Mountain View reacts to massacre | December 21, 2012 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - December 21, 2012

Mountain View reacts to massacre

Mourning loss of lives at Sandy Hook, some vow to support stricter gun laws

by Nick Veronin

In the aftermath of one of the bloodiest school shootings in U.S. history, people are struggling to come to grips with how to move forward, and are putting forth their own solutions.

At Mountain View schools, emails have been sent out attempting to reassure parents that officials are prepared for such an event at a local campus, and reminding parents and students that there are grief counselors available.

"We are all saddened by the horrific school shooting that occurred today in Connecticut," wrote Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, in an email to district parents. "Our hearts go out to the parents and families. I want to assure all parents that we have in place safety and security procedures to protect our students and staff. At this time, our crisis counseling teams are prepared and ready to assist students, parents and staff in dealing with this tragedy. Additionally, our leadership and local law enforcement are working together to ensure the safety of our students and staff."

A similar email went out to parents of the Mountain View Whisman School District. Craig Goldman, the district's superintendent, reaffirmed that student safety is his organization's top priority.

Emergency procedures in place

Groves told the Voice that it has long been a part of district protocol to conduct drills for all kinds of emergencies — not just earthquakes or fires, but also for shooter-on-campus scenarios. These are called "code red drills," he explained. "We lock doors, keep kids out of sight and have a special way to communicate between buildings."

The district has an assigned, uniformed public safety officer. He is not always on campus, but he is there very regularly, Groves said. In addition to the uniformed officer, the district also has two public safety officers — one for each campus.

"I think that what we have in place meets the needs of our school district," Groves said.

An email was also sent out to news agencies from Santa Clara County health officials explaining that services are available to anyone thinking of hurting themselves or others.

"If you suspect a person you know may be considering suicide, or you are thinking about hurting or killing yourself, please call the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 1-855-278-4204," the email said. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, toll-free, seven days a week. "We are here to help."

Who to blame?

As schools sought to reassure parents and the county health office reached out to residents of Santa Clara County, guns rights advocates and gun control advocates — both appalled at the shootings — had different ideas about preventing such tragedies in the future.

The owner of The Bay Area Gun Vault in Mountain View said that sales of firearms have just about doubled in his store over the past few days, which he attributes to locals wishing to be prepared to defend themselves against a potential attack, which he said he believes to be their right.

"Don't blame the tool," said Gary Kolander, who owns and runs the shop, located at 363 W. El Camino Real. The store was packed on the afternoon of Dec. 18. Kolander said he believes that in order to stop mass shootings like Sandy Hook Elementary School, shooters need to be stopped before they commit to such heinous acts. "We need to address the types of people that commit these crimes."

Kolander pointed out that the killer, Adam Lanza, was only 20 years old, making it illegal for him to possess many of the firearms he brought to the school that fateful day. Society would do better to scorn a system that allowed Lanza's troubles to go unaddressed, he said, and perhaps some blame should be placed on legal adult gun owners that do not properly secure their weapons.

"I teared up when I heard about the shooting," Kolander said.

No matter who you are, he continued, you have to feel terrible for the victim's and their families. But he said he still firmly believes that no amount of additional regulation will stop killings like this — that means no bans on certain kinds of guns, no bans on certain kinds of clips.

Assault weapon bans

Such arguments ring hollow to Shikha Hamilton, president of the Santa Clara County chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Honestly, the minute you bring up the shooting, tears start rolling through my eyes, because it's so hard to fathom small children being slaughtered the way they were," she said.

Hamilton said she believes that just about everybody can relate to her feelings — whether pro- or anti-gun.

However, she said, she is frustrated by those who argue that any kind of new gun-control legislation is an unacceptable infringement upon civil liberties — especially when it comes to the style of weapon used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

If people feel they need a handgun to protect their homes from a potential intruder, she said, that's one thing — even though such home-defense weaponry is far more likely to hurt or kill a member of the family it is intended to protect.

Hamilton said there is really no practical reason for anyone to own a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines, such as the Bushmaster brand weapon used to kill the children at Sandy Hook. Such weapons — and particularly large magazines, which can carry as many as 30 rounds and be switched out in seconds — are unnecessary for hunting, Hamilton said, positing that the only reason she can think someone would like such a gun is for the thrill of spraying bullets at targets at a shooting range.

"Sorry if you guys are having fun, but these weapons have become a health hazard," she said.

She said the Brady Campaign's top goals include reinstating a stricter version of the so-called assault weapons ban, which expired after disallowing some of the most powerful rifles and higher-capacity magazines from 1994 to 2004, and closing the "gun show loophole," which allows people to buy a gun directly from the owner without going through the same types of background checks and waiting periods as someone buying the same gun from a licensed gun shop.

