Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Tragedies won't stop if we hide from issue

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If you’ve come to the sports section seeking safe haven from the unimaginable atrocity that struck in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, you won’t find it here.

NBC's Bob Costas took to the air two weeks ago to speak out against guns during the Sunday Night Football halftime show.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
NBC's Bob Costas took to the air two weeks ago to speak out against guns during the Sunday Night Football halftime show.

There is no safe haven from it.

The horror of what took place in the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School haunts us all. As the reality of what took place and the worst fears of what happened to those poor children and their teachers sunk in, it was paralyzing. Immediately my mind went straight into my own daughter’s second-grade classroom. It was reflex parental reaction impossible to shut down – as were the sobs that came with it.

Some called it “unspeakable,” and in a way it is. Every time I try to speak about it with my wife or friends, the tears start welling anew. The President of the United States couldn’t speak about it without getting uncharacteristically emotional.

But we must speak of it. We have to no matter how much it hurts. We owe it to the families suffering in Newtown. We owe it to those precious little innocents who were slaughtered by evil and our own inaction.

The lines we failed to draw at Columbine or Blacksburg or Aurora or countless other senseless mass killings must be drawn now. We’ve become numbed by the regularity of the violence, as if it was just another natural disaster that we eventually dismiss for its unavoidable randomness.

And heaven forbid you talk about it. The gun lobby is conditioned to mobilize at the first report of another tragedy and work to shut off any constructive dialogue before it starts.

“Now’s not the time” and “too soon” are thrown around on cable news shows and social media as though there is some kind of acceptable timetable for when it’s appropriate to get angry about these atrocities and demand solutions.

“We aren’t shocked anymore when children are killed,” wrote notable liberal blogger Heather Parton. “It’s become a normal part of American life. The taboo has shifted from horror at the shootings to horror at talking about shooting. This is called ‘politicizing tragedy’ as if these mass murders are an act of nature rather than an act of human evil or madness (or both) enabled by easy access to the tools of mass murder.”

This automatic shutdown mechanism was on display just two weeks ago when respected sports commentator Bob Costas was criticized for bringing up the subject during his halftime segment on Sunday Night Football. After most of the NFL media had gone the whole day trying to move on with business as usual in the wake of the murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, Costas got reamed for shedding a controversial light upon gun violence.

“In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again – something like this really puts it all in perspective,” Costas said. “Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.”

The critics screaming that there is no place in sports for this debate miss the point. The place for this debate is everywhere and everyone has a right to have their voice heard.

It was sports – the most common place for focused mass gatherings outside of church and theaters – where the wounded psyche of Americans was most on display again after Friday’s tragedy. There were moments of silence before every NBA game. Social media was rife with athletes expressing all manner of sympathy along the theme of LeBron James’ “I’m sick.” Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant scribbled “Newtown, CT” on top of his sneakers. The entire Georgia Southern football team wore decals on the back of their helmets with the initials “SH” honoring Sandy Hook.

And ESPN radio host Scott Van Pelt stuck his neck out in Costas fashion.

“I beg of you, don’t make this the day you’re going to defend your turf about your opinion,” Van Pelt said.

He added, “Children don’t die in an elementary school if a 20-year-old who’s predisposed to do something awful like this doesn’t have an assault rifle in his hand. I don’t think that’s my opinion. I’m pretty sure that’s a fact.”

Point is, we have to discuss this in sports sections, news sections, water coolers, dinner tables, hospitals and legislative houses. Simply gathering around the families of the victims with our condolences, prayers and aid isn’t enough.

The answers aren’t simple and I don’t know what they are. But we need to have conversations about school safety protocols, mental health treatment and support and reasonable restrictions on guns meant to inflict carnage. We need to defend our innocent children and not our turf.

Because the horror that was inflicted upon those poor kids, teachers and their families should not be the price of freedom. We should all be haunted by this until we embrace solutions instead of bracing ourselves for the next unspeakable act of evil that’s sure to come.

