by Lynn Mandaville
“Where in God’s name is our backbone to stand up to the lobbies?” – President Joe Biden, speaking to the nation on 5/24/22 following the mass killing of Robb Elementary School children in Uvalde, TX.
“The police are outgunned by the killers in this country” – Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut on 5/25/22 in an interview on the CBS Morning Show about the mass killing in Uvalde, TX.
“The best way to beat a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun.” – paraphrase of a commonly heard defense from the conservative right following mass killings in the United States since the Columbine massacre of 1999, which was heard again, in slightly different forms, on Wednesday, May 25.
I know Townbroadcast reader Ralph Capone will be horribly disappointed in me for reverting to the bad news version of “One Small Voice.” If you read his response to my last column, you’ll recognize this as his comment to said column from just a few days ago about kindness education at my grandsons’ school:
“Thank you, Ms. Mandeville], for an article I can completely get behind. I was one of your critics last week, as I often read your articles, and we seldom see eye to eye. But this positive story looks good on you, and I would love to see more of this. You can become the Steve Hartman of the Town Broadcast.”
I also suspect that reader and frequent commenter John Wilkens will feel vindicated about his observation of May 16 following my column about how sick our collective American society is after the Buffalo killing of ten innocent people by a cruel and troubled 18-year-old with an assault-style rifle. His kind words were these:
“Ralph, Please don’t waste your time, she has been spewing the same hatred for as long as she has been writing here.”
I’m sorry that Mr. Wilkens interprets my observations – all of them true, you can fact-check them – as the spewing of hatred. Sometimes the messenger is the one who gets “killed” for delivering bad news. So it goes.
Despite Mr. Capone’s back-handed compliment, I don’t write what I write to be liked. I don’t pretend to be the bringer of sunshine to this publication. I doubt I’ll ever be the Steve Hartman of Townbroadcast.
I write what I write because the editor gives me freedom to express myself on whatever subject I choose. Sometimes it’s in gratitude for my blessed life, sometimes it’s to highlight something wonderful or less than wonderful, and, too often, it’s to purge myself of the negative feelings I have about the things that I think are completely off the rails in our country. (A country, which, by the way, I love very much in spite of her many faults.)
Thus, today I’m back on my high horse, utterly outraged to my core by another senseless mass murder at the hands of yet another 18-year- old boy with yet another assault-style rifle!
And I really, really wish I weren’t.
Over and over children are killing children.
Over and over presidents are in or near tears as they come before a horrified nation, enraged that Congress has failed to do anything in the more than 22 years since Columbine.
Over and over again, parents are crying in abject despair for the loss of their innocent babies. And I honestly don’t know where to begin or end my thoughts as I write this tonight.
I know many of you share my feelings of deep-seated anger at a do-nothing Congress. Left or right, they seem incapable of doing anything of substance that will truly benefit average Americans like you and me.
Worse than incapable are the Republicans, who I honestly think don’t give a damn about anything other than the money they pocket from the lobbyists and the power they believe their offices grant them.
How else can they (the Republicans) justify comments like “the best way to beat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?”
(To which I counter, there was a good guy with a gun stationed outside Robb Elementary, and the bad guy overpowered him! Shot him! And shot two more good guys with guns!
So how’s that theory working out so far?)
Or how about this old chestnut, which I actually heard today, from U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican Congressman serving the very district in which Uvalde, TX, lies, “I’m not willing to discuss policy today.” Or as you may better know this sentiment, “It’s too soon to talk about it.”
(“They” always say it’s too soon to talk about. But then there’s never a good time, or any time, to talk about it, much less legislate a solution!
There is never a good time, as my Pop used to say, to “sh*t or get off the pot.”)
Among those who were interviewed today, Nelba Marquez-Green spoke in two capacities.
First, she spoke as the mother of a child murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre. She described what the parents of these children are feeling like today. She said their grief is like “inhaling shards of glass into your lungs.”
I want you to think about that image. Think what it would feel like to try to catch your breath as little knife-like pieces of glass fly into your lungs. Imagine that feeling you get when you gasp in pain, inhaling the pain, while wanting to expel that painful breath at the very same time. Have you ever felt that kind of sudden intake of pain? Can you feel it again now?
Ms. Marquez-Green also spoke to viewers as a grief counselor, where her advice was more to the friends and loved ones of the parents who lost children. She said caring friends need to be there for them for the next year, or two, or ten, or twenty or more, because they will never be without the need for that love and support for the rest of their lives after losing a child in this manner.
But what I most remember her saying was about our elected representatives in the House and Senate. When asked what she thinks they should be doing about the killing of children in schools, she said that what they are doing is, “They are deciding to be cowards!” (You can look that up. It’s a direct quote I wrote down as I heard her say it this morning.)
I agree with her one hundred percent!
Anyone in the Senate who does not step up, today or tomorrow or net week, in support, at the very least, of legislation requiring background checks for anyone who wishes to buy a gun (ANY GUN) is a coward. A coward who is willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people for money or power.
And I would go a step further.
Anyone in the House or Senate who would not legislate the banning of assault-style weapons outside of the military is worse than a coward. He or she is a damned coward!
There is absolutely no reason for non-military individuals to own assault-style weapons. There is nothing in the Constitution that delineates that specific right. No reasonable citizen would disagree with my statement.
Here’s a fact that was shared today, and I looked it up to confirm that it was a valid claim. According to the Small Arms Survey of 2022, there are more guns (of any kind, both registered and unregistered) than there are people in the United States. US population as of the 2020 Census stands at 326,474,000 while gun ownership stands at 393 million. (The claim that there were more guns than cars I found to be untrue.)
And here’s another more disturbing fact that was shared today.
Parents of children at the Robb Elementary School were required to give DNA samples so that their children could be identified among the dead.
This one I REALLY want you to think about.
Some of these babies – only 8 to 10 years old – the ages of my grandsons – children who still have their baby teeth, as Gayle King likes to remind us – some of these babies had to be identified through their parents’ DNA because the bullets from that assault-style rifle made what was left of their innocent little bodies unidentifiable!
Think about that!
Imagine being a parent who has had to wait more than 24 hours to know if your child is among the dead? Who has had to give a DNA sample to identify what remains of their child among that carnage!
Is this too gory? Is this too horrifying? Of course it is!
And if it doesn’t bother you, then you are as bad as those senators who will not do something, anything, about that horrid, wretched violence that continues to be visited upon the children and all the other innocents among us.
I go on too long for a lot of you. But I’m not sorry.
Maybe in closing I should direct you to seek out the YouTube video of Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, and how he reacted during his postgame interview during the NBA playoffs yesterday. (Search “steve kerr postgame interview” on YouTube.)
The whole interview is powerful, but this stood out for me: “I’m tired of the moments of silence,” he said, before he stormed out of the interview, having said nothing about the game. “I’m tired of the moments of silence.”
Aren’t we all?
We’ve all gotten tired of “thoughts and prayers” to the point that it has become a gallows-humor expression of our sympathy for any relatively insignificant trial or tribulation in life. (Got a flat tire? Thoughts and prayers! Spilled your coffee? Thoughts and prayers!)
Steve Kerr is tired of the moments of silence. So far that’s an original sentiment. It’s his original statement of absolute outrage at the gun violence visited on the children.
I urge you to listen to his speech.
I urge you to hear his outrage.
Then I urge you to ask yourself this question:
How many more gun-fueled tragedies must we endure before “moments of silence” becomes a trite, overworn sentiment like “thoughts and prayers?”
The answer should come back: NONE.