Six degrees of separation: the idea that everyone is approximately six or fewer steps away, by introduction, from any other person in the world – so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps. (Wikipedia)
My friend, a former stage manager at the Globe in San Diego, lost his dear friend from high school in the shooting this week in Clackamas, Oregon. Two steps away. Two degrees.
Two of my former students from the actor training program at the Old Globe whom I remain close to are, in turn, close to a couple who moved out of NYC so that they could raise their children in a safe small town. Newtown, CT. On Friday, they frantically searched for their children. One was found. One had been murdered. Two steps away. Two degrees.
Not even six. Two.
I believe we are all one. Man, animal, plant, earth, water – are all part of one Energy – one Higher Power. And to paraphrase John Donne, ‘every man’s death diminishes me’ because ‘no man is an island.’
I have written about guns and gun control on this blog before. One of my beloved students was murdered in cold blood by an all too easily obtained handgun. For no reason. Just ‘because.’ I’ve never been through anything as hard as the loss of John, plucked from us right before he was to graduate with his MFA degree. I’ve never seen or felt such grief or so much anger or heard so many whys?
Tell me why, in this year of 2012, the right to bear arms, written when this nation was new, young and not unlike the wild west, trumps the safety of our fellow man? The second amendment says this: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This amendment was written when there was no such thing as a police force or a trained military force to protect us. We have that now. So why is this right so zealously lobbied for and why are there millions of dollars spent every year by the NRA to keep this ridiculous ‘right’ alive, with no changes, with no bans, with no acknowledgement that it is a very different world out here in 2012? All sorts of horrific weapons have replaced the musket, which fired one shot at a time.
Is owning a gun worth the lives of these children? Is it worth the lives of those students at Columbine, or Aurora, or those innocents in Clackamas, or any one of a seemingly endless list of ‘massacres’ that have happened in recent years? Is it worth the life of a child killed when a wayward bullet pierces a window in her living room? Would young Trayvon Martin have been killed if a man who overzealously felt he had to ‘patrol’ the neighborhood didn’t have access to a gun? Would John still be alive if a gun hadn’t been so easy to get?
Why do so many work so hard to protect a right to own a gun, but do nothing to protect the lives of innocents? A shoe bomber tries to bomb a plane and suddenly we all have to take our shoes off before we can pass through security. We have gone through all sorts of changes due to the horrific tragedy of September 11th. And we do it. Because it just might save some lives. Yet we live through one after another mass murder. We routinely hear about innocents caught in the path of stray bullets. We read yet another story about a domestic quarrel that escalated and where a gun, kept on the property, was used with chilling results. We watch in horror as lives are cut short. We often learn that weapons that have no business in the hands of private citizens are behind the deaths. And nothing is done.
Why the mother of this young man owned 6 guns is beyond me. She apparently was a gun enthusiast, according to CNN and the New York Times. So her son had access to a Sig Sauer, a Glock and a Bushmaster Assault Rifle. These are semiautomatic weapons. The Sig Sauer and the Glock fire up to 5 bullets a second. The assault rifle has a 30 round magazine and is designed for law enforcement and military use. It was filled with hollow point bullets, designed to do maximum damage. All of the weapons are manufactured to stop criminals and for combat. According to an expert, the damage these weapons can do is “horrific.”
Why? Why should anyone other than the military or law enforcement have access to these weapons?
The assault weapons ban, signed when President Clinton was in office, was allowed to expire in 2004. And those who want no bans of any kind on guns have done everything they can to keep it from being renewed. Why? Why on earth does the average citizen need an assault weapon?
Some idiot (I’m not going to even bother with his name) said that if the teachers had been armed, lives might not have been lost. Yes, that’s right. Now we need to arm teachers. What’s next? Doctors? Nurses? The librarian? The postman? Me? This is the sort of pathetic response that is typical of those who defend the right to own a gun no matter what kind or at what cost.
Quite frankly, I don’t accept the statement we often hear, and heard again on Friday, that the day of a tragedy is not the time for a dialogue on gun control. Really? It is exactly the time. And it was exactly the time a week ago. And a month ago. And years ago. We are responsible for each other. No man is an island. We are one. If we allow guns to run rampant, if we let the gun lobby determine the rules, then we all have blood on our hands.
I realize that not every one will agree with me. However, I feel passionately about this and have fought for this for years. If you feel passionately, if you are horrified by what happened, speak out. Write to your congressman. Write to those in power. Call those in power. We can change things.
Six degrees of separation.