While he admitted that it could sound callous, Kolander said that if person is hell-bent on wreaking devastation, he will find a way to do it. He pointed to an incident in China. A man in that country, which has much stricter gun laws than the United States, entered an elementary school and slashed 22 children and one adult with a knife, according to a report from ABC news. A separate report from CBS noted that all 23 victims were "injured." It did not say any were killed.

However, the attack in China only serves to support Hamilton's beliefs, she said. The fact that some or all of those children might live underscores the difference between guns and knives.

"I'd rather run from a knife than a gun," she said.


Like this comment
Posted by Mars
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I like the way Hamilton slips in that "home-defense weaponry is far more likely to hurt or kill a member of the family it is intended to protect." This is a patently false claim. Every study ever done shows that guns in civilian hands reduce crime, and on balance, far more lives are saved through stopping rapes, assaults and robberies than are lost through accidents.

The assault rifle ban had a time limit to allow for collecting 10 years of data about its effectiveness. When its time was up, it hadn't reduce crime at all, and so was allowed to expire. California currently has a ban that keeps all the features of the Federal ban, including banning magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges, and it hasn't reduced the murder rate.

The Brady Campaign crawls out of the woodwork every time there is a tragedy of this nature, to push an agenda that they know won't work, won't save any children, but is just an incremental step towards pushing their goal - and making life more dangerous for us all.

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Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

To suggest that the schools are even remotely prepared for something like this is just wishful thinking or outright lying.

Any one legal or illegal can buy a gun legally or illegally if they want to. That's the reality.

40% of the elementary district population is Hispanic and many of these families are illegal. We know nothing about these individuals or if they have a criminal history or a mental illness. Nor do they have access to mental health resources. The government knows much more about me, but nothing about them. That makes me a little more nervous on top of having to worry about all the other crazies this country produces on its own.

Limit ownership of assault weapons to members of the military, active, reserve and retired with no criminal history or mental health issues.. They are trained to use them. Any other citizen only requires a revolver for protection or a shotgun. The price of ammunition should increase to at least $100 a round, unless you can produce a military ID. The profit should go to pay off the national debt. If people want more gun play, send them to Afghanistan on the next troop carrier departing. You can get all the gun play you want out there.

Like this comment
Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm

And ban violent video games and all games with shooting. And stop Hollywood from glamorizing violence and guns. (Oh know, you can't do that).

Until then, I'd advise learning how to handle and shoot a gun and then buy one.

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

The title of the article is misleading. Does anyone quoted even live in Mountain View? We'll never know. At least Hamilton owns a private business in town.

Like this comment
Posted by Objective facts
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2012 at 4:52 am

A major cause of the problem is that "Gun free zones" as required by federal law, forces schools to be defenseless against lunatics. Only armed defense by responsible adults such as teachers and administrators trained and licensed to carry concealed firearms can stop these attacks, but that's not allowed under Federal law.

The law that mandates pacifism and forbids responsible defense is costing innocent lives, which is both deplorable and correctable if we take an honest look at facts.

We also need much better mental health care, but until that happens, why leave the most at risk completely defenseless? That's completely irresponsible, preventable and wrong.

Like this comment
Posted by Hard Facts
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:07 am

Truth of the matter is we have a huge mental health problem in this country, and no real ways of helping people with their problems. We throw artificial therapists at them (drugs) and move on to the next. I am a gun owner and I know MANY legal gun owners who own handguns, shotguns, "assault" rifles. We have not gone out on a shooting spree. The fact is if any one decides to put stricter laws regarding LAW ABIDING citizens, it won't do anything. You can buy any type of firearm on the street for even cheaper than in store. If some one really wants to cause harm to people, it won't be hard to look some where else. How about we look at the illegal gun trade harder before we start knocking people who follow the laws. Sometimes though, you just can not fix crazy.

Like this comment
Posted by Logic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

If there were no guns, no one would be shot.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

"if there were no guns, no one would be shot"
True, true. but unfortunately (or fortunately...) there are guns. All the laws and all the wishful thinking won't make them disappear.

Like this comment
Posted by Darin
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Re: "The price of ammunition should increase to at least $100 a round"

That would certainly boost the sale of reloading equipment and supplies. It would also promote a black market for ammo. And it would make it a lot more expensive for citizens actually become proficient with their weapons.

Like this comment
Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

A few points:

1) The reality is that per FBI statistics violent crime has been declining in the United States, despite the increase in the number of firearms.

See Web Link

2) There as been a decline in mass killings in the past three decades. (Associated Press)

3) @Logic: If there were no guns people would be stabbed, kicked, bludgeoned, punched to death instead. Keep in mind that 2011 FBI statistics demonstrate that more people got killed in california from a combination of hands/feet/fists than rifles and shotguns combined. In reality handguns are the leading murder weapon; however, you can be sure that if they were not available, other means would be employed.

