Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(5,465 posts)
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 02:49 PM Dec 2012

I'm from Newtown, and I have something to say to the world:

I don't care about karma, that's why I made this throwaway.

I was raised in newtown from aged 8 until my graduation from N.H.S. I walked the hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary school and have nothing but positive memories of the place. I remember Mrs. Chard in the library, always smiling and never having a bad thing to say about us. I remember when, in 4th grade, the teachers decided to let us have a bit of fun during lunch and they brought in a karaoke machine for anyone to use. I remember seeing the same sign you've seen on tv every morning before I entered a school full of love, happiness and innocence. Like you, I always considered my hometown a bit special, a bit above the violence and carelessness of the world; a safe haven for my development into the young man I am today.

I was torn apart, as was the rest of the world, when I awoke Friday morning to the news. My best friends mother was freaking out, I knew I had to be with them, and I stayed with them all day.Bit by bit our neighbors and friends chimed in, letting us know their children were safe. Some stayed quiet, and we knew why.

We all gathered, at Saint Rose to mourn the death of children so young, and the teachers who saved them. If you can imagine what it's like mourning the death of the little neighbor you used to babysit, or the kids you watched hop up on the bus every morning, you can understand that it's a solitary moment. As a community we gathered, forgoing the feuds (and trust me, we're human, we aren't perfect to one another at all times in this town, just like in yours) all the bitterness and anger, and we came together in love.

You can comprehend my anger at hearing cameras go off as I watched my best friends father break down. You can relate you wanting some alone time to be able to talk about how to get over this as a community without the intrusion of public opinion, reporters, and all the like. To the reporters hoping to get a Pulitzer prize for their efforts yesterday I ask: Is your soul worth it?

Read full post and thread here

To be clear - these are not my words, nor my experience. I am bringing them to DU from another site. I thought DU might like to read the heartbreaking perspective of one of Newton, CT young residents, as well as survivors of the VA Tech and Aurora killings. The thread is HUGE, but full of wisdom and insight and other things worth learning or even considering. There is much information there from friends of the Lanza family, especially friends of Ryan Lanza's. There is a link to an on-point video made by someone named Charlie Booker after a similar massacre in Germany back in 2009; the admonishment by a Psychiatrist is brilliant:

Might we could all take a step back, and reflect.

36 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
I'm from Newtown, and I have something to say to the world: (Original Post) Melinda Dec 2012 OP
you'd think that the author would know how to spell the name of his/her hometown cali Dec 2012 #1
sometimes typing and grammar degrade when one is upset 0rganism Dec 2012 #3
Not me... his tone/anger/frustration is more than apparent in his writings Melinda Dec 2012 #4
Just realized the mispelling in the title is mine, not the authors. I'll fix it. Melinda Dec 2012 #5
Who cares about the spelling. We get the point. southernyankeebelle Dec 2012 #26
cali seemed to and made a comment to that effect. Melinda Dec 2012 #28
Am not offended. I mean really the world won't end tommorrow if someone misspells a southernyankeebelle Dec 2012 #32
The original post, which is linked, has it spelled correctly. The misspell is DUer Melinda. n/t Fla Dem Dec 2012 #6
Indeed. :-) Melinda Dec 2012 #7
Way to see the big picture Shivering Jemmy Dec 2012 #27
Thank you for this AldoLeopold Dec 2012 #2
YVW. It's a long, long read... much to learn. Thanks for being part of the learning. n/t Melinda Dec 2012 #8
Thank you, Melinda Cha Dec 2012 #9
Cha... Melinda Dec 2012 #23
.. Cha Dec 2012 #29
Especially thank you for that video. progressoid Dec 2012 #10
the video hit the nail on the head hfojvt Dec 2012 #16
My own area was affected by a school shooting last Feb. FedUpWithIt All Dec 2012 #11
kick eom ellenfl Dec 2012 #12
i am dissapointed in my brother in nj riverbendviewgal Dec 2012 #13
Yeah I expect to see the rallies to continue these murders to start Leontius Dec 2012 #19
thank u mettamega Dec 2012 #14
I wish the media would back off, too. They can get what they need down the road. toby jo Dec 2012 #15
Kill the messenger. Springslips Dec 2012 #17
I think the criticism is Justin_Beach Dec 2012 #18
My disagreement is Springslips Dec 2012 #25
Let the victims and community heal... RoccoR5955 Dec 2012 #20
The media was reporting John2 Dec 2012 #21
The young man who wrote this is not the brother; he is a Newtown resident only. Melinda Dec 2012 #22
The ghoulish feeding frenzy of the media.. SoCalDem Dec 2012 #24
'Sensationalism' in media used to be a hollywood rag thing, iirc, and then along came Murdoch. Melinda Dec 2012 #30
I think (for FOX), it was the OJ trial SoCalDem Dec 2012 #31
I'm REALLY pissed off at the media Timbuk3 Dec 2012 #33
I attended Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, California, and I have something to say Jack Rabbit Dec 2012 #34
Thank You for the inspiration rbennettucm Dec 2012 #35
And then the Republican governor changed his mind. rbennettucm Dec 2012 #36


