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.





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  1. says

    You took the words right out of my mouth.. When?? Just when will we be concerned about this? Tomorrow, is too late.
    My Husband is a hunter. I HATE that he hunts but, he does. He is extremely cautious and follows the rules to a T. Believe it or not according to him we have strong laws in NY when buying guns. Enthusiast or not.. Why would you have guns in your home if your child was different?? I’m not getting this? And we will never know this answer. But, people do not follow the guidelines as you know. So, YES, now we need to do something across the board. Working with small children I’ve been sick about this. I just think, this could of been my School.. Me? Then, what? You can’t prepare for something like this. Terrible. WE Need to change gun control ASAP. Yes, I will write and thanks for posting. I’m praying for all the Families and Staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School. They need our prayers right now!!
    xxx liz

    • Claudia says

      I don’t understand that, either, Liz. Why have those guns in your home when you have a troubled child? And why have semiautomatic weapons of any kind in your home?

  2. says

    Hi Claudia

    I totally agree with you, and I am so glad that you as an American think the same as I do. I’ve seen a picture of an armed teacher watching over her students (on facebook). The woman who posted this photograph is pro weappons. I’d be horrified if I had to go to school with a gun.
    My father was a professional at the Swiss army. He didn’t keep his weapon at home because he truly believes that weapons are not meant to be in family homes. I’m still grateful for this. I wouldn’t stand a gun in my house.

    • Claudia says

      My dad used to be a member of the NRA (something I hated even when I was young) but he told me last night that he left the NRA when the current man in charge took over. Because, dad said, they are fanatics.

      I agree. Weapons should not be in family homes.

  3. says

    Claudia- So well said. You echoed my feelings and make a such a strong argument for doing something NOW. I truly do not understand the time, effort and money that have been put into allowing individuals to own assault weapons, but I’m afraid that logic has less to do with it than a rabid fanaticism that can not be reasoned with.
    Your writing is gifted and persuasive.

  4. Deb says

    Bravo, Claudia, for being able to pull your thoughts, and the thoughts of so many of us, into something so coherent. So many of us wonder, when is enough enough? I hope we as a country have reached that point.

  5. Linden Townhouse says

    Claudia, you have struck a chord with me, and I agree with all that you have thoughtfully and clearly written. The whole issue of guns pertains so much to power and control. The NRA has a very strong lobby (and money), which buys politicians and policy. So much has been given away regarding gun control in the last 35 years, that it is like trying to put a whirlwind in a bottle. Many, many people love their guns. Why? I don’t have a clue. Our nation needs to begin to dismantle this gun mania one policy and one decision at a time. To begin with, outlaw all automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Outlaw any kind of ammunition magazine. No citizen needs to have this kind of weaponry in his/her possession. These are designed to kill as many as quickly as possible. Yes, there will be outrage on the part of gun owners/lovers, but until we begin to change the CULTURE of gun ownership in this country, I fear we will continue to have more horrendous events such as this recent tragedy in Newton. I am an elementary schoolteacher and found this event despicable and heart wrenching. It is hard to stomach any of those gun proponents.

    • Claudia says

      Well said! The culture of gun ownership needs to be changed. Why is gun ownership more important than the lives of innocents? I cannot fathom that.

  6. Brenda Johnson says

    I couldn’t have said or written it any better Claudia. I have this conversation with my pro gun husband each time one of these killings happen. It horrifies me that I even have to have this conversation! We as a society are becoming less and less civil each day, which is all the more reason for gun control. Our forefathers could never anticipated what this country has become. All the more reason that several “rights” should be debated and rewritten if necessary, to maintain a civil, lawful society. We also need to remember the mental health aspect of so many of these shootings. This disease is on the rise but I don’t read or hear of any additional monies being spent to provide treatment and services that could prevent a lot of anguish for the individual, the families and our country as a whole.

    • Claudia says

      Thank you for mentioning the mental health aspect, Brenda. It is imperative that we invest money in helping those afflicted. And we are not spending nearly enough.

  7. says

    I certainly agree with you but having posted something on my FB ( not FB blog / personal FB ) I was not surprised to see that most around my area disagree.

