Gun madness, solutions and people’s movements

NEWTOWN, Conn. – The bells seemed to toll exceeding slow. They instructed us to dwell on each loss, each human being. Hundreds huddled in the rain struggling to keep their candles lit as the bells peeled 26 times. It should have been 28 times.

I stood with a group of educators. Dawn Hochsprung was from my town, born and raised, and was a parent of five. As principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, she tried to stop this latest mass killing spree.

In the United States, there are 87 gun deaths each day and 183 gun-related injuries each day according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC) and the University of Chicago. There were 17 mass shootings alone in 2012.

The insane proliferation of guns has to stop. The madness has to stop. The proposal of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to arm educators, nurses and librarians is a reflection of the madness. The descent people in the NRA need to replace this bellicose leadership or vacate the organization.

It is important to expose the economic roots of the madness. Why? Because therein lies the political base of the NRA leadership and the gun lobbies.

Fifty one thousand gun stores feed this madness. There are more gun stores than grocery stores or McDonald restaurants in the U.S. The gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson made $48.5 million dollars in the last quarter alone. Freedom Group, the gun manufacturer who makes the semi-automatic weapons including the one used in the Newtown school massacre, has made over $200 million dollars on such sales. Wall Street does the financing.

As we dig deeper into this issue, there is much more to discuss. Sports announcer Bob Costas raised the issue of gun proliferation after the gun shooting death of the partner of Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs football player and Belcher’s subsequent suicide. Costas was roundly criticized for his statement on guns and especially for doing it during a football game on national television. CNN polls on both issues are running 2:1 against Costas. Does the fact that both victims were African American account for some of this negative reaction? It happened before the tragic events in Newtown.

The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Campaign ( offers some solutions. These include a criminal background check for every gun sold, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a federal crime. A ban on handguns must be added to this list. Why? Because when this was done, as evidenced by such countries as England, Germany and Australia, gun deaths dropped dramatically.

These steps would have the added effect of slowing the gun running into Mexico and the carnage in the border areas. The analysis and solutions put forward by the Connecticut Peace Council, especially the connection to the country’s continual war footing, are a necessary addition.

We must never forget the students massacred at Ohio’s Kent State University and Jackson State University in Mississippi, during the U.S. war in Vietnam. Our culture of violence has multiple roots. Profits are the taproot.

But the discussion and the actions can’t stop here. An item that can be fought for in every state and town, and raised on the national level, is to make our parks gun free zones. This can be taken up with local park commissions and town councils. It is one way for mass participation and for deepening consciousness locally on the need to transition to a culture of peace.

Looking down the road, it is time for revolutionary boldness. Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, . . . ” It does not say the Senate is to be a millionaires’ playground. Too many representatives get support from the gun and military industrial complex lobbies. This has to end.

A Senate of Peoples’ Movements, to replace the millionaires club, is a proposal that needs the light of day. Every two years primaries in each state nominate representatives of labor, peace, women, people of color, environment, LGBT and other social justice movements in some agreed upon ratio by a broad peoples’ alliance of these organizations.

If such a Peoples’ Senate were in place, would an event like the Newtown massacre have occurred? Would an assault weapon have been as readily available to the mentally unstable shooter?

Polls show 20% of our people are open to the ideas of socialism. How many would be open to a Peoples Senate proposal? I say many. It has the added benefit of showing the people of the USA that the left is striving for a culture of peace. Let’s invite everyone to join the discussion and action.

Photo: Mothers and their children pay their respects at a memorial for shooting victims near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 15. (AP)


Len Yannielli
Len Yannielli

Long time environmental activist Len Yannielli is professor emeritus, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, Conn. He was the 2009 National Association Of Biology Teachers Evolution Educator of the Year. He is sports crazy!