Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Amazing Grace in an airport bar

I was in a restaurant at the Atlanta airport last night waiting for a delayed flight to LaGuardia. On the TV, CNN was showing photos of the children killed in Newtown as Judy Collins' Amazing Grace played. There were so many of them the network had to play all the verses.

People in the restaurant were transfixed. You could hear a pin drop.

When it was over, a waitress asked if I wanted a drink. I said yes. She asked for my ID. 

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?" I asked. 

“No,” she replied with a shrug, as she has undoubtedly done a thousand times in response to the same question. “It’s the law.”

Astonishing to think that some legislature passed an inane law that requires bars to card people who are obviously decades past the minimum legal drinking age, yet Congress can’t pass effective legislation that makes it harder for crazies to get their hands on assault weapons.

As an American, I refuse to believe Congress can’t enact such a law and that, once passed, it can’t be enforced. And I will not listen to anyone who says otherwise or who claims a law like that would abridge our rights. 

The president said it well Sunday night in Newtown. “We can’t tolerate this any more. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law  -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try.”

We do. We must. And this time, if the tears coursing down the faces of a dozen strangers in that airport bar are any indication, we will.


  1. It's more difficult now to purchase a firearm than it has been in at any other time in our lifetime yet attacks, like what happened in Newtown, are more frequent than they have been in our lifetime. If gun control were truly effective it seems to me there would be a decline in such attacks.

    One topic we need to visit is "what motivates" these people to do great harm. Could it be the perverted "glory" they see bestowed on mass killers by the media? If we only take a look at the implements these killers use and not what motivates these killers we are on a fool’s errand.

    I’m still ready to listen to any alternative that would save another family from the heartbreaking grief of any kind of needless death. If we just focus on the tools we may miss something that could make a difference.

  2. Agreed, we need to examine all the aspects of what is causing this, but it's a fact that when we got the right to bear arms there weren't weapons killers could use to wipe out an entire classroom in seconds. I don't pretend to know the solution -- better care for the mentally ill certainly needs to be factored in - but, in the meantime, why not make it harder for everyone to have access to assault weapons? Average citizens -- be they sane or lunatics -- have no reason to own them that I can think of. In the case of Newtown, for the first time in years, the media is, in my opinion, doing a good job. Unfortunately, as you observe, this may well inspire some other nut job to reach for even greater (e.g. more bodies) glory. If it were harder for him (and it's almost always a him) to do so because of restrictions on automatic weapons and it might save, as Obama said, even one life, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't think that's worthwhile (though I have, I have to admit, been pretty astonished at the intransigence I've seen from some otherwise rational people). Sitting there in that airport, watching all those people with tears rolling down their faces was a moment I will never forget. Like the song says, "I once was blind but now I see." The tipping point is here.

    1. I have read that investigators have determined most if not all of the individuals that commit crimes like what happened in Newtown are weak cowards and in their twisted mind they see an attack on defenseless victims transforming them into some sort of super star. We don’t see these guys attacking a police station, VFW hall or a military post. They are afraid of anyone that might fight back.

      Suppose we make it a requirement that all school administrators are qualified in the use of firearms and they receive continuous training in marksmanship much like our police departments do. Once they are properly trained require them to carry a 40 caliber Glock with 15 live rounds and an extra 15 round clip.

      Our top priority should be to stop these cowards. If we simply concentrate on gun control it will take months or even years to make any meaningful changes but that doesn’t do anything about the thousands and thousands of firearms that are in circulation right now.

      We shouldn’t have to take such measures. However I think any reasonable person would agree that a packing Principal would be a real deterrent to these goofballs. Because being the cowards they are they don’t like to shoot at someone that’s going to shoot back.

      We could have this system implemented and in full operation before the end of 2013. If anyone knows of something that could be as effective and as quick, well I’m listening.

    2. We have to explore lots of options but school administrators -- at least the ones I know -- have difficult enough jobs without having to take on the Matt Dillon role. Their jobs are to ensure kids get the best possible education, not to protect. The principal of my kids' elementary school was a woman in her 60s. Seems to me a more workable solution, which we could have in place tomorrow, is to place armed policemen -- a lot of them -- in all our schools until gun control can be implemented. Arming principals/administrators also does nothing to address the problems of shootings in theaters (Aurora), supermarket parking lots (Giffords), churches (the Sikh shooting in Wisconsin a few months ago), etc. I know I'll sound terribly kumbayah but violence begets violence. Long term it's necessary to take away the guns. The crazies will then stab or slash or set fires, but at least those are more defensible and survivable assaults.