(5,465 posts)
4. Not me... his tone/anger/frustration is more than apparent in his writings
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:00 PM
Dec 2012

I've known death and volence too many times in my life not to recognize how trauma affects communication and behavior. For those who might doubt him, he provided proof (Newtown, CT ID) that he is in fact a Newtown resident as a link at the bottom of his post.


(5,465 posts)
5. Just realized the mispelling in the title is mine, not the authors. I'll fix it.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:02 PM
Dec 2012

Still doesn't change what I said in the post above, tho. I know this all to well.



(11,304 posts)
32. Am not offended. I mean really the world won't end tommorrow if someone misspells a
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:49 PM
Dec 2012

word we all get the point.

Fla Dem

(23,562 posts)
6. The original post, which is linked, has it spelled correctly. The misspell is DUer Melinda. n/t
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:02 PM
Dec 2012


(37,573 posts)
16. the video hit the nail on the head
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 04:46 PM
Dec 2012

it's like the M$M WANTS there to be another shooting, so they can have another big story.

Hey, if I worked in the news business, I might even get a free trip to Connecticut out of this.

And going to Connecticut IS on my bucket list.

FedUpWithIt All

(4,442 posts)
11. My own area was affected by a school shooting last Feb.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:20 PM
Dec 2012

There is a horrible disconnect in the first few days where the community is in survival mode and the outside world is left feeling helpless and wanting information to act as a type of balm.

One of the first reactions i saw on FB, after shock and grief, was disgust at the media's attention and handling of the small and vulnerable children. It is sick to stop babies who have just endured a tragedy and force them to recount the details. This is all a bit fresh here. The media is shameful and should certainly be more sensitive in their drive to help the public digest what has happened.

I think the public debates and discussions do need to happen. They need to happen and they need to incite real action. Nobody wants to have to relive a personally felt tragedy through the current suffering of another because lessons weren't learned and change did not occur.

Newton, CT should be allowed to heal and respect should be paid to that end. The rest of us need to do what we can to ensure this does not happen again.

People move on too easily.


(4,252 posts)
13. i am dissapointed in my brother in nj
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 04:07 PM
Dec 2012

I wrote to him about 31 school shootings since Columbine. And guns need to be controlled. He did not answer me of this. Just blamed people on welfare no death penalty and kids being fat because of being lazy not 16 oz drinks and libraries and weight rooms in prisons for these murders.

Obviously he is an ignorant Hannity fan. Guns are taboo to talk about

Only half of America will want to stop these murders.. it is sad for all of us.



(2,270 posts)
19. Yeah I expect to see the rallies to continue these murders to start
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 05:45 PM
Dec 2012

any day now and numbering 160 million cheering for more of these events nationwide. Sounds like the ignorance isn't just a brothers.


toby jo

(1,269 posts)
15. I wish the media would back off, too. They can get what they need down the road.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 04:45 PM
Dec 2012

It's understandable, but unbearable, too.

