Newtown Shooting Survivor Sues Board of Ed for $100 Million


Let’s talk about this.

The parents of a child who was in Sandy Hook Elementary School during the recent massacre, who is being called “Jill Doe” for anonymity, have filed suit on behalf of the child who “sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet too be determined” from hearing gunfire, screaming and cursing over the loudspeaker during the horrifying attack that left 26 children and adults dead.

There is no doubt in my mind that this child is traumatized. As a parent, I cannot imagine anything worse than what those children experienced, and I still cry thinking about the terror the boys and girls lived through. With the knowledge that nearly an entire classroom of children were killed in that school—a place that was supposed to be safe, a place that was supposed to be fun—each child who survived the shooting will most likely be left with lasting trauma.

But this suit, as detailed by, is being brought against the Board of Education, Department of Education, and the Education Commissioner, because they “had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from ‘foreseeable harm.'”

As a parent whose children attend a public school, it is hard for me to imagine a school much safer than Sandy Hook reportedly was. For those of you whose kids are in public school, how many of your schools have locked doors with a buzz-in system? I would venture to guess not too many —though many more may start to after this.

My mind reels from the implications of suing the Board of Ed for $100 million. What will that accomplish? What do the parents hope to gain from this (other than money, which is a figure well beyond what their child will need in order to obtain all of the necessary therapy and counseling in her life)? Better evacuation plans? Such as “Mr. Wolf is in the Building“? Teaching your children to run away when a person with assault-style rifles starts shooting at their classmates?

Yes, absolutely every school needs to get more serious about evacuation and safety procedures. That is crucial for all emergencies from tornadoes to bomb threats to earthquakes. But what will really protect our kids when a deranged person is intent upon killing them?

The New Haven-based attorney, Irv Pinsky, said he was approached by the student’s parents soon after the shooting.

“We all know its going to happen again,” Pinsky said on Friday. “Society has to take action.”

Is this how we take action? By suing the Board of Ed? Is it true that, as MSNBC explains, that the school “failed to provide a ‘safe school setting’ or design ‘an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol.'”

I cannot know what it was like for those children, and I don’t know what Jill Doe’s parents are experiencing right now, but I think we can all agree that yes, something needs to happen. Society has to take action.

But is this the action that will change our world to make our children safer?


Photo: David Goldman/AP

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane,,, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Have any other teachers responded to this article besides myself? I ask because nobody seems to understand the workings of a school, a district, a school board – and I believe – in my humble opinion – that the more people who truly know about all the factors involved – they should understand that this lawsuit will ONLY hurt ALL the children in the school district. Why stop at suing the school board – go ahead and sue the superintendent, the people who work in the district office, the teachers who survived – hell – sue the custodian because he forewarned everybody but did not stop the gunman. $100 million – how money hungry and stupid is this lawyer? REALLY?!?! Schools do not have that kind of money & by suing the school board you are taking money from the classrooms.
    The tragedy is beyond comprehension – I have not watched any of the footage because the reality of the situation – is too close to my heart. I want my students to feel safe and to trust that I will do everything and anything to keep them safe. Taking money from my classroom and students because someone wants money by suing an entity that has NOTHING to do with the day-to-day workings of a school / classroom / students or teachers – in my opinion is asinine.
    But what do I know ~ I am only a 24 year veteran teacher of the California Public School system……..

  2. I’m going to sue God for infecting our society with the mental illness popularly referred to as ‘Conservatism’.

    • Stefan Thiesen says:

      I am with you Jake, for it is a global phenomenon. What does it conserve anyway?

      • Revo Luzione says:

        These are hardly fair comments. Conservative values are often pro-family, and in the past, have been pro-environment. I remind you that the National Park system, as well as the wildly successful North American model of wild game management, are both legacies of Teddy Roosevelt, a conservative. Originally, conservatism was about conserving family and natural resources.

        Further, liberalism is not without its share of blame, for it encourages dependency upon the state, and government intervention in all aspects of life. Might as well call it Police State Progressivism, for that’s what the left is advocating currently.
        BTW, I’m not a member of either party, and have values that bridge both sides of the political spectrum.

        • Stefan Thiesen says:

          “Law and order” (aka police state) traditionally is a conservative concept, not a liberal/progressive one. Here in Germany I am supporting the Green party, which is by American standards a liberal/progressive party, and the support and protection of families is very high on the agenda – but clearly in some respect they have different views of what that is supposed to actually mean in detail. Saying liberals and progressives have no family values also is rather offensive.

          I also do not see that dependency on the state is encouraged by strong social programs. There may be some who exploit social systems, but here in Western Europe, where we do have strong social safety nets that some in the US unknowingly label as “socialist”, it has become clear over the years that the vast majority of beneficiaries do everything to get back onto their own feet as soon as they can. It is all about supporting those who for one reason or another simply cannot fully support themselves. The main beneficiaries of the (by US standards) relatively high social welfare system in Germany are single mothers. Cutting welfare for them mainly means clipping the wings of their children. I also have experienced myself that the crash can come quickly – the invisible hand of the market forces all too easily turns into a mighty fist stomping you into the ground. I am not a Christian, but as far as I understand it lending a helping hand to those who fell is a deeply Christian value – in fact a value of all large religions I am aware of. Why not express that on a state level? After all we live in democracies, and the state is us. If the state is not and does not represent us, we have to do something about the way it is organized. By the way: the entire concept of social reform including health insurance, state holidays, paid vacations for workers and the pension system in Germany originally was established by a person who could not be more conservative: The imperial chancellor Otto von Bismarck under Emperor Wilhelm the II (Imperial Bill of 15. June 1883). Apparently he did not have any ideological concerns. All in all, though, it is not helpful to look too far back. The situation at the beginning of the 21st century is drastically different from that during the times of Bismarck or later Roosevelt. The main difference I see between progressives and conservatives in general and the US brands in particular is that progressives try to adjust to the world as it is, while conservatives mainly conserve their views and values despite changing surroundings. From the outside it very much seems that America did become a police state. Homeland security very much looks like a secret police with tremendously far reaching authority spying on its own citizens. It was not established by a liberal. And as for environmental protection: it should indeed be a conservative value! All too often it isn’t, or only in a twisted way and as long as it serves – or does not conflict – corporate profit interests. But to put things into perpective: again here in Germany the first Green Minister president (Winfried Kretschmann) presides over the State of Baden Württemberg, home of Mercedes Benz, headquartered in the city of Stuttgart, which also has a green mayor. Mr. Kretschmann is a devout catholic and expresses conservative values on many levels. Interestingly he does see strong advocacy for environmental protection and a strong social welfare system as conservative values – and no police state in sight.

