No, More Gun Laws Would Not Have Stopped Sandy Hook

No, More Gun Laws Would Not Have Stopped Sandy Hook

Sad as it is to realize, this coming Sunday will mark two years since the massacre of students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary by an evil person whose name I refuse to type any longer.

At a memorial for the victims of Sandy Hook, December 20, 2012 (photo: Xinhuanet.com)
At a memorial for the victims of Sandy Hook, December 20, 2012 (photo: Xinhuanet.com)

The sickening details of the crime committed are well-known, and we have written about them before. However, with the date coming up again, anti-gun groups have joined up with Sandy Hook teachers to push for… more background checks and for bans on “high-capacity magazines.” A group of Sandy Hook survivors appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to talk about what they want to happen now.

They say they want to close loopholes that allow online and private gun sales without background checks.

In a survey 74 percent of NRA members supported universal background checks for all gun sales.

But, as an organization, the National Rifle Association emphatically does not.

“We’re at a tipping point,” said Mary Ann Jacob, who works in the Sandy Hook school library. ” We’re up against a really big lobby, but we know we can make a difference.”

They insist this is not a political issue.

“In this situation, it has nothing to do with whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent,” said Wexler. “It’s, ‘Do you want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people?'”

“My husband is a member of the NRA,” said Jacob, “and there’s guns in my home in a safe. My husband and my kids like to hunt, and they like to do skeet shooting.

“This discussion really comes down to how can we prevent gun violence, not how can we take people’s guns away.”

They are pushing for a ban on high-capacity magazines for assault weapons.

“The [fewer] bullets in a magazine, in our case certainly, there could’ve been more survivors,” said Jacob.

While these teachers have been through a hellish experience and will continue to struggle with the aftereffects for years to come, I still have one question for them.
Would either of these proposed laws have stopped the shooter on December 14, 2012?

The answer, though they may not like to hear it, is “no” and “no.”

The guns used were legally purchased. Background checks had been run. They were run on Nancy Lanza, who was the buyer. This is noted on page 2 of the State of Connecticut’s final report on Sandy Hook:

All of the firearms were legally purchased by the shooter’s mother. Additionally, ammunition of
the types found had been purchased by the mother in the past, and there is no evidence that the
ammunition was purchased by anyone else, including the shooter.

How exactly, then, would expanding background check laws have stopped the shooter, who stole them and then murdered his own mother? We already have laws against stealing. They didn’t work against someone bent on committing an evil act.

Now, on to the second proposed law, banning “high-capacity magazines for assault weapons.”

These were the weapons fired by the shooter on that day:
– a .22 caliber Savage Mark II rifle (this was used to kill Nancy Lanza in her own bed)
– a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S rifle (this was used at Sandy Hook to kill students and teachers)
– a Glock 20, 10 mm handgun (this was used by the shooter to commit suicide)

According to the report, Nancy Lanza was killed with 4 shots. Only a single shot was used to kill himself. This is hardly “high-capacity.” So let’s look at the Bushmaster rifle. The standard magazine capacity of an AR-15 pattern rifle like the Bushmaster involved is 30 cartridges.

This is what was found in the classrooms and on the shooter (from pages 21 and 22 of the final report):

Ballistic evidence located in classroom 8 is described in the Appendix at page A134, which
includes a total of twenty-four rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition found, of which ten rounds were
in one PMAG 30 magazine, thirteen rounds were in another such magazine and one live round
was on the floor. There was a third empty PMAG 30 magazine seized. There were a total of
eighty expended 5.56 mm casings seized from classroom 8.

The Bushmaster rifle was found with the safety in the “fire” position. There was one live 5.56
mm round in the chamber and one PMAG 30 magazine in the magazine well. The magazine
contained fourteen live 5.56 mm rounds of ammunition.

Two empty PMAG 30 magazines that were duct-taped together in a tactical configuration and
one live 5.56 mm round were found near the rifle.

Officers found two-hundred-fifty-three live rounds on the shooter’s body: one-hundred-sixteen 9
mm rounds, seventy-five rounds of 10 mm, sixty-one rounds of 5.56 mm and one 12 gauge
shotgun shell. Officers also seized forty-six 5.56 mm live rounds. This consisted of fifteen from
the rifle, one from the floor and thirty from the magazine under the body of the shooter, as well
as thirteen 10 mm live rounds (nine from the Glock and four from the floor). There were fortynine
expended 5.56 mm casings seized and one 10 mm casing from classroom 10. Total live
rounds seized were three-hundred-twelve and total expended casings seized from classroom 10
were fifty.

