It’s time to Change the Gun Culture of America – by Jamie Gilcig SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY

Police_at_Sandy_HookCFN – It’s odd that the tragedy that name “Sandy”  has wrought on us all in 2012?  No one will ever forget Hurricane Sandy, the perfect storm that devastated so many on the East Coast of the US and now the Murders at Sandy Hook Elementary; a school that serves about 450 kids from Kindergarten to 4th grade.

I have mulled over writing about this since the event happened.   I won’t share the killer’s name.  I won’t mention the names of the victims either; nor the killers mother who while paying  a price herself was in some ways just as much guilty as her son who pulled the trigger of her legally owned hand guns.

My thoughts as I absorbed the media frenzy and public comments on Social media was to call Jeanne Assam. 
Jeanne & Bush


Why?   Because Ms Assam had to face down a monster who entered her church while she was working security as a volunteer.

The fact that a House of Worship needs security speaks volumes to what this column is going to attempt to explore.

Ms Assam faced down a man who entered guns a blazing.   The former police officer did her duty and took him down which led to a lot of public acclaim and an interesting journey which she discusses in her book, God, the Gunman, & Me.

To me the biggest impact of this sad tragedy is the debate about Gun Control.   It’s complex and no quickly passed law can address the many facets of why America has such a culture of Gun Loving and of course the correlation to the many shootings of this nature and others.

Gun advocates will point to many factors.  After this shooting many actually suggesting that if teachers had been armed the Killer could not have taken the lives of so many which to this scribbler seems utterly insane.  Likewise having to turn our schools into bunkers is also insanity and is not the message we want children growing up with.

The factors that lead to this are more than guns themselves.  There are countries in the world that have liberal gun owning policies without the same amount of crime and murders.  Those countries tend to have many more supports for the public and higher qualities of life and care for those with mental illness.

Here are excerpts from my chat with Jeanne.


My reaction to the Connecticut shooting was probably like everyone else’s; that I was absolutely stunned. This was not just another shooting. This was a mass-murder of children. Every single life matters, but when a child is brutally murdered, trauma sets in to every adult’s soul. We are not used to this happening, and I pray to God we never do get used to it happening.


We seem to be seeing more and more of these style shootings from what you experienced, Phoenix and so many more. In your opinion what are the real solutions and do you think people have to stomach to implement them?


Strict gun laws will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Not ever. Stricter security measures are needed and they’re needed everywhere because that is a reality now. Yes, it may cause longer lines for things, but at least people will be more safe.


Can you expand on that especially with your extensive experience working in Law Enforcement? Will longer waiting lists save lives?


What I mean by stricter security measures everywhere causing lines to perhaps get longer is that we need security in malls at all entrances, we need security personnel manning these entrances, we need much more thorough security in lines at major sports and concert venues, etc. It’s unfortunate we’ve come to this, but this reality is here to stay and criminals will only continue to get more heinous in their crimes against people.


That seems very severe. What about hand gun control or simply drastically cutting down the amount of guns in the hands of people and available?


It may sound severe to the naive, but it is the wisest thing we could do to preserve lives.
As I said before, strict gun laws will do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. As a police officer, I saw criminals in possession of guns every day. Where there is a will, there is a way.


I guess what I was getting at is wouldn’t it be a better solution to avoid a situation if possible rather than have to have the confrontation later? If security was high at certain places wouldn’t those that would commit these acts just look for locations with less security?

What about countries that simply don’t allow guns. Sure criminals will find ways, but less guns in circulation surely would make it harder no?

Do you think the American head space on Gun ownership needs to change?


What I’m saying is that we need to have zero entrances and exits with less security. Security should be re-vamped in the majority of places where it is current, and put in to places where it is now non-existent. Extreme measures for extreme actions of criminals.

After the shootings at YWAM and New Life Church, I actually heard people ask, “Why do we need armed police/security in churches?” It is that kind of mentality that if it continues, more people will die.


But surely if people didn’t have access to guns the cost to society such as what you’ve just outlined would be less. Would the world really be worse if people simply could not keep firearms in their homes or on their person, and that penalties for bad guys that somehow did were amped up?

Would you wish the confrontation that you had that day on other security staff? Could it have been avoided?


Of course not. Why would I?
I was a trained police officer and I did what I had to-and what I knew how to do. No, I had never been trained in dealing with an active shooter, but I came from a very aggressive police department where we never let the criminal get the upper hand. Not ever.


