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Let’s Holster Incendiary Rhetoric and Get Flagler Started on Meaningful Gun Talk

| January 18, 2013

A memorial for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Andrew Gardecki)

A memorial for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Andrew Gardecki)

By Milissa Holland

December 14, 2012, will be one of those days when each of us will remember exactly what we were doing on hearing the news that we lost 28 people in the Newtown school massacre. I was driving with my daughter, listening to the radio. “Silent Night” came over the airwaves and spoke of this tragedy.  We looked at each other with confusion and our eyes began to fill with tears.

milissa-holland-sigWhat happened next was what normally happens after these almost-routine mass shootings. Whether out of a sense of helplessness or fear or just trying to wrap our minds around the tragedy, we’ve had literally days and thousands of hours of discussions about gun control, but little else.  We have become such a reactive society rather than a proactive one that you have to wonder what, if anything, will come out of this divisive issue.

Nevertheless it’s a dialogue we need to have. So starting Friday, I will begin a series of conversations on my radio program on WNZF to see where we are on this issue as a community.  My guests throughout the coming weeks will include law enforcement and education officials, state lawmakers and national policy makers.

Click On:


What has bothered me about the rhetoric in the last few weeks is the predictable nature of the debate, the extremists on both sides making blanket and incendiary statements. They seem intent to provoke greater anger over the situation rather than shed light on it.  You have former New York City mayoral candidate Mark Green calling for gun owners to be registered in a public database similar to that of sex offenders. How anyone can make a statement like that is beyond me.  How that would stop anyone from going on a killing spree is not clear to me.

We cannot fail to mention Ann Coulter’s support of the National Rifle Association’s push to place armed guards in our schools.  I can only imagine what would happen to education funding when parents decide to homeschool their children rather than have them walk around all day alongside guards with weapons strapped to their bodies. Rambo comes to mind.

I have read several extreme comments that leave me scratching my head wondering when will we let go of this rhetorical OK Corral standoff and have a real conversation. Ironically, a calm, reasonable suggestion came from an 8-year-old named Coleman Glasser, who had to write an essay on one thing he could change in the world. His proposal: “No more assault rifles.” (He makes an exception for soldiers.) His essay was featured in the Huffington Post.

In the end Coleman may get his wish, if Vice President Joe Biden has anything to do with it. Biden supports reinstituting the assault rifle ban passed in 1994 as part of a crime bill.  The ban expired 10 years later. Its effectiveness is still highly debated. Universal background checks are also expected to be recommended. Currently, background checks are only conducted when a gun is purchased at a retailer. Universal background check would extend to any private sale of a gun, eliminating the gunshow loophole. The Obama administration may also recommend regulating magazine clips, possibly banning high-capacity clips and restricting gun users to a certain amount of ammunition, sparking what some call a “war on ammo.”  Although I don’t believe all these proposals will be adopted, I do believe we will see some sort of legislation.


In an even more unexpected turn of events, ABC News is reporting that almost 3 million background checks were conducted in December alone, a million more than last year during the same time period.  Florida marked the issuing of its 1 millionth concealed weapon permit the same week of the Newtown massacre. The NRA is celebrating a staggering 100,000 new members in just 18 days.

So what is the real debate?  Should we just chalk up this tragedy to kids playing too many violent video games?  There’s no proven connection between the two.  I have been to shooting ranges and have been skeet shooting a few times—and actually did really well at both.  I don’t own a gun but believe in the right of others to do so.  I also believe in the castle doctrine and the right to protect your household.  However, I also support a ban on assault weapons, used in 35 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012.  It should not be that easy for a young man to blow a hole in a locked facility, walk through the hallway and into a classroom and kill 20 children in a matter of minutes.  We should have some assurances that our children can go to school without fear every day.  I understand that nothing is a given in our world. But doing all we can to ensure children’s safety sounds like a reasonable request to me.

Whatever may be the direction of lawmakers in Florida, in other states or in Congress, I want to get the conversation started locally.  Let’s have an open, respectful dialogue.  I would like to think that these children have not died in vain. We owe it to them to create a safer environment. If it takes an emotionally charged discussion to make that happen, then let’s start now.

Milissa Holland, a Flagler County commissioner from 2006 to 2012, is host of Milissa Holland Live on WNZF 1550 AM, Fridays at 10 a.m. Her column will appear here every Wednesday. Reach her by email here, on Facebook or on Twitter. While she’s on the air Friday morning between 10 and 11, call her at 386/206-WNZF (or 206-9693).

Coleman Glasser, the son of ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser, was asked what one thing he would change in the world, if he could.

Coleman Glasser, the son of ACLU President Ira Glasser, was asked what one thing he would change in the world, if he could.

