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Reinstitute Connecticut’s Death Penalty For Mass Murderers

Michael Ross

 Following a school shooting in Texas, eerily similar to the Sandy Hook slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut, the state’s two U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have been out on the political stump pedaling their solutions to mass murders.

Democrat Governor Ned Lamont, we find from a news report, “has been pushing for gun restrictions earlier this year, but the recent legislative session expired in early May without action.” The report quotes him: “… there are so many illegal guns on the street right now. I’d like to think we could have done a better job here in Connecticut and send a message far afield, especially when it comes to those ghost guns.”

Was Lamont suggesting that the elimination of ghost guns would have prevented the most recent slaughter of the innocents in Texas? Was he suggesting that black-market gunrunners would cease and desist their already illegal activities should the national legislature pass gun laws favored by Blumenthal and Murphy?

One almost feels indecent in pointing out that ghost guns played no part in the assault on elementary schools in Texas or Sandy Hook. The elimination of ghost guns may provide a solution to some problem – but not this problem.

Another story in today’s paper, “Schumer rips GOP after school shooting in Texas,” reports that Schumer has implored “his Republican colleagues to cast aside the powerful gun lobby,” the National Rifle Association (NRA), “and reach across the aisle for even a modest compromise bill. Schumer is quoted: “If the slaughter of school children can’t convince Republicans to buck the NRA, what can we do?”

In the face of a still raw mass murder, Schumer might try to temper his politicking. Neither of the mass murderers in Texas or Sandy Hook were responsible gun owners, and it is doubtful that either were dues paying members of the NRA.

Generally we do not blame bank robberies on banking associations. Schumer is asking us to believe that, in respect of mass shootings, it is better to do something – anything, though his plan may not reduce mass murders or urban killings -- than to “do nothing at all.”

Following the Sandy Hook massacre, Connecticut legislators, arguing that “something must be done,” passed a slew of legislation regulating gun sales. Those laws have had no appreciable effect on multiple killings in Hartford Connecticut, the seat of the state’s General Assembly. And there are those in the state who argue that if you cannot pass a bill preventing 14-year-old-children in urban areas from shooting other 14-year-old-children in urban areas, you will not be successful in curbing mass shootings anywhere in the state.

What might such a bill look like?

In Sandy Hook and Texas, both killers were young men, 18 to 21, from broken households who spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet indulging their violent tendencies.

The Sandy Hook killer shot his mother, stole her guns, an AR15, a shot gun, and an automatic pistol with which he killed himself, and shot his way through the front entrance to Sandy Hook elementary school.

He was a loner, monkish, somewhat withdrawn from school life and life affirming social interactions. He had no arrest record and there were no reports that he was under mental duress.

The Texas murderer procured his guns legally, shot his grandmother in the face and proceeded to an elementary school that was, so to speak, a gun free zone, where he locked himself in a room with his victims and opened fire.

What you must do to prevent such occurrences would simply repeal most of the cherished liberties enjoyed by a citizens who would under no circumstances enter a school and kill multiple young children.

In both cases, there were no fathers in broken homes to police lawless sons. Blumenthal, Schumer and Murphy have yet to suggest a law that would air drop stern and protective fathers into such households. Nor have they suggested that the freedom to visit internet sites contributing to moral anarchy across the nation should be curtailed, because such laws would violate First Amendment rights, cherished by reporters and political commentators.

Nor have partisan politicians – Murphy, in particular, now seems eager to entangle all Republicans in the U.S. Senate in a far-fetched moral complicity in mass murders --  suggested sensible precautions, the hardening of access to schools, for instance. We post armed interveners in banks because we wish to prevent bank robberies and secure valuable assets. Are our children less valuable than our bank account savings?

In the Texas mass murder case, we now know, the school was not properly hardened to prevent a mass assault; the school’s guard was not present at the time of the attack; multiple doors were unlocked; police waited too long before storming the building; neither children nor school staff were taught how to respond in case of such attacks; the perimeter fence surrounding the school was easily penetrated; there was no centrally activated room locking system available  – in other words, mistakes were made. 

It may be nearly impossible to prevent every instance of mass murder in schools, just as it is impossible to prevent all bank robberies. But illegal activities in both cases can be justly punished. And the most successful tool of mitigation, we know, is the swift and certain imprisonment of convicted criminals.  Just punishment does deter crime – which is why Senators such as Blumenthal, Murphy and Schumer provide us with an endless stream of laws designed to frustrate unwonted activity.

But, as yet, no one is screaming from the rooftops that just punishment delayed is just punishment denied. Would Blumenthal and Murphy welcome a reinstitution of Connecticut’s death penalty for mass murderers?

Likely not, but why not? Connecticut’s Supreme Court years ago found that even a just capital punishment violated an assumed moral resistance on the part of Connecticut citizens against capital punishment. Since then, capital punishment has become a very back bench issue in Connecticut politics, the legislative equivalent of the sin that dare not speak its name. Some suspect that moral exemplars among our politicians no longer believe in the utility of just punishment. It is much easier politically to find guns rather than murders guilty of and punishable for mass murder.


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