Is it time to talk about gun violence?
When Adam Lanza, an anti-social misanthrope who shot and killed his mother in Newtown, Connecticut, and then took her gun arsenal and slaughtered 20 six- and seven-year-olds and a half-dozen teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School for no apparent reason, many thought the long-awaited debate over gun violence would commence in earnest. After all the thoughts and prayers were offered, of course.
That was on December 14, 2012, and five years later, not only is the national debate continuing to be put off, there continue to be calls to further loosen gun laws and fights to halt restrictions on rapid-fire weapons that are the choice of mass murderers.
Since Sandy Hook, there have been 1,552 mass shootings in the US, according to the tracking website Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as those where four or more people, excluding the shooter, are killed or wounded in a single related incident. The numbers resulted in 1,767 deaths and more than 6,220 wounded.
Complicating the math is that the federal government doesn’t use the term “mass shooting.” The FBI has a definition of “mass murderer” as someone who kills four or more people in “one event, in one location,” while Congress defines a “mass killing” as three or more deaths in a single incident.
But whether researchers and media use the looser definition or one of the more strict federal definitions, the people are still dead and wounded in all of the incidents, whether they are classified as mass shooting victims or run-of-the-mill dead and wounded people from gun violence.
Former Boston magazine writer David S. Bernstein, writing in The Atlantic, said dead victims of mass shootings receive all the attention in news coverage and memorials, but the wounded, whose numbers are far greater, are often forgotten almost immediately, with little research into their plight. Changing that, said Bernstein, is paramount in addressing gun violence.
“Without more data—without identifying who commits shootings, where, how, and against whom; without plotting their rise and fall, to correlate with potential contributing factors; without analyzing those questions on a national, regional, local, neighborhood, and individual basis—it’s impossible to tell which public policies and interventions could be most effective at reducing gun violence.” Bernstein writes.
A Harvard University study a couple years ago using the congressional definition of three or more deaths found that the rate of mass shootings has tripled since 2011. According to the study, in the 29 years between 1982 and 2011, an average of 172 days elapsed between mass shootings. Since 2011, the average time between those shootings has dropped to 64 and the incidents involving more people have dramatically increased.
When Lanza was through slaughtering innocents at Sandy Hook, the death toll made it the worst mass shooting in US history. Until Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, and mowed down 49 people and wounded another 50, to lay claim to the new death record. Which then fell less than 16 months later after Stephen Paddock sat in his sniper’s nest on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel and randomly killed 58 concert-goers while injuring an estimated 500 more. A church shooting a few weeks later in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which 25 men, women, and children were killed, barely registered for longer than a few days.
Five years after Sandy Hook, has enough time passed to talk? Because, sure as shooting, another one is coming.
Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a bill doubling the active duty pay for National Guard members to a minimum of $200 a day, which would make it the highest in the nation. (State House News Service)
The Baker administration continued to push back against a scathing report on the Department of Children and Families from state Auditor Suzanne Bump, with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders defending changes and increased budgets at the agency while pointing out the audit looked at prior years before the overhaul. (Greater Boston) An Eagle-Tribune editorial calls for a legislative hearing designed to determine who’s telling the truth.
The state marijuana commission has given preliminary approval to a regulations that would allow pot “cafes” where cannabis can be consumed onsite and to home delivery of pot. (Boston Globe)
The top two officials in the State Police who both quickly filed for retirement in the wake of the scandal over changes made to the arrest report of a judge’s daughter collected nearly $300,000 between them in unused sick and vacation time. (Boston Herald)
The Senate president’s office is all decked out for Christmas, but a party for senators and staff has been canceled this year. Instead, the office will be open to the public for viewing. (State House News)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia removed the chairman of the Historical Commission, with whom he’s had a running battle, under provisions of the new city charter that gives the mayor power to fire department heads and board members without cause. (Herald News)
Yarmouth police have begun carrying a special injectable form of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan to protect their drug-sniffing dogs from opioid exposure. (Cape Cod Times)
The Globe series on racism looks at the world of Boston sports.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton selected Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace US Sen. Al Franken, who is resigning in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. (U.S. News & World Report)
House and Senate Republicans have reached agreement on the tax cut deal but it’s unclear if the total package can meet the cap of $1.5 trillion it must stay under in order to meet Senate rules. (New York Times) A Globe editorial says Maine Sen. Susan Collins should stay true to her principles and vote against the bill, which fails to meet some of the conditions she laid out as crucial for her support.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans, in a Globe op-ed, decry the move advancing in Congress to force states to honor the concealed weapon laws of other states.