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34 Responses for “Let’s Holster Incendiary Rhetoric and Get Flagler Started on Meaningful Gun Talk”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with more or background checks on ALL guns bought by a dealer. The gun show loophole should go away. If you give a shot gun to your kid for their birthday ???? We already have laws that are not enforced harshly enough. As for the “asault” wepons they are nothing more then a scary lookin gun (to some). i would have no problem with limiting mags to 10/12 rounds.

       2 likes

  2. kmedley says:

    This video was posted on Facebook. It’s John Stossels’ report on gun controls and the myth that such laws reduce violence and crime. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFLK6yZYeC4

    While having this debate, it is important for us to remember why our Founders, and the thirteen states formed under the Articles of Confederation, fought for the Second Amendment. The British did confiscate weapons, ammo, and assault weapons of the era. Did this stop the Revolution? No. Those who wanted freedom from Mother England still found a way to acquire guns and ammo, either through stealing them from weapons depots guarded by the British, or through deals with France, our Founders were able to secure guns.

    Let’s also remember Nazi Germany. Now I know this raises passions; but, Hitler confiscated the guns. And whether it sounds crazy in today’s world, there are many who believe the gun registration and the Executive Orders signed yesterday provide a database for the government to confiscate guns here in the U.S. If your reaction is it can’t happen here, I’ll wager that’s what many thought in Germany and Russia.

    My son attends Matanzas High School. Like many families, he and I had many conversations about the Sandy Hook shooting, along with the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. My son said when he started this year, he noticed the officer on campus and noted the gun and taser the officer carried. I asked him what he thought when he saw the weapons. To sum up his response, the weapons made him pause and understand the deterrent factor that comes with the argument of armed guard versus a simple door controlled by office staff who may or may not buzz one in. What if any of the office staff at Sandy Hook had been carrying a concealed weapon? It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

    Here’s yet another. What if Adam Lanza had not been able to get a gun from his mother’s home? Would he have simply given up his plan? What if the NFL player who shot his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself had not been able to get a gun? Would he have still found a way to kill her and himself? There’s a part from an old cheer I shouted in high school, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way!’

    Our society is fraught with people who are just plain evil and with those who have mental health issues that either need help, refuse help, need medication, or refuse to take medication. And yet, We the People, those who are law abiding, who register guns, who submit to a background check, who invest in gun locks and safes, who attend safety classes and concealed weapons classes are being asked to surrender our guns and Second Amendment rights. What gun law, eithe current or proposed would have stopped Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech or any of the 35 referenced in this editorial? What about the school shootings that were ended because a teacher or adult on the campus was carrying a weapon? Why aren’t these covered in the news?

    Yesterday, Fox & Friends hosted a weapon’s expert. He discussed the limiting of rounds in the magazine and the differences between those guns that will be banned and those that are allowed. A skilled shooter can easily take three magazines, with no more than seven bullets, and change them out within a matter of seconds. He also demonstrated how these guns shoot. It is not reminiscent of Rambo. One bullet is discharged with each pull of the trigger. It’s not a rapid fire sub-machine gun. There’s a difference between automatic and semi-automatic. Did you know an empty gun is also a weapon? Ever watched Goodfellas when he pistol whips Karen’s neighbor? Lanza could have inflicted just as much damage with a handgun.

    Prohibition did not work for liquor and it won’t work for guns. How’s the war on drugs going? In all instances, the criminals will still be able to get guns and drugs. Even under age kids get booze. Again, where there’s a will there’s a way. How about the Executive Order which will allow doctors to ask if you own a gun? If you answer truthfully, are you then reported and will FCSO be knocking at the door for the gun?

    Senseless killing has been a part of mankind long before our Nation was conceived. Surrendering our guns and our right to own the type of gun we choose will not stop the killings. I prefer the model of gun control adopted by Kennesaw, Georgia and the video by John Stossel explains it.

       7 likes

  3. johnny taxpayer says:

    “Universal background check would extend to any private sale of a gun, eliminating the gunshow loophole.”

    There is no gunshow loophole, that is a fallacy created in the media. Guns sold by licensed firearm retailers require background checks, guns sold by individuals do not, whether at a gun show or in someone’s house or via craigslist. The only thing “universal background checks” will accomplish is allowing the federal government to keep track of every gun sold. Do we have universal background checks every time someone wants to exercise their 1st amendment rights? The second amendment does not say “right to bare arms, so long as the Government says it’s okay”.

    Secondly, the Ms Holland points out “assault” weapons were used in 35 mass shootings between 1982-2012. But what she fails to include is the necessary context. A) a number of those mass shootings occurred DURING the assault weapons ban, which only expired in 2004. b) the Mother Jones report cited (hardly an unbiased fact finder) failed to give any measure to mass shootings that were prevented because a lawful gun owner was able to stop the tragedy or minimize it before it reached the minimum 4 dead threshold to be counted as a “mass shooting” in their study and c) once again there is no consideration as to how many of these 35 mass shootings occurred in “Gun free zones” where law abiding citizens were not legally permitted to carry their fire arm and thus prevented from responding?

