It has happened in the past too, don’t get me wrong, but as of late, the victims and their families of recent tragedies such as the Aurora Theater and Sandy Hook Elementary shootings have been used to advocate for political viewpoints. Is this the right thing to do to people who are obviously grieving, raw with pain and emotion after the loss of a loved one or traumatic event? Should we, them…whoever it is…really attempt to “woo” those innocent people with regards to a political agenda? Should we not allow them the time and space they need to heal and move forward in their lives?
Apparently, it has become completely acceptable to virtually harass anyone who has fallen victim to gun violence so that their horrific ordeal can be repeated over and over on television, radio, and in print in order to garner, guilt ridden, supporters to the cause of ending the thing that took their happiness away.
Parents of the children murdered in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT have been brought to the forefront of the political fight to end gun violence. Whether they would have taken the side of the anti-gun lobby or not will never be known. Why? Because before they had time to fully grasp what had happened to their beautiful children, to come to terms that they would never see their little girl or boy again, the political lobbying began.
President Obama, the democratic left, and anyone else who was against the use of guns charged at the grieving parents with statements of support and claims that if they had the power to ban the gun that was used to cut down their little ones, that tragedy could have been prevented. Anti-gun groups spewed rhetoric at grieving families attempting to manipulate those hurting hearts into believing that that horrific day could have been ‘just another day’ if only those guns with the huge magazines were not legal to begin with. All with the goal of gaining the support of the victims’ families to use in debate.
It worked, for the most part. Most of the families believed the lies they were told because they needed something to hold on to so they did not have to accept that nothing they could have done would have prevented the psychotic person from killing their children. Nobody wants to have to live with the idea that the death of a loved one has no meaning or recourse. If there is something to fight for; something that can give hope, those left behind will cling to that hope.
I know this because I am the family of two victims of gun violence. I am also opposed to most new proposals being pushed by our governments to limit the sales and use of certain types of guns or magazines.
I lost my father to a preventable suicide and my brother to a senseless act of violence, both with a gun. My father had shown many signs of depression and was even diagnosed, not long before his death, as having bipolar disorder resulting from years of physical, mental, and sexual abuse by his father. My brother was gunned down by a man who, even though he was not a U.S. citizen and told a story that did not make sense, was allowed to remain free from prosecution and even kept his guns in spite of shooting my brother in the chest right there in the guy’s living room. In both cases, if those around the victims had reported the things that did not add up, my family members could still be alive. The gun didn’t kill my dad. The person who saw him crying in his truck with the gun in his lap two weeks before he died and never told anyone, killed my dad. The gun did not kill my brother. The government and law enforcement officials responsible for enforcing gun laws and investigating crimes but failed to do either in this case, killed my brother. I am not angry that the guns were there. I am angry that both of them could still be alive if common sense had prevailed.
I’ve accepted though, that, without a gun, I probably still would have lost my dad. He had tried to kill himself before and on that day, had swallowed hundreds of prescription pain pills about 30 minutes before he shot himself. He was determined to die because he was unwilling to accept or work through the pain he had experienced in his life. Not having a gun would have only made his death more painful and slow. There is not one iota of logical debate that will ever show that a suicidal person becomes less suicidal if they don’t have a gun. The real facts are that there are many signs to mental illness. The ignorance of most of the country in regards to mental health and what to look for is a major problem. If the family and friends of those who are displaying those signs and symptoms would step forward and say something, those who are suicidal could be stopped from hurting themselves and treated for their illness. Ignorance is the problem here.
In my brother’s case, no one can know if he would be alive today if that non-citizen resident of this country had not had a gun. I don’t know if it was illegal for him to even have the gun. I do know that my brother died at the hands of a man who lied so that he could qualify for the “Stand Your Ground” law that allows people to defend themselves in their homes without any investigation as long as the story sounds legitimate. Self-defense is a right that I firmly believe in and would never seek to take away from anyone. However, I believe that the law enforcement officials should play a bigger role in the investigative process of “stand your ground” claims to ensure it is actually a legitimate case of self-defense and not just a bogus excuse to murder another person.
What I do know is that both men, both of my loved ones, died, not by an assault weapon, not because of a high-capacity magazine, not because some law that wasn’t in place that could have prevented it…they died because of the will of themselves or someone else, to be dead. The hand holding the gun is what killed them. The ignorance of those around them, killed them. The people who ignore the real reasons for ALL violence and focus only on the violence perpetrated by specific guns against a specific minimum number of people are what killed them. If we ignore the real problems, we allow more violence to occur and are guilty of the very crimes we are claiming to hate.
Victimizing hurting families of Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Arizona, or any other mass death shootings further has got to stop. Let these people grieve. Let them come to their own conclusions about what could be done to prevent further crimes like the one’s they experienced. Why do we insist on forcing our ideas and solutions upon those who are susceptible to persuasion? The families of Newtown that do not agree with more gun control are being ignored or forgotten. Why? Because they don’t agree with the narrative that we need to take away that gun or that magazine so “We can save one life”. This proves they are being used to further an agenda and I believe it is wrong.
I will not let the government try to influence my vote, my support, or my beliefs with guilt. I make decisions based on facts and analysis of the issue. Victims’ tears and uninformed statements of support for a law or view based on grief are not reason for me to vacate my long-held views…especially since I am victims’ family. My views and my grief matter no less than theirs and I will not let one victim of violence dictate this victim of violence’s support because their family member was younger or seemingly more precious than mine. No victim or family of a victim should be treated with any less sympathy than another just because they do or do not agree with a political agenda. End this charade and leave the families alone.