Playing the percentages with gun violence

The Dec. 13 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., is an unspeakable tragedy. The victims, most of them first graders, were behind locked doors and beginning the school day with no idea of what was to follow.

In our age, there is only one other tragedy that comes close to what happened in Newtown—and sadly, other places too, the mass casualty airliner crash. There too, too many completely innocent individuals are lost to us at once.

In the mainstream media, there is a big difference in how these two occurrences are treated. In the case of the airliner disaster, whether caused by weather or by terrorists, we are told over and over again that the actual percentage of deaths by flying passengers is very small—so small that it would be foolish not to fly over such concerns.

But, what are we told after a mass shooting at a school?

In sharp contrast, we are told that because one individual out of 300 million went on a rampage, the rest of the 300 million Americans must forgo a right acknowledged in the Bill of Rights as existing before the founding of our current Republic.

While we are looking at percentages, Larry Pratt, the president of Gun Owners of America, points out: “What a lethal, false security are the Gun Free Zone laws. All of our mass murders in the last 20 years have occurred in ‘Gun Free Zones.’”

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This included the two people murdered two days earlier in the Gun Free Zone designated shopping center, Pratt said.

Pratt said that in addition to the gunman, the politicians responsible for the Gun Free Zones in Connecticut also have blood on their hands. “They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman.”

Clearly now we can all agree that the best defense against the spree shooter is having armed citizens. By the time the Newtown police arrived, all that remained was for the shooter to end his own life, which he did as the police took their positions.

One teacher, principal or maintenance man with a firearm would have saved lives. Why quibble over percentages?

But, quibble we must, apparently. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg takes the opposite lesson from the Sandy Hook School massacre.

Bloomberg has stated the following: “With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their ABC’s are safe.”

The mayor said he wants the president to clamp down on gun rights.

“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress,” he said.

Bloomberg said, “This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”

New York City Mayor Bloomberg, the founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, runs a city where there are two classes of gun carriers: the criminals and the police. Everyone else is at the mercy of a criminal’s good will or a police officer arriving on time.

In 2011, 309 New Yorkers were murdered by gunshots, 61 percent of the city’s total murders.

Not enough mercy nor enough police officers arriving in time.

The Bloomberg solution is not a solution. He has a cadre of armed guards and all the other New Yorkers have to play the percentages.

When the police arrived at the Sandy Hook School, the damage was done, and it could have been stopped.

The chances of the Newtown police saving a life: slim and none.

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