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Need to Know: February 22, 2013: After Newtown: Gone Boy

This week's host Maria Hinojosa

The damage done by the massacre of more than two dozen children and adults in Newtown, Conn. last December no doubt will reverberate for years. But much smaller shooting incidents that get little media attention can also have profound consequences.

One such incident occurred exactly 20 years before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts, a student went on a sudden shooting rampage that killed two people. Today, both the survivors and family members of those killed in the Simon’s Rock shooting are still trying to come to terms with what happened.

“Echoes of a shooting”  is part of PBS’ “After Newtown” initiative, a series of documentaries, news reports and public affairs programs that provides thought-provoking context to the national conversation about gun violence in America.

PBS has brought together its science, documentary and public affairs programs to provide in-depth reporting on the myriad issues related to gun violence, including gun laws, mental health support and availability, and school safety.

Read the transcript.

“After Newtown”

Echoes of a shooting

Twenty years later: The impact of a school shooting in a small town in Western Massachusetts. The gunfire killed a student, Galen Gibson, a professor, Ñacuñán Sáez, and wounded four others.

American Voices: Jerry McGill

When he was just a 13-year-old boy, a single bullet in the back from an unsuspecting stranger left Jerry McGill a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

Gone Boy

Read an excerpt from Gregory Gibson’s Gone Boy: A Father’s Search for the Truth in His Son’s Murder.

Remembering the night

Faculty who were working at the school during the 1992 shooting take us back to that fateful night.

Creating art from tragedy

The 1992 school shooting at Simon’s Rock College inspires poetry and piano.

Unpacking the semi-automatic

The AR-15 semi-automatic, used in both Newtown and Aurora, is one of the more popular guns in America and its sales are currently surging.

Watch full episodes of Need to Know.


  • Carolina

    The piece I do not understand about the NRA’s stand on guns is why their strong need to have assault weapons. I would like to understand their thinking on this one issue. It seems a no-brainer that hunters do not need assault weapons, target shooters do not need them. To protect one’s home from an intruder an assault weapon is not useful. It is awkward and cumbersome in an emergency situation like that, and it is much more likely to lead to the death of a family member than is a hand gun. I just want to understand where the NRA is coming from. They must have a reasonable reason to protest so much. I would like to know what that reasoning is.

  • Lee Kearney

    This is one of the best programs I’ve seen on Need to Know. Thanks Maria for your interview. Well done! Now I have a suggestion… get Mr Galen to speak to the US Congress. He has an incredible way of presenting the argument for gun control in a most direct, logical, and simple way. He went on a mission to find out “why” and as painful as that is, his experience is invaluable. It is so true for those who have gone through terrible tragedies (mine is not the same issue as his) and are 20 years down the road,(as I am also) there is a wisdom that comes with all that experience. He has lived it. Get Mr. Galen to Washington, quickly. Thanks for all you do.

  • Roy Heberger

    Very well done. Maybe, just maybe, the program will have an effect on those who were not on FOX…

  • k223

    It is a fair question. Let me give it a try.

    Take a look at Feinstein’s Assault Weapon Bill. She “redefined” Assault Weapon to create the most broad and comprehensive ban ever. 100+ pages long.

    Look for the SKS Wayne used.
    Let’s try another one: look for Ruger Mini-14, used by Anders Breivik in Norway to kill 77 and injure 242, also used in 1986 to kill 2 FBI agents in Miami.

    Do you find them on the ban list? Is it banned by the 1-characteristic test?

    They are on the exemption list. Pass this bill, and these rifles are not banned, but protected.

    You’d think I was crazy. Bill is S150 of 113th Congress, or you can find it on her website by googling “feinstein assault weapons bill text.” SKS is on page 68, Mini-14 is on page 24.

    Remember how I used the word “redefined.” “Assault Weapons” is a feckless term that is arbitrarily redefined. What we gun folks are telling you is that all guns are dangerous, no matter what side of the list they fall on.

    I don’t agree with NRA on everything. I want stronger background checks, and more.

    But this Assault Weapons thing? You tell me if you’ll feel safer knowing Wayne’s SKS and Breivik’s Mini-14s won’t be banned, but federally protected.

  • Liberal Libertarian

    Gun violence would be reduced by strict gun laws but studies show violent crime such as rapes actually increase.

  • k223

    Thank you Maria for bringing the story, and the people, to us.

    I also feel it is important we remember the victims, those gone and the loved ones who mourning.

  • Maryana Bhak

    Thank you, PBS and Ms. Hinojosa. It’s not a simple story with bad guys and kneejerk reactions, and you showed that through the story-telling. Nanunan was our teacher and friend. Thank you for helping us to remember him, grapple with the ripple effects, and share our story.