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Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 12/15/12 - 09:05 pm
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Good to see Scott Michaux

Good to see Scott Michaux following in the footsteps of Bob Costas, Jason Whitlock and Rob Parker....(sarcasm off)

Bantana
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Bantana 12/16/12 - 12:55 am
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and what harm can come from a

and what harm can come from a nationwide, well considered and frank discussion regarding weapons policy? many paranoids were certain that our President was going to take our guns away during his last term. that didn't happen despite the rabid warnings of rightwing talkshow hosts and angry, simpleminded tea party zealots warning us so. guns in the hands of goofballs wont' make us safer and i certainly wouldn't feel any safer knowing that excitable amateurs with zero training are moving among us in public spaces with concealed big bore handguns at the ready. i suppose everybody wants to be a hero. but we know that hero's aren't made up of angry, semi-skilled, older, white men no longer seen as either valued or even needed, desperately seeking vindication for their loss of vitalty and purpose with the use of a handgun in what is a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex world that doesn't recognize their presence or ability to make meaningful contributions. to be the white knight that comes to the rescue of innocents in danger is an infantile fantasy of marginalized and impotent men. if you really want to protect citizens, then pass the screening process, get yourself physically fit, buck up and take your place on that long blue line. otherwise quite positing that more guns in the hands of any warm body that can get through the permiting process despite a lack of weapons training, cross-cultural education and a reasonable level of critical thinking skills should be armed and ready. and how many of you gun toters have saved any lives other than your own most likely steming from an ill advised confrontation where you mouthed off to a physically superior individual in what was an otherwise benign situation? i ran off a knife-wielding intruder climbing through my mothers dining room window by shouting at him. i called 911 and he was aprehended a half mile away. i didn't have to live with taking another human life and you taxpayers hosted him to 2 years in Alto.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 12/16/12 - 03:40 am
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Dixieman has 5 billilon points

Better stick to what you know about, Scott.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 12/16/12 - 06:10 am
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Bantana, I would've

Bantana, I would've appreciated your comment more if it weren't so exhaustive. If you get rid of half your metaphors, then your comment wouldn't cause the earnest reader's mind to wonder where it is your trying to take us. Besides giving you a free...and admittedly unsolicited critique in writing...I want to say that you did accomplish your goal of making someone think about this problem more. As a society, we HAVE to step back and think about this entire topic in more serious and definite ways. Not so much "if" there's a resolution, but "how" do we get there? I think we owe that to those precious children and adults who lost their lives and their family members.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 06:26 am
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JMO, Thanks

I wish I had posted that!

ymnbde
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ymnbde 12/16/12 - 07:35 am
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really,

a grasp certainly exceeded a reach here... perhaps he could write about how SPORTS "writers" promote (embody) the hero worship of SPORTS figures while concealing who they actually are, and how their pretend world actually contributes (in a very minor way, surely) to the pretend world of people who would actually shoot children. Or a thoughtful contemplation of how being rejected from SPORTS at an early age contributed and how SPORTS could improve character and instill resources for dealing with problems... not blaming the thought process or the cognitive skills, but perhaps more controls on the keyboard could be in order?

OpenCurtain
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OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 07:51 am
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When are we going to adress the CAUSE

not the method or equipment used to accomplish the evil deed?

GUNS are not the CAUSE they are equipment being used.

WHERE LAYS THE CAUSE.

What puts this idea in their mind?

What are these nut jobs seeing that puts these wacko ideas in their heads?

We all likely know the answers.
Media, Movies, Computer Games, the new Hollywood concept called DARK HERO, pampered kids and PC towards Mental Illness.

Examples:
The Columbine Shooters dressed up as NEO from the MATRIX.
If you doubts I have Pictures of the dead shooters and how they were dress.

Or, the guy acting out a Movie scene, that dressed up as the Joker was another.

Another Question is when are parents going to start seeking REAL help for mentally unstable kids. A magic pill a day, that the kid stops taking later on in life, is NOT the solution. Deep and extended counseling are a must.

We must address the Cause, not the method used. Otherwise they will start using GAS, CARS, Chemical mixes and other items.

Paint picture in your head of 2 gallons of gas and road flare
used instead of a GUN.

Or some Nut Case with a vehicle and a crowded group of people on a sidewalk.

Now maybe, some will understand the need to address The CAUSE.

We can not hope to solve the problem addressing the method or equipment we must identify the root of the problem, The CAUSE and fix it.

Even if it is Politically INCORRECT or Non-PC.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/16/12 - 08:07 am
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Maybe tvs cause this to happen...

Why don't we get rid of tvs.....after all they stir the imagination of a crazed person.....once we ditch all of them we will be safe again.....what ....yall don't think that will work......ok then ...what about castration of any punk using a gun in any kind of crime....would that work??

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 08:13 am
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How About

we start dealing with it when the CAUSE light comes on with the unruly, disruptive non-leaning students in our class rooms today. Don't you think that maybe that is the beginning of the CAUSE that we all should be looking at. How long is it before many of those same students end up in the news media by violating our laws and even up to the level of killing.

