Special Coverage: Newtown, CT School Shooting

Saturday, December 15, 2012 - 12:00 PM

Responders gather at the scene of a mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Responders gather at the scene of a mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Airs Saturday at Noon (EST) on WNYC AM/FM, WSHU, WNPR, WBUR, and Minnesota Public Radio

Saturday at Noon, Brian Lehrer hosts a one-hour special on the Sandy Hook school shooting, in conjunction with WSHU and WNPR in Connecticut. Guests include:

  • Naomi Starobin, News Director, WSHU 
  • Richard Hake, WNYC News Host
  • John Feinblatt, Chief Adviser to Mayor Bloomberg and coordinator for Mayors Against Illegal Guns
  • Coni Sanders, forensic psychologist, daughter of Dave Sanders, who was killed in the Columbine shooting

Plus, your calls and reaction. Call 1-800-543-2543


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Comments [40]

Securely addicted,

gun-addicts fear

Someone will disarm them,

Someone will assault them,

because they're armed,

calling it Freedom.

(24 DEC 2, Santa Clara CA)\v5

Dec. 24 2012 02:23 PM
dan from Brooklyn

The second amendment has no place in a modern, civilized society.

Dec. 21 2012 12:02 PM
J from New Jersey from New Jersey

It is shameful for him to focus his position on the CT shooting given that 34 people are killed each day. In his speech this week the president' said:
"Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four
children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store
in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people
were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by
in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday."

Dec. 21 2012 11:42 AM
Susan from Queens

Looking at a much bigger picture, fighting 4 wars (that we know of) and sending drones to assassinate around the world does not present a good example for young people.

Dec. 18 2012 10:44 AM
Mary from Montclair

An age restriction should be instituted since many forms of mental illness do not present until late teens/early twenties.

Dec. 18 2012 09:58 AM
art525 from Park Slope

@glork-And how about if the names and photos of the NRA directors were published so they could be shunned by sane and civilized people? Let's bring back shunning. And let's bring back the Scarlet Letter. If you work for organization you would have to wear a shirt not with just the scarlet A but with the scarlet NRA?

Dec. 18 2012 08:50 AM
SimLash from NYC

Who would be opposed to state laws for guns that were similar to current DMV regulations? For instance, states could require written and practice exams for gun licenses, periodic psych evaluations, mandatory gun registrations for purchases and sales, and require gun safes with combination locks or fingerprint scanning--no more keys that kids can steal.

Along with that, you could add better serial/image imprinting on bullets, so that recovering a bullet allows investigators to
easily know who was the last registered owner of the gun. That could greatly constrain illegal gun sales if the last owner
knew they could be charged with being an accessory to murder or other charges for illegal sales or having lax security.

Dec. 17 2012 07:11 PM

I imagine it beginning very simply, like this: a ring of mothers and grandmothers with strollers and baby carriages in front of every single gun shop or gun show. The gun buyer wound need to be willing to make eye contact in order to pass through to the store. As simple as that, to begin.

Dec. 17 2012 05:20 PM

Tom Marvel has some marvelous ideas. The restrictions and check-ups that can be put on gun purchase/ammo purchase, the safer the rest of us can be. i am not against target shooting or even hunting, much as i don't like the latter. However, it's just too easy for anyone to get a gun for no reason. (Look at the gun guidelines for Tasmania.) Ms Lanza wasn't a nutter, but her son was. One does not know if the nut case stole her key to a gun safe or if she just didn't have one. Maybe a solution would be for those who buy guns for a hunting or target shooting hobby be mandated to keep their guns at a registered club with access only to the member. Also, it's too hard to get a nutter committed to a mental hospital. Someone can take his/her meds during the 72 hour eval period and then be out on the street. The shuttered mental hospitals should be reopened and a way sought to keep crazy people there on a 24/7, lifelong basis.

Dec. 17 2012 02:07 PM
Len from Westchester

To do list -

Going forward, the obvious ones are banning assault weapons, large capacity magazines, the gun show loophole, etc. Adapt Australia's policies (Kristof's 12.16 Op Ed).

With respect to the caller who pointed out that there are already 300 million guns out there and asked for new ideas, here's one that just occurred to me:

Since a majority of Americans favor gun SAFTEY (a better term politically, perhaps, than gun 'control'), institute a tax check-off to fund a weapon buy-back account whereby assault weapons, handguns, and AMMUNITION may be purchased from their owners. Perhaps Gates Foundation, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and other ultra wealthy individuals and foundations can be asked to help establish the fund with seed money. Call in the Sandy Hook Fund. There will probably never be enough money to purchase all of the extreme weapons- and criminals will not participate - but perhaps a dent will be made in the numbers out there.