  • Isobel

    I remember everything about the precise second I learned of the Simon’s Rock shootings, as I glimpsed the headline through the window of a distribution box full of copies of BU’s student paper, The Daily Free Press, on my way home from somewhere–I’d been traveling, a long weekend, out of touch. That was my little college, that was my library Wang shot up, my best friend’s dorm, the music building where I studied harmony and theory with Agnes the Beauty Queen, the guard booth at the end of the driveway I’d go by on my way back late from moonlit drives on country roads in H’s old Volvo, driving by dims only, back in the beautiful days. I remember things tilting sideways there in front of Warren Towers– everything shifted 20% as if I was starting to fall down, and a weird wide smile stretched across my face as if imposed on it by some kind of dental machine. I’d stumbled through an immaterial veil to the world on the Other Side of (it can’t happen) Here. It’s not that very bad things hadn’t happened to me before, very bad things had, but they were things you read about in novels or saw in movies, terrible things that made sense in a terrible way, things your nervous system was trained to believe. This was news I couldn’t find a place to put, still can’t, even after Montreal, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Red Lake, Fort Hood, Oak Creek, Newtown, and whatever comes next.

  • Maryana Bhak

    Lee, I believe he was able to speak at the hearings after the Newtown shooting. We need everyone to speak and sign petitions and call their reps until the laws are brought up-to-date. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    As a licensed conceal carry weapon holder for over a decade, I feel sad (but not hopelessly sad) when such gun violence by some cowardly, evil, individual occurs. I’ve never had to pull my compact 9mm from my waist band a single time (hope I never do) – but if I did it would be laser red dot fixed immediately for swift execution of dangerous, armed bad guy threatening my life or others. Those crying out for more gun restrictions need to realize it’s armed, well trained, responsible, self-defense by individual righteous citizens as well as more armed security guard presence in certain areas (such as “gun free zone” schools) that provides best protection from such horrible attacks – not simply passing another feel good law.

  • Edward Dongres

    Mexico or Jamaica, for example, have very strict gun laws. Yet homicide rate several times that of USA. Czech Republic has low homicide rate as Canada, yet firearms liberties of USA. Switzerland has military automatic rifles in all households, with crates of ammo from the government. That on top of civilians firearms, since shooting competiton is their national sport. Homicide rate even lower than Canada.

    Clearly homicide rate has nothing to do with firearms.

    Remember Robert Pickton, OJ, Richard Speck and others who had guns but used knives.

  • Umpa Lord

    There are many factora to gun deaths. starting with the CDC, it released a study in 2004 and it concluded there was no way to tell the ban had any effect. There was a followup to this and concluded further that any effect was minor on crime but only a longer study could prove or deny that fact. 3 years after the instigation of the assault weapons ban gun murders more than doubled. According to ATF, DoJ and FBI most gun crimes happen in cities over 250k and high unemployment. Also of great effect is strick gun comtrols and create a prohibition effect. They limit guns in society and restrict law abiding persons from their protections. This makes it safer for criminals to…act like criminals do. People hell bent on using a gun in a criminal way will get one no matter what so says the feds. In order of ranking guns are purchased through straw man purchases (someone who can legally buy a gun), unscrupulous FFL dealers and gun shows, as a gift and last is by stealing it. Copycat murders increase exponentially when the media broadcast the murders also. Most mass murderers feel disaffected license ID. But the treats the exhibit are also found in most of the people. mini criminal psychologist have not been able to find any specific way to detect this is it produces too many false positive.

    now is to the reason why people need semi automatic rifles with military styling: 2) The 2nd amend is to protect our rights to defend yourself against all enemies foreign and domestic, 3) They are not combat weapons, 4) They reduce violent crimes, 5) They are reliable and accurate.

    We are at the lowest rate of murders by guns since the early 1980′s. soprema court is ruled the police officers do not have to protect us so who is supposed to protect us if not police?! Gun guess we’ll always be there as long as criminals are criminals. It is up to us to stop crying in our neighborhoods in homes since the police will never arrive in time. I don’t see this from any motional standpoint or in ignorance. I have observed 2 people commit suicide in 1 person murdered. I have had 2 people like a mother and sister shot in the back of the head by a criminal. then by waiting for someone else to stop these bastards does nothing. and not let fear, emotion and ignorance rulers. I do not own guns and I am not a member of the NRA. reasonable background checks do work if done right in are not too restrictive on law abiding citizens.

  • Isobel

    What studies are those? I haven’t seen them. The countries I’ve lived in that have strict gun control laws have almost no rape, relative to the US. But it’s not so much the fact I’m disputing (though I am, until I have links to these studies) as the logic. If that’s true in the US, why isn’t it true anywhere else?