See Web Link

4) Timothy Mc didn't use a gun, he used fertilizer. Where there is a will there is unfortunately a way.

5) The worst mass killing in a school was the 1927 school house bombing in Bath MI, where sadly 38 children were massacred

6) The absurd policy of declaring "Gun Free Zones" has got to stop. A disproportionate number of mass killing happen in such areas. The Aurora shooter, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie with which he was obsessed within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn't the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals.

7) We have to acknowledge the violent films and video games are a contributor to violent behavior in those likely to become criminally insane. e.g. James Holmes the Aurora bomber and the Batman, Martin Bryant and the movie Childs Play, Barry Loukaitis and The Basketball diaries etc. Furthermore, video games such as Call of Duty are, to quote for army psychologist Colonel Grossman author of "On Killing", murder simulators. They effectively condition players using the same techniques the military uses to inoculate soldiers against violent confrontation, to objectify the enemy and to operate on trained reaction.

8) The state of mental health services in this country are woeful, and the ability to commit persons who are likely to pose a threat to society is too limited (in reaction to the fact that it used to be too easy to commit folks)

My personal commentary:

So called "military style assault weapons" account for a small percentage of crime in this country. It is true that we have seen some spectacular events in the past year. The quick "feel good" fix is to pass a law banning them. But we know from experience that laws banning things simply do not work. Examples: Massacre in Norway, the chaos in Mexico that happens to have some of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Does this mean that we should throw our hands up in the air and give up? Absolutely not.

For a start here are some suggestions that will continue to protect the unique right to keep and bear arms that is inherent in our culture, but will hopefully improve firearm safety - If the Swiss can do it, so can we:

- Close the gun show loophole. Every gun sale *must* include a background check period.

- Enforce gun trafficking and gun crime laws.

- Require a safety course including range time to be taken prior to the first time purchase of firearms. This includes the proper handling and storage of firearms, firearms laws, etc. Issue a 3 year firearms purchase permit upon successful completion.

- Allow citizens to obtain concealed carry weapons permits with the following requirements: Training requirements to include class room and range courses. Annual/bi annual re-certification that includes safety demonstration and a course of fire (i.e. the same requirements as our police officers) to demonstrate continued competence.

- Require healthcare practitioners to share information with at risk individuals with the DOJ so that it can feed into the background check system.

- Improved regulation and labeling of violent media content, and help educate parents on the potential harm these may cause, as well as to watch for warning signs.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 23, 2012 at 4:44 am

Basic facts:
1. Humans are violent beings, no amount of laws, religions, medications or wishful thinking will ever make us all peaceful. Evil humans have devised all manner of murderous means to kill and there is no way to outlaw the means to kill.

2. There are over 300 million firearms owned by private citizens in the U.S., firearms are NEVER going away in this country.

3. The term "Assualt Weapons" is only used by those who don't know how to use a firearm and want to make them illegal. It is no more accurate a term than calling the illegal law that infringes on our constitutionally protected rights "The Patriot Act". Trying to take advantage of a tragedy to reinstate failed legislation is moronic. We need rethink how we view firearms in our society (see Solutions below).

4. The police cannot and have never been able to protect everyone from harm. The ability to protect yourself and your family is and has always been your personal responsibility. The best form of personal protection available to us today is a firearm... period! Why do you think that every police officer and soldier carries one? In addition, most of them also have a second or third firearm for back-up. In Mtn. View the PD have a semi-auto .40 cal handgun on their hip (and possibly a back-up gun on an ankle), a 12 gauge shotgun and a .223 AR-style carbine (read: the same type of weapon used in CT) in the car. Many of them also have body armor, batons, pepper spray and stun guns (not sure if legal in this city but many do have it). If these are the types of tools that are good enough to protect an employee of the city, then they are exactly the type of tools that a citizen of the city should be able to use to protect themselves.

1. Make it easier and cheaper for law abiding citizens to carry concealed at all times.

2. Make it easier and cheaper for law abiding citizens to get CONTINUAL training in the safe use of firearms.

3. Every police station in the country should accept unwanted firearms from the public "no questions asked" in exchange for $200.

4. Every firearm sale should require a background check unless you're buying multiple weapons then only one per day. But, not a mandatory registration that might be abused in the future to "round up" all weapons.

5. All federal and state agencies that deal with the mentally OR emotionally disturbed must immediately report info to the firearms background check system. A system to challenge a denial should also be put in place.