I went to Akron U, in Ohio, and one day in a class I happened to mention that Jeffrey Dahmer was in my hs graduating class. The whole class stopped and turned around and looked at me like I was from Mars or suddenly became an actor from some hit show. And it hit me what a disconnect was going on. He was just a kid, and I was just there, and the whole town and the school itself were actually above average, very clean cut, and a great place to grow up. But the crap in their faces.
Where did the normalcy go? And this must have been about 10 years after his arrest. If you knew this guy folks will ask their questions about how and why and what did you notice and all you have is well he seemed pretty average. And then they'll ask again.

Things will settle. My best to you. Still breaking down, here, for you and for the families. The love for my son when he was 5 keeps hitting me in the gut. His bright smile. His joy at the world. Unbelievable that anybody could harm a child. So difficult to get around.



(533 posts)
17. Kill the messenger.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 05:05 PM
Dec 2012

This is not to blame the blogger of that link, he/she is going through he'll, but to others not personally hurt by this tragic and horrible event not to spread the meme brought on by his/her psychic pain.

I have problems with the media myself; but the turning on them late into the piece is a clear cut form of Kill The Messenger. Kill the messenger come from a deep primordial place where one want to retaliate on the person who brought them pain. Obviously, Adam Lanza isn't around to do that, so blame is transfer on the mode in which the pain came--the media. This is highlighted by her rant accusing the media of "wanting this," and so by wanting it they are to blame. This is running ramped in DU too, it is very natural thing, but one has to try to control base impulses and activate higher reasoning if we actually want real solutions, and not ape like action.

The truth is the media needs to cover this. I am sure it would less psychic painful to close our eyes and plug our ears and repeat "it isn't so, it isn't so" but such attitude is more psychic damaging and only goes to enabling the problem. It is their job. And it is also good for us to have the conversation via media about solutions to mass murder and violence after tragic events. This is the function of the press in a democracy.

This is not to say any critique of the media should be prohibited. Interviewing children is problematic. (Although I tend to the pro side here.) When the media saturates itself with non-stories like a blonde going missing on vacation--accusation of blood lust are germane. Broadcasting "facts" that turn out to be wrong deserves harsh criticism. But blasting them for covering a story that needs to be covered, and blasting them for discussing issues surrounding horrible events is unhealthy, unhelpful, and reeks of blame transference.


(111 posts)
18. I think the criticism is
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 05:44 PM
Dec 2012

warranted, the media tend to show no respect for the victims, their families and others impacted by events because of the "publics right to know" (by which they mean ratings). I don't need to hear a child say she was terrified to know that she was terrified, I don't need to see people grieving to know that they were grieving. The media tend to be ghoulish at times like this and, while I don't think they 'want' it - they will certainly make the most of it ... for profit.


(533 posts)
25. My disagreement is
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 08:43 PM
Dec 2012

That the media gets bashed at large, and not just one or two specific examples of them ie not respecting the victims. ( if we are talking about the actions or one or two reporters I may agree with you that their actions are over -the -line and deserve sanction.) I feel, though, that the over all attack of the media is kill the messenger, brought on by the universal (including emotions I experience) need to ignore reality, attack the means of psychic pain, scapegoating, and maintain a fantasy via "it's not real."

As for your "need not hear children tell me they were scared to know they were scared":I'm in no position to judge how you process information or how you experience reality second hand. ( I am highly empathic too and a simple fiction piece can make me understand horror of a situation.) But the vast majority of people process second hand accounts as if it wasn't real--a postmodern effect known as simulacrum. For instant, people can hear facts on the news like, "America dropped a bomb on Bagdad today and 100 innocent children died, " and most people would think nothing of it. But show them a video of effects: bloody bodies, missing arms, parents in the deep throws of anguish, and they will change their opinion of being in the world. Reality effects change; descriptions of reality are ignored as fiction, as just empty images, not real.

In modern life, too many live in a bubble, protect from any image that would disturb their world view, and thus problems remain with weak effort to address them.

My opinion is that it does children good to express their reality, what they went through, for them to have the feeling that they are helping others prevent more--the "I don't want my pain to go in vain." It makes it meaningful. The other way seems to be"just forget about it, don't bust people's protective bubble, just push the thoughts deep inside." I think it's more healthy to speak about it, even in a public venue, than too stay quiet. ( this is based on experience.)