  3. Lisa Hickey says:

    There is no one right answer to all this. Is suing the Board of Eduction the “right” one. Probably not — because anything that takes away actual education from kids is probably not the best way forward.

    However, Where would we be without “Brown vs. The Board of Education”? That was just a group of parents from Topeka Kansas who thought they were wronged. I don’t see much of a difference with this. IMO, the people suing are just trying to call attention to the shooting in a way that will be noticed the most. To try to get actions taken that will create change. And using our legal system is one way to do that.

    • Bingo!!!!

    • Brown vs. The Board of Ed was suing about the actions of the board of ed (ie. segregation). Yes we want to draw attention to the issue of “guns in schools” but guns are not in schools due to the actions of the schools or the board of ed. It’s spurious to compare the two suits in fact. The suit should be aimed at the makes or guns, the sellers of guns, the state in general for not having stricter laws, and yes, maybe the estate of the mother. I understand she was quite wealthy.

      • Revo Luzione says:

        Definitely not a spurious suit. Brown V. Board of Ed was about fair schools. Newtown Parents V. Board of Ed will be about safe schools.
        See my comment above–the gun makers have no liability since they were legally purchased, and the mother’s former estate is unlikely to be a lucrative target, nor is it an effective one for creating social change. Only suing the school board makes sense to effect social change, that is, to create safer schools.

        • Please explain HOW suing the school board will create safer schools because from my viewpoint – as a teacher who has met with / talked with / worked with and stood up against – I see no positive outcome from this lawsuit. If you want safer schools – then DON’T try to take away money from the schools – give money TO the schools to CREATE safer schools.

          • MsWendy, If I may: The suit will bring a few public benefits and NOT cash forward to the plaintiffs.

            1) The lawman in charge has already stated publicly that “the details of what happened inside that school will never be made public.” Not in this country you don’t. ALL authorities and schools need to examine and benefit from what happened. Cover-up, as blatant as he positions it, must be undone. The power of discovery from the CT courts will open-up what he wrongly chooses to suppress.

            It took the police 20 minutes to arrive on-sight in a what we call a “3-minute town.” That is, the average response to a high emergency call is always less than 3-minutes. We need to know what happened. The power of discovery from the CT courts will open-up what is being secreted.

            The office admin whom survived publicly called for “working lock on the doors” AFTER the shooting. If THAT does not raise reasonable rage and demand for accountability, nothing will! This needs to be reviewed publicly.

            After the dust settled, news reports said the shooter had left a “high-powered AR-15 rifle in his car.” but he supposedly USED the AR-15 in the school. The police then reported the same thing. It was confirmed and the police were asked again later. “Yes, he had a rifle in his car that is an AR-15 Assault rifle. Who is either telling a lie or incompetent in this case?
            Every school in this nation must learn from this. Clearly, publicly and now officially, an information wall has been built by the authorities. A HUGE civil lawsuit number will keep the school board from settling and thus keeping their arses covered, and now force disclosure for all to learn from.

            Again, I know public employees despise being held accountable for anything, especially the Teacher’s Unions, but this was a nuclear-grade attack and scurrying for cover will not be allowed. But its really not about the money at all. I’ve been close enough to many civil cases to know, its not about the arbitrary $100M that NO CT court would ever demand a school district to pay if uninsured. Its not even an option.

            • Rob ~ a few points in regard to your post ~ if I may. . . . . .
              1. I will admit that I have not read any news reports, watched any of the footage or read any of the “stories” from the shooting. The ONLY thing I saw was a brief interview with the 1st grade teacher who hid here 15 First graders in a bathroom to save their lives. It was an interview with Diane Sawyer the evening of the shooting. So I did not know about the 20 minute delay in police response time and that is a tragedy in and of itself. THAT is something that needs to be investigated. However the school board had nothing to do with the 20 minute delay.
              Before you ask ~ the reason I have not watched the footage is because it is too close to home for me. As a teacher I know how protective we are of our students. As far as I am concerned ~ my students are MY kids during the school day. I have stepped between my fair share of fights to protect my students. I have gone head-to-head with administration, school boards, local police, children services and courtrooms to protect my students.

