Reactions to the Newtown school massacre

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School or describe the pain and shock of such an unspeakable tragedy. No words can comfort the loved ones of those brutally taken from us today. All Americans share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events.

“We are all stunned, shocked, and distraught by this tragic shooting, by this violent act, and by the loss of so many young children. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the students, teachers, and educators killed and wounded in Newtown, Connecticut. The entire nation will continue to stand as a source of support to this community in the days and weeks to come.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell:

“Earlier today, another horrific gun tragedy struck our nation as innocent men, women, and children were senselessly shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. My prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and the communities impacted by today’s terrifying events.

“As an educator for 30 years, I know firsthand the importance of making a school a safe place where children can grow and learn. Having that sense of safety ripped from us, again, is both shocking and jarring. It is difficult to imagine what it feels like to be a parent that has outlived their child or to be part of a family inexplicably left with a gaping hole in their hearts. While exact details still remain unclear, there is no doubt that today is a somber day. A close-knit community, like countless communities all around our country, was violently attacked, and we will continue to feel the shocks of this violence for some time.

“This event, much like the numerous other shootings earlier this year, will undoubtedly lead to difficult discussions about safety, public policy and emergency preparedness. This self-reflection is natural, and it is my hope that we can finally take action to address the root causes of these horrific tragedies together, as a nation.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the children and families of Newtown. In a year with so many appalling acts of gun violence, this is the most shocking of such tragedies. While we do not have all the details behind this senseless and unconscionable massacre, it is a sad and horrific reminder of what is possible when guns get into the wrong hands. We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“I am horrified and incensed by today’s tragedy in Connecticut. These massacres don’t seem to stop—they continue on and on.

“When senseless mass shootings reach into our kindergartens and elementary schools, one has to question what is happening to America. Gun violence took the lives of more than 8,000 Americans last year, and today claimed the lives of at least 18 children.

“As I have said many times before—and now repeat in the wake of yet another tragedy—weapons of war don’t belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools.

“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life.”

“But today we mourn for those who have been killed and the families that have been devastated.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“My heart breaks over this senseless tragedy that took so many innocent lives. My prayers go out to their families and to all those who were injured.

“This touches us all so deeply, and it is long past time that we enacted sensible gun laws and school safety legislation.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“We all mourn the heartbreaking loss of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. We pray for their families and loved ones.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“For those calling for the postponement of any discussion of gun and mental health policy in America – you are wrong.

“Just WRONG!

“We postponed after the President and his press secretary, James Brady were shot more than 30 years ago. We postponed after the tragedy in Columbine 13 years ago. We postponed after Virginia Tech five years ago. We postponed after Representative Gabriel Giffords was shot in 2011. We postponed in July when a mentally disturbed James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theatre. And earlier this week, people said it was too soon to talk about gun and mental health policy when a gunman opened fire at a crowded mall in Oregon.

“Today, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House briefing room named for James Brady and now we turn to our political leaders to finally and decisively act.

“Prayers are important. We are a nation that always prays at times of great tragedy. But prayer is not enough as we learn in James 2 14-26, ‘What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works…Faith without works is dead.’

“Today is a clarion call to all leaders, regardless of political party, to act purposefully. Senseless gun violence is not simply about gun control. It must also include meaningful discussion of mental health policy in America. Political parties must be realistic – Democrats can’t draw the line in the sand at banning all guns and Republicans can’t dig in on the status quo.

“The NRA and the gun lobby are not supportive the President and now is the time for him to give them a real reason. The President must call the question. Put the gun lobby on the bench. Call on every member of congress to step out from behind the money and power of the gun lobby and act before we are lulled back into a false sense of security and forget to have the conversation again until the next tragedy. There are families in Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, California, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin and every other state that have suffered loss due to gun violence and they do not want a postponement this debate any longer.

“How many more people have to die before we decide the time is right to have this debate and take action? Now is a time for prayer…and leadership.”

