Don't lose heart over the latest mass shooting

Don't lose heart over the latest mass shooting

The Ashland City Council is giving consideration to legislation that would set common-sense limits on activity with loaded guns. So far, some council members have directed the city attorney to delete and dilute the wording of this mild legislation. Suggested by a thoughtful grassroots group of Ashland constituents, these proposals are already law in other Oregon cities.

I ponder this as I watch the coverage of the latest mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

A man in a suit and tie fills the TV screen. He's the spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and he's been invited to broadcast his thoughts. He talks about the second amendment, but I've grown cynical since the lack of Congressional response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy a year ago. I know this NRA man speaks for the $6 billion-a-year gun industry.

When the anniversary of the Sandy Hook killing was noted recently, I watched as this same man said, "We can't make decisions based on emotions, we must be rational." I still can't believe this statement. Twenty young children and six adults who taught them are senselessly murdered and we are to ignore our hearts?

I remember one of the most poignant stories I heard about the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It's about a young victim who would sit on the bathroom counter every morning before school while her mother brushed her hair. The little girl would entertain herself by drawing pictures on the steam-covered window. The morning of the shooting — the last morning of this little girl's life — she drew a peace sign.

The following morning, when a family member took a shower, the drawing of the peace sign emerged when the hot steam covered the window. It was still there.

The little girl's mother relates this story to a broadcaster on the first anniversary of her daughter's death. She says she takes heart from this sign. She takes heart.

The NRA man drones on.

I force myself to listen. He's citing statistics and spouting data. But he's not mentioning the over 11,000 homicides and 19,000 suicides by firearm that have occurred since the murders at Sandy Hook. And he doesn't talk about the NRA's opposition to surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy. They are blocking this nomination because Dr. Murthy has identified gun deaths as a significant public health issue.

The NRA man is not acknowledging that his group successfully lobbied Congress to pass a law that stymies scientific research on shooting deaths in America. And yet, in spite of this, a recent Harvard University study revealed that the areas of our country that have the strictest gun control laws have the least amount of gun violence.

As I listen, my heart hardens toward the NRA man. But I'm wise enough to know this won't help, so I repeat to him and to myself: Have a heart. Have a heart. Have a heart.

Anne Batzer

Sams Valley