    If we’re going to holster incendiary rhetoric and have a meaningful discussion on guns, it needs to start at square one without any predetermined assumptions on what the solutions will be. A meaningful discussion doesn’t start with the assumption that an assault weapons ban, limiting magazine capacity, and universal background checks are going to solve the problem. It starts at the beginning.

       10 likes

  4. Magnolia says:

    Did the President do anything yesterday to offer mental health assistance to the parents of these little serial killers? They are the ones doing the killings, NOT the honest gun owners.

    In both Chicago and DC, guns are ILLEGAL. They have the highest murder rates in the nation.

    This is not about guns; it is about control. You are wasting your time. This amendment is going to stand. It was meant to protect us from the actions or inactions of our government and it is working.

       13 likes

  5. Dennis says:

    Have to agree with what most have to say here. It’s time we hold the PEOPLE that commit these crimes with guns responsible for their actions. Not the weapon used to carry it out. It seems the current culture is to blame everything but the person responsible.

    Punishing the law abiding citizen for the actions of criminals is insane.

       9 likes

  6. confidential says:

    No distortions please!!
    No one wants to take the guns away from law abiding citizens or their second amendment right!
    What is needed is the proper Universal background check enforced and the high power assault weapons and high capacity clips out of our communities as they only belong in the battlegrounds and are not for defense or sport hunting but instead killing machines for humans.
    No matter the looong rhetoric against enforcing common sense laws, to prevent the slaughter of innocent children and others, we need legislation to pass ASAP. Miica and Rubio, get it?

       3 likes

  7. Deep South says:

    Don’t bring New York’s issues to Florida. Two entirely different states, with entirely different cultures, and lifestyles. That’s why the United States is so unique, and lets keep it that way.

       13 likes

  8. Joe says:

    Mrs Holland, the real issue is mental health, you could have mentioned it once at least!!!!!!!

       5 likes

  9. Outsider says:

    Those of you who can “see no reason” for having more than ten rounds in a magazine have never been in the middle of a riot where hundreds of criminals roam the streets in search of victims to loot, rob and rape.

       6 likes

    • Anonymous says:

      People need to remember the LA riots. It was armed citizens like the shopkeepers in places like Koreatown who took back the streets of LA. The reality is that sort of civil unrest can snowball anywhere. You will call 911 and nobody will come to your aid because they will be too busy defending their own neighborhoods and families.

      America being occupied by a foreign army is likewise not outside the realm of possibility. The government plans for such scenarios, and they would not be able to secure every single town or resource. Think Red Dawn.

      “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” – George Mason

         3 likes

  10. GatorManPC says:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    The 2nd amendment is not for the right to keep and bear arms for hunting. It is to keep and bear arms for the protection of our freedom from enemies foriegn and domestic including any tyrant who thinks he can impose his will on our freedoms.

    I hear comments like “when they wrote the 2nd amendment they had muskets. If they new about assault rifles they wouldn’t have written that so you should have a musket.” But they knew exactly what they were doing. You can’t fight fully automatic machine guns with muskets. If the day ever comes and I pray it does not, that the government does decide to take away our freedoms and abolish the Constitution and bill of rights I’ll be glad that I can put up a fighting chance to preserve our republic and not just get boarded into a cattle car with my children.

       10 likes

  11. realist82 says:

    So what do we do when a mass killing is done by a knife oh wait that has happened already many times…guess we should ban knives and and cutting tools too…are you serious? Take away the innocents right to bare arms and the law bidding citizens of this world will be left to defend themselves with what ….words at a criminal who does not follow the law and is armed to the teeth. “Hey bad guy robbing raping …killing for little to nothing u better stop your not allowed to have a gun anymore its the law now”. Give me a break! Guns do t kill people people kill people has been this way since man first walked the earth. Lets just say what is happening here …its 1984 being shoved down our throats ..full goverment control and deception and always watching….if you dont know what im saying pick up the book and read it before they ban that too.

       4 likes

  12. Henry says:

    The only thing that this gun control issue is doing is raising the price of guns and many many people are making a “killing” out of the tradegy in Newport CT. Guns don’t kill, people kill people.

       3 likes

  13. Abra Seay says:

    Thank you Colleen Conklin for representing Flagler County Schools! We use to have school resource officers at every school in Flagler County until budget cuts. My husband had the best idea I’ve heard yet. Our country has so many veterans; those returning from war or will be returning and those that have retired, etc. Why don’t we use OUR taxpayer dollars to place one or two resource officers at EVERY school in our country and employ our veterans at the same time? School resource officers have a positive impact on school climate. Lets use our tax money to protect our precious children like the president, congress and judges get protected and not take the guns from law abiding citizens.

       9 likes

  14. Jim Wingo says:

    Let’s not forget that in 1978, Jim Jones executed 914 of his followers with kool-aid. We didn’t ban kool-aid!

       11 likes

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