              2. Your statement about knowing that: “public employees despise being held accountable for anything, especially the Teacher’s Unions.” In my opinion ~ that knowledge you say you possess is very limited knowledge. If you are making that blanket statement based on media information ~ then you do not know the true feelings of the majority of teachers. Accountability? We are held accountable for things we do not even do. It is the only profession in which everybody is an expert but only a few have the guts to do. The unions are in place to protect us from frivolous lawsuits like the one we are discussing here. If the unions did not fight for limits on accountability ~ I would be held accountable because Joey skipped breakfast after staying up to 2 AM then forgot his lunch so he was hungry / tired when he took his test and therefore did not do well and received an “F” dropping his GPA to a 3.8 I can guarantee there are parents who would “come after” me if Joey did not get accepted to the college of his choice because of a bad test grade. Yes ~ I “despise” being held accountable for something that is out of my control ~ as would anyone ~ but to say teachers “despise” being held accountable for anything ~ that is not true.

              I still believe the lawsuit is frivolous and that all it is going to do is take away from the students and the classroom and it is selfish of the parents who child survived to even entertain the idea of asking for $100 million. There are many, many more ways to achieve the same result ~ safer schools ~ without tying up resources in a lawsuit.
              YES ~ schools need to be a safe place for students and teachers
              NO ~ suing a school board will NOT make schools safer

              • Well stated MsWendy! VERY well stated. You clearly own your belief’s as securely as I own mine. Teachers are the hardest working public employees (right next to cops and fire-fighters).

                My statement re accountability and distaste for same, and scrutiny as well, comes from 3-decades of working with the “broad govt sector.” And I’m talking about those in all levels of management AND rank-&-file who resist, resist, resist, any performance review that carries any sort of consequence. I won’t go one to judge from there, as I have not held one of those govt positions. But this is what I have observed in my heavily penetrated exposure to the organizational culture of govt entities all across this nation, from prisons to pre-schools, from State Department to Road Department. I don’t derive any of this from media output.

                I also recently held a school board accountable for a case where there was violence at a mid-schl dance, where two boys were injured. The clear and notorious, habitual aggressor avoided any arrest and ANY school disciplinary results as:

                [excuses wielded masterfully]
                1) “It was a PTA-sponsored event…not the school’s.” (so say the School Brd and Admin)

                2) “The booster club owned responsibility to keep the peace as they volunteered for security.” (so sayeth the PTA)

                3) “The proper “Safe School Report” was filed with the police by the school.” (so says the Principal. “Ah ha!” Rob says…”so it was a SCHOOL event cuz the principal filed a Safe School report!” “No!” says the principal and SB. “The PTA did not have the proper parper form to issue to the police and we helped them with filling it out.”
                “But who signed the Safe School Report?” asks Rob…”we won’t answer that.”

                4) The police were never called by ANY schl Admin present at the dance, no PTA lady called, no Booster dude called…a parent called the police LONG after the ambulance and EMT crew arrived. The parent called the police when a frightened 6th-grader called her mother. Mother, a thinking person I can assume, called the police right then.

                5) The career-aggressive and violent-volatile 8th-grade, antagonist, bully was waltzing the halls on Monday morning.

                I stood at the public meeting examining and cross-examining the SB, Princ, PTA and Boosters. All I received and witnessed was a ass-over-elbow clammer for cover, people throwing each other under the big yellow bus.

                Now. They were VERY upset with a lowly citizen daring to even seek the accountable individuals or orgs, let alone do it in their own public meeting. The chairman of the SB was SO angered, he cyber-stalked me and threatened disclosure of all he found about me…LOL…Like being a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse is shameful and pre-ordains me as a pedophile. The fool did not even realize I’ve been on/in global media regarding the issue.

                Its organizational culture like that, that gets people killed. And this town’s dysfunctional collection of arse-cover-specialist is not unique. They are not an isolated case.

                So I DO always seek to hold those responsible AND accountable to scrutiny. Resistance to scrutiny and transparency in the dreaded private sector will get you fired and-or audited. Similar resistance in public service is prima-facia conviction that something is severely amiss.

                • Richard Aubrey says:

                  Six months after the 9-11 attack, two of the highjackers got their visas approved.
                  That they were dead didn’t matter. The ‘crat in question sent the visas to their prior address–a flight school in FL–rather than to a large hole in Manhattan. Couldn’t even keep their locations up to date.
                  She was “disciplined”, i.e. promoted sideways.
                  The four State Dept officials “disciplined” for the Benghazi mess are back to work after being –publicly–fired.
                  Accountability in government is an ephemeral thing.

                • Rob ~ you brought up 5 excuses that I have heard many times ~ just different players ~ but the same roles. Currently, the local police and the powers that be in the “law & order sector” have a starring role in the “excuse without explanation” and “blame others” theatrical production that has been going on for over a year now. It goes to show ~ in my opinion ~ that every profession, every workplace has members who are great at passing responsibility onto someone else ~ so as not to make themselves look bad.

                  I see it in my students and their parents ALL the time. I try VERY, VERY hard to teach my students that they are responsible for THEIR own actions ~ but ~ no matter what I teach and try to show by example ~ their parents then question me about “picking on their baby” {who is 14 years old}

                  There will never be a solution or absolution to this tragedy and all we can do is work together to make changes in: the laws that govern us, security and protection of all, education in areas of mental health and gun control as well as holding those who are truly responsible ~ responsible and not going go “after” the small guy to get to the big guy. At least ~ that is what I believe.

                  I am really hoping that 2013 is much better than 2012.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Oh, yeah. To be purposely repetitive, since nobody else is interested, I’d like to know why it took the cops twenty minutes to arrive. I believe the Supremes have said the cops have no duty to protect–can’t be sued for failing to protect–so perhaps a lawsuit to find out the answer wouldn’t work. But it would be nice to know.
    You’d think, after the other mass shootings, there’d be some kind of annual drill of everybody getting someplace in that little town really fast. Or at least a planning meeting.
    Does it take that long to disassemble a speed trap? What the hell was going on?