    The idea is “Its not the guns, its the crazies…don’t take MY gun blah blah blah ”

    There might be a need for a person to have a gun in their home to protect them from a burgler or home invasion. An assault weapon ? No. HOWEVER the people FOR guns do not seem to draw the line between any gun unfortunately :(

    • Belinda says

      You are exactly right……those for guns NEVER seem to draw the line or understand that assualt weapons simply have no place in the hands of ANY American. Most see a gun as a gun…no difference. I think that is a HUGE part of the problem.

  8. says

    You have expressed your thoughts, and mine, so very well, Claudia. I am Canadian and cannot understand the mind of those Americans who are so vocal and strong about their right to own such weapons, while not protecting the right of young children to live. So many questions. Such grief. My heart aches.

  9. Belinda says

    Thank you for this post. I do agree with you BUT my husband and I are gun owners. WE are also parents of a very troubled son we lived with for over 10 years. While he lived with us we DID NOT have guns in our home. It wasn’t safe for him or us even though we are gun supporters. We made that choice for our son. But now that he is no longer living with us we do have guns – more than one in our home.
    We live in a very large city and frankly one that I have a lot of fear living in. We live in a very nice neighborhood but because of the size of this city there is crime even in our neighborhood. And I just wouldn’t feel safe without a gun in my home.
    Having said that – we are both well trained in the use of these guns and use every precaution when it comes to our guns. I completely support the ban of assault weapons in this country and more strict laws. I DO NOT support the NRA for they are frankly just a bunch of idiots in my opinion.
    I know that my husband and I are not the “norm” when it comes to gun owners. I too am horrified by what has happenned and will be screaming for more strict gun control. I am one who believes that not only should the background checks and laws be more strict when purchasing a gun but I also believe that there should be a law that requires the registration of every single gun owned and in the homes of every single American.

    How is it safe for our police officers that strive to protect us to go into a home respondonding to a call without knowing if there are guns present in the home or how many? It is dire for their safety that they know what they are going into. Require that EVERY single gun owned in this country be registered so that our police officers know if they are going into a scenerio where a home has no guns, one gun or 100 guns.

    We live in Texas and you can imagine the beliefs here. It is sad to say this and even shameful now that I write it but my husband and I have spoken up so many times against our gun laws only to be attacked viciously for our own believes that now we really tend to step back before speaking our beliefs.

    In light of what has occurred we will speak up yet again but it makes me so sad to know how people react to this where we live and are so close minded. I am not from Texas and honestly I cannot wait to leave. That is a whole other issue and one I won’t bore you or anyone else with.

    Change needs to happen and quickly. I support changes and better laws with gun control but I will never support the stance of no guns……I just can’t do that in light of where I live and how fearful I am here. I hope that can be understood…….

    Again thank you for this post….and your stance. We all need to stand up NOW.

    • Claudia says

      Thank you for your comment, Belinda. It’s so valuable to hear your point of view, as gun owners, but gun owners who believe that the gun laws need to change.

  10. says

    I agreed with not starting the conversation on the day of tragedy. The loss needed to be mourned and realized. (And not by watching more than 15 minutes of news.) Reading the names of those 6 year olds was so terribly sad.

    Now it’s time to start changing things. I don’t think it is as simple as banning assault weapons. (That would not have saved your John.) It’s a good first step, however. I think strengthening the mental health system which had been gutted years ago is another part of it.

    Changing the gun culture will be the hardest part, and might well be impossible. I went to see The Hobbit and found myself disturbed at the level of violence in it, even though no guns were used. I’m planning to read more about non-violence as a starting point.

    • Claudia says

      But what happens when we delay the conversation? Time goes by, the need to change seems less acute. In my opinion the best way to honor those children and adults it to engage in a conversation about gun control right away. This sort of ‘ it’s not the time to discuss this’ response works, unfortunately, as a way to delay the talk or simply never have it.

      • Claudia says

        I agree, also, Leanne that banning assault weapons is not the simple answer. The culture of guns and gun love needs to change as well, along with funding for a sadly neglected mental health system. Thanks so much for joining in on the dialogue.