The objection that letting children speak is a wrong because media profit from it thus exploitive is cognitively distorted. We get so set in suspecting profit motive ( which we always should be suspicious of) that we create a schema that say if someone gains profit someone else loses something. Common sense can tell you that this isn't necarrily the case; seldom does anyone think that maybe children may gain from it too. Point is that arguing someone is profiting from something does not necessitate that someone is being hurt. Another argument needs to be made regarding the mechanic of the situation more than profit motive.This of course assumes parental promission. Though I hear some on DU minimalize that for fear the parents are to anxious to make sound decisions--an argument I feel stems from control freakness.

All-in-all: there are probably ridiculous things going on with some members of the press, but for the most part their reporting is important, is needed, and the first step in problem solving. Sure, specific acts need criticized and sanctioned, but to slam it over all seems unhealthy, unproductive, unwise. In my humble opinion.



(12,471 posts)
20. Let the victims and community heal...
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 05:56 PM
Dec 2012

In the meantime, the rest of us MUST work to see that this sort of thing is history.
I don't have to see the story, but once. I am sure it will be on the news for the next week,and I will turn it off. I already know what happened, now leave these folks alone, and get on and find a solution to the problem!



(2,730 posts)
21. The media was reporting
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:20 PM
Dec 2012

news, plain and simple, where this guy's brother shot 5-10 year old kids in cold blood. Obviously, they wanted to locate anyone with a connection to his brother. So I don't equate the athorities questioning him to the cold bloodied murder of those people. What was his mother doing with all the fire power? The only people claiming his brother had mental issues comes from his family and friends. I'm still with the rightwing extreme whacko theory. People can call that hyperbole all they want, but you got a lot of rightwing nuts out there. Lindsey Graham was bragging about his nine hunting guns. So he went into a school in Connecticut and killed 5-10 year old kids at point blank range. I wonder how many residents in that little town felt to be armed like his mother? If that town was so close knit, then why didn't anybody know this kid or even his mother that well. How did they get along with the people in this community? I would even go so far as to suggest, even though it was a small town, the people from my sources seems to be pretty progressive? Just why would he kill those kids and mostly women?


(5,465 posts)
22. The young man who wrote this is not the brother; he is a Newtown resident only.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 08:32 PM
Dec 2012

You have valid questions posited that would be better asked in the thread at the link. Please do read at least the young mans piece, although there is also participation by other community members, and victims, family, friends, and acquaintances from other similar murders as well. I think some of your answers may well be there.


(103,856 posts)
24. The ghoulish feeding frenzy of the media..
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 08:36 PM
Dec 2012

SoCalDem (98,601 posts)

The ghoulish feeding frenzy of the media..

Last edited Sat Dec 15, 2012, 01:21 PM USA/ET - Edit history (1)

So eager are they (every one of them) for the "scoop"...the "talking point", that they glomb onto EVERY utterance, no matter how unsourced, inaccurate, or fantastical, that they turn almost every unfolding event into a gigantic misinformation-fest.

Somewhere, Walter Cronkite is spinning in his grave.

As incestuous as media has become, it surely would not be all that difficult to write (re-write) some sort of code-of-conduct that prohibits on-air/in-print reporting of UNVERIFIED information.

It's so totally irresponsible to rush to a camera and then proceed to spew non-facts (even if they are inclusive of the typical "sources say".."we are told"..."this is not confirmed but"..etc).

People tune in and out, and flip channels, and many people BELIEVE what they see/hear/read, and it's like the conundrum of "un-ringing the bell".

These same people will go forth and reiterate "what they heard", and mass confusion ensues.

What would be the harm of simply reporting that :

A. something happened
B. this is where it happened
C. there is little specific information yet
D. the families of the people involved have been informed

I know it's not going to engender prolonged network face-time, but it would surely be refreshing to know the details BEFORE going in front of cameras, and just vomiting up non-facts, innuendo & tall-tales.

Two weeks from now, not many people will be tuning in to find out the facts, and by then they will have probably had numerous opportunities to eagerly tell others "what they heard".