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    One characteristic of mass shootings is that the perps took time and care. Some were, perhaps narrowly, pretty bright in a version of idiot savant bright. See Holmes, Lanza, Klebold and Harris. If they felt like killing, another weapon would be easy enough for them to arrange. Gasoline bombs, for example. Propane bombs are tough to do right, but they might get lucky. Fortunately, at Columbine, the perps did not get it right. As the Times Square [attempted] bomber’s work fizzled. Still, there are guys who know how to do it.
    How to apply social values to crazy people is a problem. You try talking social values to a guy who can watch pieces flying off a kid’s body and keep shooting at the kid.

  6. frank freeman says:

    WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THE WORLD????????????????????

    The only one to blame here is the messed-up freak (and POSSIBLY his mother…) who did the shooting. The School System had reasonable security…Are we to turn schools into fortresses because the USA simply will not limit access to weapons??????????? Instead of trying to blame ONE individual or One institution, the Unites States of America and its citizens needs to examine its gun laws , access to guns, and social values. END OF STORY!

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ms. Wendy. Not much the school board can do about your situation. As a bunch of LAUSD teachers said, bring us kids who won’t assault us or each other, who do their homework, who show up in class, etc, and we’ll get you some education results.
    On the blog, “Belmont Club” is a youtube vid of a girl calling out her teacher, screaming she wants an education. The other kids are laughing and catcalling.
    There are a number of schools with armed guards. Siddley Friends (sp?) in DC has them. David Gregory, firearms felon, sends his offspring there while sneering at the desire of the lower orders–us–to have the same protection. I think some are in LA. Most colleges’ cops are armed.
    What is going unaddressed is that when this stuff hits the fan, the admin calls for the guys with guns. Apparently having guys with guns on scene already is….something wrong with it. The other is that, in this case, the cops took twenty mortal minutes to arrive.
    One report had it that unresisted mass shootings average fourteen deaths. Those running into armed citizens on scene average four. That ought to be looked at.

    • Stefan Thiesen says:

      A psychologically unstable young man in one of the most peaceful regions of the world had easy access to several military style weapons and massive amounts of ammunition and then went on a rampage mass murdering school children and teachers. Now my challenge: what is the decisive parameter in this equation?

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        The decisive parameter is the shooter. Without guns, he’d have come up with something else. Look, for example, at the 93 WTC bombing. No guns at all. Ditto 9-11.
        And “massive” amounts of ammo isn’t correct. The shooters in recent attempts carried about what a guy would use up on an afternoon at the shooting range. Maybe less.

        • This is simply not borne out by the statistics. The USA has three times the murder rate of Canada. THREE TIMES. And we Canadians love us some murder for sure. We have dismembered bodies buried on farms all over the place. And we have plenty of mental illness and no more mental hospitals (although mental health care, when it can be accessed at all, is free. But it is difficult to access, particularly for children). What we don’t have is as much impulsive mass murder or domestic violence murder or successful suicides because for that you need easily accessible/high caliber/semi-automatic guns.

          I would be willing perhaps to account for maybe twice the murder rate, based on perhaps more minorities, more poverty, more gangs. But THREE TIMES? The gun murder rate is the USA is FIVE TIMES higher than in Canada (per capita of course). And anyway, property crime (theft, burglary etc) are HIGHER in Canada, which suggests we have just as much poverty, drug abuse, gangs etc.

          Either way you look at it, the smoking gun is, well, a gun.

        • Stefan Thiesen says:

          So you think the fella would have spontaneously hijacked a jet airplane (without a gun, mind you) and ran it into the school? Or spontaneously built a complicated explosive device? Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that saying someone is “good with a gun” is akin to saying someone is “good with a zippo”. That’s not an unimportant point. It requires zero skill and zero intellect to load and fire a gun. Even for a person with an IQ near room temperature in a state of complete derangement it is easy to do. And since you mentioned 9/11: how many guns in the WTC would have stopped that? (Sorry – ridiculous comparisons yield ridiculous responses).

          • How soon we forget ……… 19 children under the age of 6 were killed while playing in their daycare facility at the Oklahoma City Federal Building when a bomb exploded taking 168 lives in a matter of seconds. Every person in that building could have been armed and in bullet proof vests – but they could not have prevented the senseless deaths and unimaginable evil that took place that morning. No amount of money or armed guards can prevent someone who has no empathy or respect for the lives of others from doing evil. We – as a society – need to educate and change the way we raise our children, educate one another, and focus on helping the mentally ill and working WITH the NRA – not against. More gun laws and frivolous lawsuits are just a bandaid on a gaping wound – that needs stitches ~ not more band aids.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            Stefan. You missed the point. Several of them.
            WRT 9-11: On three of the highjacked airliners, the passengers did what the government had told them to do in case of highjacking. Sit there and the government will take care of things. These people are known as victims. The goverment didn’t have a clue what was going on, except for a few who were wondering if exdigitating would be a good career move (generally not).
            On the fourth plane, the passengers found out what was happening and mustered the 93d detachment of the General Militia. They put the plane into an empty field instead of DC. They could hardly have done worse if a couple of them had guns.
            There is no “spontaneous” in these mass shootings. And, yes, some of them included bombs. See Holmes and Columbine. Not to mention bombs-only like the first WTC attempt, and the more recent Times Square bombing. And the Ft. Dix Six. Apparently a couple in NYC have been arrested for having the whole bombchilada in their apartment. But, not being members of the Tea Party, this isn’t important.

