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After Smoke Clears on Facts Surrounding Newtown Massacre, Focus Shifts from Gun Control to Mental Health

The horror of the Newtown massacre, in which twenty first-graders and six female educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School remains indescribable, obtuse, and unearthly. No one could fault the families of the victims for trying to get tougher gun laws passed to guarantee that no parent was covered with the same yoke of grief again.  Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, recently released his report on the investigation into the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and a private residence in Newtown.  A copy of the full report can be found here: http://www.ct.gov/csao/lib/csao/Sandy_Hook_Final_Report.pdf

My examination and brief identification of the most salient points in the report are below, but I would invite you to read the shocking and important text too, which contains conclusions drawn by law enforcement:

  1. Guns with large magazines were the perfect tool for this crime.  Shooter Adam Lanza killed his mother inside their Newtown home before driving to his former elementary school, where he fired off 154 shots with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. He killed himself with a handgun as police arrived.  The response to these crimes began unfolding at 9:35:39 a.m. when the Newtown Police received the first 911 call. With the receipt of that call, the law enforcement response began. It was fewer than four minutes from the time the first 911 call was received until the police arrived at the school, but the damage was already done.

    Lanza was able to fire so many rounds so quickly because he was able to avoid delays in reloading his weapon.  This is precisely why State legislators sought to limit the size of ammo magazines in these assault-type rifles.  There had been initial reports that the Bushmaster weapon had been left in his car, but the report indicates the gun killed all twenty-six people at Sandy Hook, and the sole use for the handgun was Lanza’s suicide.

  2. Efforts at gun control went nowhere.  The shootings that devastated the bucolic, close-knit western Connecticut community prompted President Obama to pledge to take “meaningful action” to pass new gun control legislation.  However, while more than 1,500 bills were filed in state legislatures amid a chorus of grieving voices, far more states, more than two dozen in fact, passed laws that weakened gun control, according to The Boston Globe.
  3. Mental illness is now front and center.  The 44-page State’s Attorney report and its appendices found Lanza had “significant mental health issues.”  Victim’s families have heartily lobbied Congress to get mentally ill persons the treatment they require.  The White House has reshaped its position too:  The Obama administration announced it would give $100 million to help fund improvements in mental health facilities and access in the United States as the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre draws near.
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