  • berettababe

    An assault designated weapon is the identical weapon as a DEFENSE WEAPON!! It is political correctness running amok!!! It’s the Feinstein, Pelloci(sp), Obama, Reid mindset to trash the second amendment. The NRA wants American citizens be able to defend themselves, their families and neighborhoods from mentally disturbed people who steal their mother’s AR15, or their cousin’s 9mm pistol, etc., etc.

  • Jake Williams
  • Alan

    Surprisingly, in her comments during 22 Feb’s Need to Know, Ms.Hinojosa described the SKS Carbine the shooter used as ä “semi-automatic carbine “, which it is, as opposed to that darling of media in particular and anti gun types in general, the “assault weapon”, which it isn’t. For such curious souls as might read posts here, assault weapons are properly defined as “selective fire weapons, usually of rifle configuration, chambered for an intermediate cartridge, see standard reference texts that deal with small arms. Given that the SKS lacks selective fire capability, it is not an assault weapon.

    Maria did not let the side down (media) for later on she made reference, a couple of times, to assault weapons. By the way, real assault weapons are seldom found in the hands of the private citizen in this country, due to their being strictly regulated in 80 year old federal law, The National Firearms Act of 1934. History is truly fascinating. People should pay more attention to it than some do.

  • Jim Longley

    Yes it is a tragedy, but worldwide experience, not just in the US, indicates that “gun control” is merely people control by regulating items they can own.

    “Gun control” does not equal crime control, crime, including violent crime, will still go on, and even get worse in some cases and outlawing specific guns based on cosmetic appearances accomplishes even less.

    I watched the segment with tears in my eye, but when the half truths and “statistics” started, the tears of sadness turned to ones of rage. How can he or you believe this stuff, and worse, how can you, in the age of the internet, expect us to accept these items that you present as reasons to, supposedly, control guns?

  • Edward Dongres

    Young impressionable kids – on drugs – want to know how it would feel like in real life ‘video game’ shooting.

  • Susan Hershey

    Maria – This piece is moving and informative, especially to me because of Greg and Galen. I did not know Galen and I do not know Gregor, as they call him here on Cape Ann, but I know many people who knew and know them. You presented this horrific tragedy with sensitivity and grace. Thank you. The camera work was excellent and overall, it’s a wonderful piece. My love to you, Susan

  • Terry Mahan

    I am a life-long gun owner and shooting enthusiast. While I support the Second Amendment rights, they also come with responsibilities and limitations. There is no reason for any civilian to have need for an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine. Background checks should be mandatory, including transactions at gun shows. But–what good will it do, if the government does not enforce the laws on the books, as well as vigorously prosecute offenders? The Justice Department, FBI and BATF are all culpable in facilitating illegal transfers of firearms. As for fears that the government will use registration as a guise to confiscate guns, even a totally repressive regime could not possibly confiscate the 300 million firearms now in the United States. Set aside pride and emotions, and enact and enforce reasonable gun policy for the good or all Americans.

  • Edward Dongres

    Terry Mahan, you said:
    “”There is no reason for any civilian to have need for an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine.”"
    Do you need fast sports car, with large engine and large gas tank, capable of far exceeding speed limits? What for?

  • Edward Dongres

    Terry Mahan, you said:
    “”As for fears that the government will use registration as a guise to confiscate guns”"
    How do you explain it already happen in UK with all REGISTERED handguns, and Australia with all REGISTERED semi and pump hunting firearms. Are you surpirsed people refuse to register now? Why do you think long gun registration in Canada died and Liberals lost election?

  • Matt

    You can look at cities in America and compare them to Canada and get some pretty stark contrasts. Literally border towns have massively different crime and gun violence rates. Availability is still a problem, but there’s definitely some trending between gun violence and an American that does not exist in Canada. Don’t blame video games. I can see some blame on media, but it comes back to how kids are brought up and how parents raise their kids. That’s the most stark contrast I see personally. I feel people in America are paranoid someone will rob/mug/kill them out of the blue and that Canada doesn’t feel fearful of that. It’s one thing to feel and understand the responsibility of protecting oneself and then there’s a paranoia associated with being overzealous about it. I feel America is the latter of this.

  • Jade

    it isnt a god given right , I love how you people seem to claim god gave you the right to bare arms , it was a man or a group of men who decided you could bare arms and the reasoning behind that right was hundreds of years ago , times change , danger changes and its time the Americans changed , 62 mass shootings in a 12 year period ? and you have learnt nothing thats discusting …..

  • Edward Dongres

    It actually IS god given right of every creature to defend itself. Not given by any “group of men:”
    Is it abourt saving lives really? How about OD, the many thousands of kids killed by drugs? Even cars kill far more children than any firearms. 90% of the shootings are by street gangs. To stop that we need to first get rid of street gang. That would include deporting millions.

