I was in Newtown on Wednesday night as the Connecticut Legislature’s Task Force heard testimony from parents, first responders, and other Newtown residents. It was riveting, heartbreaking, and at times infuriating. The shock and grief of parents who lost their children that day is still unimaginable. The courage it took for them to stand before this legislative body is profound. Unlike the Monday hearing in Hartford, most of the testimony was strongly and unequivocably in favor of stronger gun laws, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault rifles. The NRA and the CCDL will tell you that assault weapons are already banned in Connecticut. But that’s not really the whole story. When they banned assault weapons, the gun manufacturers just altered them to get around the ban by not allowing them to spray bullets. The NRA says that the rest of the features are just to make it look cool. The reality is that every feature of that gun has a purpose, to make it more accurate and efficient. If they wanted it to look cool it would come in different colors.
There were a lot of good ideas mentioned in the testimony. In my town there is a budget hearing next week to allocate over $300,000 toward new security measures for our schools, including the hiring of two full-time police officers to be stationed in the school buildings. There are about 9,000 people in my town. There are about 5,000 guns in my town, too. On Wednesday in Newtown a father stood before the task force and said, “The Right to Bear Arms is the best marketing slogan of all time.” Then he went on to say that increased security measures should be paid by the gun manufacturers. This is just about the best idea I have heard. Increased security is the price we pay for living in a society teeming with guns. Alternately, just as the NRA gets a dollar each time a gun is purchased, schools could get a dollar. Or tax the permits, so that the money is staying in the community where the guns are held.
One woman on Wednesday night said, in a very soft voice, “A mother bear has claws to protect her young. A mother tiger has teeth. Please don’t take away the one means of defense I have to protect my children.” During her testimony people near where I was sitting were visibly disgusted, and many of them left. This is an argument we have begun to hear over and over. For example, from “independent woman” Gayle Trotter at the Senate hearing, we heard this:
On Monday in Hartford I heard so many stories of home invasion and rape that I lost count. I’m not sure where those people were from, but according to them there are places in Connecticut where each night your home is more likely to be invaded than not. These stories are meant to do one thing – frighten us into buying more guns. Specifically, to frighten women into buying more guns. It is your DUTY as a mother to buy a gun. And because you are small, and fragile, and unable to shoot properly, you’d best get yourself a nice Bushmaster because you’re going to be shooting all over the place, and you’ll need a high-capacity magazine of at least thirty rounds so that hopefully one of them will hit your target. Don’t worry your pretty little head about where all those other bullets are going. Just make sure your kids are behind you.
I find this so outrageously offensive. Does the NRA really think women are so stupid and weak? I can just imagine the meeting where they came up with this crap. A bunch of men sitting around a table, saying, “Okay, we’re looking like the bad guys here. How can we make us the good guys? I know! Women. They’re so naive and impressionable – we’ll just tell them a whole bunch of stories about scary bad guys busting down the door, and how women were able to defend themselves. We will turn this from a debate about how to prevent a classroom full of children being slaughtered, to a quest for women’s rights – mother’s rights!” It makes me sick.
You know another mother who had guns in her house? Nancy Lanza. Her face was blown off. You know the rest.