12/17/2012 JAC's Statement on the Massacre in Connecticut

The horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has touched us all. We are deeply shaken and mourn the loss of these innocent children and their teachers. The survivors and the entire community will never be the same. They have lost children, grandchildren, siblings, friends. Their security has been so rudely violated and their expectations forever changed.

We recognize that there is no way to stop people who are determined to kill others and who are undeterred by the threat to their own lives.  We have seen this with suicide bombers here, in Israel and around the world. No one can predict with absolute certainly when angry or deranged individuals will take out their rage against random victims.

This shooter tried to buy a weapon, but was turned down because he was unwilling to submit to Connecticut's requirement of a background check and waiting period. That part of the gun safety process worked. But he did not have to go far for the weapon he sought.  He took a gun from his mother's gun collection - a gun that had but one purpose: to mow down as many victims as possible in the shortest time.

There are those who will use this as an object lesson that gun control does not work and guns will protect individuals from violent crime. Scholarly research on the subject tells a different story, one that is more consistent with what happened to the shooter's mother. A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Public Health analyzed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying guns at the time, and compared them to other Philadelphia residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighborhood. The results of this 2009 study revealed that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher.
Journal reference: American Journal of Public Health, DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099).

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Gun Policy and Research also examine the problem of gun violence. In The Case for Gun Policy Reforms, researchers at the center say that beefing up and standardizing current gun control laws would save countless lives.  Such laws, they say, can even be implemented without abridging 2nd Amendment rights as affirmed by recent Supreme Court decisions overturning bans on firearms possession in Washington, DC and Chicago.

In the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy like the one in Connecticut, we are moved to use our access and outreach to advocate for a more rational conversation on the topic of gun violence and greater awareness that the Second Amendment and sensible gun safety measures do not have to be mutually exclusive.  

The National Rifle Association sees every gun law as a potential infringement on Second Amendment rights, but gun owners are not in lockstep on that view.  Many favor reasonable restrictions such as waiting periods, background checks, assault weapons bans and stiffer penalties for crimes involving gun violence.

The politics of guns is fraught with misinformation, fear and hype, but we think we can make inroads with members of Congress who may need to hear from us on the subject.  We have done this on other issues and we can do this with gun violence.   

As a nation we are saddened and horrified. As an organization, we can turn those negative emotions into positive action.  And we will.