DIANE GOTTLIEB

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How Many More Will We Be Asked to Remember?

It’s Memorial Day, a day on which we honor those who died in active military service.

It’s also a day I can’t stop thinking about the schoolchildren who were gunned down by a young man carrying military style weapons.

Some Numbers

To put things in perspective (if that’s even remotely possible), I’m going to start with some numbers:

  • 27–There were 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year. (It’s only May.)
  • 119—According to Education Week, which has been tracking school shootings since 2018, 119 school shootings have taken place since then.
  • 212According to NPR “The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization, has counted 212 mass shootings that have occurred so far this year, as of Tuesday. It defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the shooter.”
  • 1FOX News reported that gun violence is now the leading cause of death of children in our country (surpassing car accidents).

The Gruesome Iceberg

Mass shootings and school shootings are just the horrific tip of the gruesome iceberg, as that last statistic shows. So, I’ll include just a few more numbers here from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. They collected information from emergency departments and databases to provide “a more comprehensive picture of gun injuries in the U.S,” representing a three-year average of the most recent HCUPnet data available (2013, ‘14, and ‘16). The full chart can be seen at the Brady United website:

  • Every day, 321 people are shot in the United States. 111 people are shot and killed
  • Every day, 22 children and teens (1-17) are shot in the United States. 5 die from gun violence
  • Every year, 117,345 people are shot. 40,620 people die from gun violence
  • Every year, 7,957 children and teens are shot in the United States. 1839 children and teens die from gun violence

What’s missing from these stats are the vastly greater numbers of survivors, as well as family, friends, and community members whose lives are changed forever when a shooting occurs. Here’s a link to moving and important Washington Post article that talks about the impact on those left to pick up the pieces.

The numbers also ignore the impact on schoolchildren, teachers, parents, shoppers, worshippers around the whole country–ANY ONE who cares about others or who may worry if they will be next.

It Takes a Village

While watching the events unfold from the most recent tragedy—the Robb Elementary massacre in Uvalde Texas–I saw both Nicole Hockle, who lost her six-year-old Dylan at Sandy Hook, and Fred Guttenberg, who lost his teen-aged daughter Jaime at Parkland, respond to the Texas school killings. They both said they would make themselves available to the parents and families of those who died. Both would be visiting Uvalde shortly.

I’m reminded of a blog I posted 3 years ago in August just after the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. It was about Sandy and Lonnie Phillips who lost their 24-year-old daughter Jessica Ghawi at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater attack. (Eleven others were murdered and 58 wounded that evening at the theater.) When the Phillips hear of a mass shooting, they get into their cars and drive to the towns where the shootings took place to offer their support to survivors.

People who know me know that one of my favorite sayings is “It takes a village.” Not one of us can, or should be expected to, do this thing called life alone.

I’m glad that these grieving parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, friends in Uvalde will have people to hold them as they make their way through the depths that anyone who has not lost a child to violence cannot possibly wrap their heads around.

BUT/AND

But, And, I am angry and heartbroken that such a “village” exists. Angry and heartbroken that there are now several such villages.

That school shootings have become a “thing.” That any mass shooting, be it at a supermarket, a church, a synagogue, a nail salon, a mall, a dance club, a Walmart, has become a “thing.”

How insulting to survivors that nothing has been done to stop these senseless attacks. Did their losses, their loved ones, mean anything to those in power?

How each new shooting must feel like a stab directly into their hearts.

A common—and oh-so-tired—refrain I hear a lot is that “it’s not guns that kill people, people kill people.”  That the fault lies not with our utter lack of gun laws but with the state of mental health of the individuals who choose to shoot up a school, or a supermarket, or a place of worship.

Thank You, Chris Murphy

To those spouting that refrain–and everyone else–please listen to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who delivered an impassioned speech just hours after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Here are just a few of his words (I recommend listening to Senator Murphy, as he gives his whole speech):

       “As the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing.

        What are we doing?

        This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t ‘unlucky’. This only happens in this country, and nowhere else.

        Nowhere else do kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.

        Nowhere else does that happen except here in the United States of America. And it is a choice. It is our choice to let it continue. 

        There is a place where we can achieve agreement. That may not guarantee that America never ever again sees a mass shooting.

         That may not, overnight, cut in half the number of murders that happen in America. It will not solve the problem of American violence by itself.

         But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers, whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing.

        Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. 

        We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world.

        You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness because we’re not an outlier on mental illness.

        We’re an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their arms on firearms. That’s what makes America different.”

“THAT’S WHAT MAKES AMERICA DIFFERENT.” I don’t know about you, but I never want to be different in that way.

I Don’t Want to Take Away Your Right to Own a Gun

I don’t own a gun and don’t imagine I ever will. I don’t hunt for food (I’m a vegetarian) and I certainly don’t hunt for sport.

I DON’T like guns!

But, And, I am old enough and mature enough to understand—and respect—the fact that many people enjoy gun ownership.

And, I don’t want to take away your right to own a gun.

But, And I DO want background checks for gun owners. I DO want guns to be licensed and registered.

