According to the Hartford Courant (3/14/13), the Connecticut state police released new information about the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 people, including 20 first graders. This news provides a perspective by which to judge the importance of proposed gun safety measures, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and reduced capacity ammunition clips.
The Courant reports that the gunman, Adam Lanza, fired 152 bullets with a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in a span of less than 5 minutes. That’s a bullet every 2 seconds.
Lanza shot his way into the school by shattering windows at the front entrance with a spray of bullets. He turned left and encountered Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach who had rushed into the hallway from a meeting room. Lanza shot them dead on the spot.
Two teachers were injured by ricochets from the initial burst of gunfire. One teacher was hit in the leg, but was able to crawl back into the meeting room to call 911. The second teacher who was closing the door to her classroom much further down the hallway was hit in the foot.
Lanza bypassed the first classroom belonging to Kaitlin Roig, who had closed her door when she heard the gunfire. Also, Roig hadn’t taken down a sheet of construction paper that was taped over the door’s window as a part of a practice lockdown some weeks earlier. As a result, Lanza couldn’t see into Roig’s classroom.
Lanza skipped a class taught by Victoria Soto, and entered one taught by substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau. According to the Courant, “Lanza killed all but one student in Rousseau’s class, where the children were massed together in the back corner of the room trying to get into a bathroom. One girl escaped because she played dead and ran out of the room after Lanza left.”
Lanza then doubled back to Victoria Soto’s room. Authorities believe that when Lanza started walking to the back of Soto’s classroom, he noticed some children hiding under their desks. Lanza shot these students.
At this point, Lanza’s gun jammed giving six children a chance to escape. According to the Courant, “Soto had placed another group of five children in a closet, where they were found alive by authorities.”
As evil as Adam Lanza was, these women, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Scherlach, Kaitlin Roig, Victoria Soto, and Lauren Rousseau, were heroic. To me, a mother’s devotion to a child, or in this case, these women’s love for and willingness to sacrifice, and indeed die, for children who aren’t their own, is the noblest human calling.
In less than 5 minutes, Lanza fired 152 bullets before he stopped and took his own life. During that time, he had to stop and re-load his 30 bullet clips four times. The new gun safety regulations now under consideration in Congress would limit the size of a clip to 10 bullets. Had that law been in place, Lanza would have been required to re-load 14 times.
Not only would it have been difficult for Lanza to carry 14 clips with him, but the chance of the gun jamming and the time required to re-load 14 times would have increased significantly. The police were closing in on Lanza at the 5-minute mark. With 10 bullet clips, because of the increased time needed to re-load Lanza’s assault rifle, the death toll would have diminished. Some first graders who perished would have been going home with their parents.
Of course, had Adam Lanza not had access to a military-style assault weapon in the first place, many more first-graders’ lives would have been saved.
The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right to own a gun. But Antonin Scalia, the most conservative of all the Supreme Court justices, argues that the government still has the right to regulate the use of firearms.
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School provides a stunning example of the need for common sense gun safety regulation.