            “No amount of money or armed guards can prevent someone who has no empathy or respect for the lives of others from doing evil” Wrong. See the New Life Church in Arvada, CO. A guard shot the perp dead. Stopped him pretty efficiently.

            But you really do know this stuff, don’t you? Does it suprise you to find others do, too?

            • Stefan Thiesen says:

              Richard: 9/11 is as bad an example as there could be one. The hijacking schemes were new and unique in the history of air traffic. Not every far out scenario can be included in security precautions. In the case of 9/11 the best precaution would have been a total isolation of the pilots from the rest of the airplane. Allowing weapons among air passengers – I presume you are not seriously suggesting that. I also can hardly imagine that you want to compare Newton to Beslan, i.e. the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania with a per capita GDP of around US$ 3000 to Connecticut. Perhaps the (rare) similar incidents in Western Europe can be compared. In Germany both such incidents were spontanous amok runs by young men who had easy access to badly secured weapons of their hunter father and sports shooter father. One case in France where 4 children were killed was committed by a lone gunman who had been involved in a number of hit and run drive by shootings before. The entire attack only took a few minutes. He rushed in, shot, and left. It may or may not be that a well trained (!) armed security guard could have made a difference in these cases. In principal I also am not entirely opposed to armed guards at schools, if these sorts of events turn out to become as fashionable in Europe as in the US. It may also turn out, however, that it makes things worse since they could lead to escalations, and badly trained and totally underpaid yet nervous and “over-motivated” security guards may well make things worse or even cause disaster. The by far worst attack probably was the one in Norway, thoroughly planned and carried out by a highly intelligent psychopath. He deliberately picked out a soft target, and he simply would have known before hand if the youth camp he attacked had been too well protected. He might have chosen another target, or another tactic. There basically is nothing you can do to prevent such incidents. There also were two armed officers on scene during the columbine massacre. To no avail: Question: why does Hawaii have the lowest murder rate? It is a multi cultural state. It has enormous social tensions. And – it has the strictest gun laws.

              • Richard Aubrey says:


                “Richard: 9/11 is as bad an example as there could be one. The hijacking schemes were new and unique in the history of air traffic. Not every far out scenario can be included in security precautions. In the case of 9/11 the best precaution would have been a total isolation of the pilots from the rest of the airplane”

                I believe the highjackers got the pilots to come out of the cockpit by slicing up the cabin crew, generating shrieks and screams.

                I have heard that every cockpit includes some kind of hatchet for emergency hacking your way out of a crashed aircraft or something. The passive approach is the one the government trained people in.

                Are you sure you want to go there, so to speak, about the new and unheard of highjacking thing? It means you can’t blame Bush for missing the threat. What to do, what to do? In fact, aircraft have been highjacked for decades. The new and unforeseen was the suicide bomb approach. The question is whether the pilots should be armed. My point about flight 93 was not to say the passengers should or should not have been armed. My point is that, had some been armed with guns, what worse could have happened?

                The Norwegian shooter chose a soft target. That’s because he was bright, had an idea and did his homework. The island wasn’t as well-defended as a US social security office. The Norwegian cops hadn’t bothered to make sure that at least one chopper pilot was not on vacation at the same time as all the others. Nobody had a drill for such things.
                I’m not the one comparing Beslan with Newtown. But, now that you mention it, why is the per capita income relevant? You think the Chechnyan Muslim murderers were trying to redistribute wealth?

                I went around with Mediahound about Dunblaine and the resulting gun restrictions. I forgot to mention Cardiff and Cumbrae (sp?), which happened afterwards and killed about as many people. One report had it that it took about eight hours for the cops to find a gun to go after the shooter in one case.

                And social tensions don’t generate mass shootings. Crazy people do. Social tensions generate pandemic shootings, such as Chicago which hit the 500 homicide mark just before the end of the year. Most unlikely any of those folks were killed with legally-owned guns since only Hizzoner Da Mare’s friends get gun permits in Chicago. The folks who pay attention to laws and stuff are disarmed. The crooks are not.

                • Stefan Thiesen says:

                  Richard: sliced up the cabin crew? With what? In any case: I am not opposed to armed air marshalls or even pilots, if properly trained. Tasers or bean bag guns should do the trick. You obviously wouldn’t want high calibre weapons in a pressurized cabin.

                  The more legal guns there are, the more illegal guns are around as well too. They obviously are stolen, sold on the black market and reported as lost or stolen. In fact the urge to possess an illegal gun is in itself an incentive for crime.

                  Beslan: I think it is difficult to compare incidents in two countries that are so vastly different. per capita GDP here serves only as an indicator for difference, not as an explanation for the the Besland school attacks.

                  The other incidents I only recall from new reports so I cannot really judge well what was going on in Cumbria etc. (only that the perpetrator did hold legal certifications for the guns). Again: for me the overall case is clear that places with significantly fewer guns in circulation have significantly fewer murders with guns and overall murders. See Hawaii. Here in Germany the vast majority of killings with guns happen within the organized crime scene, largely with illegal weapons. To be honest I certainly also would think that, in case our house would be raided, I had a gun to defend my family. If. I assume that simply won’t happen. Only a crazy hunter with his very legal shotgun once shot in the direction of our house, aiming at a pheasant crossing our grounds, kids playing outside and all. I am more afraid of gun accidents. All in all society seems far safer with as few weapons around as possible.