I think what I’m trying to ask is that isn’t it better to be in law enforcement and never have to pull your weapon in the manner you bravely were forced to? How can we as a society avoid these people from doing these deeds? Also, in your opinion why attack children, schools, churches instead of say Military bases? Why do you think these people target the most defenseless in our society?


You’re asking a question that I simply cannot answer. As a police officer, we all know we may have to take another person’s life. None of us wants that, but we know it is a truth. That is and has been and always will be a part of the job as a cop.
Gunmen target places and people who are the most vulnerable, certainly not the most armed or prepared.

Men who murder aren’t courageous or brave. They are always cowards, obsessed with themselves. They will hold forever all the offenses they believe have been done to them and take it out in the form of extreme violence on the lives of people that most of the time they have never even met.


With all being said do you think anything will change from this shooting to help prevent the next massacre?


I sure hope so.

I’d like to say how very sorry I am for all the lives forever changed by this shocking mass murder of children and the adults who died trying to protect them. No words will be able to bring comfort to the grieving parents, but I hope our prayers will. And to all the first responders who witnessed this massacre, we are also praying for you. None who have been affected will ever be forgotten.


One last question and you’ve done awesome – how did the event that you experienced impact and change your life as the person who brought down one of these attackers?


Again, I was a trained police officer. Killing that gunman was a very necessary part of my job that day. Though I am deeply saddened that people were killed, it could have been much worse had I not been trained, armed, and present. Police officers are not heroes, we are simply doing our job.

You know, I am so disturbed by this shooting that I can’t stop thinking about it. All we can do is pray for every person involved, especially the parents. The entire nation has been traumatized by this one.


There are literally millions of guns in the US.   While some states have stricter gun laws they are useless when someone can drive to a gun show or to states with little to no laws and simply drive them back or have them mailed.

Then you have people like Alex Jones screaming about Americans guns being taken away from them as some sort of plot to control and enslave the US population.

A gun is an inanimate object.  Of course it does take someone to pull the trigger to unleash its capabilities.  Today’s guns have horrific capabilities compared to the muskets and pitchforks of 1776.  The Second Amendment argument used by so many Gun advocates in the US gets thinner and thinner with each mass shooting of this nature.

It’s time to address this culture and industry and the gun business is a huge industry.

It’s time address the social ills that lead to the abuse and use of guns in the manner which has become far too frequent.

And while it’s a very sensitive issue on both sides of the debate things do have to change.    I think that change though will have to be phased in slowly and carefully because I don’t think there’s any quick fix to this mess.

And with that being said here are this scribblers suggestions to trying to limit these kinds of tragedies.

Tighter Gun registries

People who wish to have a functioning gun must have a legitimate purpose or reason.

No home ownership if any of the residents have mental illness issues. (past or present)

Strict limits to the type and quantity of guns allowed in a residence.

A grand-father clause to allow some the ability to retain weapons under certain conditions.

A gun turn in policy where individuals can turn in their guns to law enforcement possibly for tax credits.

Better security and laws for gun clubs that will allow more people to use their weapons there instead of their homes.

Tighter controls on the trade of weapons and ammunition.

Stricter penalties for violations of the usage and ownership of illegal weapons.

More weapons education for owners and the public.

I’m sure there are more ideas out there too.  I’m also sure that if some or all of these suggestions were implemented in our neighbors to the South that less Americans would die each year do to use of firearms.

And if Americans can tackle some of the social ills that leads to people misusing firearms that too would greatly reduce death and injury due to firearms.

Again, this may be navel gazing and dreaming, but how many more children will have to die because Scooter needs to have a Glock in the house?

You can post your comments below.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

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  1. I would like to suggest that it is not the criminals who are creating these human tragedies. There is no profit in shooting up a school and killing children and criminals are all about gathering ill gotten gains for themselves. It is the mentally unbalanced people who buy into the gun culture and believe that everything can be solved with a high enough caliber weapon.

  2. Teachers are there in schools as paid professionals to teach our kids and not to carry arms. Guns for usage only belong in the hands of such persons trained to carry or use these arms responsilby as guards, servicemen or police. If the teacher has a .22 and the madman has an arsenal of automatic weapons what happens then? Do we really need for our schools to be equipped like a military establishment or Rambo. Also, If the principal or teacher shoots the madman or killer then some sleezeball lawyer will jump at the chance to see the victims are arrested for misuse of force and it will be their lives and careers ruined for killing or shooting the villan even though he or she had an automatic weapon and was mentally disturbed and did not need to be shot because our legal society today only protects the bad guys.