Hunters should be allowed to hunt. There can be a place for recreational shooting. But semi-automatic rifles and pistols with high capacity magazines, cop-killer bullets? No more.

Dec. 17 2012 12:19 PM
Nina M from Manhattan

Thank you to Rose's son, and to all the rest of you. But with all due respect, I have not heard a single person, on this forum or elsewhere, broach the idea that the guiding goal of those who see no benefits and only constant potential for harm in private gun ownership, should be the abolishment of the Second Amendment. All one hears is "It's not possible here." Even Brian, open to so many new ideas, implicitly dismissed the total outlawing of private guns to the "caller from Mars," who asked why everyone is so cowed by the NRA, as forever impossible. The caller who wanted new ideas also scoffed at this one, the most sensible of all.
100 years ago, what would people have said to the idea that marriage between people of the same sex would be legalized? Let alone that we would one day have a President of African-American descent?
I am convinced that if a movement were started which explicitly embraced that idealistic goal of a society free of personal weaponry (in which, hunters,to answer in advance that argument, would have to go to special depots to sign in for their hunting rifles), a goal which would be held as a guiding light to be worked toward - so that the steadily effective step-by-step measures suggested by many (such as the great idea of taxing bullets) would not be ends in themselves but stages on the way to a weapon-free society - it would gain traction, and would add weight to the efforts of gun control advocates. And I am not cuckoo by the way, I am a mainstream left-wing Democrat, and even a capitalist (small business owner).

Dec. 17 2012 12:07 PM
Charlene from bridgeport, ct

I would like to invite the congressmen/women who suggest that a teacher should have had a gun to have prevented this tragedy to come to Connecticut and express this view to the parents of the children that were murdered. I invite them to sit down and look these parents in the face and tell them this idea.

Dec. 17 2012 11:34 AM
Joel from Manhattan

I dread the possibility that well intended citizens--overwhelmed by the Newtown tragedy and the coverage of it, sensitve as it has been--may not be called to action, but instead may feel it necessary to turn off and turn away. I myself, need to shut the TV or radio off as this can be too much to take in. It's my way of taking care of myself. By doing that, one more opportunity to advocate for change could be squandered.

Dec. 17 2012 11:27 AM
Christian from Brooklyn, NY

The last caller John asked about solutions to gun control law. Ways to make them better. I think the laws we have on guns now do need to be modified but also think we do need a way to make people even more responsible for their weapons. Some way insure them as we do cars with yearly license renewals and more classes as a pre curser to buying any type of weapon. Just stop gun shows. Rules are different for selling weapons at gun shows and I don't know why. Its easier and quicker to get them. Also, a penalty if a gun is sold or stolen without going though the proper paperwork. I lived in the south and know man gun owners. Most have had guns stolen from their home because of improper storage of the gun. In glass cabinet gun lockers or one kept his on top of the fridge. I'm not sure how we could make all this happen but it is a place to start a conversation about becoming more responsible with our guns.

Dec. 17 2012 11:23 AM
Suzanne Maggio from New Jersey

Wondering if the Amish community from Nickel Mines, PA., has reached out to Newtown, CT. When I heard of this latest school massacre on Friday, I was reminded of the Amish girls who were shot and killed while in school several years ago.
Maybe the Amish people could offer some comfort to the wounded CT. community.....
Our priest at our Roman Catholic church this Sunday (yesterday) referred to this tragedy as "a slaughter of the innocents".

Dec. 17 2012 11:10 AM
Michael stein from Connecticut

While there is no practical way to round up the 300 million fire arms circulating in the USA, these guns are no more dangerous than a knife if they have no bullets. Lets tax bullets. Lets use the revenue from this tax to expand police forces throughout the country and assign officers to our schools. These officers can be trained to be positive emissaries of the police force, making them a net benefit to both the schools and the image of the police.
Of course we need to ban assault weapons, and high capacity clips, but that alone will not be enough. We need to require a license to purchase bullets. This license should be difficult to get, require extensive back round checks, and must be renewed yearly. We can also limit the amount of bullets any one can buy over time.
We tax cigarettes and alcohol as public health dangers, lets use the same rational with bullets.

Dec. 17 2012 11:10 AM

In the topic of gun control, I believe New Jersey already has very strict laws in place. One of the requirements is that guns purchased need to be locked up either with a gun safe or with a trigger lock. Was this practice followed by Nancy (the mother of the shooter) who was the legal owner of the guns involved?
How many other school shootings involved the shooter being the legal purchaser of the gun(s)?

