In the Shadow of Sandy Hook, a Powerful Pro-Gun Organization Keeps Silent

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

A woman places flowers at a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 15, 2012

In the wake of the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and seven adults dead, including the shooter, guns have become a focus in a state that’s usually far from the glare of the broader gun-control debate. When one thinks of Connecticut — a firmly liberal state — it’s a safe bet that firearms aren’t the first things that come to mind. While other states have bigger gun-toting reputations (remember when Texas Governor Rick Perry shot a coyote while jogging?), the Nutmeg State’s relationship with guns is more subdued — though no less profound.

As one of early America’s industrial centers, Connecticut was a hotbed of weapons manufacturing — so much so that it was referred to in the 19th century as the Arsenal of America. In 1851, Samuel Colt, inventor of the revolver, built a factory on a parcel of land on the banks of the Connecticut River near Hartford. The legendary saying attached to Colt was “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”

(MORE: Obama Pledges ‘Meaningful Action’ After Connecticut Shooting)

Colt’s revolver allowed the shooter to fire multiple rounds without reloading, which played a major role in the Indian Wars of the late 19th century on the American frontier. At the Colt factory in Hartford, the company made the M-16s used in Vietnam and continues to manufacture the M-4 carbines carried by troops in today’s military.

While firearms manufacturing is a big business in Connecticut, until this week, the politics of guns did not appear to be a central state issue. Democratic Governor Dan Malloy earned the endorsement of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, largely due to his efforts to crack down on illegal weapons as mayor of Stamford. The Brady Campaign is an organization that has often been at odds with the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful pro-gun organizations in the country.

A lesser-known, yet perhaps equally powerful pro-gun institution not only has its headquarters in Connecticut, but is located just a couple of miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is a trade organization that consists of “more than 7,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers,” according to the organization’s website. The NSSF has not commented on the shooting literally just down the road from its headquarters, other than a small post on their website that reads:

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community.

“Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time.”

(MORE: Outside the White House, Gun-Control Activists Make a Subdued Call to Action)

The NSSF helps write firearms-safety-and-instruction standards and promotes shooting sports, such as hunting, skeet and trap, and target shooting. But the organization is also a powerful lobby that advocates for specific positions on gun-control issues. They have faced off against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to crack down on guns in New York City, have made the case that banning high-capacity magazines is an ineffective policy and have published fact sheets arguing that the term assault weapon is an erroneous term for a semiautomatic modern sporting rifle.

“The term assault weapon was conjured up by anti-gun legislators to scare voters into thinking these firearms are something out of a horror movie,” the NSSF wrote in its fact sheet. “In fact, the Colt AR-15 and Springfield M1A, both labeled ‘assault weapons,’ are the rifles most often used for marksmanship competitions in the United States. And their cartridges are standard hunting calibers, useful for game up to and including deer.”

According to the medical examiner’s report, the main gun used by Adam Lanza, the suspected shooter, was a .223 caliber Bushmaster, a carbine similar to Colt’s AR-15 and M-4. The .223 caliber (5.56 mm) round is the same size as that used by troops in combat, and according to Bushmaster’s fact sheet, the muzzle velocity for the rifle is 2,200 ft. per sec. — that’s 700 ft. per sec. slower than the 2,900-ft.-per-sec. muzzle velocity of the military version, which is based on Colt figures from 2003.

(PHOTOS: Connecticut Community Copes After School Shooting)

Judging by the initial reports, the bullets that tore through the tiny bodies of Sandy Hook’s victims were the same size as those used by troops in Afghanistan to battle insurgents, traveling at a slower, but still powerful speed.

Neither the NSSF’s proximity to this horrific tragedy nor their advocacy for safe shooting sports means that the organization should be blamed for the violence in Sandy Hook. But each and every tragedy is also an opportunity to begin a dialogue about the role of guns in American society. After last summer’s shooting in Aurora, Colo., the NSSF wrote: “Instead of focusing on the main problem, the actions of a mentally disturbed person, the focus has once again shifted to legislating law-abiding citizens who use firearms for legitimate purposes. The tragedy in Colorado is not about firearms, ammunition or magazines. It’s about the act of a mad man and gaining access to firearms. We abhor the criminal misuse of firearms.” Following a tragedy in their own community, once an appropriate time has passed, perhaps the NSSF will lead a discussion of how to prevent mad men from gaining access to firearms in the future.