      • says

        Claudia, I meant to delay it but one day. The day of the horrible event. A day to honor the lives of those who have died. In our haste to fix things do we leave any room for grief or caring for those grieving?

        The grieving is going to continue for a while yet, I cried today in church during the sermon on this topic and expect to again. But now (or yesterday when you wrote this) is the time to start reflecting on what we can do, to start the conversations, to start changing the culture — and changing culture starts with us and our homes and our communities.

        The challenge is not when we start but to continue the effort, after the media stops covering it and it starts to fade into the background. To be able to answer the question: why are you still talking about that old news? That’ll be the hard part.

  11. says

    I totally agree with you but in the back of my mind I hear my husband saying that the bad guys will always find a way to get guns no matter what we do…Is there an answer???

    • Claudia says

      But if, in the moment, a gun is not available, perhaps some people might live that otherwise would have died.

  12. says

    My three year old grandson went over to play at a neighbor’s house for a birthday party. My daughter knows them well…the father is an intelligent man that runs a huge family business. For a “treat” and thank you each little boy was given a VERY REALISTIC looking gun and told to go play and shoot each other. She said except for the yellow “plug” on the end of the barrel it looked like a real gun. She was horrified and threw it away. What is WRONG with people? xo Diana

  13. says

    Thankfully there are fewer guns in Canada. This tragedy, like all the others is unbearably sad. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. I just cannot imagine the pain folks have to suffer from any senseless loss, especially children and so close to their favourite holiday. So sorry for the loss of your friends Claudia. xo

  14. Chris k in Wisconsin says

    I agree with everything you said, Claudia. This is a tough problem, but the talk has to start. Unfortunately the NRA has fueled this fire with the threat of FEAR to their followers. Everyone wants to take their guns, is their battle cry!! I am simply so tired of hearing the rantings of the 2nd Amendment that I could scream. THEIR freedom for the right to bear arms. What about OUR rights…….. to go to a movie, to a place of worship, to a mall, to send our kids to school with the freedom of knowing we are safe? My husband is a teacher and my daughter is a principal. I worry about this every day of my life. As FDR said so many years ago, in a different situation but still true all the same: “All we have to fear is fear itself”. When the NRA rallies their followers into a frenzy that ANY conversation about gun control will take away all of THEIR rights, you know that Washington will back down. The other piece we need to consider is the problem of care and treatment of those with Mental Health issues in our country. We can identify diagnosis, and the Dr.’s can prescribe meds and treatment, but when someone refuses to comply, THEIR rights are honored, also. This young man had a diagnosis (it is reported), but he had not had any criminal activity in his past, so if he wanted to WAIT for the 3 day waiting period, he could have legally purchased a weapon. It is all so hard to even see a starting point…… but there has to be one. I think of all those who will be unwrapping video games on Christmas that include such horrific violence, it is beyond comprehension. There is truly so much to do to try to change this culture where, I believe, it does have to start. Thanks so much for this posting.

    • Claudia says

      So well said, Chris. And you’re right we DO have to start. I liked what you said about OUR rights. Can we no longer live our lives without the ever present fear of some maniac shooting us or our loved ones during some everyday activity?

  15. Donnamae says

    Very well said Claudia. You have very eloquently stated everything that is in my heart. Yesterday while I was running around doing errands I heard the song by Johnny Mathis…”have yourself a merry little Christmas”…you know the song, we all do. As I was listening to the lyrics, I kept thinking of 26 families who were making funeral arrangements when they should have been shopping, wrapping presents, or something…anything…related to Christmas or the Holidays. Every time something like this happens…our lives, collectively, are changed forever. We can never go back. And, I so want to go back.

  16. Kim says

    I so agree with everything you wrote Claudia. I live in Portland, OR so obviously the Clackamas shopping mall shooting is very close to home. I assume your friend’s friend was the hospice nurse who was killed. What a tragic loss, she was such a special person doing such good work. A few days before that shooting, an 11 year old boy here in Portland took a gun from his house and tried to car-jack a woman in a church parking lot. Now with the Connecticut tragedy, I have to wonder what’s next? And how true, when it comes to weapons, there’s not much comparison between a musket and an AK-whatever.