                  • Richard Aubrey says:

                    Stefan. Sliced up the cabin crew with boxcutters. Everybody knows that. In fact, at the time, they were legal to take onto an airplane. You know what they are, right? Used in opening carboard cartons and boxes. Not much bigger than a stick of gum.
                    Point is, as regards Flight 93, if a non-professional had had a gun, what worse could have happened? The folks are all dead. You knew that, right?
                    Also, putting a bullet hole in an aircraft at altitude only results in explosive decompression in James Bond movies.
                    So there was no reason to mention Beslan? Personally, I think there is. We have two models: The lone shooter, or possibly two, who are going to end it all after shooting up a soft target just because they’re nuts. And the organized bunch of Islamic terrorists who are trying either to make a point or get some leverage to force a government to do something.
                    You must also recall that no ban on guns is going to make them disappear. Drugs are banned, right? And they’re consumed and have to be constantly replaced. Guns last practically forever.
                    See also Oathkeepers and gun confiscation. Not happening.

                    • Stefan Thiesen says:

                      Richard – it is not a main point here, but I am the only one of the 7 billion who doesn’t know that the box cutters played a role in hijacking flight 93? Checked Wikipedia. No boxcutters mentioned. But it does surprise me that knives of any sort have been legal at the time. Whenever I travelled by plane – be it in europe, the US or Asia, be it in the 70s, 80s, 90s or 00s, I usually was thoroughly searched. The difference was that after Sept. 11 not even metal pens were allowed anymore and even nail cutters were taken away (surprisingly passengers can keep their shoe laces. A trained individual can do a lot of damage with shoe laces. With his bare hands, actually).
                      You are technically right of course that nothing worse could have happened if there would have been people with private weapons on board. Of course if that were legal the hijackers also would have had weapons. Wild west above the sky is not really what I consider a desirable scenario. And although it is true that there have been many hijackings before, none of them lead to deliberate crashings. blackmailing for money or hostage taking to press prisoners free etc. did happen. Killings did happen. But it is extremely rare, and legal weapons on board (except for an air marshal) surely increase the risks instead of decreasing them.

                      But none of this is really relevant. Explain away the fact that Hawaii has the lowest murder rate and the lowest rate of violance involving guns. Guns last practically forever? They melt beautifully in a steel forgery. They’d have to be collected, of course and not somehow “grandfathered in”. Comparison of guns and drugs. So people are addicted to drugs? Develop physical and mental cravings? If so we seriously have to ask WHY do so many people feel like they need drugs (and guns) to somehow cope with their life realities and fears.

                      With armed citizens around… the perpetrators are armed citizens, which is the logical flaw of the entire argument. Humans have a tendency to become mentally unstable under certain conditions. Weapons in schools? Chances are we hear of accidents, of teachers going being pushed over the brink… or a traumatized vet working as a security guard… there are many scenarios. I think there is no easy answer, but one answer is to drastically reduce access to weaponry. To use your words: everyone knows that.

  8. As a 24 year veteran of the public school system I can honestly say that the School Board is NOT a fault for the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook. If a school board can be sued for failure “to provide a ‘safe school setting’ or design ‘an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol’” then can we start suing police departments for failure to provide a “safe shopping experience” if we are mugged / robbed while buying Christmas presents? No matter how many safety factors are in place ~ things can happen ~ unfortunately. I teach at a school that is in “lockdown” mode all day. Our doors cannot be opened from the outside, we have cameras EVERYWHERE on campus and the only way onto campus is through the office ~ yet ~ we have had students bring weapons to school. Personally ~ I feel the school board is just a scape goat for a solution to a tragedy that we could never have predicted and we will never understand. Aside from putting an armed guard at the school ~ what could the school board members have done? I think it is a frivolous lawsuit ~ but what do I know ~ I am not a lawyer or a school board member ~ I am a teacher ~ a classroom teacher ~ just like the Sandy Hook teachers who did everything they could to protect their students.

  9. HEADLINE: School Shooting !

    Is anyone surprised at that all-to-common headline anymore? It happens. It happens over and over and over again…and NOT just in the USA.

    Not only are schools THE single most vulnerable targets in the entire world, but they are THE single most dramatic in desired terrorist reaction. I’ve been waiting for a USA elementary school to get hit this way. Anyone who thinks in a survival, risk, vulnerability, human-nature mode saw this coming from 2001 miles away. Again, readers, does anyone remember Beslan? Muslim extremists (big shock) reined horror on an epic scale upon the city and the school children.

    Any competent school board would have evaluated their school (YES…aka “Fortress”) for breach-vulnerability. Sorry…”we didn’t see this one coming” is no excuse and should get any and every proximate leader fired and charged with criminal negligence. The civil suit that we see in this case is a weak-ass move at best, but it drew-out your reaction of defeatism.

    So, lower your rage for a second. Pretend you are a Newtown citizen and the school board said “wow….we did not see this one coming.” Would you really be able to not puke yourself or rip their face off (or both)? Do you REALLY buy that bullsht that they didn’t see this coming?

    The variables you tossed in here are beyond the scope of reasonability (outdoor schoolyard sniper, playgrounds et al), but securing a building is too much for you? Why lock the freakin doors to begin with? Seriously! Think and answer this: Why lock the doors if any shmuck can breach them with a boot, a rock or a gun?

    Did you not see the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary Administrator interviewed say to all of us “please make sure your classroom doors can lock….cuz they couldn’t here….if there’s anything you can do people….make certain your classroom doors can lock!” This is where I think the Newtown people ought to string-up the SB by their necks in the town square. That is pure negligence and children’s blood is on their hands.

    The CT Gov said “there’s no way to prepare for something like this?” What? WHAT? You never considered a school shooting could happen in your state? You could not prepare with a standard of building integrity? Do we not have FIRE CODES? Why is due diligence such a foreign idea to you? Why do banks have bullet-proof glass?