  • Jerry

    One of the best shows on gun violence ever. Why does this madness continue? When is this country going to put real controls on guns? Why not adopt gun control laws similar to the ones in Australia? Well we know the reasons. Gutless politicians and the NRA. That’s why. Also a love affair with guns that is crazy.

  • Jerry

    Feinstein is a moron in a sea of congressional morons. This is typical congressional jackassery. Pass a joke and call it a ban while making sure no one is offended or even inconvenienced by the bill. We are being governed by idiots. The slaughter going on in this country is a result of piss poor leadership by piss poor politicians. We need a revolution in this country if we want to see improvement.

  • Edward Dongres

    Jerry, you said:
    “”"Why not adopt gun control laws similar to the ones in Australia?”"”
    Because Americans are no sheep. It’s a free world. So if you want Australian laws you move to Australia. If you want Sharia Law you move to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan…..

  • Edward Dongres

    I was once asked by a lady
    visiting if I had a gun in the house? I said I did. She said, “Well I certainly
    hope it isn’t loaded!” To which I said, “Of course it is loaded; it
    can’t work without bullets!” She then asked, “Are you that afraid of
    someone evil coming into your house?”

    My reply was, “No, not at
    all. I am not afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire
    extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too.”

  • Edward Dongres

    Carolina, you said:
    “”The piece I do not understand about the NRA’s stand on guns”"
    You don’t have to understand, it’s over your head.

  • williamdiamon

    2 percent of gun related deaths involve rifles of any kind. These semi-automatic rifles with full 30 round magazines are not inherently more dangerous than any other firearm. Most guns can be reloaded quickly. Want to keep people safe? Let teachers and students, with CCW permits, carry. The proper response, when someone is shooting at you, is to shoot back. That’s why we call the police in the first place, isn’t it? Because they have guns? That “God given Right” so easily toss around in the interview was paid for by my ancestors. Now do a show that describes the beneficial uses of firearms. Like self defence. Or do you have an agenda?

  • CR Williams

    That school was a “gun free zone”. Your gun control laws failed. But hey, you like Aussie style “gun control” move there. What is really crazy is your paranoia of your firearm owning neighbors.

  • CR Williams

    Yeah, why do you need your firearms? Seriously. I mean you are going to attack other firearm owners because they have guns that you don’t think they need then you need to explain to me why on earth you need your firearms.
    As for Gun Shows, I understand this is news to you but the laws at Gun Shows are the exact same as they are at a Gun Store. I know you do not understand this because if you are a gun owner (highly doubt it as many who start the sentence with something like “I am a life-long gun owner, who believes in limitations.”, “I really love guns too but there has to be some rules.”, or “I support the Second Amendment but there is no need for…” after 1934, oh hell I’ll be generous, 1968, is doing it just to soften the people whose liberty they are going after. There are laws on the books, NONE have prevented not one mass shooting, in fact, they created the environment friendly to the criminal. “Gun Free Zones” are the common thread with these shootings.
    The next time you want to accuse someone of not setting aside their “pride and emotions” you may want make sure what you are advocating isn’t an emotional response. You also may want to check your facts you just got them wrong AND you took the side of people who are not setting aside their pride and emotions.

  • CR Williams

    One mistake, you are thinking about Assault Rifles. Those are NFA II weapons and have selective fire capabilities. There are plenty of semi autos that get mislabeled Assault Rifles by ignorant people and manipulators alike.
    The term “Assault Weapon” is a broad term with very little technical definition aside from a few state laws and the expired 94′ ban. It was coined by people who want to confuse the difference between semiautomatic firearms and machine guns in order to rally support for a ban on them. Josh Sugarmann of the VPC said it himself but if you so much as mention that part the people who support gun control and give money to the VPC will say you are “reciting NRA propaganda”.

  • CR Williams

    Gibson is off his rocker. He is “trying to understand the murderer of his son” and yet can’t seem to extend that same live and let live mentality to millions of Americans that did not take his sons life (nor anyone else’s for that matter)?
    Gibson, sorry for the loss of your son but if you fail to understand millions of law abiding firearm owners yet can “understand” your son’s murderer then there is something madly wrong with you.
    As for Wayne Lo, you did the crime you do the time and deal with it. If I had it my way you would have had a seat in old sparky at least a decade ago. Quit trying to blame your problems on not having a “waiting period”. If you did have the waiting period and it saved your ass that day you still would have probably snapped and committed such a shooting later in life. You are a pussy who murdered unarmed people and you are too much of a pussy to man up to the fact that it was not anyone’s fault but your own.
    PBS, way to show you utter bias and lack of research into the other side of the debate. You remind me on why I prefer Fox News.