The sudden and unexpected loss of a life is tragic by itself. Loved ones are lost every day to car accidents, natural disasters, work-related injuries, undiagnosed illnesses and any number of dangers. Heavy hearts long for the one who is no longer here and try to make peace with the unavoidable unpredictability of chance.
But there’s something about the idea that a stranger would think that they have the right to take your loved one from you with forethought, detailed planning and premeditation that makes the loss so much harder to bear. Guns make it exceedingly easy for a person to make that awful choice. No matter which side of the aisle you sit on this fact cannot be denied. And guns greatly increase the randomness and the scale of influence.
You don’t need to be tough, or brave, or skilled, or justified, or even in proximity to pick up a gun and ruin a life. You don’t have to be close enough to look a person—or DOZENS OF PEOPLE—in the eyes. You don’t have to be close enough to answer the questions of eyes that ask, “Why are you doing this to me? To my family? What have I done to you to deserve this? What gives you the right?”
A person who does something like this and who is so intent on not living with the consequences of those questions haunting his soul that he would monitor the approach of the police is the worst kind of coward. I don’t believe that everyone who makes a choice like this actually suffers from mental illness. I believe sometimes people do things like this just because they can. And they think they will get away with it. But they can’t. And even though he tried to “solve” the problem of getting caught, he will have to answer for what he did. The same goes for those who turn many of our cities and towns into war zones.
You cannot quantify tragedy and you can’t put grief on a scale. Whether it’s 58 people joined together in one place to share an experience, or it’s 58 individuals on 58 different streets in 58 different cities, every life lost in such a senseless and violent way is a statement about a sickness that is eating away at the soul of our country. I hope we figure something out soon or there will be many generations who look back on this time and wonder, “How could they live like that and why wasn’t anyone doing anything to make things better?”
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