AND I DO WANT THESE HORRIBLE WAR WEAPONS OUT OF THE HANDS OF CIVILIANS.

Hope. Again.

It feels oddly ironic—and fitting—that my last blog post was about hope. In that post, I spoke about hope as action, even—especially—in the face of uncertainty around outcome.

I have no problem with “thoughts and prayers.” Yet, there’s an uproar against speaking those three words. I think that’s because “thoughts and prayers” all many people who have the power to affect real change are offering.  Thoughts and prayers can be helpful in the comfort they bring. But, and they are not enough.

Today (and yesterday) and tomorrow are not times for us to sit quietly in contemplation—alone. It is time to raise our voices, speak out–and act!

To that end, I am including the links to several organizations taking donations to support the tireless work they do towards ending gun violence in our country. Each of these groups also offers actionable recommendations to help you become more involved.

The Names

We started with numbers. Now, before we leave, here are the  names. The names of the 19 children who were murdered at Robb Elementary. The names of their teachers.

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, Alithia Ramirez, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Eliahana Cruz Torres, Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, Eva Mireles, Irma Garcia, Jackie Cazares, Jailah Nicole Silguero, Jayce Luevanos, Jose Flores, Layla Salazar, Makenna Lee Elrod, Maite Rodriguez, Miranda Mathis, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres, Tess Marie Mata, Uziyah Garcia, Xavier Lopez

LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST

I leave you with one of the most powerful, heartfelt essays by Brian Doyle, one of my very favorite essayists. It’s called Dawn and Mary  and it’s about two women who made the choice to act. Doyle wrote the essay shortly after Sandy Hook.

 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment or send me an email. Wishing you and your loved ones peace, safety–and action.

 

 

See you soon!

XOXO

Diane

 

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13 Comments

  1. Dorothy on June 4, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    Brokenness 🥺 is the overwhelming truth prevalent among the citizenship of America. I took some time to speak here, frustrated by platitudes and narrow political agendas. I abhor gun violence and disastrous consequences of violent crime spree taking place across the country. I just can’t imagine how much failure exists within the inner cities of Chicago where 50 plus gangster shootings are commonplace every weekend. Vicious attacks and injustices are destroying qualities of life. The crime wave in NY, LA, DC, Louisiana, Maryland & St Louis & too many cities to list. Go unrecognized & basically thrive 😖 why is that? Many of the gun data provided include the constant gun violence that has nothing to do with schools. Why are we not interested in the breakdown of civility and humanity? I don’t own a gun, I tried to learn to handle one, due to the fear of deluge criminal behavior spreading into suburban communities. I failed miserably I could not even keep my eyes open when pulling a gun trigger. Now I am considering taking self defense classes, I also have given up on Public transportation and public place outings. I believe in strict background checks, and Red flag laws. I think we need to reenact profiling criminal minds and prosecuting crime. Mental illnesses are absolutely a prevalent symptom among the shooters and should not be dismissed. I believe we need to protect our children, ourselves and our freedoms. Not by defamation of conservatives or the bill of rights. Let us instead work towards a kinder, civil society. Willing to stop scoring political points against gun owners, instead expose the ugliness of the drug wars being played out & tragedy of our ever increasing violent society willing to slaughter their fellow human beings.

    • Diane Gottlieb on June 5, 2022 at 6:04 pm

      Good to hear from you, Dorothy! And I sooo agree that the gun violence issue is much greater than the shooting at schools, as horrific as those are. “Brokenness is the overwhelming truth.” So well put. Attacking others is not the way, Hopefully, all who claim to care about life and children will get onboard and ban assault rifles, legislate background checks, and give more than lip service to providing mental health services. Heal, together, our brokenness.

  2. DeAnna on May 31, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Thank for these words. I needed to read them today.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 31, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      I’m so glad, DeAnna. Thank you.

  3. Sherry Danner on May 30, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    “We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world.” I didn’t know this – and it debunks the old argument that never held up anyway. I so appreciate you sharing this speech and your own research and passion on this outrageous topic. It is WRONG that we are in this place. I do feel hopeful, especially with more of us stepping out and speaking up. Thanks for being one of the many voices needed so desperately now.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 30, 2022 at 11:02 pm

      Thank you Sherry. We need all of our voices now.

  4. Stafford Jeanne 🔸 M. 🔸 on May 30, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    I love what Allison said about “fierce”, spot on. I also love that you share what you think, what you know and solutions for anyone looking for them. You’re always moving the dial, Diane.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 30, 2022 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you, Jeanne. “Moving the dial.” It’s time. We all can.

  5. Nicola Menenhall on May 30, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you Diane. I agree with Alison – it is fierce and exactly right.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 30, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you, Nicky.

  6. Alison McGhee on May 30, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for this. It’s fierce and exactly right. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 30, 2022 at 2:05 pm

      We all need to be fierce right now. XOXO

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 30, 2022 at 3:06 pm

      I know I said XOXO in my response, but I didn’t acknowledge your fierceness. You are a force Alison–gentle as you may be–and I am so glad to call you friend.

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