    • Claudia says

      No comparison at all, Kim. I’m so sorry that what I consider to be Peaceful Oregon was infected with such a terrible act of violence.

  17. says

    Amen to all that you said, Claudia. Especially poignant to me was your example of taking off our shoes for security checks. Even here in Canada, crime and violence are glorified in the movies, and crazy people have access to guns. But there isn’t a gun in every purse or every home for protection. In the developed world, fear is increasingly the culture. If we have access to guns, fear of real or imagined danger can be acted upon all too easily. When I married my partner 37 years ago, he graciously sold his hunting rifle at my request. We raised our four children with no toy guns allowed. (When they really wanted to challenge me, they made guns out of Lego!)
    This latest tragedy has started the conversation all over the world. Let us all grow hope out of our fear.

    • Claudia says

      You’re right, Gail. Too many times people act out of imagined fear – the Trayvon Martin case, for example.

  18. says

    This is a very difficult and multifaceted debate. I used to believe just as you do, and I wish that the solution was as simple as you suggest. But I have come to a point in my life where I now believe that not all law enforcement officers are trustworthy and not all government officials have our best interest in mind. Most gun owners are responsible. I am a gun owner and I hope to be able to hunt in the future. Outlawing guns will not take guns off the street. It may reduce gun violence, it might not. Because those who would use guns for illegal purposes will still have them, and they will have no fear of upstanding gun owners who will protect themselves.

    It is a very difficult situation. I personally feel that we would be better served with stricter gun ownership rules, a more thorough background check and personality profile for prospective gun owners, and better support services for people in our society who have mental health issues.

    Would I feel this way if my child was gunned down on Friday? Probably not. But then I am a homeschooler because I didn’t trust others with the care of my child, so maybe our family wouldn’t have been in that situation.

    I love your blog. I value your opinion. I understand completely your position, and I fully support your right to think, feel and blog the way you do. I hope you understand my viewpoint too.

    • Claudia says

      I wish all guns could be outlawed. I’m being honest here. I’m not a hunter, I am a vegetarian for moral reasons. But I do understand that there are many responsible gun owners out there. My father was one. And I respect that you are a responsible gun owner and of course, I respect your opinion. Because, you’re right, this is a multi-faceted discussion.

      I will add that I HAVE had a friend gunned down. I have seen a life snuffed out at too young an age. And believe me, there’s nothing like having that happen to someone you love to change your opinion on gun control quite quickly.


      • Belinda says

        Claudia, you make it so easy on your blog to be honest and open on any subject and without judgment…for that I so thank you. I stated earlier in the comments my beliefs as a gun owner and how I wouldn’t want to be without a gun. I was brought up in a family that did a lot of hunting but I was ALWAYS against hunting. I am a lover of animals first, a vegetarian as well and cannot and will not ever comprehend hunting. However I will always respect someones right and choice to hunt for they are not me.

        I also lost my first husband of only five months and best friend at the age of 20 to gun violence. I raised a son that has mental health issues and I was afraid of his being in my home….and I had no guns around when he was in my home. I live in an area of our country where people scream of their right to bear arms but never respect that right.

        I could go on and on but I will not….it’s simply for me. I am a gun owner and I wouldn’t want to lose that right. BUT I am so horrified by how our country views the ownership of guns. I am horrified of what is happenning to our youth. I do believe guns are part of the problem but as stated before it’s also the video games, the violent movies and tv shows, the violent music even and I so love and appreciate music. It’s the horrible mental health system and the abuse of prescription drugs. Trust me I’ve seen all of this first hand with my own son.

        I do not know what the answers are but we have to find them. I think a lot of judgment is being placed on this mother because she had the guns and her son had access to them. No one can know WHY she felt the need to have these guns. Yes it’s been reported she was a collector and loved guns but maybe there’s more to it…maybe there’s not. I’m just saying that things are never as black and white as people want things to be. It all goes so much deeper than we could ever begin to know. It’s just so easy to assume and develop an opinion of someone we’ve never even laid eyes upon…that in itself is a problem.