Dec. 17 2012 11:07 AM
Danny from Upper West Side

A recent caller said that nothing new has been offered in the debate over gun control. I'm not sure the roadblock is the lack of new ideas. It's hard to imagine any meaningful change as long as the basic positions on both sides remain the same, regardless of what ideas are raised. As long as the NRA, the gun manufacturers, and gun advocates in government are treated as though their perspective is essentially valid, nothing will change. We don't treat antisemitism or racism or pedophelia as valid policy positions. Why do we afford pro-gun policies any more respect than we give to other equally intolerable positions.

Dec. 17 2012 11:07 AM

Is there any confirmed example of a crime being stopped by a civilian using his or her gun? If so, how many have there been? (I exclude contemplated crimes possibly deterred by fear of gun-carrying individuals.)

Dec. 17 2012 11:04 AM
Larry from Staten Island

In response to the challenge, liability insurance for all gun sales, like auto Insurance, if you don't keep up on your policy the government confiscates your weapons. Like many types of insurance, the insurance companies would develop standards for gun ownership in order to be insured.

Dec. 17 2012 11:03 AM
Rose Rowland from Cortlandt Manor, NY

To deal with his feelings, my son started an online petition calling for sensible gun control. His petition can be found I'd appreciate it if you could mention it so he can get signatures. It's important to make noise and push back against a selfish vocal minority.

Dec. 17 2012 10:55 AM
Carol Plytas

What kind of country we live in?

A minority in collaboration with specific religious leaders has kidnapped common sense, has spread terror and fear all over this land.
A teacher carrying a gun in a school setting in a democratic country ?

Are we insane?

We are num, & pseudo composed I think, we should have been screaming from the top of our lungs every time something like this happened anywhere in the US.

We are getting tips of how to grieve next time this atrocity happens instead of getting ready to march and protest in DC.

What a Shame!!!
Carol Plytas

Dec. 17 2012 10:55 AM
Larry from Staten Island

The problem from my prospective is one, the mental health component, which must be addressed, but also as important the NRC being more than representing gun owners, but representative gun manufacturers who only want to keep selling gun without any regulations impeding their business and sales.

Dec. 17 2012 10:46 AM
Jon from West Village

Just a note on process and procedure.

Around 10 a.m. when I heard about this I called both of my children's schools.

At my child's PUBLIC school, the office manager answered. She immediately thanked me and said, "I'll notify the principal immediately and he will determine if we should react with a lock-down or otherwise. Feel free to call back in a bout 5 minutes and I will know our status."

My child's 47K / year private school: First call, no answer. Called admin on duty who took no action -- just wanted me to tell him all about the news. I hung up and called the main switchboard and asked to be put through to the headmaster's office. The only reply I could get was, "wow, that's crazy -- when people get back from lunch, I'll mention it to them." The private school is MUCH closer to Newtown than the public.

So while my cop sister says the actual training an process employed at public schools is inadequate, clearly they are prepared and responsive.

Dec. 17 2012 10:41 AM
Ivan Obregon from ny, ny 10025

If Rep Gomert thinks it's such a good idea to arm schools, then why doesn't he offer the example by lobbying to let everyone roam the halls of Congress and Congressional Offices armed? Hypocrite.

Dec. 17 2012 10:40 AM
Laura from brooklyn

Re: reassuring kids that schools are among the safest places to be after this tragedy... how do we account for the possibilty of copycats?

Dec. 17 2012 10:25 AM
Suzanne England from Brooklyn

Best advice for helping children cope with tragic events like school shooting comes from Mr. Rogers. "Look for the helpers. There are always helpers."

Dec. 17 2012 10:25 AM

We are not divided into those effected and those looking on. This happened to our whole country.

"I'm the mother of the next Adam Lanza" probably won't have an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons.

Dec. 17 2012 10:13 AM
Pete from Sparta NJ

Gun control will inevitably be part of this discussion, but the main focus has to be on mental health. What causes young people to snap and act out their fantasies? There are millions of responsible gun owners who will fight any more controls and this debate will degenerate into more political polarization. On the other hand, there are millions of parents with children who are erratic and potentially dangerous. Liza's now famous blog "I'm the mother of the next Adam Lanza" is heartbreaking and so true. Frame this debate to be about spending more effort and money to discover root causes of this mental health epidemic.

