An item over at Talking Points Memo picks up on an interview with the sister (in law) of Adam Lanza's mother.
There’s been some level of mystery about just why Adam Lanza’s first victim, Nancy Lanza, had such a stock of weapons, particularly military style weapons like the .223 Bushmaster, the weapon we now know was actually used in the killings. She wasn’t just into guns. She was apparently stocked up for when the economy collapses and when everyone’s on their own with their guns.emphasis added
Well, that connects a few dots. TPM had a message from a reader that seems apropos as well:
...I can’t remember seeing a semi-automatic weapon of any kind at a shooting range until the mid-1980’s. Even through the early-1990’s, I don’t remember the idea of “personal defense” being a decisive factor in gun ownership. The reverse is true today: I have college-educated friends - all of whom, interestingly, came to guns in their adult lives - for whom gun ownership is unquestionably (and irreducibly) an issue of personal defense. For whom the semi-automatic rifle or pistol - with its matte-black finish, laser site, flashlight mount, and other “tactical” accoutrements - effectively circumscribe what’s meant by the word “gun.” ...emphasis added
Digby weighs in on the financial and legislative muscle behind gun sales - especially the kinds of weapons that work so well for massacres. And let's not forget the conservative ideology apparatus that has been cranking up the paranoia since forever. As Digby notes, they're keeping their heads down (the smarter ones anyway) but they'll be there if the NRA calls.
Dave Neiwert has focused on the eliminationist rhetoric the right wing is addicted to for a long time. He warns that steps to deal with what happened at Newtown are only going to confirm their worst suspicions.
We have a real gun problem in this country - and the bigger problem of the organized crazy people party facilitating it. That needs to be part of the discussion too. More on that in an update below the Orange Omnilepticon.
UPDATE: As a related issue, one reason why some people feel the need to arm themselves is because they have no confidence the law can protect them OR provide justice. This commentary at the New York Times details just how badly the justice system in New York City works.
With more than 600,000 criminal cases reaching New York City’s courts last year, delays are the norm. Just over a quarter of those cases were felonies, and many of them took an average of almost a year and a half to resolve. The nearly 450,000 misdemeanors and violations didn’t move much faster. In 2011 about half of these cases were plea-bargained out at the initial bail hearing — typically within 24 hours of arrest — but more than 200,000 of them took an average of seven months to resolve. The overall rate of disposition for misdemeanors was 35 percent slower than 10 years ago, even though the caseload decreased by 14 percent.The anti-government fervor of conservatives makes it almost impossible to address issues like this, things that need sustained effort and money to solve. People who don't believe in government in the first place find it a lot simpler to stock up on guns than to believe things could be made better. And that attitude establishes a positive feedback loop, making things worse.
While the police may be ever more efficient at apprehending criminals, prosecutors are overburdened and under pressure from judges who want to clear the calendar, so they typically offer defendants plea bargains with much-reduced charges and little if any punishment. In 2010, 55 percent of felonies resulted in convictions on charges less than the top count. At the other end of the seriousness scale, nearly 30 percent of those accused of misdemeanors or violations received what’s called an A.C.D., which stands for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. What that really means is, don’t get arrested again anytime soon, and this case will disappear. It would seem that plenty do, though: many defendants are repeat offenders. New York’s criminal justice system is operating like a catch-and-release fishing resort.
We need better gun laws, but we also need to look at the larger context in which those laws operate. We need to push the larger idea that government CAN be part of the solution for our troubles. Charles P. Pierce has an excellent commentary to that end.
Resist, then, the forces who tell you that the creation and maintenance of that commonwealth is too expensive or too complicated, or that it is an appeal to a time now lost to technology and modernity and the glories of free trade. Resist the frauds and mountebanks who seek to prosper from fragmentation and isolation, and who tell you that your "freedom" exists in a place outside of that creative process of self-government, and that, in fact, the institutions produced by that process are the enemies of that "freedom." Resist, as strongly as you can, the people who seek to profit by isolating you in your homes, and in your anger, and in your wounded sense of aggrieved entitlement, and with all your guns.Read the whole thing.
We, The People. Those words are not an accident. They come before everything else in the document. Yes, even before the Second Amendment, they come, and there is a reason for that. When we commit ourselves to the American experiment — and our military does this formally, but we all do so when we accept the freedoms and benefits of that experiment — we commit ourselves first to We, The People, and the public institutions that are the manifestations of our political commonwealth in our daily lives.
UPDATE x 2 Comments are coming in on this post faster than I can keep up, but I'll hit a few points. Several commenters have taken issue with the Talking Points Memo report, noting that the claims that Nancy Lanza was preparing for economic collapse have supposedly been debunked elsewhere. TPM still has the original story up without any changes or corrections as of this update.
Add to that a new story picked up at TPM from the NY Times that Newtown was having problems dealing with a new kind of gun enthusiast.
The gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza, had collected several weapons, including powerful handguns and a semiautomatic rifle that she and her son, Adam, were fond of shooting, and it remains unclear where they took their target practice. Much of the gunfire and the explosions reported by residents to the police in recent months came from a spot less than three miles from their house. Police logs identified the spot as one of the town’s many unlicensed gun ranges, where the familiar noise of hunting rifles has grown to include automatic gunfire and explosions that have shaken houses.As TPM's Josh Marshall comments,
“It was like this continuous, rapid fire,” said Amy Habboush, who was accustomed to the sound of gunfire but became alarmed last year when she heard what sounded like machine guns, though she did not complain to the police. “It was a concern. We knew there was target practice, but we hadn’t heard that noise before.”
...the gist is that over recent years the town of Newtown, CT. tried to place some limits on the rise of what might be called extreme gun-owning and shooting in the community. It wasn’t a fight between gun-owners and non-gun-owners but traditional gun owner and hunters versus people shooting close to other people’s homes, shooting at unlicensed firing ranges, firing military style weapons, even firing into explosives.Whether or not Nancy Lanza was a survivalist expecting the collapse of society, she was apparently 'weaponed up' in a way that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In short, the opposition of the extreme gun owners and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the country’s second largest gun-rights organization, which happens to be located in Newtown) prevented anything from happening.
Only in America - the rest of the developed world has nothing like this.