The Child and I discuss a lot of things. One of the things I hate discussing the most is violence. War, murder, these are very unpleasant topics. But she's out in the world. She hears things. And it is important to me that she knows she can talk about anything with me, even unpleasant or difficult subjects. Plus, I want her to hear stuff from me first; not because I can always spin things to sound like no big deal but because it's my job to make her feel safe. And when you hear about a shooting, even one clear across the country, it rocks your feeling of safety.
I had just heard about the Virginia Tech shootings as I was going to pick her up from school yesterday and the radio was on when she got in the car. So I told her what I knew. This morning, after reading the NY Times, we talked about it some more.
Her first connection was to the murder-suicide that happened on the University of Washington campus just a few weeks ago. We talked about how they weren't related. (I wouldn't want her to think that going to college is a bad idea). Then we talked about how twisted and desperate some people get and how that's really sad.
"Maybe that guy got really bad grades so he wanted revenge," she posited.
"Maybe. They really don't know yet. Whatever it was that made him do it though, it wasn't right. And," I added, "most people don't pull a trigger every time something doesn't go their way. But when it's on the news like this it can make you feel like they do".
Then she asked why they hadn't locked down the campus after the first shootings.
"Good question. A lot of people are asking that right now".
She knows about lockdowns. When she was in the first grade there was a murder in town. The gunman fled and as the search for him spread, schools in the nearby area were locked down. Including hers. She remembered the teacher getting a code from the office and how they all had to sit on the floor by the wall, away from the windows. The kids didn't know what was going on. They were having fun, not doing school work and just having stories and singing time.
I remember that day, too, arriving at school to find Sr. M standing outside the building, directing parents to the one unlocked (and guarded) door to pick up our kids. And I remember thinking how comforting it was to know that the administration had acted prudently to protect our kids. 'Cause that's their job.
Unfortunately, The Child is not unaccustomed to gun violence. The next year I had to tell her that a school-mate had been murdered by her father. That
wasn't any fun. The child in question came from a troubled home (duh) and had her own set of issues. But she'd always been kind to The Child, always gave me hugs when I saw her. She was a needy, sad little girl who tried to wring some joy out of her miserable life. And then she was dead, through no fault of her own. Murdered by her own father. It still gets me. And every year, on Dios de la Muertos we light a votive for Tiffany.
When I told her about that incident, after we cried together, The Child asked if I'd ever known anyone who'd ever been killed like that. And sadly, I did. My senior year of high school one of my best buds, Joe, was murdered. One beautiful spring morning his brother got up, loaded a gun and walked through the house, killing his parents and his brother as they slept.
I remember coming to school and finding cops in the hall, talking to my best friend Barb. (Her locker was next to that of the gunman). Little knots of students were standing around, whispering. I couldn't believe Barb would be in trouble with the law.
Then my friend Becky came up to me, ashen faced. "Have you heard? Joe is dead." Joe, crazy Joe, who was always, always coming up with some good natured joke. Brilliant Joe, the go-to guy when you didn't get something in your homework. One day, in AP English, he had drawn a cartoon bubble on the chalkboard and stood so it looked like it was coming out of his mouth. Brian, who always had a camera ready, started snapping pictures. It happened to be Joe's birthday so I started playing. He wrote a cartoon bubble that said, "Hi, Lori!" I drew a piece of cake and a bubble that said, "Happy birthday, Joe. Have some cake!" and posed accordingly. Brian took the picture. That was the shot that was used on the "In Memorium" page of the yearbook.
It occurs to me that I'm rambling, that I should edit this and compose my thoughts into something coherent and meaningful. But when people kill people in random, senseless acts, me not so much with the coherence. I get angry. I get sad. I get frustrated and then I get angry again.
This would be a good time to warn you that I'm going to rant right now and that you should also be advised that you'd best spare me any "guns don't kill people, people kill people" crap. I'm not buying it.
I get angry that it is easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver's license. I get angry that there are enough guns in this country to arm every man, woman AND child. I get angry that the NRA consistently thwarts even the most common sense measures to assure gun safety. There are always going to be guns and people who will use them to do harm. I also know that someone bent on destruction will figure out a way to do it, with or without a gun. I'm not stupid. I also know that most gun owners are sensible, law-abiding citizens who know how to handle their weapons, how to store them safely and don't own them so they can take out other people. I also know the difference between a hunting rifle and a semi-automatic weapon. And until the day I die, no one will convince me that an average, law-abiding citizen needs to own such a thing nor should they be able to purchase one. You don't hunt duck with an Uzi. You just don't.
Growing up on a farm, everyone had guns. Sean Connery had one. It was kept in his bedroom closet. It was used for putting down animals. It was a part of life. It always gave me the heebee jeebees but that was probably a good thing. It meant that I had a healthy respect for the thing. And my brother, George Clooney, had a BB gun. We were taught how to use it, how to shoot it and at what. If he had ever so much as pointed at someone with it, the folks would have taken it from him forever and probably smacked him on the ass with it. Guns were serious business. We knew that.
The Spouse once suggested getting a gun, I don't even remember why, and I told him that when he lived alone he was welcome to it but no gun was every coming into my house. That's just me. Which is all to say that I don't have a problem with gun owners. I have friends who own guns and I support their right to own them. I just choose to exercise my right not to have one. And to insist that this country still needs to do a hell of a lot more to control guns. Me, for gun control. Deal with it. And all that said, I know that the deeper problem isn't with guns but with our hearts and with the root causes of violence. Which is a whole other topic.
Ok. I think I'm cycling back into my sadness mode now. My heart goes out to the victims and families of the Virginia Tech shooting. My heart goes out to all of us.
Labels: bad things, my dad Sean Connery