04/13/13 7:00am
04/13/2013 7:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Joe and Roe Czaluda's memorial to the Sandy Hook victims on their front lawn on Sunrise Avenue in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Joe and Roe Czaluda’s memorial they created in December to the Sandy Hook victims on their front lawn on Sunrise Avenue in Riverhead.

Yes, it’s true: I’m a crybaby. I cry at movies (“Shane,” “Cast Away,” etc.), I cried for two weeks straight as an 11-year-old at summer camp and I cried again Sunday night as we were watching “60 Minutes.”

But I wasn’t the only one crying Sunday night. Many of those being interviewed by CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley were in tears, too. And for good reason.

They were the parents and loved ones of the students and teachers who were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

You remember Sandy Hook, don’t you? That’s no wisecrack; it’s a legitimate question as the days, weeks and months begin to pile up in the wake of yet another mass shooting for which our nation has become so well known.

And, as one of the Newtown parents so eloquently stated Sunday night, it will happen again, because it always happens again, particularly if the National Rifle Association has anything to say about it.

At this point in the discussion, I would like to yield the floor to my fellow columnist, Carl Hiaasen of the Miami (Fla.) Herald, who recently took to task the NRA in general, and its executive director, Wayne LaPierre, in particular, as follows:

“LaPierre insists that background checks will lead to a ‘national gun registry,’ which will then lead to mass confiscation of firearms by the government.

“Oh sure. The same government that can’t afford to deliver mail on Saturdays is poised to send armed agents to every single house in the country to search for weapons.

“The notion is ridiculous, and Wayne’s well aware of it. The NRA isn’t aiming for the mainstream support. The fringe is what they’re after — the spooked-out guys who were lining up to buy assault rifles after the mass shooting in Newtown.”

I know from reader comments on my previous columns in favor of more stringent gun control measures that I stand accused of belaboring the subject. And to that charge I plead guilty, and furthermore vow to keep writing about guns until we as a nation wake up to these inescapable truths:

• No one should be allowed to purchase a gun without undergoing a background check.

• No one but military or law enforcement personnel should be allowed to have an assault rifle.

• No one but military or law enforcement personnel should be allowed to have an ammunition clip that holds more than 10 rounds.

Period.

Word this week out of Washington is that an increasing number of our esteemed members of Congress are beginning to lose whatever resolve they may have had for meaningful gun control reform immediately following the Newtown tragedy. Apparently the NRA and Americans’ collective short memories are conspiring to prolong, once again, our national shame.

And to that reality I can think of no more powerful rejoinder than these exact words of Newtown parent David Wheeler on “60 Minutes” Sunday night:

“I would like every parent in this country — that’s 150 million people. I would like them to look in the mirror. And that’s not a figure of speech, Scott. I mean, literally, find a mirror in your house and look in it and look in your eyes and say, ‘This will never happen to me. This will never happen in my school. This will never happen in my community.’ And see if you actually believe that. And if there is a shadow, the slightest shadow of doubt about what you’ve said, think about what you can do to change that in your house, in your community, in your school, in your country, because we have an obligation to our children to do this for them. It’s gonna happen again. It is going to happen again. And every time, you know, it’s somebody else’s school, it’s somebody else’s town. It’s somebody else’s community until one day you wake up and it’s not.”

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03/27/13 3:00pm
03/27/2013 3:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Dylan Douglas, 12, of Aquebogue raised $783 by running in The Sandy Hook Run For The Families 5K in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday.

RUNNING: Aquebogue boy runs for Sandy Hook Dylan Douglas 12, of Aquebogue ran in the The Sandy Hook Run For The Families 5K in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday. Over 15,000 runners ran through downtown Hartford to raise money for the Sandy Hook Foundation. Douglas raised $783 himself in the fundraiser. His time was 31 minutes 1 second, leaving him as the 2,832nd finisher.

WOMEN’S TENNIS: Bundrick a winner in doubles, singles In the third doubles position, first-year players Erica Bundrick of Mattituck and Alexandra Sulkin combined for an 8-5 victory for Saint Michael’s College (Vt.), which stayed unbeaten in the Northeast-10 Conference, grabbing a 9-0 victory over Merrimack College on Friday. In singles play, Bundrick notched a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 2. Saint Michael’s (6-2, 5-0) is ranked eighth in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association East Region rankings.

12/20/12 6:00am
12/20/2012 6:00 AM

ABC NEWS COURTESY PHOTO | A sign welcoming visitors to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Suddenly, all the hoopla about the upcoming special election to fill the North Fork’s vacant seat in the county Legislature seems a petty, meaningless distraction.

As interesting as an out-of-season political fight may be, it means absolutely nothing compared to the slaughter of innocents in a Connecticut school in a small town that has a pre-Revolutionary past, as does Southold, with a population not much bigger than Southold’s.

For many, the school shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech might as well have occurred on the other side of the globe. Nothing like that could ever take place in our little, safe corner of the world, right? The folly of such thinking became all too clear when the unthinkable took place in another seemingly little, safe community.

Gone in the blink of an eye was any false sense of security. If it happened there, it could happen here. The enormous — and as yet unanswered — question is why?

Much of the public dialogue since the shootings has centered on the weapons involved. That topic certainly dominates these pages this week.

Beyond the gun control debate, we’re left with trying to understand what would drive someone to perform such a heinous act. We’re led to believe the young man had mental issues. Many Americans do, but they don’t pick up an assault rifle and open fire on school staff and students as young as six. That question cannot go unanswered, just as the gun control issue cannot be placed back on the shelf until the next mass murder.

Even the National Rifle Association, the national symbol of legal gun ownership, recognizes this. In a statement on the Newtown shootings released Tuesday afternoon, NRA leaders said they’re prepared “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” Those “contributions” are to be identified during a Friday, Dec. 21, press conference.

We hope the NRA is serious this time, but let’s not kid ourselves, The sad reality is America is full of guns, and a constitutional amendment might do little to change that, particularly in the short term. Prohibition didn’t work, nor has the multitude of legislative efforts at drug control. Still, raising the Constitution in every gun ownership discussion is a smokescreen. Remember, the Constitution also permitted slave ownership — that is, until the people rose up to abolish it. Given the fearsome lethality of assault weapons, there’s no legitimate reason for any civilian to own one. To argue otherwise is akin to saying that since a pilot can legally purchase a Piper Cub, there should be no prohibition against acquiring a fully armed surplus Eastern Bloc MIG fighter.

The only acceptable response to the Newtown madness is to put aside emotion and embrace logic and common sense.

Don’t affix blame, fix the problem.