Lots more, after the jump…

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the parents, families and school employees dealing with the horrific loss of life in Newtown, Connecticut. I join all Americans in grieving for this community suffering from this incomprehensible tragedy.

“Today is for sorrow and prayers. But the days ahead are for serious reflection about how we can reduce the flow of guns into the wrong hands. One mass shooting after another in America is followed by sincere and painful mourning but no real action to protect the innocent. We must come together as a nation to honestly discuss how to prevent people intent on carrying out these savage attacks from so easily obtaining guns and ammunition.

“The nation is ready for this conversation. More importantly, though, the safety of children and all Americans demands we have it.”

From Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo:

“Watching in horror and disbelief at what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning, I can’t find words to describe the shock and sadness I am feeling for the children and adults who were senselessly murdered. My thoughts and prayers are with the parents, families and school employees in Newtown, Connecticut who are confronting an unspeakable tragedy. The senseless taking of 26 lives raises so many questions about why this happened and what can be done to make certain it is not repeated elsewhere. But these questions have been asked before and each time the response has been one of grief followed by inaction. Perhaps, this latest tragedy will lead to the kind of policies that will effectively prevent troubled people in this country from obtaining guns capable of massacring innocent people.”

From Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto:

“My wife Sonia and I send our most sincere thoughts and prayers to the Newtown community during this horrific time. As the parents of two young children, our hearts truly go out to the families and loved ones of those tragically lost today.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“I am stunned, as are all Americans, by this horrendous tragedy. The massacre of innocent young children makes this even more abominable, and my heart breaks for those kids, their families, and their classmates and teachers. We hold them in our hearts and in our prayers.

“Since the late 1980’s, we have seen such terror unfold at schools all over the country, including close to home in Olivehurst, Stockton and Southern California. Wherever it occurs, we are all touched by these despicable crimes against the innocent.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we will learn more about how this happened and what may have been done to help prevent it. It’s incumbent upon us to ask the questions that need answers, examine the circumstances, and to address these issues with whatever steps we can take to better protect our families and our schools.

“Now however, is a time for us to mourn, and to hold our children and loved ones closer as we pray for the victims in Newtown, Connecticut.”

From Oakland Mayor Jean Quan:

“Today we are attempting to reach out to officials in Newton, Connecticut to offer our support and prayers in this tragedy. Our city understands the heartbreak of young people lost to senseless violence. In the eight months since the loss of seven lives at Oikos University, we have seen the repeated mass violence at shopping malls in Portland and Wisconsin, at a high school in Aurora, Colorado and now again in an elementary school.

“We agree with President Obama that “we are going to have to come together and take meaningful action.” Senator Feinstein’s legislation on assault weapons expired long ago, and any discussion of renewal or other legislation has been blocked.

“And less talked about is the need to provide more mental health intervention and the need for family and neighbors to find help when mental illness is apparent.

“Today in Oakland, police officers made themselves available to many schools, students and staff. Please join me in praying for the victims and their families.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Who gives a **** what the same old tired self-serving pols think?

  • John W

    When Littleton happened in 1999, it was a freak event. Now, these things seem to occur with a degree of regularity, whether it’s a school, a mall, a movie theatre or a temple. But what happened today, with 20 little kids and 6 teachers dead, takes it to a whole new level. Why do we seem to have so much more of this than any other developed country?

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Honda and Yee should shut up.

  • GV Haste

    I’ve found that the best thing to do when these events happen is to briefly hear the initial details, then turn off all media coverage of the event for 3 or 4 days.
    There is little to be gotten from the media frenzy during the first 72 to 96 hours. Especially when ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX all anchor their eveing news from some small town, as in this case here.

    Nothing encourages or advertises these events more than the endless coverage.

    Better to ignore the new for days, then get some concise summary of the event a week later when actual facts begin to become apparent.

    Nothing will change. There will be no new gun laws that will prevent the next event.
    Nothing any local California office holder says or does will change the future course of such acts.
    They should confine themselves to routine gun violence closer to home.