    WHY DO BANKS HAVE BULLET PROOF GLASS? Oh…gee Rob, that’s because, ahhhh……banks get robbed at gunpoint? And uahhh…its a TREND Rob….and uhhh…..we can reasonably predict a bank robbery might happen in any town?

    I fear I have awoken in a fully retarded alternate plane of reality. One where people blame the spoon for lard-ass or the pencil for the spelling error.

    Don’t you dare spread the suicidal idea that children cannot be as protected as Mabel the bank-teller or her stupid cash-tray! Its people like you who just lay-down and die under fire or threat cuz you can’t think beyond your emotional walls from the supposed drama of the gun. Grow up for Christ’s sake and keep off the school board please!

    Sorry, but its time for all adults to see reality and realize that there ARE in fact PEOPLE on which to blame crime, and PEOPLE on which to blame incompetent non-preparation! Children CAN be protected and safe. Allowing one more day to pass with vulnerable children is now officially a moral crime throughout this nation!

  10. Money grobbing !pportunist !

  11. Stefan Thiesen says:

    In a wicked way it actually might have an impact. ;onetary cost and risk of cost in our sick society unfortunately are stronger incentives than potential loss of life – including children. If suddenly every school board, every town, every public authority faces the risk of getting sued into financial oblivion, the following financial risk assessment may well achieve what one massacre after the other and thousands of annual victims did not: stricter laws and controls.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yes, the precedent of a schoolboard being sued bankrupt for an incredibly rare, almost statistically unprecedented incident (in an elementary school) should be a great precedent to set.

      It’ll be great for those kids in Newtown to go to a school that is completely broke. Maybe they’ll be lucky enough to be like the students in most LAUSD schools in LA proper and have 35 kids in a class with 20 lesson books, no PE, no art, no science, no nurse, no teachers aides, no computers and no music.


      I’m so FLAMING mad at this conversation that I will step away.

      • Yeah…this is why I think if the SB is at fault, they should do life in prison or have a date with a needle from such abject negligence.

      • Stefan Thiesen says:

        I am not endorsing that the school board be sued in any way. I think the system is sick, and it is cynical beyond belief that a school board is being sued. I could understand if criminal charges were pressed, if there were real negligence involved (it wasn’t). The immediate reflex to sue for preposterous amounts of money is ridiculous and shameful and, as you say, likely to be paid for by school children.

  12. Wow, you guys are both…I can’t even…

    How would the school board possibly protect kids from being shot during recess by a sniper? Or getting off the school bus? Exactly what sort of protective measures do you thinks schools should take? Should schools be fortresses? What about public parks? Streets?

    “The school board is the only one left which is both associated with the trauma and can be hurt in some kind of vengeful sense.” Are you kidding about this? What about the manufacturer and seller of the weapon or ammunition? This weapon and ammo were used exactly as designed. They were designed to kill people by inflicting maximum tissue trauma. People died in exactly this way. Lanza did not misuse the weapon. He used it in the exact way it was meant to be used, just on the wrong people. If I electrocute my child while curling her hair with a curling iron designed to curl hair then the maker and /seller of this dangerous appliance is negligent, not my daughter’s Irish dancing teacher for wanting her hair curled in the first place.

    If my daughter dies of alcohol poisoning (she’s 8) then the person who sold her the wine is negligent. If she drinks wine that I have improperly stored then I am negligent. The back alley in which she drinks it is not negligent.

    I could go one, but I’m too depressed.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Two points. I didn’t say the school was or should be held responsible. I said the trial, if it goes that far, will be making that point. That’s the lawyer’s job. Wasn’t my idea. And, given a number of examples, such as Pearl, MS; New Life Church in Colorado, Trolley Square Mall in Utah, Appalachian School of Law, and some others, the value of an armed citizen on scene is obvious. You don’t need to be right to be making that point, and to convince a jury who is watching distraught parents and thinking of an insurance company’s deep pockets.
      In your example of your daughter getting hold of too much wine, you forgot to hold the vineyard responsible. That is required, if your view of holding the gun manufacturer responsible is to hold up. Besides, the alley you spoke of is inanimate, not run by anybody who has options regarding people drinking there or not.
      Yeah. Lanza used the gun on the wrong people. “banning” guns, or some of them, isn’t going to make 300 million of them, or thereabouts, turn into piles of dust. We have the problem. The question is dealing with it.

      • The alley is city property, therefore my safety there is the responsibility of the city. Given that many sexual assaults happen in alleys, shouldn’t many rape victims sue the city for damages for not having security guards (presumably armed to the teeth) posted in alleys?

        As for the wine, winemakers are very clear that their products are not to be used by children, pregnant women, etc. Gun makers, less so.

        You, Richard said “The school board is the only one left which is both associated with the trauma and can be hurt in some kind of vengeful sense.”

        I challenge that, because the bloodsucking lawyers should be going after the gunmakers and sellers too, if they’re just trying to make a point. Why not?

        • Stefan Thiesen says:

          Gabrielle: why not? Because they are not trying to make a point – they are trying to make money and seek out the softest target. The arms industry is not a soft target. They will do EVERYTHING to avoid loosing such a case or avoid that it be brought to court in the first place. My idea by the way is that full coverage liability insurance should be mandatory for obtaining a license to own a weapon. And: for each individual weapon. That would be a partial free market solution for the problem. The approach would be similar to the treatment of every other risky equipment or hazardous substance. Comprehensive training, strict (merit and qualification based) licensing and mandatory insurance. Very straight forward.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I’m with Gabrielle.