It would be so nice to have media as a source of information, instead of an endless game of "telephone", where paid experts on whatever the "drama-ju-jour" happens to be, are dusted off and trotted out to "explain" it to us all.

We careen from sketchy information, on to often ridiculous speculation, then to "debate/discussion/explanation" of the "experts", to more of the same...and then weeks later, someone states the facts, usually too late for any real impact, because "the next one" has happened again...and the media is off on a new frenzy before they have cleaned up their previous mess.

Since most of these events are accompanied by locals officials and law enforcement, perhaps that would be a place to start. Everyone tunes in to see them, and their coverage is usually live. Perhaps their spokesperson could start every press conference with a disclaimer:

"The breathless reporting on this event will be INACCURATE and totally speculative until the investigation is done, so do not necessarily believe ANYTHING you may hear as these reporters lay it all out for you."


(5,465 posts)
30. 'Sensationalism' in media used to be a hollywood rag thing, iirc, and then along came Murdoch.
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:17 PM
Dec 2012

I remember when Fox was born back in the 80's... I well recall how repulsed I was by the crassness of "Married with Children" and then the cause célèbre that was their "news" department. I may be remembering incorrectly, but it does seem to me it was that point in time our media's descent into madness began.

I do not recall this with JFK's death, or Bobby's or Dr. Kings... I well recall war in my living room each and every night on the US news reports... and then back to our regular broadcasting.

I remember when 60 Minutes came on - I do not remember it as being anything other than responsible journalism. It was not until the birth of 24/7 cable news combined with the antics of Murdoch & Co. that it seemed the collective lost its mind.

I learned about Yellow Journalism and Hearst and all the rest long ago, but I never saw it in practice until a scant some 30+ years ago. Is this cyclical? I don't know.

Just musing after reading your well thought out and written; "drama-ju-jour" indeed. I know there is an educational center for ethical journalism somewhere in the US... the name escapes me at the moment. I wonder what they think of this circus, this day? Or, any day?

Thanks for sharing, SoCalDem. I'm with you, countless millions must be too. We know at least one resident of Newton CT is.


(103,856 posts)
31. I think (for FOX), it was the OJ trial
Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:23 PM
Dec 2012

They would run transcripts & coverage into the wee hours after every other station had shut down for the night.. I remember reading about how their "share" had gone up dramatically , and soon after that , they started having more "shows"..

News Porn sells..


(872 posts)
33. I'm REALLY pissed off at the media
Sun Dec 16, 2012, 12:25 AM
Dec 2012
Are you happy, 24 hours news media? You've got what you wanted, right? You've got something to talk about for days, and every December 14th you can remind us of a day that will haunt Newtown until the earth shatters into the emptiness of space (although for us that happened yesterday). Now you can have 25 pieces of fodder to discuss mental illness, gun control, safety regulations, and what ever else you need.

How many "news junkies" are watching as the media tells us that the ONLY thing that's happened in the last 48 (or so) hours is the shooting in Newtown?

How many of those "news junkies" have a 4-7 year old kid wandering in and out of the room?

Seriously, "news junkies", protect your kids from this senseless onslaught of "horror in schools". It's hurting them. They're going to be TERRIFIED of going back to school.

Not because of one evil person.

Because of a profit motivated 24/7 media gone wild.

Jack Rabbit

(45,984 posts)
34. I attended Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, California, and I have something to say
Sun Dec 16, 2012, 02:44 AM
Dec 2012

The Grover Cleveland School was new when I attended kindergarten there in 1956. My teacher as Miss Procter. The principal was Mr. Farrerra. I may be misspelling both of those names. I doubt either is with us any more. I had a friend named Ricky Winston. Even though he would be in his early sixties, I know he isn't with us any more, either. He died of a heart seizure when he was only 13. Children shouldn't die so young.

The following year I attended first grade at Cleveland, when my teacher was Mrs. Crawford, a plump, happy and gentle lady. About half way through the year, we moved to another neighborhood in Stockton. I then began attending the El Dorado School, but I'll leave that be today. I want to talk about my memories of Grover Cleveland.

