Shot Down

Yesterday during my morning commute, Russ Parr’s voice came through the radio, announcing that the Senate had failed to pass a bipartisan bill that would require background checks for would-be gun owners. The purpose of the bill is basically to prevent convicted felons and mentally ill persons from getting their hands on firearms. Of course, lobbying groups such as the NRA spun the bill to look like some contra-Constitutional law and hypothesized that such a law would lead to a national registry of gun owners. I am not at all surprised by the NRA-led propaganda.

I am, however, surprised at how cowardly and selfishly our Senate voted on the bill. No, I was saddened and enraged. I burst into tears. I started seeing all the perfect little faces of the first-graders who loss their lives in Newtown, CT just before Christmas. I recalled the dread I felt as a child after the shootings at Columbine High. I remembered mourning my college neighbors at Virginia Tech during the tail-end of my sophomore year of undergrad. I quietly spoke to Hadiya Pendleton — the 15-year-old girl who was killed back home in Chicago days after performing in the Inaugural parade — through prayer.

Now forgive me if I didn’t add correctly, that’s 71 victims. Actually, that’s 75 victims. I can’t forget the perpetrators of these various incidents who took their own lives after their brief “reigns of terror.” Let’s be clear — their acts were reprehensible. But be clear about another thing — anyone who would let loose on a bunch of innocent people clearly has mental problems GALORE. Maybe it’s the special education teacher in me, but I can’t dismiss anyone who has mental illness — especially when said illness goes undiagnosed, untreated, and/or unnoticed. And the fact that three of the four killers associated with these acts were children themselves? Even sadder.

I’m appalled that the issues these young men had were noted by many but addressed by none. I’m pissed off that anyone who’s clearly missing a few sandwiches from their picnic basket can get their hands on guns. A couple of days ago, our leaders had a chance to curb things like that from happening. Rather, they decided to bend to the will of the gun-enthusiasts who fund their campaigns (and probably line their pockets on the side, too.) The fact that any dollar amount or political victory can trump innocent lives makes me sick to my stomach. How could they do this?

As I write this, I think of all the people I know who’ve been killed by guns. Without thinking hard, four come to mind — three family friends and one high school classmate. I’m tearfully thinking of one of my closest cousins, just a few months older than I am, who will probably be behind bars until he’s middle-aged because of a non-fatal shooting he was involved in. How does a 16-year-old get a gun again?

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords summed up how I feel quite nicely yesterday. So, I won’t say much more. I will add, though, that when Ms. Giffords runs into the 46 dissenting assholes (I mean, Senators) who know all about what she’s been through — she should smack the shit out of them.

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