      The shooter SHOT OUT GLASS to get past a locked door. Should the glass have had chicken wire on it? Should there have been an armed guard standing out front? What if he’d gone in the back, or side, and shot out glass?

      Illogical. Completely illogical.

      • Again, What of Banks?

        What do banks do? Is cash worth more than children?

      • Revo Luzione says:

        Rob is correct. Joanna, you might want to revisit the logic of this case.

        The lawsuit is a free market solution at work, and will insure armed guards (the NRA’s solution, too, duly noted) in every school, as well as reinforced glass and revised security features.

        As he and others have noted, there are armed guards in banks, jewelry stores, Black Friday sales, at events attended by Hollywood celebrities, and yet it is considered barbaric to put armed guards or other armed personnel in schools?

        I, like Robb, hope that the people bringing the suit are successful. Legal challenges are perhaps the best way we can make proactive changes. Suing the gun companies will indeed be fruitless because as he mentioned, they are very hard targets, have massive legal defenses, not to mention almost zero liability in the case since the guns were purchased legally. The only other stakeholder, Lanza’s mother, is dead. Dead people generally make poor legal targets, not to mention her lack of real assets or insurance protection.

        Again, suing the school district makes perfect sense, and the result will be much safer schools nationwide without having to resort to unconstitutional gun bans.

    • Stefan Thiesen says:

      I assume the school board simply is a softer target for lawyers than large multi national corporations who are used to this game. Morally the school board is the wrong party to blame, obviously. But can you sue Washington for lousy laws? For me it is a scary thought that an elementary school teacher has such murderous tools in her home.

  13. I don’t want to sound condescending here, but as an outsider to the U.S. culture this is saddening and amusing at the same time. It pretty sums up the biggest flaws in the U.S. psyche: gun ownership and exploitative and opportunistic capitalism.

    Metal detectors may have saved lives, but banning guns would have saved many, many more.

    • I’m not sure suing someone is Capitalism. Capitalism is two people making an exchange of goods, services, or currency freely, on their own accord.

      • Stefan Thiesen says:

        A legal system largely focused on the financial outcome of litigation which has a lot to do with profit maximization on the side of large law offices probably can be considered an outgrow of capitalism. Aside from that capitalism is NOT two people. It is a belief system that centers on self interest and the invisible hand, i.e. the belief that “somehow” the “market forces” will lead to economic equilibrium that, again “somehow”, will benefit all. A concept that in its purest form has long been debunked by reality. It is merely another religion. Another definition of capitalism is the pivotal importance of capital for all aspects of society, all the way to a point where capital itself is the main production factor, the main item of trade (derivatives, credit swaps – you name it) and its accumulation as an end in itself remains as the outstanding and all dominating goal for all activities of society. That’s what it became in my interpretation. A cultural disease – and in fact the opposite of a free market.

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    Beslan got some ink when it happened. But it was an atrocity by you-know-who/whom and so we aren’t supposed to remember it or take a lesson.
    Be interesting if the plaintiff’s lawyer inquires why the school didn’t have an employee, or use a volunteer who had a certified course and a $600 piece of equipment.
    The plaintiff’s lawyer is not required to have a sensitive, twenty-first century view of the awfulness of guns. At least, not for purposes of a $100 mill trial. The defendants’ answers will be agonizing.
    Still want to see why it took the cops twenty minutes.

  15. Hell yes this will help! And I truly hope she is victorious. School boards need to learn that:
    1) it was entirely reasonable to expect safety provision for the students by the school.

    2) the massacre was reasonably predictable and likely give the massive numbers of school shootings world-wide and within the USA dating WAY back for Conyers GA, Beslan USSR and Colorado. We only hear about the big ones. I bet nobody remembers Conyers OR Beslan. BOTH were huge and BOTH warned the world that our schools are the ultimate terror target. But “guns are icky,” so we’ll hope it never happens here.”

    3) they were negligent. There were no provisions for someone shooting out the glass and walking into the building. They gave students, faculty and staff no options other than to hope a bullet did not find them.

    This is not a “blame the victim” scenario by any means. This is “contributory negligence” in its purest form….and “guns are icky” is no defense.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    It’s normal to be angry at somebody after a trauma like this, or considerably less traumatic. The problem is where to place one’s anger. Lanza and his mother are dead. Suing her estate won’t hurt her, thus is not a place to put one’s anger. I suppose people are mad at Lanza’s father and may even have contemplated going after him somehow. Some people need to be mad. As T. R. Fehrenbach remarked in a different context, sometimes men must howl.
    The school board is the only one left which is both associated with the trauma and can be hurt in some kind of vengeful sense.
    I imagine they have insurance, but whether the limit is $100 mill would be interesting. Maybe it is and that’s why the number. The company is allowed to/required to defend the client in court.
    Be interesting to see the plaintiff’s list of failures, since they have to be specific. Maybe lack of armed guards. Wouldn’t that be something.
    If there’s a settlement, it would probably be for a fraction of the original amount. Still, it will more than cover Pinsky’s costs probably by a factor of, oh, say, fifty, and be cold and useless to the family. They’ll probably regret it.
    I would be interested in finding out why it took the cops twenty minutes to arrive. It’s not a big town. The shooting stopped when they arrived. So, the sooner…. But they didn’t. If it takes a lawsuit to find it out, I’d be for that, since it probably isn’t going to be discovered any other way. A settlement including no details won’t get to the issue.


  1. […] And then there was Newtown. Where a young man took his own power in the most horrifying way possible, through fear and violence. And now a family is suing for 100 million, only they are suing the School Board (not the NRA or gun manufacturers) […]

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