MORE: A Town of Broken Hearts: How Newtown Residents Cope with Grief

401 comments
hentrypentry
hentrypentry

It's not a national tragedy it's a global tragedy because this is the new reality. Weapons control, gaming, parenting, mental illness, pharmaceuticals,graphic violence in the media, aggrandizing criminal activity,bullying, cultural differences, lack....the list of possible reasons why this happens and seemingly more frequently is long. We all contribute to this to some degree with the choices we make ,small and large on a daily basis. We have become less sensitive and respectful of our connection to each other ,other living creatures, our environment. Ultimately every one of us needs to hold ourselves accountable for the choices we make - especially when we are informed - and really pay attention to their consequences. In the meantime we shouldn't be so shocked by these atrocities,heartbroken yes but not shocked because they serve as reminders of both how much we really do care and how far we have to go in developing our discipline,courage and our commitment to leaving the world if not a better place at least as good as it was when we arrived.

hentrypentry
hentrypentry

Does anyone know which company manufactures the bullets used in the School Shootings?

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

These NRA-enabled and supported murders were not committed by movies, books, cars, alcohol, baseballbats, or frozen apple pie.   They were committed by unnecessary weapons in the hands of a civilian who was not a member of a well-ordered militia.

The time for gun control laws has come, and we ARE going to have it, despite the rationalizations, denials, obfuscations and outright lies of the NRA-gun-nut-psychos.

As we have all observed, the NRA is suddenly silent, except for its paid trolls who come online and whine about “politicizing” the deaths of 20 children.What this means, of course, is that the NRA is frightened of the effect on public attitude when it is reminded, with names/ages/photographs that these NRA-enabled murders are --- well --- NRA –enabled murders committed by a gun-nut who was not a member of a ‘’well-ordered militia”, as the second amendment requires.

There are about to be BIG changes, and the NRA and its associated gun-psychos are now going to find each one of their murders highly publicized, and the public will be reminded, with names photos and ages, that these were human beings who left husbands, wives, children, parents … to grieve for them, needlessly

THIS WEEK'S BLOOD ON NRA HANDS:  Charlotte Bacon, 6   Daniel Barden, 7   Olivia Engel, 6   Josephine Gay, 7   Ana Marquez-Greene, 6   Dylan Hockley, 6   Madeline Hsu, 6   Catherine Hubbard, 6   Chase Kowalski, 7   Jesse Lewis, 6   James Mattioli, 6   Grace McDonnell, 7   Emilie Parker, 6   Jack Pinto, 6   Noah Pozner, 6   Caroline Previdi, 6   Jessica Rekos, 6   Avielle Richman, 6   Benjamin Wheeler, 6   Allison Wyatt, 6

nc865429
nc865429

Start a conversation about violence, however, demand a 'real' look at Violence in our culture. The Entertainment Industry immerses their product in Violence. The Entertainment Industry has succeeded in desensitizing and undermining the culture. Where is the outrage? If Congress Believes inanimate objects, Guns, Cause Violence, Then The Entertainment Industry's Culpability Knows No Bounds. Propose that any new law demanded for gun sales must also be demanded for the Entertainment Industry’s violent movies & games. For instance: All violent games purchases must be registered with the Federal Government. Any person that goes to a violent movie must register their name and address at that movie theater to be given to The Federal Government.

That will change the conversation to Violence...not just guns. Violence grows in the heart. The Nation must look at what the entertainment industry is feeding into minds...callousness and lack of conscience. A gun does nothing until someone takes it into their hands.

MichaelCurtis
MichaelCurtis

We have remained quiet out of respect for the victims of a failed mental health system. We have resisted the bloodancing that the liberals have partaken in and we have tried to respect the parents of those children and not reminded them that the CT Assault Weapons Ban did nothing to prevent this tragedy.But don't confuse this anything more than us having far more honor and respect than you shall ever muster. We will be heard soon, we shall not let you fail us again. Enough is enough, we tire of your inability to protect our children, we have seen what your gun free zones promote and we see what policies of failure have wrought. 

arief
arief

It deeply condole the shooting tragedy that occurred in Sandy elementary school. Hopefully this incident will not recur in any place in the world. The United States government should restrict the possession of firearms to civilians in order to prevent the recurrence of these events and to minimize criminal use of firearms. Moreover, the victims are the innocent children. I am Indonesian people who live far away from the United States so sorry and saddened by these events. May the families of the victims are given patience. I pray the victims placed in heaven.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ls4GnO3qCwE

chinny
chinny

Being an Aussie, and having fairly tight gun restrictions here (due to the 97 Port Arthur massacre), we look at your gun control laws and laugh at the incredulous stupidity of this conversation. Americans have not learnt their lesson. Plain and simple. yes there are mental issues associated with these massacres and multiple homicides, and there is a real tragedy. What is more tragic is that this will happen again. and soon if you don't reform your law. simple. 