6. Make it illegal to leave firearms in the home if a mentally OR emotionally unstable person resides in the home.

7. Make it illegal to teach a mentally OR emotionally unstable person how to use a firearm or let them borrow one.

8. Make TRULY high-capacity magazines illegal. This means any magazines that are larger than STANDARD capacity (i.e. handgun mags larger than 15-17 rounds, semi-auto carbine mags over 30 rounds)

9. Harden all schools against armed attack. Update evac procedures to have everyone leave the building in an active shooter situation. Armed security if necessary. Classroom door bars and wedges.

10. Give all teachers defensive weapons and training if they don't want to carry a firearm. Including pepper spray, stun guns, light weapons: lasers, high lumen flashlights, sound weapons: flash bangs, high decibel alarms.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 23, 2012 at 6:31 am

Politicians and government employees and buildings are protected by police and security guard guns. Banks and money are protected by them as well. Pilots can now carry guns. And criminals of every shape and form have guns. But our children have no protection at all.

Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

Gun Control or some limited form. Or and here is the big question.
Do we arm, place guards in schools, mall, church, theater or any place where a shooting can happen?
Do we secure our schools and colleges with walls, fences, with entry and exit checkpoints.
Metal detectors, cameras and bag inspections, along with pat downs.

Like this comment
Posted by Happiness for all
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Mental Health is the issue! A mother teaching her mentally ill son to shoot is criminal and life threatening.

Every report card in America should have a line for mental stability of the student... Two teachers saying a kid is unstable should place a restriction on that kid from having any access to fire arms. I agree with the idea that mental health providers should be able to have input into a data base of who is fit to bear arms.... But so should teachers... They may be the only ones that observe a person.

Like this comment
Posted by erika m
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Issue everyone a gun. Fight fire with fire.

Like this comment
Posted by Thomas K.
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Everybody is focusing on the method rather than the cause. Most all school killers were known to be taking antidepressants of the SSRI type (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
Known side effects of these drugs are thoughts and action of homicide and suicide.
Psychiatric drugs can have very dangerous side effects. Is anybody naive enough to think that any mental illness can be cured just by taking a pill?

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2013 at 1:00 am

As a video gamer family I am opposed to other people getting involved in my business. Where were these people offering
to help raise my kids on limited funds every day of the year
their whole childhoods? Video games have given them something
to do in their spare time that doesn't cost a lot of money.
When you are done playing the game you trade it into Gamestop
and get a new game. The kids are happy and the parents are happy.

You may get on your high horse and say blah blah blah but
my kids are succeeding in life without your help. We survived.
And there are plenty of games that don't even have guns.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2013 at 1:37 am

I can give you 2 great examples that my kids are currently
playing; Minecraft and Scribblenaughts Unlimited.

Who can say they were building multi-dimensional, intricate worlds
when they were kids? What will these kid's potential
be in the future? The sky is the limit!

I recommend Legos and video games like Minecraft for building
kids imagination, creativity, and engineering.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm

One of my friends is a veteran as am I and is an active
gun collector. He is responsible. He always keeps his
guns locked up in a safe so no one has access to them
except him.

If you do have firearms it is your responsibility to
secure them. I hope everyone does so now.

The Mom in this case left her guns unsecured in the house.
She lived in a rich neighborhood and was in no danger
from criminals. She was irresponsible. Also, if he did
have any problems, which we don't know all the details yet,
how come his Mom is teaching him how to shoot guns? You
are the adult in the room. It is your responsibility.

Like this comment
Posted by Christopher Schulz
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Let's be frank. The media is a poor excuse to use against somebody to blame. Evidence to this is very weak. Exposure to violent media does NOT cause these kinds of massacres to happen. My friends and I were exposed to a lot of violent video games and movies. Did we pick up guns and shot up our schools? Absolutely not! I did a final paper about the Columbine High School Massacre for a psychology class and video games were NOT the cause of their violent rampage. Why did they commit one of the worst high school massacres in U.S. history? They just plain hated the Jefferson County community of Colorado and one of the shooters had what's called "messianic-grade superiority complex". This means that his view on the human world seemed so inferior and pathetic that it disgusted him. Why did he think this? It was the bullying and the behavior he observed. He thought they didn't think outside the box and to think for themselves.

I'm sorry but guns are NOT the problem nor is gun control the solution to the problem. It is the individual who has a mental disorder that caused him to go berserk when the Sandy Hook massacre happened.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm

You have to ask why are they trying to criminalize all these legal activities and take away people's freedoms that they already had. I think it is because they know the economy isn't going to grow like it used to so they have to criminalize a greater percentage of the population. Welcome to the new American Dream.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Video Gamer. Gun Owner. Mentally Ill. You are the new criminals. Send them to the padded cell and straightjacket. I remember a
guy like that. His name was Adolf Hitler.

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