We can ban possession of firearms by the mentally ill and make homeowners responsible to insure the ban is enforced in their homes. Short of new laws, we can stop glorifying a gun culture that tells would-be purchasers, in some sort of phallic overload, that when they purchase a gun, they buy "confidence."
But we do none of this.
In trying to capture words adequate to the occasion, Connecticut's Gov. Dan Malloy stood in Newtown on Friday and said that "Evil visited this community today." He was wrong. Evil was stored in Nancy Manza's Newtown home. All that showed up on Friday was...