The Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School
©2012 Kirby Sanders
December 15, 2012
Trying to dispassionately sort out the facts of the Dec. 14 shooting (now that we have some) in light of the predictable debate about firearms that it has engendered. My heart goes out to all of the parents and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School and everyone in Newtown CT, but my purpose here is merely to rationally analyze facts.
The biggest problem in analyzing the matter in CT is that the weapons used (a Glock pistol and a Sig Sauer pistol) probably would not be covered in any additional gun control or registration legislation. They are common-as-cockroaches contemporary civilian market pistols. The shooter did have an AR-15 style rifle (Bushmaster brand) in his car that was not used during the shooting — but it, too. is a fairly common civilian production firearm.
All 3 of these firearms are in fairly common use by American law enforcement, but none of them are military firearms — all civilian market commercial manufacture.
As to the shooter, Adam Lanza – obviously he was a psycho. Existing background checks for purchase of pistols disallow purchase by persons who have a history of severe mental illness. Granted, those background forms do rely on self-disclosure in the matter of mental illness, however, misrepresentation or falsification of facts and answers on those forms is a federal felony in and of itself. In this case, the matter of Lanza’s capacity to own said firearms is moot — reports I have read are they were not the shooter’s guns. Supposedly they were his mother’s guns — mother who was also murdered in the home prior to the shooting at the school. It appears she may also have properly registered the pistols. (In CT, pistols must be registered upon purchase with copies of registration filed with State Police and local PD.) There may be some question as to the shooter’s access to those weapons in the home. But on the face of it, it appears he stole those guns from his mother, killed her and then went to the school. It is also illegal to carry firearms onto a school campus — period. The guy was a twice-felon before he set foot on the campus (theft and murder); whereupon, by going onto the campus with the firearms, he had committed three felonies before firing a shot in the school. Additionally, Lanza took his mother’s car to drive to the school. If Lanza took the car without his mother’s permission (which he must have because prima facie he took the car AFTER he killed her), there is a fourth felony (auto theft) prior to his firing a shot at the school. A fifth felony in one day prior to firing a shot at the school if he stole car in flight to avoid prosecution.
I don’t know what use these facts might be — but them’s the facts as we presently know them.
UPDATE – December 16, 2012.
Medical Examiner is now reporting that the .223 calibre Bushmaster was the main weapon used in the school shootings – which does not mitigate the fact that it, too, was registered per CT law to and subsequently stolen from Lanza’s murdered mother by her son Adam Lanza. That new snippet does not mitigate any other facts regarding Adam Lanza’s multiple felonious actions leading up to the school shooting.
As to the matter of the Bushmaster / AR-15 clones, their .223 calibre ammunition was developed under contract by the United States military to be a particularly destructive (and cheap to produce) round specifically for the purpose of killing human beings. Those machines, the .223 calibre round and its later European counterpart (5.56mm) have a horrid reputation amongst serious military historians and those who study the changes in firearms technology as being unreliable (they tend to jam — a lot) and suitable to no other purpose than human slaughter.
As to the claim that Lanza’s weapon “could hold 100 rounds” – I believe CT law regulates magazine capacity to 10 rounds (and am not aware of any AR-15 compatible mags of greater than 30 round capacity). If Lanza was using restricted-capacity magazines, he was already using an illegal configuration of the weapon and more law would not mitigate that fact. He’s gonna worry about breaking the law worse? I doubt it. Some reports indicate that Lanza used a common trick of duct-taping two magazine together contra-posed to one another that would allow for quick magazine changes. A fire rate of 60 rounds per minute would be conceivable – assuming you weren’t aiming the shots. And the cowardly act of firing into a crowd of children would not require much aiming. Mostly “spray and pray”. There is also the likelihood of “pass-through” wounds with .223 calibre. One bullet passes through one target and hits another. The only way to know how many shots were fired is to recover all of the spent cartridges and count them.
Them’s the forensics. I will leave to opinions to others.