It is almost getting to the point where the parents of the children could sue the state governmnent for gross negligence. no government has acted in the interests of protecting the innocent, something that the US was built upon.

i ask you this. why should gun control laws remain as they are? what are the benefits of the current laws? if you can seriously think there is one benefit of current gun control laws, then you my friend are what i would call an idiot. 

my other point is this. once gun control is reformed (whether is be by a blue or red blood) then it will never be receded. that is a potential candidate will never run on the platform to reintroduce lax gun control. 

seriously America grow a pair. 

benway.jeremy
benway.jeremy

NSSF's assertion that it "will lead a discussion of how to prevent mad men from gaining access to firearms in the future" is ironic given that the NSSF in 2011 tried to block California legislation to fund the confiscation of handguns from the mentally ill:  http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/national-shooting-sports-foundation-12-17-2012.html

The NSSF is an extremist group with extremist views. It even opposes removing highly toxic lead from hunting ammo despite the threat of ingestion by pregnant women and children and the poisoning each year of some 20,000,000 birds and mammals. In the NSSF's view, even switching from lead to copper bullets is a grave threat to civil liberties.

It's a bit hard to imagine it compromising on any aspect of gun restrictions.

gostarsmeister
gostarsmeister

I think that that it is time that we amend the Patriot Act to address containing the "weapons of mass child destruction". The elimination of the Bushmaster "Street Sweeper" should be earmarked as the first goal.

If we could spend $1T in Iraq and Afghanistan to address national security concerns, surely we could do just as much to address the safety of our children in our schools.

The "Second Amendment" protagonists should ask themselves, are they willing to offer up their children and grandchildren on the altar of unfettered access to military style assault weapons? It is easy to offer up someone else's children, would you offer your own?

silenzor
silenzor

some call this style of journalism an "editorial", most of us just call it for what it really is: trolling.

seewhy
seewhy

A conversation about gun control without a simultaneous conversation about how we deal with mental illness in this country is a waste of time. My beloved sister in law descended into mental illness and it was quite obvious to anyone close to her that she had lost touch with reality. She was convinced people wanted to kill her and i was terrified of a violent outbreak from this once sweet loving woman. Due to current laws, the family was able to do NOTHING for her--an absolute disgrace. We pleaded and begged with courts, doctors, family services, law enforcement. But civil rights organizations have made it impossible to help someone that refuses it. In fact my brother was not even allowed to know her diagnosis and had to take her back into the home with 2 young children! She was involuntarily committed and doctors were preparing her for transfer to a long term facility while they got her on the right meds. Then a substitute judge released her! If we could have only gotten her on medication, it could have all been different. NAMI (national alliance on mental illness) supports ICO (involuntary commitment outpatient) which basically means they are REQUIRED to take their meds. 

PLEASE--to all of you planning to write to your legislators re gun control--tell them you support ICO, too!!! We owe these ill people our support and we owe all innocents protection from their delusions. Sadly, my sister in law killed herself and her young daughter found her. Mentally ill people suffer so horribly &  they commit suicide at alarming rates--one every 30 minutes in the US. The sickest take out others when they go. Every mass shooter is mentally ill. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Zephon
Zephon

How can one hold an intelligent discussion with people who are so smart that they blame a gun rather than the criminal using it.

BryanBeckner
BryanBeckner

We have a lot of crazy people here in Florida. (I think its the heat) and they seem to be able to get their hands on guns even if their not legally allowed to. (Zimmerman had one even though Florida law says domestic abusers can't buy guns.) Yet I can't think of any school shootings here. What we do have is an armed police officer on every campus, from elementary school to high school and entire police departments on every college campus.

goatmilkjoes
goatmilkjoes

its for protection that is in the 2nd ammendment

MarkThisDown
MarkThisDown

Are assault weapons used for "sport-shooting"? Are 30 round magazines used for "Sport Hunting"? These are two things this poor little "sport -shooting foundation" has lobbied for in Washington. Had they stayed with "sport-shooting" we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Zibeb
Zibeb

More accurate title: In the shadow of Sandy Hook, a powerful Main Stream Media organization berates a sport-shooting foundation for not turning a tragedy into the dog-and-pony show that Time wants it to be.