I have a very vivid memory. I can remember having a strawberry cake on my birthday. I even remember being breast fed. I told my mother that once and she didn't believe. Then I told her that she fed me at the kitchen table. Well, that's where she usually fed me.

That kind of memory served me well in many ways. I could memorize whole lists. I could name the US presidents in order with the dates of their terms and the dates of their births and deaths when I was in second grade. That wasn't so hard in those days. I only had to go up to Eisenhower then. It was a cool way to fascinate my friends.

That kind of memory can also be a curse. There are things I remember that I would like to forget. I remember the kid across the street throwing a rock me and hitting a bull's eye, cutting my upper lip. I needed stitches. His name was Kevin Kelly. I can still see him throwing that rock. I can still see Dr. Winnick giving me stitches and how much it hurt and how terrified I was. Kevin Kelly isn't with us any more. He was killed in an auto accident when he was 21. I found out about that when the lady who lived next door to us in Stockton came to visit my parents one day when I was there. I was over thirty, so the news about Kevin was already about ten years old. The lady's name was Gertie. I only have good memories of Gertie and her husband, Freddy. They were always very nice to me.

I didn't like school. I can remember my first day of kindergarten at Grover Cleveland. I learned some new words that day: shrimp, midget, small fry and runt. They were directed at me, the smallest kid in the class. I can still see those kids calling me those names. They didn't mean it in a nice way. I never thought of myself as small until then. After that, it became the single trait that most identified me, and I didn't like it one bit.

I was fascinated with the tile on the floor at Grover Cleveland. It was a kind of marble design, with black and green and yellow playing with each other the way cigarette smoke floated in the air. I remember the playground, and the orchard that was on the other side of a chain link fence. On the east side of the playground was the cafeteria. At least I think it was east. I didn't learn to orient my sense of direction until I was older.

Years later, I was working as a computer programmer in San Francisco. I was 37 when I was walking to the bus stop down town one afternoon after work. I had graduated from San Francisco State University, sat out the recession I graduated into by joining the Army and got married to a young lady I met in Korea. We had two beautiful sons of mixed white and Asian ancestry. I caught the newspaper headline about some maniac shooting up an elementary school and killing a number of children. To my horror I saw that it took place in Stockton, the town were I was born. The school that was the scene of the tragedy was Cleveland Elementary. It took me about a minute to realize that was Grover Cleveland -- this was the first time I heard it called "Cleveland Elementary" -- the school I attended for about a year and a half.

The afternoon wore on and more details came to light. Apparently the gunman was in the orchard behind the school, shooting at children in the playground. I could see it. I wasn't there that day, but could see it. There was no film on television news taken at the school, but I could see it. I knew where everything was and needed to look at no pictures to see it. I could see children walking, or running in a panic on the floor with the black, green and yellow tile. I could see children running from the jungle gym and the monkey bars, which were less than ten feet from the chain link fence that separated the playground from the orchard.

For me, it added a dimension of horror that such a thing happened on ground with which I was familiar.

Days later, more information came to light. The gunman was a racist who was upset with Asian immigrants and thought he'd take it out on their children. When I attended Grover Cleveland, the only Asian Americans in the school were the children of the businessman who owned the Chinese gift shop on Pacific Avenue next door to my dad's photography studio. Now the school was predominately Asian.

That, too, brought a personal element to the story. Would this gunman had shot my sons, who were six and nine when this happened, if he had the opportunity?

In the years between growing up and that day, I had argued with many friends and acquaintances about gun rights and the right of everyone to be safe on the streets. To remember somebody I knew in the army who said that the right bear arms was important enough that such incidents were a price we pay for our freedom. At least I knew that man well enough to know that he would not be so crass as to make that argument to the grieving parents of dead schoolchildren.


(11 posts)
35. Thank You for the inspiration
Fri Dec 21, 2012, 10:11 PM
Dec 2012

Hey, Jack Rabbit!

I've been struggling all week with the overwhelming urge to write out my experiences...but I've been unable to find the right words or strike the right tone. After reading you post above, I found my rhythm...and while my thoughts need some fine tuning, it's you I credit with getting me going.