The truth is....look at the PC way that our society is dealing with it when the obvious CAUSE light is seen.

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 12/16/12 - 08:17 am
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Bantana says "hero's aren't

Bantana says "hero's aren't made up of angry, semi-skilled, older, white men no longer seen as either valued or even needed, desperately seeking vindication for their loss of vitalty (sic) and purpose"

Would that then imply that the converse of your baseless, irrational, and inflammatory statement is true?

No need to answer you bias is clearly evident.

Rob Pavey
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Rob Pavey 12/16/12 - 08:28 am
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focus on the real problem - not guns

Paying for new laws and bigger government to try and disarm law-abiding Americans won't cure mental illlness.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/16/12 - 10:55 am
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OC, Good Point

OC brings up the real point. Violence in video games, TV and movies desensitizes young people to killing others. THAT'S what needs to be controlled, but some don't want to go that way.

jrbfromga
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jrbfromga 12/16/12 - 08:55 am
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Rob's on point
Unpublished

More gun control laws won't fix this...the murderer used handguns, which at age 20 were illegal for him to possess. So, if he broke that law, how are more laws the answer? I also agree with Open Curtain and CobaltGeorge...the PC with mental illness and the desire for a magic pill to cure everything, that is the real problem, not the equipment that a deranged person chooses to use to carry out their demented deed.

freeradical
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freeradical 12/16/12 - 09:00 am
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As more & more of the highly

As more & more of the highly educated , technically sophisticated

future chemical engineering PHD's of the coming generation desire a

river of blood , lets all continue to pretend the dark demonic drug

fueled evil is not growing.

In fact lets go one step further in our ignorance , lets pretend

outlawing guns , whilst legalizing drugs no less , will help .

Any one of these PHD level demons could put together a bomb

capable of leveling 5 schools with just the contents of your

garage Scott Michaux.

But you and the rest go ahead and keep burying your puddin heads

in the sand.

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 09:21 am
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The Only Way To Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun....

...is a good guy with a gun.

d1zmljqg
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d1zmljqg 12/16/12 - 09:29 am
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Cause - I want somebody at

Cause - I want somebody at the table when they began to discuss the "Cause" to throw out on that table the number of guns owned by civilians in the US, which is roughly about 270 million. Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho, James E. Holmes and Adam Lanza are opted for guns in their horrifics.

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 09:33 am
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"Violence in video games...

....TV and movies desensitizes young people to killing others. THAT'S what needs to be controlled, but some don't want to go that way."

That's a theory I've heard before. It's not a FACT. I'm not saying it's not true, but I am saying we don't know for sure.

Let's assume it IS true. Now what? What, exactly, is the process of "resensitizing" all these people to the killing of others? Can it be done? How do you do it? How long does it take? What's the success rate?

There is only one reasonable, practical, likely effective way to deal with the problem......

Put guns (and people who know how and are prepared) to use them into schools and other places where helpless potential victims gather so they can be protected.

OpenCurtain
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OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 09:37 am
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freeradical - I find myself agreeing with your comment???

But on a slightly adjusted point.

A PHD is not really needed,
just an internet connection and Youtube, or a 100 other similar sites.

They all have videos and/or step by step do it yourself mass murder planning directions.

Sometimes the freedom of information can be a deadly tool.

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 09:38 am
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"Cause - I want somebody at the table...

...when they began to discuss the "Cause" to throw out on that table the number of guns owned by civilians in the US, which is roughly about 270 million."

We don't need fewer guns. We need rational people making decisions about guns.

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 09:52 am
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"Paying for new laws and bigger government....

....to try and disarm law-abiding Americans won't cure mental illlness."

Two things we know for sure, Mr. Pavey...

1. We're not going to cure all mental illness. And
2. We're not going to get all guns out of the hands of the public.

Given those facts, how do we stop this kind of mass murder of innocent, helpless people at the hands of mentally ill people with guns?

I see only two practical courses of action.

1. Do nothing but whine about it, act like we really, really care, and hope it doesn't happen again. Or,

2. Take positive action to protect helpless, innocent people wherever they assemble.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 12/16/12 - 09:53 am
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It's the Root not the Action that must be addressed

A million thumbs up to Open Curtain...THE CAUSE, THE CAUSE, THE CAUSE...

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 10:03 am
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The Root...

....of the problem has been with us since the beginning of time. Crazy people do crazy things. It would be nice if we could stop that, but we can't.

So...we're left with the issue of how to deal with it.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 10:09 am
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Just A Thought

Require every teacher, administrator and school employees to be fully trained and qualified in the use of a weapon.