Dec. 17 2012 08:01 AM

Having lost a brother to a senseless shooting and experiencing the negativity it instilled in my parents, all I ask is that we don't loose faith in human kind. Evil exists, so does trust and belief. When we allow ourselves to be lead by fear, NOTHING good will ever come from it. There is so much GOOD in this world, and yes, what happened 12/14/12 is inexplicable. Please carry the memory of lives lost today and past as we all find the courage to move forward, trusting our neighbors, friends, and yes, even strangers. Compassion, courage, empathy, strength, and a belief that MOST of us want a better world, will prevail. I believe it can only happen when we are not lead by fear.

Dec. 16 2012 08:02 PM
Mike and J from Virginia

Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and families of Newtown Connecticut. We understand the reaction about guns, but realize that If you make guns criminal only criminals have guns. The real issue is the moral degradation of society. Don't let our children be rudderless without a moral compass. Putting God back in schools will help solve this problem.

Dec. 16 2012 11:24 AM
Tom Marvel from New Jersey

I don't know where to ask or even whom to ask so I'll just post it here:
I know the gun lobby has hijacked the 2nd amendment & held our country hostage so if the amendment says citizens have the right to bear arms, let them bear all the arms they want but subject ammunition to federal control
All sales through federal outlets similar to state stores in PA for liquor
Limit the amount of rounds purchased in a month
Micro etching of all shells
No internet or gun show sales
Maybe the ammunition industry can devise a special round only for "target practice"
Rubber bullets?
I know I don't sound very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of guns, ammo & the constitution but I can't accept that the current state of "gun control" is the best that we can do and my only choice is to just duck & live with it
I would seriously like to hear a rational response

Dec. 15 2012 07:08 PM
Victor Deupi from Newtown CT

Hi Brian, I was on hold today but unfortunately time ran out and I didn't get a chance to speak. What I wanted to say was that I am deeply concerned for the well-being of our community and our children in particular (I have three, 6, 8 and 10). Will Newtown forever be remembered as the place that superseded Columbine or will we use the atrocities of yesterday to make significant changes in our society. Can you please help us make Newtown the tipping-point for the debate on gun-control rather than the new worst place on earth.

My best

Dec. 15 2012 04:36 PM
mary from NYC

About mental illness and motivation –

My favorite teacher in elementary school was an enormous good influence in my life and those of many many others of her students over the years. I'll always be grateful. However, she was also the mother of a close friend of mine and I recently learned she had physically and emotionally abused my friend when she was a child. My friend is a good, sane person with a full, productive, and good life.

I haven't heard any speculations about the mother/son relationship in this terrible case. I'm just saying . . .

Dec. 15 2012 01:06 PM
Stephanie from Scarsdale ny

I hope it is ok to feel tremendous sympathy also for Adam Lanza's father and older brother....what they also must be going through right now. So sad.

Dec. 15 2012 12:54 PM
Dana Anthony from Brooklyn

Gun registration/control is not enough to deal with this American tragedy. It is time to take away all hand guns, tighten registration for rifles and to change the 2nd amendment so we can became a civilized society.

Dec. 15 2012 12:46 PM
Kate from Washington Heights

Hi Brian - I'm a minister. Yes yes yes, call or email or send a note in the mail. It is the most important thing people can do - it is ALWAYS what people remember - how many people reached out to them. People will let the calls go to voice mail if they can't handle them, or they'll leave emails or cards to the side if they can't handle them yet - but having them flood in is VERY healing.

Dec. 15 2012 12:41 PM
Jeff from Piscataway, NJ

A nation without a moral compass, bankrupt of conscience. An entropic society that exhibits contempt for man as it espouses the right to own a gun over his well-being. Wake up America and smell the evil that we do, the evil that we will accept once again after the keening is over and rending of our garments done. The pundits will opine, the editorials with bemoan, the clergy will ask us to pray for those who have died and for those who grieve. We will readjust our axis line of hope and despair and search for equilibrium once again.

How do we answer Salman Rushdie’s question in The Satanic Verses, “Does great evil eventually triumph, no matter how strenuously it is resisted?” I fear that the answer is “Yes.” I do despair. Our pain is great.

Dec. 15 2012 12:36 PM
Peter Boynton from Monterey, CA

What is the favored weapon of choice amongst mass murderers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain? Spoons, foam bats, frisbes, pillows or machetes, Swiss Army knives or bare hands? And as we compare stats, who comes closest to America in total resultant deaths amongst slaughterers in "1st-world" countries since our August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman UT tower massacre 46 years ago?

Dec. 15 2012 12:36 PM
Serenity from UWS

There was a buzz-in security system recently instituted at Sandy Hook. What happened? Wasn't it used? Was he allowed entry because he was known? Did he shoot his way in?

Dec. 15 2012 12:33 PM

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