Thank you for this.


(11 posts)
36. And then the Republican governor changed his mind.
Fri Dec 21, 2012, 10:56 PM
Dec 2012

Deukmejian Switches, Backs Stiffer Gun Law
January 20, 1989|JOSH GETLIN | Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — In a significant policy shift, California Gov. George Deukmejian on Thursday called for tougher controls on guns, saying he would support an expansion of the state's 15-day waiting period for handgun purchases to cover all firearms, including rifles and shotguns used by hunters.

Asked if he would endorse an outright ban on military-style weapons, such as the AK-47 assault rifle used in the Stockton elementary school shootings, Deukmejian said he wants to study the issue, but added: "I think most people would agree that there probably is no need to have any kind of military-type assault weapon available for the average citizen . . . even somebody who's a sportsman or a hunter."

During a wide-ranging press conference, Deukmejian, who is in Washington for the inauguration festivities, also revealed that he would have accepted a vice presidential bid from President-elect George Bush last summer if a Republican lieutenant governor had been in office to serve out the remainder of his term, instead of Democrat Leo McCarthy.

In a preview of the comments he will make next week to business leaders he plans to meet on a visit to Germany and Switzerland, Deukmejian discussed the growing U.S.-European trade conflicts and the detrimental effect they could have on the California economy.

In the past, Deukmejian has either opposed or taken no position on major gun-control proposals. During his 1982 campaign, he strongly opposed Proposition 15, which would have banned the sale of most handguns in California. Earlier, as attorney general, he concluded in an advisory opinion that cities were preempted by state law from banning handgun sales.

Last year, Deukmejian did not endorse legislation that would have restricted the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons, many of which are made in China, the Soviet Union or Eastern European nations. The governor noted Thursday, however, that there was little support for such a proposal in the Legislature and that it eventually died.

Now, in the aftermath of the Stockton shootings, Deukmejian predicted that a similar measure would be reintroduced this year. He pledged to work with the Legislature to pass it, so long as it does not impinge on the rights of sportsmen and hunters.

"I, just for the life of me, cannot see why anybody who is going to use a gun just for sporting purposes would want or would need to have a military assault-type weapon that is produced and is used by Communist countries," the governor said.

Comments Hailed

Deukmejian's comments were hailed by state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who said he would introduce a bill later this month to ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons, such as the AK-47. The governor's comment, he said, "is a very positive statement . . . and a major boost to pushing this legislation through."

Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp, a leading Democratic candidate for governor in 1990, also added his voice Thursday to the growing chorus of demands for a ban on the weapons. Displaying an AK-47 and an Israeli-made Uzi at a press conference in Los Angeles, he said he would work for passage of legislation that would outlaw such rifles.

There are few restrictions now on purchases of such weapons. In California and other states, buyers need only fill out a simple federal form and present standard identification. Police do not typically perform background checks on prospective buyers of the guns, which have become increasingly popular with gang members and drug dealers across the nation.

Background Checks

Asked about expansion of the state's 15-day waiting period for handgun purchases to all firearms, so that police could conduct background checks, Deukmejian said: "I personally don't have any problem with that. I don't have any problem with preventing those individuals (with criminal records or mental problems) from having possession of any kind of a gun."

In other comments, Deukmejian said he would have been "very receptive" to a vice presidential offer last summer if he would not have had to surrender the governorship to a Democrat.

Deukmejian, who recently proposed that the state Constitution be amended to require a party's candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a ticket, said he had to remove himself from consideration because the lieutenant governor was from the opposite party. He added, however, that the issue had no bearing on his decision not to run for a third term.

His comment on the matter seemed to conflict with previous statements that no job in Washington has ever held an interest for him. During an interview with The Times last July, for example, Deukmejian said, "I've never had any great desire to hold a national office" or had much of "an interest in federal issues."

As for the vice presidency, he said last year, "I wouldn't be eager to have to take on the kinds of responsibilities that go along with the office."