Have a secure drawer for every teacher so they could have a weapon in their classroom.

Every Principle carry a weapon at all times.

Remember, "Fully trained as to when to use, how to use and have it available.

Just maybe the principle that was shot Friday could have gotten off one round befor meeting her death, One death is bad, but could have saved 26 others.....JMO.

This will happen again, so why not be prepared instead of helpless.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 10:13 am
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Just Watch

the stupid actions that will be taken by the Hammer & Sickle Man and his merry followers in the coming weeks...It will be sickening.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/16/12 - 10:43 am
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Harley, I believe Open

Harley, I believe Open Curtain laid out the connections of the violence in various entertainment well. I do agree with you that well armed good people are the way to combat this carnage. By the way, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured 800 more without a gun.

gargoyle
20651
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gargoyle 12/16/12 - 10:52 am
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"I'm all in favor of keeping

"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 11:04 am
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Riverman...

I agree with both you and with OpenCurtain that crazy people do crazy things. I see zero chance of changing that in the next century, or two....or three.

It's fine to theorize about TV violence, video games, comic books, or whatever and, as I said earlier, maybe there is a connection....maybe not.

Meanwhile.....we will either deal with the problem at hand, or simply wring our hands and fret about why horrible things happen to innocent people.

Personally, I prefer doing something positive rather than theorizing and wringing my hands.

Bantana
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Bantana 12/16/12 - 11:13 am
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just my opinion

thanks for looking past my poorly formed remarks. it was 1am and i was in a bit of a hurry. and yes my thoughts tend to be far ranging, if not completely on point. it is my experience that i am hearing more and more men express frustration with not being able to affect change. it's a natural reaction to the realization that few of us really control our own destiny, much less being substantial enough to influence national policy. therefore it is a self-reassuring belief that if only a "good citizen" had been there with a firearm, they could have controlled the situation and this tragedy could have been minimized.

i can tell you, i wouldn't have considered for a single second sending my children to a school where civilian teachers and staff were armed.
but then again, i went to a private school where the teacher beat the heck out of you if you got a "d" on a geometry test. we knew who was in charge.

what a crappy world we live in. and just imagine what it's like for the children of sub-saharan africa who are surrounded by fools armed with assault weapons, living in horrid conditions with little chance of reaching middle-age, much less having any hope of attaining some degree of prosperity. the guns aren't doing them any good.

and just to be clear, i was born and raised in augusta, i believe in a higher power, i am caucasian, more than middle-aged, come from a long line of distinguished military men, never voted straight ticket and i don't get my critical information from any single source.

sincerely, peace to you all.

myfather15
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myfather15 12/16/12 - 11:12 am
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Cobalt, your logic simply

Cobalt, your logic simply makes to much common sense for our liberal gun haters, leading this Country.

First of all, this disgusting piece of filth was a coward who didn't want to face armed subjects, hence him shooting himself as police arrived. So many of these public shooters do the exact same thing, they shoot themselves before the police can get to them. Shooting themselves is the easy and quick way out. They go through schools and movie theatres where they know people are unarmed and defenseless. But when the police arrived, they either shoot themselves or give up.

Why not have a shootout with the police and kill a few "pigs"? Because they are cowards and don't want to confront armed individuals, trained to shoot back. Shooting targets that you KNOW are unarmed and can't defend themselves is easy. Shooting at targets that are capable of shooting back, isn't so easy. It's hard to hit your target when you are trying to dodge bullets yourself. But it's easy to walk down a hallway shooting innocent children who who ZERO ability to defend themselves. What a coward piece of filth!!!

Well, my point is that I agree with Cobalt. I would bet that if we trained and armed EVERY teacher or better yet, every adult in school, these people would be less likely to pick a school as their target. If they KNOW there are numerous guns in this school that could possibly be shooting back, I bet they would choose an easier target, such as a workplace that doesn't allow guns.

This is simple people, defenseless targets make easy victims. These cowards don't want a confrontation, they want to assassinate people quickly. You make it harder for them to accomplish their goal, then you will greatly reduce the chance of this happening again. Yes, you could put armed Law enforcement in every school but it would take more than one or two, to secure it properly. It would be expensive but well worth it.

Jake
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Jake 12/16/12 - 11:23 am
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4
Good article Scott

I appreciated hearing your thoughts on this tragedy, Scott, especially in light that you live in an extremely pro-gun area. I think we can all agree that something must be done but we may not all agree on what that is.

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