The Alabama Senate race was a huge warning shot across the bow of the SS Trump. Will he shift course? (Boston Globe) US Rep. Seth Moulton sees the Democrats taking control of the House next year. (Salem News)
A Herald editorial, reacting to Tuesday’s defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama, says, “there is justice and sanity in the world.”
Democratic US Rep. Stephen Lynch says he would “consider” voting for the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, for reelection next year. (Boston Herald)
Some observers say the arrest over the weekend of his brother-in-law on charges of assault with intent to rape and assault and battery could spell trouble for any White House bid former governor Deval Patrick may be contemplating. (Boston Herald) One other observer, Howie Carr, goes to town on the news. (Boston Herald)
The ACLU launches a voter education campaign to highlight the stances of the state’s district attorneys, particularly those up for reelection. (MassLive)
Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield is targeted by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance for her support of a safe communities bill, and she questions why the group targeted her and not the men who supported the legislation. (Berkshire Eagle).
A national union representing Boston Herald workers is pushing a US Bankruptcy Court to order the paper to continue paying into retirement accounts. (Boston Globe)
An appeals court judge granted Attorney General Maura Healey until late January to investigate the Berkshire Museum’s proposed sale of artworks. (Berkshire Eagle)
Eversource Energy offers its western Massachusetts customers a holiday gift — a one-month reprieve on a recently approved rate hike. (Berkshire Eagle)
Several charities run by the same CEO have raised millions for veterans but the bulk of it — more than 95 percent — has gone to his salary and telemarketers banned by the state of New York from fundraising. Brian Arthur Hampton, the charities’ CEO, is now looking at starting a veterans’-focused tax-exempt PAC using the same fundraising approach. (Politico)
Dunkin’ Donuts is finally building and opening a franchise in Hopkinton after a three-year court battle with officials and residents over whether it should be classified as a store, which would be allowed under zoning laws, or a fast-food restaurant, which is prohibited in the town. (MetroWest Daily News)
Disney plans to buy most of Fox’s TV and movie operations for $52.4 billion. (Reuters)
A prominent classical music professor has been sacked from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee over allegations of abuse of behavior and sexual improprieties, and two other schools also cut ties to the instructor. (Boston Globe)
Two Boston School Committee members say the board should revisit its decision to dramatically revamp school opening and dismissal times in the wake of parent protests. (Boston Herald)
A new study says a Massachusetts effort to reduce opioid prescribing by providing physicians with information on how their prescribing habits compare with those of their peers has failed. (Boston Globe)
Veteran Dorchester activist Rev. Bill Loesch says if the city is serious about promoting the health of Bostonians it should ban all tobacco sales in the city. (Dorchester Reporter)
A freight train derailed in the woods in Taunton, causing an 1,800-gallon diesel fuel spill. (Taunton Gazette)
A six-month investigation by GateHouse Media looking at the more than 1,000 wind farms across the country finds fractured communities and thousands of residents with health problems they say stem from the turbines planted by energy companies who minimize the effects and pay off opponents to silence them.
A Brockton man is facing up to five years in prison after he was charged with using his medical marijuana card to buy pot and then selling it on the streets for profit. (The Enterprise)
Three Fall River city councilors received death threats via text from someone who identified herself as a New Bedford woman saying her ex-boyfriend and brother were going to “beat u to death.” The woman told the councilors to have the men arrested. (Herald News)
John Henry, the publisher of the Boston Globe, writes an appreciation of Pat Purcell, the publisher of the Boston Herald. Henry discloses that he subscribes to the Herald, wants the new owner to “carry on the work of the Herald,” and hopes “the people of Boston will recognize and celebrate what Pat Purcell has brought to our great city over his years in charge of a feisty, driven, provocative newspaper.” Henry’s note from the publisher appears this morning only on the editorial page of the print version of the paper. The Globe says it will go online around noon today.Boston University has hired two firms to investigate the conduct of talk show host Tom Ashbrook. One will focus on allegations of sexual harassment and the other will deal with bullying. (WBUR)
The Alabama live voting results page on the New York Times website received more than 13 million page views. (New York Times)