Dan Rattiner's Stories

Reflection On the Adult with Rifle and Ammo at Hampton Bays High School

Think it couldn’t happen here? Last Tuesday a Hampton Bays man named Todd Tuttle, 46, was arrested outside the Hampton Bays High School for bringing a gun and ammunition onto school grounds. Prior to this, according to a Southampton Town Police statement, he has been accused of stalking a female employee at the school because of a dispute between two local families.

When he was seen watching a lacrosse game, school authorities called the police. They spoke with Tuttle and he told them he was there to watch his son play lacrosse, but according to the police, his son was not playing. On the other hand, it was found he was carrying a cartridge of ammunition for a rifle in his pocket, and, police found a rifle in his car.

He was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors and pleaded not guilty. I don’t know if he’s posted bail. The next morning, however, the school proceeded with what they called a “modified lockdown.”

Today, as I write this, children are walking the streets in towns around the country demanding that new laws be passed to protect them from people who want to shoot them. So far, new laws have not occurred. Some school boards have taken action. Teachers and coaches in certain schools carry weapons to class. (One of them at Parkland in Florida, where 17 people were killed last month, left his loaded pistol in a public restroom.)

In Nassau County, Newsday reports, there is a school that is requiring that all students entering the school carry clear plastic backpacks, which they provide. If there were weapons inside, they’d be visible.

I went to the East Hampton High School the other day to drop a package off. My younger sister went to this school, and all four of my children went to this school. Those were brighter days. You just went in the front door, went to class and got taught. Now the entrance is covered with an enclosed glass portico and a lockable door where, inside, an armed guard sits inside a small glass booth, observing everybody coming and going. There are pat-downs. Guards. How can we not pass laws to protect these kids?

President Trump, after hearing from the kids at Parkland, promised he’d seize weapons from some people without due process and ban the stocks that make AR-15s into submachine guns. He said he would support new laws about who can get a license to carry a gun. Then the National Rifle Association (NRA) came to talk to him behind closed doors.

After that visit, he backed away from the changes he had offered to make. What exactly did the NRA tell him? Mr. Trump is, among other things, a tough dude. Did they threaten to shoot him? What?

This morning, the day of the second March for Our Lives, I received an email from a man representing a group called Mature American Citizens. He calls for “rational” debate about gun control.

“The murder of innocent children in our nation’s schools by mentally disturbed individuals cannot be tolerated,” he writes. Well, less than 10% of our shooters are mentally disturbed. The others are either angry, bored, suicidal, terminally ill, religious nuts or, in the case of the Las Vegas shooter, none of the above and we have no idea what he was thinking but he’s dead now.

The email says that repeal of the Second Amendment, which former Chief Justice Stevens recommends, “would be perhaps the first time in American history that our own government would be taking away a Constitutional right.”

There is nothing sacred about our Constitutional amendments. And repealing them has been done before. We passed the 18th Amendment in 1919 but then repealed it in 1933. And everybody drank to that.

Elsewhere in the email, the author points out that “nearly two thirds of the deaths by firearms in the U.S. were the result of suicides, accidents and legal interventions. Homicides amounted for only 33% of deaths.” Wow. It’s less than half of them.

And the so-called “right to bear arms” is totally misrepresented. It was intended to allow private citizens to form town militias, which would answer to your state legislature in time of national turmoil.

That our government takes no action is reprehensible.

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