Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jim Calhoun Speaks Candidly on Sandy Hook, Gun Control

Jim Calhoun was at St. Monica's Episcopal Church in Hartford Tuesday night, distributing holiday meals to needy families with UConn players and coaches, as he's done for some 14, 15 years now.

For all the criticism Calhoun gets -- some of it deserved -- he's always been sincere about his many charitable works, has always cared about his community. And, of course, he has six beloved grandchildren on whom he dotes.

With all that in mind, I wanted to get his thoughts on the Sandy Hook tragedy and on the burgeoning issue of gun control. Not surprisingly, he had plenty to say:

"I don’t think there’s any politics about gun control. In my opinion, nobody should have an automatic weapon unless they’re … protecting the country. The idea that children would be faced with that, or teachers that were trying to help them … there are other things in my lifetime that I can explain – a distraught kid, a fired employee. But this is so nonsensical."

Here's the video:

"Having six grandchildren … there’s no way I can get around this. The most difficult thing is, people say, ‘Let’s give money.’ I don’t think money is the issue at this time. I think giving hope, caring. This is well-said by the President: Let’s make sure they understand they aren’t alone in this. This is a Newtown issue, a Connecticut issue, an American issue, a worldwide issue …"

Calhoun said he was at one of his outings on Sunday with about 60 other people.

“Trust me, I hugged a lot of kids. I hugged them, with that thought in my mind.

He said he hadn't seen or heard about Jim Boeheim's scathing comments on gun control he made Monday night, but he pretty much agreed with what Boeheim said:

“I just don’t know why. If you’re going to kill a deer, I don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike to get 100 rounds off in 10 seconds.

"I went to Israel on nine occasions and have seen young people carrying guns around who are military people. Yet if you’re found with any type of weapons in a city like Tel Aviv, you’re put in jail – no if’s, and’s, but’s or maybe’s. We’re not asking to take away people’s rights. The right to bear arms was put in there for tyranny, the fact that the government could come back and abuse us ... As a former American history teacher, I can tell you it wasn’t put in for us to shoot each other."

And the idea that we should arm our principals and teachers?

"It’s already been proven, 1,000 times over, if you own a gun, you’re three times as likely to use it on somebody you don’t want to use it on, or somebody uses it upon you. I was a teacher for five years in high school. You don’t sign up to become an enforcement person, nor should you be. What those people did … they’re heroic people.

“I would call a Town Hall meeting, get both sides together – you don’t want to come, OK, we’ll put your picture up there just to let everybody know that you’re not for this. It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. It’s an issue of protecting the lives of 5, 6, 7, 8-year-old kids .. it’s hard to even say that. There are ways. And to quote our President, who was so eloquent on this – as was our Governor – ‘We’re better than this.’”

"Last year, 13 massacres occurred worldwide. Eleven occurred in the United States. You don’t have to pay anywhere near that price for freedom.”

OK, Calhoun has always been a bit fuzzy on statistics, and I haven't fact-checked all of his numbers.

But his overall point was very well-made.

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