by Melissa Hassard
Forensic pathology: The “goodbye” lesion that a bullet or other projectile causes when leaving the body; EWs are often larger than the entrance wound, due to tumbling and deformation of the bullet.
Growing up in the south, everyone’s father had a gun — weapons were always around but generally took the form of mysterious closets we kids weren’t allowed in. In college, I dated a hunter and his family took very seriously their responsibility for life and safety, and I think of them often when discussing responsible gun legislation proposed by President Obama and Senate leaders with friends and strangers, and their influence on me is probably the basis for the respectful tone I keep when disagreeing. But violence and the potential for gun-related violence or accidents have followed me throughout my life.
When I was nine or ten, my best friend’s stepdad awoke in the middle of the night to hear an intruder moving about the house. In the dark, he reached for his handgun and took aim toward the noise in the hallway. His wife appeared then, in front of him, a glass of water in her hand — terrified to come face to face with her husband pointing a gun at her. Luckily, he had the presence of mind to relax his grip and put the gun down. All of us kids talked about it the next day. By breakfast, the mother had moved beyond upset and scared, and was furious with her husband.
A few years later when I was a teenager, my father decided he wanted a divorce. When my mother couldn’t imagine a life without him and was uncooperative, he reached for his gun, and over the course of a weekend held her captive. He did all sorts of unspeakable things to her, keeping a gun to her head the entire time, until he finally, on the third day, fell asleep. She escaped to a friend’s house, and on Monday found an apartment and filed a police report.
My uncle, a well-loved and talented musician and music teacher, would drive home late at night across Raleigh from restaurant and club gigs he played with his band. He would often stop at a convenient store late for something to eat. One summer night in the 80′s, he unknowingly entered a store during an armed robbery. The thief had managed to come around behind my uncle and was about to make his escape when he called from behind, with a hand on the door, “Don’t turn around.” Reflexively, Jerry turned to see who had spoken to him. He was shot and killed immediately. He left behind a beautiful wife and daughter who still miss him terribly to this day.
“Before I tell you how the NRA and our members are going to Stand And Fight politically and in the courts, let’s acknowledge that all over this country, tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes. These good Americans are prudently getting ready to protect themselves.”
— Wayne LaPierre, Stand and Fight
From the day of the shooting until today, this is the first detailed account of Newtown that I have found at a time and place I was able to bring myself to read:
Lanza shot his way into the school through the glass windows at the front entrance and turned left toward the first-grade classrooms. He almost immediately encountered Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach, who ran into the hallway from a meeting room, which would have been on Lanza’s right. He shot them both to death immediately.
Sources said that the two teachers who were injured were hit by ricochet bullets from that initial burst of gunfire. [ … ]
Lanza first skipped Victoria Soto’s room and entered the classroom taught by substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau.
Lanza killed all but one student in Rousseau’s class, where the children were massed together in a back corner of the room trying to get into a bathroom. One girl escaped because she played dead and ran out of the room after Lanza left.
Lanza then backtracked to Soto’s room.
— As reported at courant.com
What do our children think of all of this? The terrible event itself, the impassioned mothers making phone calls, the neighbors arguing when they never have before, and far away in Washington, on the floor of a large room, someone else decides.
The day has arrived in America when it is all too easy to obtain a weapon of mass destruction, as easy to pick up as a dozen eggs and gallon of milk, not quite as difficult as Sudafed —
“It’s not a very practical thing to do and you’ll have a lot of inconvenience to law-abiding citizens at the same time you’re not going to keep many weapons out of the hands of people who are misusing them,” said Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Chair, on requiring background checks for all gun sales.
… and pro-gun interest groups have twitchy trigger fingers. In the days before the Senate began its debate, the rhetoric was ratcheting up to a level of extreme irresponsibility. And from the top of the NRA and all the way down.
“It’s going to be a very rough and very ugly battle. Fortunately, our enemy doesn’t have any guns and they don’t know how to use them,” said NRA President David Keene, on new federal and state gun regulations.
Sources said that Lanza’s shooting spree lasted less than five minutes and that he fired 152 bullets while making his way through two classrooms in the elementary school. — courant.com
“We have so much to be proud of as gun owners, shooters and freedom lovers. That pride, especially when it’s not hidden in the closet, is itself a form of protection for the Second Amendment.
