Too often, I imagine what might happen if my son Calvin suddenly died. What would I do, how would I feel, how might I survive the grief? Because of his epilepsy, his mortality rate is three times that of the rest of us, and if it weren’t for constant, hands-on supervision, his risk for accidental death would be twenty-four times greater. So when I heard the news of another mass shooting, this one in Santa Barbara, where a jilted young man killed six students before killing himself, and when I watched one victim’s parent grieve publicly, I thought of Calvin's mortality again and my body shivered with chills.
Richard Martinez, the father of an only child, twenty-year-old victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, spoke to the media demanding immediate action from Congress and President Obama to curb gun violence by passing stricter gun-control laws. He spoke briefly and passionately, blaming “craven” politicians and the National Rifle Association for lax policy that he and others believe contributes to countless tragedies such as Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacres.
Martinez has started a campaign
urging people to send electronic postcards to Congress with the message of, Not one more
firearm death. I sent mine immediately, and shortly thereafter I read a Facebook exchange that began with a reaction to a posting of a New Yorker
story titled Christopher Michael-Martinez’s Father Gets It Right
. One man had this to say about the bereaved father:
"That was guy was a straight up actor ... Come on this is all propaganda. What a freaking joke."
This ignorant, insensitive comment about the father’s anguish being an act, being propaganda, being a joke, sickened me. It brought to mind all of the parents of the twenty Sandy Hook Elementary School first-graders who were murdered in a spray of bullets from a semi-automatic gun with multiple large-capacity ammunition clips. Some of the children killed had their hands and faces blown off, others were riddled with as many as eleven bullets. Then, I thought of my dear friend Heather’s Goddaughter, nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was shot to death the day of Gabrielle Giffords' constituent gathering in Arizona a few years ago. I thought about the father of three former swimmers of mine who shot himself at home one night. I thought about the countless women killed in domestic disputes by guns they’d bought for their own safety, about the hundreds of children who've found a relative’s or a neighbor’s gun and accidentally killed their sibling or a friend. And I thought of all the innocent men, women and children shot by angry, bigoted, trigger-happy men who falsely claim self defense or stand-your-ground. Would these victims' loved ones be opposed to stricter gun-control measures?
The Facebooker went on to say that it was “weird” for the grieving father to attack the NRA, going on to say that, “It’s funny how Obama fights so hard to take away our right to protect ourselves ... kinda like Nazi Germany ... he wants everyone to lose their right to have a gun.”
It pained me to read the offensive comment, comparing a common sense desire for reasonable gun-control legislation intended to save innocent lives to the systematic torture and extermination of six million people, mostly Jews. The comparison is repugnant and distorted, hurtful to the families who lost loved ones and relatives during the Holocaust and who are haunted by it to this day.
Anyone who thinks that Obama wants everyone to lose their right to own a gun is deluded. It's wise to apply stricter background checks and limits on particular types of guns and magazines while increasing other safety measures to buying, selling and owning guns. A buy-back program
like the one Australia conducted could get hundreds of thousands of guns off of the streets and out of homes, thereby significantly reducing mass killings, homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. And, no, asking if we should outlaw knives is not a good comparison to gun-control. Show me a knife that is made expressly for killing people that can be aimed into a crowd from a fair distance murdering scores of people within seconds. And, yes, we should consider other methods for curbing gun violence such as improving access to mental health services and by identifying and treating those who might be a threat to society.
fact and not purely conjecture is that the NRA pours millions of dollars into the campaigns—perhaps even the pockets—of politicians. They lead the gun lobby with their vested interest in relaxing gun-control policy so that more people can purchase firearms thereby stoking gun industry fortunes. When it comes to certain trades, politicians and oligarchs, it's all about greed for money and power, which is why the NRA's solution to any massacre is to suggest that more—rather than fewer—people should own guns. I'm sure that if it were up to the NRA, they'd support any child old enough to walk owning a gun, just like the cigarette companies that are addicted to marketing carcinogens to children. Money, money, money, money. Makes me want to puke.
The NRA has become adept at fear mongering, convincing some Americans that owning guns will make them safer, while just down the street some toddler is playing with a loaded pistol and some father is putting a gun in his mouth and some mother is being blasted by a spurned boyfriend and some innocent stranger knocking on the door asking for help is shot square in the face because of trumped-up fear.
Today, Christina Taylor Green would be about twelve years old, just two years older than Calvin. Had she survived the mass shooting in Tucson I bet she'd be pressing for stricter gun control now. That's just the kind of girl she was ... smart, unafraid and interested in the welfare of others, not in getting richer, not in getting elected, not in propaganda and not in being a "straight up actor." And when the Sandy Hook massacre took place, my son Calvin was the same age as the children who suffered and died. If he knew of that tragedy, and if he were capable, I'd bet he'd be sending his postcard to Congress too, urging them to grow a spine and to tell the NRA to go to Hell along with their money grubbing, shady motives and twisted theories, telling them to do what is right in an effort to ensure that there is not one more of us
lost to guns.
|photo Associated Press|