  3. Jamie, I think it was good that you addressed this issue because it is part of our social landscape and affects all of us.

    I think that a great part of the problem is the mentality that fosters this type of personality disorder, that fertilizes the ground in which such a killer can manifest himself. It is not coincidence that he was a young male, this is the norm for mass killers.

    The killer lived in isolation and was living in some kind of fantasy world of violence plus he was continually exposed to his mother’s survivalist brainwashing, at least that is what is out there in the media. He was also a person who had very limited social skills to begin with. It sounds like no one will ever know what chain of events led him to commit this horrifying act of violence. The thing is that having a culture where isolation and brainwashing are allowed is what has to change.

    Apart from the terrible tragedy there were also many other gun violence murders in America on that day. It is a society that has a distorted way of thinking to begin with. It is steeped in violence and glorifies individualistic story lines. Gun violence is not just a result of mental illness, that is simplistic, it is also a result of a culture of fear mongering and ignorance of how to have a healthy society. Conspiracy theories- survivalist mentality- lack of education- social isolation- brainwashing, these all contribute to the sick thinking that leads to gun violence. If they did not have guns they would use some other weapon to commit murders.

    It does not ever have to be this way. We need to educate human beings in such a way as they would not even think about hurting someone else in the first place. That is where we need to focus a considerable amount of energy. At the same time, create a plan to decrease the amount of violent images and story lines in the culture and at the same time, decrease the actual amount of weapons, it’s not going to be just one thing that stop this horror. I think this applies to Canada as well as the USA- we have gun violence as well.

    I want to make a point about mental health being targeted as the central issue. The fact is that many violent acts are fueled by alcohol induced rage, so that should fall into the mental health category as alcoholism qualifies as such, as should all addictions. So, a mental health strategy that is very broad could be useful.

    I hope we can move forward together very soon and create a better future for all.

  4. Bravo, Jamie. One of your best on a highly sensitive topic, with excellent suggestions.

    At risk of stating the obvious, old habits die hard. Guns with the right to have and use them–from New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” to “How the West was Won”– is seared into the American experience and imagination. And, as you say, the gun industry is huge. All of this compounded, I’d say, by the widening gap between the 1% and the 99%. And no prizes for guessing which percentage the NRA belongs to.

  5. Newtown..and the prohibited Canadian Invention…Around 1999 President Clinton announced that measures were being discussed to signficantly increase gun safety. Back in Toronto-Mississauga a Canadian firm, Mytec, registered on the TSX at that time, had invented and patented a gun technology where the hand grip part of the gun would register the fingerprints of the rightful owner…and that gun would not work for anyone else. Had this technology been accepted then Adam Lanza could not get his mothers guns to work. The NRA flatly rejected this Canadian invention as an invasion of privacy. Mytec got delsted from the TSX and I managed to lose only 600 to 700 dollars on the Mytec shares that I had at that time.

  6. Previous news reports revealed that practically every school shooter had some form of mental issue . . . . practically all of them were on some form of prescription anti-depressant. The first school shooting at the University of Texas in 1965 . . . a war vet with a brain tumour and other issues. The shooters at Columbine High School were on prescription anti-depressants, as was the shooter at Dawson College. The shooters at Ecole Polytechnique and at Virginian Tech also had mental health issues.

    Some shooters even posted their intentions on the the social media such as twitter and facebook, long before they committed the evil deeds. Such was the case for the lead shooter at Columbine High . . . people in a position of authority knew of the mental issues re the shooter at Virginia Tech well in advance.

    While authorities ignored the advanced warnings, some private people tracked the killer from Montreal, who mailed dismembered body parts around Canada. They played “cat-and-mouse” with him . . . while police authorities stood by.

  7. I don’t know why people obsesses about guns when the critical issue seems to be Mental Health, as Shirley and Mr. Valentine has pointed out these cases are perpetuated by individuals who are knowing to have maladaptive social behaviors and are prone to long term feelings of isolation. If people who are outside of the societies door and live in a void of their own existence without any support or assistance to the community outside, it seems likely that they will strike back eventually in the manner that they only understand.

    It’s not entitlement to want the simple things in life- a job, friends, relations a sense of place and belonging in the world. These are basic things human beings need, and when they’re not met some people who don’t have the right mind set are probably going to go off, and even then there are ALWAYS warning signs in advance.