MarkThisDown
MarkThisDown

One simple question... WHERE IS THE NRA ON THIS?

eli
eli

2010- DUI related deaths = 13000

2010 Gun crime related deaths =10400

We should make Drunk Driving  illegal!

The answer is not more laws. The answer is more educated, accountable, caring people. And all of this needs to start early in each home ,with each individual. 

People are the problem as well as the answer. and always have been. Not inert objects.

texaswc
texaswc

@Marky_D_Sodd NRA-enabled and supported murders?? Really? I guess GM, Ford, Dodge, and the rest also enable and support murder by drunk driving? Boy are you so uninformed...

Well-ordered militia? It is called a well-organized militia...this tells me you only know what you read in the paper or see on tv...

NRA wasn't suddenly silent, they were respectable and rightly kept quiet until the time was right...

The 2nd does NOT require anyone with a gun to be part of ANY militia...you really don' know much do you? Go do your homework...

Gun psychos? Guess I must be a gun psycho since I believe in the Constitution...AND I DON'T OWN A GUN, IDIOT...

You sound like a Marxist liberal and I personally would boot you out of MY country, just because....idiot...get a life and an education, obviously you are quite ignorant of facts...

texaswc
texaswc

@nc865429 Entertainment industry is not to blame, neither are games...everyone I know have played all these shooter games and watched whatever action films that have chases, shootouts, fighting, etc and none of us are violent...it's called knowing the difference between fake (film) and reality...the biggest problem are parents and government intrusion into private lives that cause parents to fear punishing their kids, most fear they might go to jail for simply spanking their kids...you can blame Dr Spock for such ideas, too....If violence in film, in make-believe, then every child since the dawn of time would be violent since they would play war games, or in the last century, cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, soldier, etc, etc, ... Think about this...a wild idea, maybe so, but one worthy of looking into....over the past 20-30 years or so, children are getting more and more vaccines, where today, they would have upwards of 40+ shots by the age of 5...now, look at problems with children today that were minimal or non-existent 30 years ago...then look at the drugs used to "treat" mental problems...drugs such as Prozac and the effects when beginning or ending the taking of such, the effects can cause violent tendencies...remember, vaccines have a wide range of dangerous chemicals...nobody has any long term idea just what those chemicals do to such a young and developing brain....worthy of looking into...but tv and music and games aren't the problem, neither are guns...the problem will always be PEOPLE and their conscious decisions, whether they are in their right mind or not...

HelenaWilliams
HelenaWilliams

helena Williams


The 2nd. Amendment destroys the American Dream....


texaswc
texaswc

@arief"...restrict the possession of firearms to civilians..."  ... fat chance, you aren't American, not living in America, so your views have no bearing...especially since you don't know our Constitution....I do agree that we are all saddened by what happen, but you can't punish 150,000,000 gun owners for the acts of 1 person...or even for the acts of 10 or 20, or even 100...

Norincosks
Norincosks

@gostarsmeister  

Bushmaster is not a weapon type... it is a manufacturer that primarily builds AR-15 pattern rifles (the most popular rifle in America).  "Street Sweeper" the nickname for theArmsel Striker -- an already banned short barreled, rotating cylinder shotgun. Kinda not really the same thing at all. 

At all levels of this debate, you and your ilk are irrational and have no idea what you're talking about. You lead a whimpering, pathetic existence of complete dependency and denial of the history and nature of Mankind. On the 2nd amendment issue, you're either tragically misled, or "border-line sedition" misleading.  

I reject your question, and instead would ask you if you are willing to offer up your children and grandchildren on the altar of thugs, murders, gang members and future tyrannical governments. All of these groups will retain their weapons.   