Next week, Deukmejian is scheduled to visit with German and Swiss business leaders to discuss trade friction between the United States and European nations. The controversy, heightened by recent European refusals to permit imports of U.S. beef treated with growth hormones, has also reached a point where Europeans are threatening to boycott U.S. dried fruits and nuts, many of which are produced in California.

The governor, who will meet with U.S. Treasury and trade officials before beginning his meetings, said Thursday that the dispute's negative impact on the California economy would be a prime topic.

"This visit will give me an opportunity at least to express to those individuals . . . the dangers that are involved in the beginnings of this kind of retaliatory action when it comes to the field of trade," Deukmejian said.

? Back to Original Article
NRA Challenge to California Gun Law Fails
SACRAMENTO — In a nationally watched gun control case, a federal court judge has thrown out a challenge by the National Rifle Assn. to California's landmark ban on military-style assault weapons.

In a decision made public on Monday, U.S. District Judge Edward Dean Price in Fresno dismissed the lawsuit which sought, among other things, to strike down the 1989 law on grounds it violated the Constitution's 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 21, 1990 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Column 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Gun ban--A story on Sept. 11 incorrectly listed the Congress of Racial Equality as a supporter of a California law that bans military-style assault weapons. CORE joined the National Rifle Assn. as a friend of the court in seeking to strike down the law.

The 25-page ruling dissected the arguments by the NRA and other plaintiffs who claimed they would be "irreparably injured" by enforcement of the law and granted a motion by state Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp to dismiss the challenge.

In doing so, the federal jurist handed the nationwide gun owners organization another reversal in its political and legal efforts to overturn California's assault weapons control law, the first in the nation.

"We conclude that the Constitution has left the question of gun control to the several states," Judge Price said in examining arguments about the right to bear arms and the rights of states. "There are no federal constitutional provisions that have been offended by this act."

The case, filed by the NRA last winter shortly after the law took effect, had been closely watched by firearms owners, gun control advocates and politicians throughout the nation as the first major legal test of a state's authority to ban semiautomatic firearms.

In Washington, an NRA spokesman said the organization would have no comment until its lawyers had reviewed the decision. A source close to the NRA leadership said, however, the ruling probably will be appealed.

"The court's decision is a tremendous victory for public safety," said Van de Kamp.

The ruling also drew praise from the Washington-based Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, the educational arm of the NRA's chief nemesis, Handgun Control Inc. "The ruling is of national importance because it shows that assault weapon limitations are constitutional and reasonable," said Barbara Lautman, center director

The law was enacted in the wake of the 1989 killings of five children in a Stockton schoolyard by a crazed drifter with an AK-47 assault rifle. The measure bans the manufacture, import, sale, distribution, transfer or loan of about 60 types of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and handguns.

For the first time in California history, it also established a full-fledged gun registration process in which people who legally owned the prohibited arms before June 1, 1989, could keep them by registering the weapons by Jan. 1, 1991.

The assault weapons legislation, which supporters argued helped prod the Bush Administration into prohibiting the importation of certain foreign-made assault guns last year, was fiercely fought in a massive NRA lobbying offensive. Enactment of the bill handed the politically influential NRA a severe defeat in a state where new controls on guns historically have failed.

The bill, by Senate leader David A. Roberti and Assemblyman Mike Roos, both Los Angeles Democrats, narrowly cleared the Legislature and was signed into law by Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, a lifelong opponent of new controls until the Stockton massacre.

Deukmejian, described by intimates as profoundly affected by the Stockton killings, not only supported the assault weapons ban but went on this year to sign a bill extending the existing 15-day waiting period for handgun purchases to all sporting rifles and shotguns. That goes into effect in January, 1991.

Van de Kamp, whose deputy, Daniel G. Stone, led the legal fight to defend the assault gun law, was joined by such "friends of the court" as the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, the California Police Chiefs Assn., the National Assn. of Police Organizations and the Congress of Racial Equality.

In addition to the NRA, plaintiffs included the Fresno Rifle and Pistol Club; nine individuals; the California Rifle and Pistol Assn.; a firearms manufacturer, Springfield Armory Inc., and Heckler and Koch Inc., an importer of guns, including assault weapons.

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»I'm from Newtown, and I h...