    Three or four more people were shot last night in Oakland. The only unusual thing about that was that none of the died.
    Meanwhile Oakland police have all but discontinued stopping vehicles and people they suspect of being a risk. Everyone’s right to a crime free environment is abandoned so as to be 99.99% certain no one is stopped as being suspicious.
    Everyone, including the criminals are catching on.
    The new Oakland environment is dawning on everyone.
    YOU are on your own.
    The New York “stop and frisk” program is not part of Jean Quan’s plan to make Oakland safer.
    She has NO PLAN. None. Nada. Clueless.

  • Elwood

    Under current conditions if an Oakland cop stops somebody he has to fill out a ream of paper work and risks being sued for profiling and police brutality by John Burris.

    Mo’ betta for him to stay in the cruiser.

    If I lived in Newtown, MA I would have a sign on my front door: “Every third reporter will be beaten with an axe handle. The second one just left.”

  • John W

    I generally concur with GV Haste that it’s best to ignore the news for a few days and then come back to it after the facts have settled a bit. We don’t even know the names of the deceased yet, except for the much loved and respected principal.

    However, I think it is important to pass on this bit of breaking news. Westboro Baptist Church is on top of things and has announced plans to picket the school and the funerals. As their leader has said, they want “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgement.”

    I think God has never forgiven us for putting His name on our paper currency in 1957.

  • Alcoahead

    In the phrase “Glock’d” (as in “killed by a Glock 9mm handgun”) you find the letters “G”, “O”, and “D” in perfect order.

    Any coincidence?

    I think NOT.

    So is it written — and so is it done.

    Let us ask ourselves: WWJS?*

    *What Would Jesus Shoot (so as to kill the bad guys, even though he never preached revenge or hatred or violence of any kind)?

    Other questions worth asking:

    1) What is a forty-something female substitute teacher doing with a virtual arsenal of lethal weaponry, when she has a seriously mentally troubled adult male living with her that she acknowledged was “several cards short of a full deck?”

    2) What kind of security system at a high income school has, as part of its barriers to entry, a shatterable glass panel right next to the front door, unwired to any security alarm, and wide enough to allow an adult male to cross through it once shattered?

    I am SO sick of the STUPIDITY of American society, since so much of this pointless carnage (just like 9-11) could have been avoided with some common sense — like:

    1) Don’t let a Goth adult male anywhere near lethal weapons, and, for Darwin’s sake, don’t take them to the shooting range to allow them to perfect their craft at shooting

    2) Don’t use shatterable glass as a barrier against unauthorized break-ins, or if you do, at least wire the glass to detect instant breakage and sound an alarm

    3) If you are flying a machine loaded with hundreds of gallons of aviation fuel, and thousands of pounds of metal, at least LOCK the cabin doors so that no one can disturb you whule you are trying to control such a “semi-guided missile”

    You CAN’T fix stupid — but we Americans LOVE to pretend that we AREN’T stupid, and even if we are, that we CAN fix stupid, just after the fact.

  • John W

    Good question about the mother. Contrary to early reports, she apparently was not a substitute teacher or employee at the school. She may have been a volunteer. The shooter attended the school (K-4) years ago. Ironically, Newtown is headquarters for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the main trade association for gun manufacturers and retailers.

    This school was more secure than most. Many of the elementary and middle schools in the Bay Area are open campuses. As a volunteer at an elementary school, I had to sign in and out at the office. But anybody with bad intentions could walk on to the campus and head directly to the classrooms. I suspect they will now at least start locking the classroom doors.

  • GV Haste

    People are uncomfortable admitting there was nothing that could have been done at the school site to prevent this.
    No stronger glass, or locks, or anything else could have stopped a person intent on doing this crime.
    All he would have needed to do was to go around whatever your Maginot Line was.

    You can’t protect every child in every school all over this nation. It can’t be done short of stationing a police officer to be on-site every single day at every single school.