BuzzBayless
BuzzBayless

@MarkThisDown Yes, AR-15s AKs, FALs, etc. are used for sport shooting.  My local range has matches for this type of rifle several times a year. I used to do it, but can't seem to find time any more. The competitors are local folks, a bunch of retired guys, a couple of housewives as well as members of local law enforcement, (municipal, county and state). It depends on the rules as to whether a particular rifle is legal for competition in a certain class. The AR15 is authorized for service rifle, high power and match rifle competitions, not to mention the practical shooting sports such as two and three gun matches. They are also used widely for hunting coyotes, deer, etc. They are quite popular.

silenzor
silenzor

@Zibeb -- You're exactly right.  Nate Rawling you are doing an excellent job.  

seabear2u
seabear2u

@MarkThisDown Where do you THINK they are?  How about "grieving", like most sensible people.  Don't expect them to get up on a soapbox and start crowing about politics, like SOME (hint) who have already jumped all over this as an excuse to push their same tired old agenda (having properly hidden it until after the elections).

bgray2008
bgray2008

 Well spoken, Eli.  The point I have been trying to make since Friday. Don't forget, bad pencils cause misspelled words, too.  Semi-automatic pencils can decimate a paragraph! Those so called assault-pencils....well, let's just outlaw them.  Nobody seems to get the fact that just because something exists that it should be outlawed simply because a person decided to use it in the commission of a crime.

MarkThisDown
MarkThisDown

@eli With that logic let's make drinking and driving legal. While we're at it let's lower the drinking age to 10 years old. Now to balance this we need to have plenty of education about the dangers of drinking and driving. We could include it in the elementary school readers. Work for you?

texaswc
texaswc

@HelenaWilliams you are so wrong...the 2nd actually protects those dreams...the ONLY part of the Constitution that offers people the ability to defend themselves with means almost equal to the government and military...go do some history research, look at how democracies in the past have fallen, look at what the process was....then come back and look at our own government and tell me how the 2nd destroys....if you actually comprehend what you read and learn, you won't be able to do so...

ToeHead
ToeHead

@seabear2u @MarkThisDown I know. Obama has had an anti-gun agenda from day one even if he has never passed such a law but then these little children had to go and be selfish and die so now Obama might have his chance. {sarcasm}

eli
eli

@MarkThisDown @eli 

Would and educated accountable, caring person allow their 10 year old to get into a car and drive?

bgray2008
bgray2008

@MarkThisDown @eli Mark, you seem to be trolling and commenting on everyone's posts.  Tell me, what do you propose?

BuzzBayless
BuzzBayless

@MarkThisDown @BuzzBayless Sorry for the delayed response, I've been working on my expense report and talking to engineers off and on all morning. The cartridge used in the AR15, the .223 (5.56 NATO) is a underpowered for boar so not recommended. Boars are tough and usually not in the best of moods. They can be dangerous. Rifles such as the FAL, G3 or M-14 fire a bigger, more powerful cartridge, the .308 (7.62 NATO) and are more likely to result in a clean kill. The function of these as compared to a semi-auto deer rifle and pretty much the same. The rifles above, because they are descended from military designs tend to be better engineered and are designed with maintainability in mind. A typical civilian semi-auto rifle, for instance the Remington Model Four, (which is based loosely on a shotgun receiver) is hard to clean properly because you cannot remove the bolt for cleaning without removing the barrel which requires the services of a gunsmith. You can remove the barrel on the shotgun it is derived from, but not the rifle. The AR15 on the other hand, is easy to disassemble for cleaning or parts replacement. Also, the Model Four is prone to chamber pitting and corrosion which leads to unreliability problems. Military style rifles are less prone to rust and corrosion, because of the coatings used, (phosphate coating otherwise known as Parkerizing), and most have chrome lined bores, so you can hunt in the rain, snow, etc. They tend to be more robustly constructed and the metal used is usually mil-spec. So they're more durable. They are also more ergonomic. The FAL and the Model Four fire the same cartridge, the same distance, comparable accuracy at exactly the same rate of fire, but the FAL is by far and away the better design.

goatmilkjoes
goatmilkjoes

@MarkThisDown @bgray2008 @eli Police officers are oath keepers of the constitution just like the military and if they want to infringe on peoples rights there not doing there jobs. Most police and military are gun educated and support guns.

eli
eli

@MarkThisDown @bgray2008 @eli  Mark This Down, I am afraid i am done with you.

"Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience." -Unknown

eli
eli

@MarkThisDown @eli @bgray2008 lol, Education and ...get it this time, {Caring Accountable people}

Obviously you hear/read only what you want to.

MarkThisDown
MarkThisDown

@bgray2008 @MarkThisDown @eli Yes, I am trolling and will continue to do so. I propose making any gun not used for hunting illegal. For home protection a shotgun is much more effective than a handgun. I don't really want handguns in the hands of non-law enforcement and I think many police officers would agree. Yes, criminals will still find a way to get handguns but they won't get them from their mother's closet or steal them from a home burglary. 


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