Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 15, 2012

Neti, neti

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on December 15, 2012

Unless something more is uncovered in the investigation, I do not want to make Newtown a homeland security story.

There may be analogies, implications, and such. Many of us no doubt immediately thought of Beslan.  But I want to  frame and name this massacre as something else.   I’m not sure my wanting has good cause, but that seldom stands in the way of blogging.

A friend and colleague is inclined to ponder the ontology of homeland security.  In this case, I am arguing a categorical distinction.

For me Newtown ascends beyond homeland security to a question of fundamental ontology.  There are some expressions of reality we ought not try to narrow and dissect.  There are moments that claim our paltry best to engage as whole.

–+–

If you have 51 minutes to listen, I find this radio discussion unintentionally relevant to the situation in Newtown — and to other aspects of reality I am more sanguine to include in homeland security.  Please listen to: Presence in the Wild.

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8 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 15, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

Thanks Phil! A comfort to me and hopefully to many others. The lives scarred by this shooting are difficult to number but no doubt numerous. Sympathy to those suffering.

Comment by What's the point then

December 16, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

“I do not want to make Newtown a homeland security story”…

Phil- if protecting 20 kids isn’t about homeland security, then What (TF!) is? Let’s just roll up the $52B DHS budget, not to mention the fusion centers, NCTC, DoD targeting, etc., and call it a day. Just because this nut didn’t yell “holy Jihad” doesn’t change the Ends. So let’s not divorce fixes from the Ways and Means.

Shame on us if we can’t find a way to direct the HS gains of the past decade toward linking gun and ammo databases, mental health registries, behavioral analysis, see-something-say-something stuff (within Constitutional privacy constructs), towards preventing, protecting, and responding and mitigating what CNN said have been 181 school shootings since Columbine. Shame shame shame to deny this is a homeland security problem. As an advocate for silo-smashing, I am surprised you would say otherwise.

WTPT

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 16, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

WTP: Especially with your parenthetical, I’m not opposed to any of the methods identified in your second paragraph.

Based on what I know tonight, I don’t think any of those methods would have had a systemic influence on this case. I perceive there are problems that can not be fixed. To mistake what happened in Newtown (at least as I understand it tonight) as something that might be fixed strikes me as distracting attention from other more important outcomes.

For me the father of Emilie Parker, one of those killed, demonstrated how, for now, we should be attentive. Please see:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9748058/Victims-father-offers-love-and-compassion-to-family-of-gunman.html

Comment by John Comiskey

December 17, 2012 @ 5:10 am

This is a time for crying.

Cry now and pray to the one you pray to.

Soon it will time to reflect.

I sense that while we as a Nation do not want a repeat of Newtown and the too many other Newtown-like horrors that fill our memories, we are not fully prepared to prevent the next horror.

Prevention is not an abstraction –prevention is action.

Prevention is identifying public safety hazards:
While the perpetrator was a victim –a victim of mental disease/defect –he was a public safety hazard.

The degree to which he was a public safety hazard is now fully known –the degree to which his care keepers knew of his volatility will never be fully known.

The perpetrator’s care keeper was a gun enthusiast. The care keeper was legally within her rights. The gun enthusiast was also the care keeper of a potential public safety hazard. The care keeper had a moral responsibility to keep guns away from her son –a potential public safety hazard.

Typically, convicted criminals and persons with mental disease/defect are legally prohibited from owning guns. Despite some moral efforts, convicted criminals and persons with mental disease/defect somehow manage to get guns anyway.

As a Nation we can do better. America needs leaders.

America needs 50 governors (territories and tribal governments too) to
1. Strengthen existing gun laws
2. Call upon every gun owner’s sense of civic responsibility. Keep guns away from potential public safety hazards.

The Constitution NEVER trumps public safety!

My thoughts and prayers to Newton, Connecticut and the Nation.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 17, 2012 @ 8:55 am

John, Tell me more about “The Constitution NEVER trumps public safety!” I have been taught the opposite. Phil

Comment by John Comiskey

December 17, 2012 @ 10:57 am

Qualification: IMHO, the Constitution should never trumph public safety.

Comment by Michael Brady

December 17, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

John,

“The Constitution NEVER trumps public safety!”

or

“IMHO, the Constitution should never trumph public safety.”

The authors, ratifiers, and interpreters of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments to the Constitution would disagree. As a nation we decided two centuries ago that individual liberty is at least as important as community safety. From time to time we pay a sad and heavy price for that commitment.

Comment by Michael Brady

December 17, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

John,

“The perpetrator’s care keeper was a gun enthusiast. The care keeper was legally within her rights. The gun enthusiast was also the care keeper of a potential public safety hazard. The care keeper had a moral responsibility to keep guns away from her son –a potential public safety hazard.”

Agreed.

Preliminary reports tell us the three guns used by the shooter in Newtown belonged to his mother and that he used one to kill her before leaving their home. It’s not my place to question her decision to own firearms, but I question her judgment in allowing her disturbed son access to them. She would too, if she were still alive. Likewise, the rifle used to kill two and wound another at the Clackamas Town Center Mall was stolen from its owner by the shooter. The AR-15 is a lawful implement with a variety of legitimate applications, but I question the owner’s storage precautions. I imagine he will too, for the rest of his life. How might our world be different today if the guns used to commit these recent horrors had been locked away behind the armored door of a gun safe?

http://eclecticbreakfast.blogspot.com/2012/12/not-time-for-numbers.html

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