“We will not surrender. We will not appease. We will buy more guns than ever. We will use them for sport and lawful self-defense more than ever. We will grow the NRA more than ever. And we will be prouder than ever to be freedom-loving NRA patriots. And with your help, we will ensure that the Second Amendment remains America’s First Freedom. “
— Wayne LaPierre, Stand and Fight
“vince, March 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm
“See that is exactly the point Eugene, the right to bear arms is a god given right OUR govt has neither the right nor the authority to deny us that right. They have already infringed upon our god given to bear arms. A Thompson sub machine gun is a fire arm and i should be allowed to own it without the BATF’s permission. So is an F-16, and Abrams tank, if i should be inclined and able to afford it i should be able to own any weapon the United States Military operates!! Predator drones, B-52′s whatever. I should be able to arm myself with any weapon i want!!”
— Comment on a pro-gun board from this article
“With gun safety measures headed to the Senate floor, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees have quietly made permanent four formerly temporary gun-rights provisions largely favored by Republicans. Those provisions are part of a spending bill that would keep the government running through Sept. 30.”
— The New York Times, March 13, 2013
None of this is acceptable. There is no God-given right to own a gun or threaten another human life. There is a Constitutional-given right in the form of the 2nd Amendment and it gets warped and twisted badly, mostly by those who stand to profit greatly from more gun sales and loosened restrictions, and repeated often in slogans and talking points by those whose fear of some unknown, and primarily fictional “bad guy,” who was created in the minds of men much like the fairy tales we were all raised on.
I know from my own history that often it is a good guy with a gun that later becomes an impassioned, irrational, frustrated, angry bad guy with a gun.
I will protect anyone’s right to own a weapon, but in fact no one needs the weapons of mass destruction that too many times now have found their way into the hands of troubled youth. Until we do a better job of taking care of our mentally ill, we must make it harder to obtain these weapons. (Owning a weapon should be regarded as a serious responsibility again. I actually watched an NRA YouTube video interview with N.H. gun store owner Keith Cox refer to them as “toys for adults” here.) I support the assault weapons ban, universal background checks, stricter penalties for illegal gun sales, mandatory liability insurance for gun owners, and increased spending for our mentally ill.
Though I haven’t seen any photographs, I cannot shake the image — indeed, my mind can see it more clearly than if you’d shown me a photograph — the story of the child with his hand and jaw blown off. The hand presumably raised to protect himself. To protect himself. He had seen, and he knew.
For a six-year-old to possess that horrible knowledge, even for an instant, was and is a lot to bear. There are small moments of victory and many moments of discouraging or frightening news. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said — there comes a point when even silence becomes permission.
Newtown was the point of entry. The exit wound — the goodbye lesion — was left on the nation. Goodbye to silent witness.
I am a good American, too, Mr. LaPierre.
About Melissa Hassard, Writing for Peace Guest Writer
Melissa Hassard is an online content writer and editor, poet, essayist, and mother. Her studies in public relations, communication, world religions, and writing led her into careers in travel, executive leadership, social media strategy and advertising. She has a keen love of language and writes creatively about those moments closest to her heart. When not writing or editing, she may possibly be found on a bike or on a stage somewhere in North Carolina where she currently resides, raising her children, her business, and her writers’ group. Melissa pours herself into her passions, which include nurturing and encouraging the passions of others. Learn more about Melissa’s work at her website: melissahassard.com.
Writing for Peace News:
In Our Blog~
This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction. Links to previous posts on the topic of gun violence can be found below:
Silent Day, by Richard Krawiec
What Happens When We Lose Our Innocence? by Andrea W. Doray
Where Peace Begins, by Cara Lopez Lee
Opportunity, and Public Encouragement, by Richard Krawiec
A Stranger in Trouble, Part One, by Vicki Lindner
A Stranger in Trouble, Part Two, by Vicki Lindner
Young Writers Contest
Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from 21 different countries! Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2013. Congratulations to every young writer who participated! The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.
DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts
The “Occupied” 2013 issue of DoveTales has gone to press! The release date is slated for March 30th, but you will begin seeing some exciting changes on the website before then. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support!
Equity for Women Writers
Writing for Peace encourages all young people to write and to believe their writing can make a difference, but is that equally true for boys and girls? Sadly, the latest VIDA Count indicates that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the literary world. Please help us reverse this trend by reading works written be women and promoting your favorite women authors. Ask your children who they are reading in school, supplement their reading list with books by women authors, and talk to their teachers, librarians, and principals about adding women authors to their curriculum. Take note of the authors reviewed in your local papers and advocate for women authors. Head to your library or book store with a list of the twelve amazing women on our Advisory Panel. And please make a statement in support of women writers here. Thank you!
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