By my count, that’s SEVEN magazines that were recovered at the crime scene. And some of them were discarded without being emptied. The shooter did not need anything beyond the standard 30 round magazine, because HE RELOADED. And if he had emptied all seven of those magazines, he had MORE CARTRIDGES. And for someone familiar with the AR-15 pattern rifle, reloading can happen FAST.

So, as I’ve just illustrated, neither background checks nor magazine capacity limits would have stopped the shooter. I understand that these teachers feel the need to advocate for something, given what they have experienced. But they are putting out this scare quote as well:

“There have been nearly 100 shootings at American schools since our tragedy,” said Abbey Clements. “That’s an unacceptable number. Over 31,000 Americans die each year by guns. What’s it going to take? We have to have that confrontation. We have to be ready to have that argument.”

As I have written about before, that school shootings number is easily manipulated. Everytown For Gun Safety’s own website keeps a list of “School Shootings in America Since Sandy Hook.” 94 incidents are listed. However, out of those 94, 45 of these took place at colleges or universities. Everytown admits at the end of their list that:

Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.

Out of the 94 “school shootings” listed, no one was shot in 17 of them. A gun was discharged, but no one was injured. In 46 of these incidents listed, a person was injured but not killed. The table, of course, does not tell us the severity of any injury. There are 10 suicide attempts also listed, with 6 of those 10 resulting in the shooter committing suicide. But “nearly 100 shootings” sounds so much more dramatic than of 67 (when you remove discharges and suicides) and even better than 23. Because 23 is the actual number of shootings where someone actually died (excluding suicide attempts). And out of those 23, only 15 took place on a K-12 campus.

I can hear the claim now that “even 15 shootings is too many.” Of course it is. But 15 is not “nearly 100,” is it? And that “31,000 Americans die each year by guns” number? According to the CDC, the last complete set of numbers is from 2011. Homicide by firearm is numbered at 11,068. Only when you add in suicide by firearm (19,990) do you get that 31,000 number.

We will never be able to address real gun safety in this country unless the side advocating more more government control can be honest about their numbers. It doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic, but I thought the point was actually preventing gun violence from occurring. How can anything actually be changed when those who want more gun control choose to manipulate the data in such a way to lie to the American public? Of course, it’s all in the name of “safety.”

I don’t doubt the sincerity of the Sandy Hook survivors. But unless they can honestly face the evil that happened to them for what it was – a horrible, wretched, vile act that sought nothing but the death of innocents – instead of looking at the tool used to inflict that evil act, nothing will ever change. And more laws will not stop another Sandy Hook.

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7 Comments
  • GWB says:

    Be careful with this one statement, Deanna:

    The shooter did not need anything beyond the standard 30 round magazine, because HE RELOADED.

    Because it actually doesn’t rebut their argument as stated. They want to ban the standard 30-round magazines. That is, they want to ban the ones he was carrying.

    What I find interesting is that so many of the mags were partially full. That says to me that he did a lot of “tactical” reloads (I wonder if at least one was because of a jam? Hence the loose live round?) to keep going without ever getting to the point of emptying a mag.

    But, yes, they will continue to flog this incident until the day they eliminate all firearms from the hands of the citizens. Regardless of whether it will stop these events or not.

    • Deanna Fisher says:

      That is one of the prevailing theories, GWB, considering the partially full magazines – that these were tactical reloads. I just find it highly disingenuous on the part of the gun control lobby that they assume that people would never reload a firearm. But when facts don’t support the emotional appeal, the truth gets tossed out the window.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • GWB says:

        When the facts support your client, pound the facts.
        When facts don’t support your client, pound the law.
        When the law doesn’t support your client, pound the table.
        First rule of defense attorneys

      • OC says:

        Deanna, the other folly of demanding magazines holding less that 10 rounds is; lawfully carrying citizens faced with 3 perps ALL with 30 round magazines.

        OC

  • Deserttrek says:

    I have the remains of a bullet in me .. the firearm did not assault me the perp did …… additional laws do not stop the insane or ciminals

  • Wfjag says:

    One additional Gun Law would have stopped the massacre: Requiring schools to have armed security guards.

    • GWB says:

      Or no gun law at all – merely allow responsible adults to exercise their Constitutional rights in the midst of otherwise defenseless children.

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