Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

USA: where maniacs have guns

RichRifkinW

By
From page A6 | December 19, 2012 |

When the story broke Friday morning that there had been a shooting incident at a school in Newtown, Conn., early TV reports were that the gunman had killed himself and some adults had been hurt. That did not strike me as major news.

Several hours later I went online and saw the update: 27 dead, including 20 young children.

I had not felt such an overwhelming sense of shock and sadness in reaction to a news story since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. My melancholy after 9/11 in time turned to anger. So far, the mass murder of 6- and 7-year-old innocents has left me numb.

Religious people often say after a tragedy that everything happens for a reason and the victims are now in a better place. I am not so sure. I certainly cannot fathom what reason there could be to rip asunder the hearts of the families of the dead, stealing the hopes and dreams from their lives.

I was particularly struck by the poignant remarks of Robbie Parker, whose beautiful 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was killed in her first-grade classroom. Above all, Parker said, his child was kind and caring. She especially loved her two younger sisters, ages 3 and 4.

“They looked up to her,” Parker said. “It would be really sweet to see the times when one of them would fall or one of them would have her feelings hurt and would run to Emilie to get her support and hugs and kisses.”

Clearly, Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old murderer, was insane. His uncle, James Lanza, told the New York Daily News that Adam was taking a prescription antipsychotic medication, Fanapt, which treats schizophrenia.

It’s likely he was delusional and paranoid, much like Jared Lee Loughner, the schizophrenic 22-year-old who shot 18 people in a Tucson, Ariz., parking lot in 2011.

Every country on Earth has some small subset of its population that is psychotic. The difference in the United States is that those people here have access to guns. The result is massacres like Newtown, Aurora, Binghamton, Columbine, Fort Hood, Oak Creek, Tucson and Virginia Tech. The list goes on and on.

To slaughter those 20 small children, six teachers and Nancy Lanza, his own mother, Adam used a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic assault rifle. It is a weapon of war. It is not used by duck hunters. No one needs a rifle this lethal for self-protection. Yet it is legal for civilians in most states to buy and sell these killing machines.

While I respect the right of sane adults to bear arms, there are limits to that right. There is also a right for the rest of us, any time we are in a shopping mall, a school, a post office or a restaurant, to not have to fear that someone with untreated mental illness or some psychological abnormality is carrying a Bushmaster assault rifle.

We prohibit civilians from owning fully automatic machine guns, because of the danger they present to the rest of us. It’s time the federal government outlaws all civilians from owning semi-automatic weapons of war. No ordinary person needs the capability to fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of seconds.

California law proscribes the manufacture, import, sale, giving or lending of large-capacity magazines, which are defined as any ammunition-feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds. That, too, should be federal law.

If a responsible target shooter wants to fire an assault rifle like the Bushmaster .223, we could allow these weapons to be stored and used at regulated gun ranges. No one needs an AK-47 in his house.

When licensed firearms dealers sell guns, they are required to submit buyer information to the FBI for an instant background check. There are huge holes in this system.

For one, 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt. Private transactions require no background check. Sales at gun shows or flea markets or over the Internet made by sellers who are not licensed dealers require no check on the buyer. That hole needs to be closed.

Another problem is that the mentally ill are supposed to be prohibited from buying or possessing guns. But medical professionals and police agencies are not required to submit the names of people suffering from psychoses to the FBI. So it is rare that anyone with mental illness is caught in a background check.

When James Holmes, the Aurora, Colo., movie theater killer, bought his Remington 870 tactical shotgun and his Smith & Wesson semi-automatic M&P15 rifle (which fires the same .223 Remington cartridges that Lanza used in Newtown), the background check done on him did not show that Holmes was under the treatment of a psychiatrist for a serious illness. His doctor was not required to tell the FBI that Holmes was her patient.

Most likely the FBI had no idea that Adam Lanza was being treated for schizophrenia. No law required Nancy Lanza, the registered owner of the arsenal Adam used to mow down all those first-graders, to keep her guns locked up, out of the hands of her schizophrenic son.

If we value the lives of small children — innocents taken forever from their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and from their classmates and community — now is the time to fix our laws. Enough with these massacres. It’s time to act.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. Reach him at Lxartist@yahoo.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics