Matthew Lysiak is the nationally renowned author of “Newtown: An American Tragedy“, “The Drudge Revolution“, and several other books.
Prior to that, Mr. Lysiak worked as an investigative reporter with the New York Daily News. While there, much of Lysiak’s investigative reporting focused on gun deaths and police excessive force.
During the 10 years he spent at the Daily News, Lysiak reported on hundreds of stories of national importance including the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Mr. Lysiak has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, Tucker Carlson Tonight, the New York Times, Newsweek, The New York Sun, AM New York, and The Guardian.
The Tragedy of Newtown
In the 21st century, it is inevitable that following any national tragedy, especially a gun-related tragedy, politicians and other talking-heads descend en masse like vultures to a carcass. They tell the TV cameras how tragic the tragedy was, and then promptly re-brand whatever happened into a rallying cry in support of whatever political agenda they have.
Sadly, Sandy Hook was no exception. It was quickly seized upon by opportunistic politicians and almost overnight, was morphed into the new face of the anti-gun movement.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred December 14, 2012, much has been written and said in favor of, and in opposition to, more expansive, more restrictive, and more punitive anti-gun legislation.
Everyone had an opinion of who, or what, was, or was not, to blame. Some even promoted now-retracted conspiracy theories and claimed the whole thing was a hoax and that it never happened.
In the days and weeks that followed the shooting, Adam Lanza – the perpetrator, along with every sordid detail of his life, and all of the “signs” and perceived “causes” for his rampage were analyzed, discussed, deconstructed, dissected, examined, re-examined, and re-analyzed by investigators, the media, law enforcement, talk shows, talk radio, podcasts, psychologists, politicians, and a bewildered public.
Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste
Had anyone been keeping score, it became very obvious, very early on, that the person and the agenda that intended to benefit the most from the Sandy Hook massacre was then-President Barack Obama and his never-ending war on the Second Amendment.
Unwilling to allow the emotions from the shooting to fade without being fully exploited, on December 19, just 5 days after the tragedy, and only 5 days before most of the government, and the country, mentally checked out and closed down for the holidays, Obama pounced.
Appearing to follow his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s advice to the Wall Street Journal just a month earlier that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste“, Obama announced the formation of a gun-violence task force to be headed by none other than then-Vice President Joe Biden.
While virtually everyone’s mind was on the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Biden’s task force said they “collected ideas” from 229 organizations, but the truth, and the true agenda, became clear after the National Rifle Association (NRA) had its meeting with Joe Biden. The NRA had this to say:
“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be ‘prejudged,’ this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”
Mental Illness and Extreme-Violence Video Games
It is a well-established fact that an overwhelming majority of mass shooting perpetrators, from Columbine to Sandy Hook and beyond, suffered from one or more serious, usually untreated mental health disorders.
“According to the researchers, at age 14, [Adam] Lanza was evaluated by the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. At the time, Lanza’s parents were told that if they did not seek treatment for him, his mental health issues would lead to a “deteriorating life of dysfunction and isolation.”
It has also been equally well-documented, as far back as 2005, that extreme-violence video games desensitize players to real-world violence. This is especially pervasive in younger, chronic players who dedicate multiple hours each day to the games, often for years.
The Guardian, in its report on the investigation of Lanza, said investigators found 12 video games “which had violent content, including popular titles such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Others included Left for Dead, Dead Rising, Vice City, and Doom. A computer game called School Shooting, which features a character controlled by the player who enters a school and shoots students, was also found.”
Unrestricted access to firearms, combined with more than a decade of untreated mental illness and desensitization to real-world violence caused by chronic exposure to extreme-violence video games such as ‘School Shooting’ invariably worked together and manifested in the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook.
“A computer game called ‘School Shooting’, which features a character controlled by the player who enters a school and shoots students was also found” [among Adam Lanza’s belongings].THE GUARDIAN
New Year, Same Old Agenda
In his rush to fully exploit the crisis, on January 16, 2013, after allowing less than 14 business days for his government task force to request and receive information, schedule and conduct 229 meetings, and then gather, sort, prioritize, collate, evaluate, and summarize everything, and then generate a report on the ideas from 229 different organizations, Obama announced his expansive anti-gun wish list. It included 23 executive actions and 12 proposals for Congress.
The executive actions signed by Obama were:
- Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
- Addressing unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), that may prevent states from making information available to NICS.
- Improving incentives for states to share information with NICS.
- Directing the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
- Proposing a rule giving law enforcement authorities the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Publishing a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
- Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
- Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
- Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Releasing a report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement authorities.
- Nominating an ATF director.
- Providing law enforcement authorities, first responders and school officials with proper training for armed attack situations.
- Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
- Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence.
- Directing the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenging the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
- Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
- Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
- Developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education.
- Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
- Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within insurance exchanges.
- Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
- Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
The White House’s proposed congressional actions were these:
- Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt.
- Reinstating and strengthening the federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (AWB 1994) that expired in 2004.
- Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
- Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.
- Increasing criminal penalties for “straw purchasers” who pass the required background check to buy a gun on behalf of someone else.
- Acting on a $4 billion administration proposal to help keep 15,000 police officers on the street.
- Confirming President Obama’s nominee for director of the (ATF).
- Eliminating a restriction that requires the ATF to allow the importation of weapons that are more than 50 years old.
- Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks.
- Provide additional $20 million to help expand the system that tracks violent deaths across the nation from 18 states to 50 states.
- Providing $30 million in grants to states to help schools develop emergency response plans.
- Providing financing to expand mental health programs for young people.
A Predictably Predictable Outcome
Incredulously, under the guise of preventing another Sandy Hook, precisely ZERO of Obama’s 23 executive actions and 12 proposals to Congress would have, or could have, stopped Adam Lanza had they been in effect at the time of the shooting.
They did practically nothing to help identify, treat, or prevent the same or similar types of behavior and did nothing to prevent mentally ill, socially unstable people like Adam Lanza from continuing to slip through the cracks, have access to guns, or avoid or opt-out of the mental healthcare they so desperately need.
Mandatory mental health care and interventive mental illness care (the kind that COULD have prevented Lanza from ever attacking Sandy Hook) were completely ignored, as were extreme-violence video games which are, still to this day, available for purchase throughout the country.
Since the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20, 1999, there have been 304 fatal school shootings and counting. Despite this, games such as “Active Shooter”, which simulate school shootings with the player acting as the shooter have been readily available.
“Active Shooter” video game pulled from platform after outcry. https://t.co/WsjuHSjSEm— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 30, 2018
Are Guns Really The Problem?
The Columbine High School massacre drew a proverbial ‘line in the sand’, and from that, two groups with two very different ideas about the way forward have emerged and the Sandy Hook shooting only widened the divide and increased the animosity between the two groups.
Group 1 thinks guns are the problem.
Group 1 believes the solution is to simply eliminate guns; ALL guns. The rationale behind this simplistic Utopian fantasy is that if there were no more guns, there would be no more gun violence.
Painfully simple in principle but in practice, this would be impossible to implement, as evidenced by the utter failure of so-called “Gun-Free Zones” where over 96% of public mass shootings occur. It also ignores the fact that millions of criminals and illegal arms dealers would never willingly get rid of their guns, and without worldwide disarmament, disarmed Americans would simply acquire more guns from countries outside the United States.
Far more importantly, this simplistic approach entirely ignores the much larger and much more salient issue of human nature. That is that human beings, since time immemorial, have actively sought to victimize, rob, harm, kill, dominate, oppress, or enslave their fellow humans. Gun violence is merely the most recent and most outwardly visible expression of that timeless endeavor.
Group 2 thinks people are the problem.
Group 2 believes the solution is to be found by imbuing people with greater personal responsibility, accountability, awareness, education, and training combined with much more robust and comprehensive oversight and safeguards (including but not limited to mental illness) regarding who does and does not, have access to guns.
In practice, this has proven to be extraordinarily effective as evidenced by the extremely low number of mass shootings and illegal gun deaths committed by law-abiding gun owners or authorized users of lawfully owned firearms. A fact that goes unreported by most of the media is that many would-be criminals are thwarted each month by law-abiding citizens exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
For anti-gun proponents and the left-leaning media corps, the suppression of pro-gun news is an around-the-clock job. According to the 2013 study on defensive gun use ordered by Obama’s executive action after Sandy Hook,the false narrative was unmasked.
The Agenda Narrative vs The CDC’s Facts
The CDC study proved conclusively that lawfully armed Americans use their firearms in self-defense or defense of others between 500,000 and 3,000,000 times per year. And in 2019, more than 6 years after Newtown, statistics continue to provide strong evidence that leans heavily in favor of armed citizens.
If we are to believe the narrative coming from the anti-gun side of the debate, privately-owned guns and law-abiding gun owners pose an imminent, unrivaled, existential threat to America’s very existence and each time you step outside your home without getting shot, it’s a miracle.
Just The Facts Please
“Obama had announced at the beginning of the year his push for three major gun control initiatives — universal background checks, a ban on “assault weapons,” and a ban on “high-capacity” magazines — to prevent future mass shootings, no doubt hoping that the CDC study would oblige him by providing evidence that additional gun control measures were justified to reduce gun violence.
On the contrary, that study refuted nearly all the standard anti-gun narrative and instead supported many of the positions taken by gun ownership supporters.” The New American
To put it mildly, it blew up in Obama’s face:
CDC Study Ordered by Obama Contradicts White House Anti-gun Narrative
A few gems from the CDC Study
The gun control subterfuge
“The U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries. However, as Graham Noble of Guardian Express noted, “If one were to exclude figures for Illinois, California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, the homicide rate in the United States would be in line with any other country.”
These areas, of course, are noted for having the most restrictive gun laws in the US, thus negating any opportunity for the president to celebrate the report’s findings.“
“The current report from the CDC echoed findings the CDC published back in 2003.
Said the CDC back in 2003, “Evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of any of these laws”:
– Bans on specified firearms or ammunition
– Restrictions on firearm acquisition
– Waiting periods for firearm acquisition
– Firearm registration and licensing of owners
– Zero tolerance for firearms in schools”
“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”
“The key finding the president was no doubt seeking — that more laws would result in less crime — was missing. “
“The study said that “interventions,” such as background checks and restrictions on firearms and increased penalties for illegal gun use, showed “mixed” results, while “turn-in” programs “are ineffective” in reducing crime. “
“The study also noted that most criminals obtained their guns in the underground economy — from friends, family members, or gang members — well outside any influence from gun controls on legitimate gun owners.“
Much to the Obama Administration’s horror, the CDC study was non-partisan and declared the “Use of Firearms for Self-Defense is an Important Crime Deterrent” and proved, once and for all, what pro-gun advocates have been saying all along. America is a dangerous place, crime doesn’t wait around for the police to arrive, and Americans were exercising their Constitutionally-protected 2nd Amendment rights by using their legally-owned firearms in self-defense on average, up to 8,219 times EACH DAY!
According to “Death by Firearms in the US, 2018“, a study conducted at UC Davis, there were a total of 39,740 gun deaths in the US in 2018. Of those, 24,432 were self-inflicted suicides. That leaves 14,037 combined deaths from firearm homicide (35.1%) and mass shootings (0.002%). Divided by 365 days in a year, guns are used to commit a homicide, on average, 38.5 times each day.
Plain English Translation: For every 1 time a gun is used to commit a homicide in the United States, a gun is used in self-defense or in defense of others as many as 213 times.
Forbes writer Paul Hsieh authored Any Study Of ‘Gun Violence’ Should Include How Guns Save Lives, an article that sheds even more light on the importance of an armed population.
On The Matter of Liability
For nearly 15 years and counting, gun manufacturers have enjoyed a special type of immunity from litigation provided by a law called PLCAA that was signed into law by George W Bush on October 26, 2005.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is a United States law which protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products. However, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible in much the same manner that any U.S.-based manufacturer of consumer products is held responsible. They may also be held liable for negligent entrustment when they have reason to know a gun is intended for use in a crime.GovTrack
Challenges to PLCCA
“After the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook, Connecticut, shooting incidents, a renewed effort has been mounted to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to make it possible for victims of gun violence to sue firearms manufacturers and dealers on a broader array of grounds.
In October 2016, a Connecticut Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the families of some victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting against the manufacturer (Remington Arms), the wholesale distributor, and the retailer of the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting. Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the suit “falls squarely within the broad immunity” provided to gun manufacturers and dealers by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
In March 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, allowing plaintiffs to continue their suit against Remington. On November 12, 2019 the US Supreme Court ruled that the Sandy Hook lawsuit could go forward.”
As of October 2020, seven lawsuits have so far challenged the constitutionality of the law under the 5th and 10th Amendments, and all but one of these have found the PLCAA constitutional. The last one, Gustafson v. Springfield Armory, was ruled unconstitutional, but that decision is currently under review by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
The Power of PLCCA in Politics
The PLCAA is a political hot button when it comes to the gun debate and winning elections. During the 2016 United States presidential election, the issue was raised multiple times, most frequently within the Democratic Party primaries.
Bernie Sanders, voted for the law in 2005 when he was a congressman. In 2015 he found himself defending the PLCAA but then Hillary Clinton said that, if elected, she would repeal the law and falsely claimed: “They are the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability. They can sell a gun to someone they know they shouldn’t, and they won’t be sued. There will be no consequences.”
Her statement was blatantly untrue and fact-checker Politifact immediately rated the statement false. As an attorney and a senator, a reasonable person would expect her to know this, given the fact that she voted on the law.
Bernie Sanders, after seeing how Clinton used the PLCCA to gain momentum, flip-flopped and changed his position in January 2016, saying that he would favor a partial repeal of the law, but it was too little too late. Sanders lost and Clinton won the presidential nomination but it was later revealed by the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee that Clinton rigged the election against Sanders.
In 2020, Sanders, the liberal’s favorite whipping boy and the democratic socialist that all the establishment democrats love to hate, was back in the presidential race again, and once again was attacked for voting in favor of the law, especially by Joe Biden.
History repeated itself with Sanders losing again and Biden, like Clinton, going on to win the presidential nomination.
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