How many more teddy bears and signature-adorned pieces of posterboard at makeshift memorials do we need to see?
Why is it that we continue to put more faith in the character of sick individuals bent on destruction of life than into the character, morality, values and ability of law-abiding citizens?
All of the gun control laws and no-weapons policies in the world cannot stop a man or woman who wakes up in the morning and rationalizes, somehow, taking children away from parents and parents away from children. What can stop such tragedies boils down to two things: One, allow responsible, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others by way of concealed carry legislation, and two, put an immediate stop to the mainstream media’s glorification of those who commit these reprehensible acts.
Yesterday’s shooting at Northern Illinois University was only one of five school shootings in the past ten days, and was yet another massacre at a location kept safe by Gun-Free Zone policies. Add the five victims at NIU to the rapidly lengthening list of dead at locations where a single person, armed in accordance with concealed carry legislation, could have stopped the carnage in its tracks.
Here are a few of the mose recent and notable shootings in Gun-Free Zones:
February 14, 2008. 20-year-old Daniel Parmenter, Catalina Garcia, also 20, Ryanne Mace, 19, Julianna Gehant, 32, and Gayle Dubowski, 20, were killed yesterday when a 27-year-old gunman opened fire in a lecture hall with a shotgun and two handguns. Police say that 54 shots were fired. He had to stop in order to reload.
February 12, 2008. Lawrence King, a 15-year-old eighth grader, was shot in the head during class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif. It’s hard to say to the family of Lawrence, who died yesterday, that it could have been worse — it could have, as there were 20 other children in the classroom.
February 8, 2008. Karsheika Graves, 21, and Taneisha Butler, 26, were shot and killed by a 23-year-old woman as they attended class at Louisiana Technical College. Had the woman not turned the gun on herself and saved the taxpayers some money, it could have been a whole lot worse — about 20 other students were in the emergency medical technology class at the time.
February 7, 2008. Christi Layne, a fifth-grade teacher, was shot and stabbed by her estranged husband as her students watched. Thankfully, Layne is recovering, and the husband took his own life before being apprehended by police. Why include this in the list? It could have been a whole lot worse.
December 13, 2007. Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma and Kiran Kumar Allam, two Ph.D. students at Louisiana State University, were killed on LSU’s campus.
December 5, 2007. Gary Scharf, 48, Beverly Flynn, 47, Angie Schuster, 36, Dianne Trent, 53, John McDonald, 65, Gary Joy, 56, Maggie Webb, 24, and Janet Jorgensen, 66, were killed as they shopped and worked in the Von Maur department store in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb. McDonald was survived by a wife, two children and seven granddaughters; Jorgensen left behind a husband, three children and eight grandchildren. The shooter disregarded Westroads’ strict policy against bringing weapons into the mall.
October 10, 2007. Four people, including 14- and 17-year-old students and 42- and 57-year old teachers were shot by a recently suspended student at SuccessTech Academy high school in Cleveland, Ohio. Thankfully, none were killed and the shooter killed himself before doing more damage.
April 16, 2007. 27 students and five faculty members, including 76-year-old Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who heroically met his end while barricading a door to save his students’ lives, were killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech University. The gunman, of course, disregarded the school’s strict policy against firearms and, knowing that his were the only weapons around, had free reign over a course of hours to carry out the massacre.
April 20, 1999. Two students shot and killed twelve classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado. The high school was secured by a Gun-Free School Zone designation, but Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters, intently followed Colorado concealed-carry legislation and actually carried out the massacre on the very day that the state legislature was to vote on the bill.
February 12, 2007. Five shoppers where shot and killed by an 18-year-old Bosnian immigrant at Seattle’s Trolley Square Mall before Kenneth Hammond, an off-duty police officer who defied the mall’s strict anti-gun policy by carrying a weapon while eating with his pregnant wife, heard the shots from across the mall, ran toward the gunfire, and cornered and traded shots with the gunman until SWAT team members killed him. Hammond saved countless lives, but not before 16-year-old A.J. Walker was injured with a gunshot wound to his head and 15-year-old Kirsten Hinckley lay among the dead.
October 16, 1991. A gunman drove his truck into the Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas and killed 23 people before taking his own life. He had reloaded several times and still had remaining ammunition when he killed himself. One woman, who watched both her mother and father be killed right in front of her, normally kept a gun in her purse but, wary of breaking Texas law, had left it in her vehicle in the parking lot of the cafeteria. Four years later and as a direct result of the massacre, Texas became a shall-issue state.
July 18, 1984. 21 people were gunned down in a San Ysidro, Calif. McDonald’s restaurant by a 41-year-old man who told his wife that he was “hunting humans.” The ages of the victims ranged widely: 74, 69, 62, 45, 31, 31, 25, 23, 22, 21, 19, 19, 19, 18, 18, 18, 11, 11, 11, 9, and eight months old.
What is it going to take before we finally realize that only law-abiding citizens abide by the laws? How many more people have to die at the hands of sick, twisted individuals before we wake up and realize that the police, for all that they do and for all that they put on the line every day, cannot be where we need them at all times? How many more parents must grieve over the loss of their children before we understand that schools are prime targets for these people that want to make a statement, simply because of the knowledge that they are the only ones with the guns, that all of the power is theirs?
One person, responsibly armed, could have stopped a number of these shootings, could have saved countless lives, could have ensured that some of these families did not have an empty seat at the table on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
To post a sign rendering a school, a mall, a community “gun-free” is akin to publishing a written invitation to any sick freak that wants to make some sort of veiled statement. Lawmakers and the citizens who elect them need to realize that the millions of responsible adults who carry a firearm legally, who may be sitting next to them at a restaurant, in a bookstore or on a train are not the ones that need to be feared. In many cases, these are the very people who could save their lives.
Furthermore, we need to stop glorifying the demented people who commit these heinous crimes, who take mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters away from their families forever. Why else did the low-life who killed those people at Virginia Tech take photos of himself menacingly pointing the murder weapons and even mail them to media outlets? These people want to be known. The notoriety satisfies them somehow, and until we quit granting their final wishes, we will be susceptible to others who wish to do similar harm for the same attention. I don’t want to hear their names, I don’t want to see their faces, I don’t want to see the same thing that the victims saw before going to God.
Our priorities in this country are so mixed up that I wonder about our future. We secure rights for sex offenders and potential terrorists while restricting them for law-abiding citizens. In the wake of such tragedies, instead of looking for answers and solutions, we fight tooth-and-nail against the ability for law-abiding, responsible citizens to protect themselves and others, instead looking toward augmented policies and legislation which tilt the advantage more and more toward the very people we need to be afraid of.
Every day that parents drop their children off at school or at the mall, they need to be concerned and aware that the very people they have elected to the state and federal legislature have not only made it more difficult to provide security, but have also unequivocally increased the chances that they will never see their children again. Sure, the odds are low when compared with automobile accidents and such, but shouldn’t we get our priorities straight and work toward proactively making those odds as low as possible?
If common sense in people, elected or not, has not been awakened by now, how much more will it take? How many more children do we have to bury? How many more parents do we have to mourn? How many more candles do we have to light?