NEWS, NEWS AND ISSUES, POLITICS

Sandy Hook One Year Later: Continuing the Conversation

December 10, 2013

On Friday, December 14, 2012, 20 children and six educators were lost in one of the worst mass shootings this country has ever seen. Nearly one year later, the promises we made as a country to the memories of those children and teachers have fallen short of expectations.

Newtown was a catalyst for a serious discussion on gun violence and mental health issues not only in the United States, but across the globe. The President and politicians on both sides of the aisle demanded swift gun control legislation, and the American people demanded a closer look at how we muddle through mental health problems.

According to USA Today, there have been 232 mass killings in the United States since 2006. That’s a rate of one mass killing every two weeks for eight years. And 197 of those 232 were mass killings involving guns, 32 of which have been classified as “public killings.”

The US Senate rejected legislation to expand background checks. Many have said that when the Senate’s gun control bill died, so did the conversation. But not on SiriusXM Progress, where The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt is dedicating this week to the issue of gun control, in the lead up to the one-year commemoration of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

With interviews from gun control advocates, mental health activists, law scholars, and a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, The Agenda remembers the lives lost to senseless gun violence across the country, looking ahead for solutions.

Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications at The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, joined Rabin-Havt early Monday morning to reflect on the Sandy Hook massacre, and on what gun control advocates can do to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

The problem is that the NRA seems to be winning. “They’re winning because their fervent, grassroots activists are messaging elected officials more than people on our side,” Everitt said. “It’s time to get back to the nuts and bolts stuff and just work. If we want it, let’s go out and get it.”

Taking the conversation further, Adam Winkler, UCLA law professor and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, joined Ari Rabin-Havt early Wednesday morning to discuss gun control laws and gun safety in America.

Professor Winkler, who says guns – not abortion, race, or religion – are at the heart of America’s cultural divide, reveals that gun control is not a modern creation.

“The Founding Fathers had extensive militia laws that required gun owners to appear at mandatory musters where the guns would be registered on public rolls, so that the Founding Fathers knew where those guns were in the event of war,” Winkler said. “When you went into… a Deadwood or a Dodge City, the first thing you had to do was check your guns with the Marshall!”

“So the idea that… gun control is a modern, 20th century invention and necessarily infringes that sacred right to bear arms? That story is inaccurate,” Winkler said.

Focusing even more on the topic at hand, Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts spoke with Ari Rabin-Havt Thursday morning to discuss her gun control advocacy group founded in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

Shannon, a 42-year-old mother of five, started the Facebook page, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the day after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary with the hopes of it becoming the “MADD of safe gun laws.”

Since then, Moms Demand Action has become a nonprofit organization with tens of thousands of members and more than 80 local chapters across the country.

“The people who are fighting [gun laws], the vocal minority, they want absolutely no regulation of the Second Amendment whatsoever. They want to normalize behavior that isn’t normal. They think you need a semiautomatic rifle to go get a latte,” Watts said. “You really don’t. Not in America. Maybe [you would need one] in Mogadishu.”

Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Doris Fuller, joined Rabin-Havt on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Fuller is an author and former journalist whose experience includes advocating for an adult daughter with severe mental illness who received court-ordered treatment because of legal reforms promoted by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Fuller lamented, in a passionate plea, slamming incarceration over mental health care. “Instead of treating them, we just let them disintegrate until they become everyone’s problem,” Fuller said. “We don’t recognize that we aren’t willing to act collectively on what we know to be true. [It's a] treatable disease…Why aren’t we treating it?”

Criticizing the media on its fatalistic view of gun control in America, Colin Goddard, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting that took the lives of 31 people, also joined Rabin-Havt on Friday.

“It’s the same story over and over and over again. It’s the media keeping us stuck in this place where there hasn’t been a lot of progress,” Goddard said. “They keep saying ‘Oh, well what’s different about it this time?’….I didn’t think it was going to happen to me until it did.”

For the full interviews, and to listen on your time, visit www.siriusxm.com/ondemand.