    As someone who has a friend who committed a crime, I know the failure of a system that does not take precautions to protect people until the incident occurs. I myself have been prone to violent thoughts that I have some measure of attempting to keep under control, but whenever I have spoken to someone about my fear of hurting someone I’m usually pushed aside and told “think positive” or “well you’re a nice person who won’t do that”, it doesn’t matter how nice you are, if there is one incident or person that ticks you off with an insult, there is always a part of me that would love to torture them until they begged to die.

    Mental health in the modern world is looked on as a Taboo discussion, with most people’s perceptions either being medieval (i.e. Leper’s that need to be taken to an isolated colony to be forgotten about) or denigrated (it’s all in your head get over it and grow up). There is never an honest and open discussion because Goddess forbid we talk about crazy people as if their human beings who need help.

    Look at the Polytechnic Massacre, how many times is the issue always about Guns, and Misogynism when the critical issue underlying the massacre was a man with Mental Health Problems. If no one has the guts to directly target the issues and discuss them in a rational manner to find resolution, then there will never be resolution to the problems, and that only allows the Next Mark Lepine to kill a dozen people because people saw signs but decided it wasn’t their problem.

    Guns are instruments that kill, used by people who are not in their right mind or have the right framework to think. Stop looking at the tool and start looking at the users behind them.

  8. Gentlemen, you have hit upon some really important and valuable insights….the whole question of mental illness is one that bears so much importance because it is really is “verboten”- not allowed- not permissible- so full of secrecy and shame- so filled with stigma….
    It’s like we think that we are separate from our environment, brains walking around in isolation of each other but might it be possible that everything that is around us in our environment is deeply affecting us? Is it possible that when we are bombarded with stress, fighting, discord, tension, disturbing and frightening images- these men that end up being killers all start out as infants who need care and nurture, a minimum to live because we do know that a human being will die if their attachment needs are not met, even if they get food and shelter. There are a lot of people who just barely made it through and were very neglected emotionally. It was always the case that there were a certain amount of people who were mistreated but the conditions are such now that the social order has completely changed and there are no social rules to interdict extreme behaviour, like there was in the near past when there was a religious standard of conduct- even unspoken. Now, everything goes and those that are unbalanced to begin with don’t have a structure to frame them into some semblance of a normal life.
    I think we need to take responsibility for ourselves and for each other and intervene when we see something that is out of order as a socially isolated person. We need to ask each other how we are feeling and care enough to listen to the answer with care and compassion. And we need to have clear boundaries about what is and is not acceptable. If it were up to me I would put a stop to all this gratuitous violence, it is crazy making to say the least. Why, when there are so many difficult things to deal with as it is, would we watch movies that are violent, or play games that promote violence? I just don’t get it, never have, never will. It seems to me that if you feed something that is toxic it is just going to grow and that is exactly what we are seeing in our society- the spread of a poisonous way of thinking. It is far harder to stop the spread of a disease once it is established…..

  9. How about instead of adding more gun control, we would just enforce the laws that are on the books. Level stiff and heavy punishment for crimes committed with a gun, rifle, etc, and bring back – Gen 9:6 “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man”. yes, the death penalty!

    If a premeditated act of murder occurs, or if a crime committed with a gun, rifle, etc. that results in a death, such a one after a fair trail should be put to death. This is not barbarianism, it is justice!

    For all those who will cry out that the death penalty is not a deterrent, why penalize the law abiding citizen. The right to bar arms and to defend oneself and family is so fundamental to a healthy civilization. What is needed is to enforce existing laws, and make it that such will pay dearly for the use a gun, rifle in a crime, especially if a murder occurs.

    Exodus 21:14 “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die”.

  10. Author

    Merry Christmas everyone. Please play nicer.

  11. Mr. Newton’s bible inspired solution (the death penalty) to these mass murders is not surprising to me. It’s also flawed for the following reasons.

    The right to bear arms in the US, and to some extent in Canada, was established over two hundred years ago. Guns back then couldn’t fire a hundred rounds per minute. Now they can, and Walmart sells them at very competitive prices.

    Most mass murderers are on a suicide mission. In fact most of them turn the gun on themselves before they are captured. The death penalty is no deterrent for someone who is mentally deranged and wants to die.

    Joyeux Noël!

  12. NY Times top headline this day, December 25, 2012
    “Real and Virtual Firearms Nurture a Marketing Link”

    No doubt exploiting the copycat syndrome “Money see/Monkey do” that lies within all human beings. Small wonder the NRA declares the solution is more guns.

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