        I feel so helpless and want to do more…I want the right decisions and changes to be made and I want to help make it happen. I hope that we all do.

        Thank you again for your blog and a “safe” place to discuss this without judgment. Being open minded is what’s going to help this country make the right changes. Blessings.

  19. says

    A few months ago, a law was passed in Oklahoma to allow all citizens to bear arms in public. I’m not sure of all the nuances. But that in itself is a horrid tragedy. I will not be one of those citizens. Which makes me a possible victim. Why, why, why? A beautifully written post, Claudia. Read about this atrocity that was passed here…http://www.theblaze.com/stories/oooklahoma-where-you-can-now-open-carry-a-firearm-read-the-nytimes-article-on-it/

    • Claudia says

      You’re right, my friend, that is indeed a tragedy. It reminds me of the Florida law somewhat – the law that George Zimmerman is trying to hide behind. I will go right on over and read that link.

  20. Julie says

    Hi Claudia – thank you for this post. I don’t feel able to post on my blogs without commenting on this tragedy, life can’t just go on as usual, but what can I say? I can’t read the posts that just say to pray for the victims and their families. Of course we all pray for them but it is NOT ENOUGH. As I live in the relative safety of Canada, I feel my opinions would be a criticism of the US. We have our problems here too. We have a government who abolished our long gun registry, who “touts” their tough on crime stance but appears to be adopting the American model on the “right” to bear arms. If I have to pass a test and continually renew my driver’s licence, why should it be easier to get a gun??? In my opinion, possessing a gun should be a difficult and continually monitored process. Under no circumstances, should semi-automatic weapons be available (legally or illegally) to any citizen that isn’t a member of police or military. I am not anti-gun. I have police officers, military, hunters and competitive shooting participants in my family. If you live on a farm, I think you need to have a rifle. I just think that gun control should be a stringent process. You have to pass mental evaluation to be a police officer. I don’t think it should be less for anyone possessing firearms. I pray that this horrendous tragedy will put gun control on the table in the US and I hope that the trend I see happening in Canada is reversed. Your President and your politicians cannot do this alone. They are hamstrung by powerful gun lobbies. The citizens of America are the ones who can work together and stop these tragedies from happening. God bless.

    • Claudia says

      Well said, Julie. I agree. Of course we are praying. That’s not enough! Work needs to be done and I agree – it isn’t going to come from lawmakers who are getting money from the NRA. It has to come from us.

  21. jewelee says

    I live one town over from Newtown — this is a very peaceful part of the country. I am so thankful to live here.

    Mrs. Lanza’s former sister-in-law commented that Mrs. Lanza bought the weapons because she was a single woman living alone and due to the economy had a survivalist frame of mind.

    If you are fearful and in need of protecting your family — I would consider a hand gun or two a reasonable form of protection. HOWEVER the weapons she had in her home were over-the-top aggressive machinery. Way beyond the mindset of just protecting your home and loved ones.

    I’m concerned for the sweet town of Newtown because the flood of the media. It just makes a devastating event that much crazier.

    • Claudia says

      I read that, too, Jewelee. Really? You need assault weapons and semiautomatic guns to survive? That is really frightening to me. And like you, I think the flood of media in Newtown is simply too much for those poor citizens, who need peace right now more than ever.

  22. says

    Claudia I feel the same way. I wish all the people so up in arms about a possible gun control ban would be asked what you asked……..is it worth the life of a child.
    I hope this woman wasn’t the owner of these guns. If so, what was she thinking.
    It is time for change.
    My daughter, a physchologist, says it’s mental health that needs to be re-worked. Both she and my son that is a teacher said there isn’t enough money to hire resource officiers. Somewhere they need to come up with that money. I will probably write about my weird experience at school with a stranger. It could have gone so far the wrong way.
    The only person I have known that was murdered was a young neighbor girl that was killed at college. She was beautiful, 20 years old. Tied and shot execution style. So sad.
    My son was directly involved at Aurora….he’s with ATF. It took a toll on him.
    I have an 8 year old sitting next to me playing with a talking Furby and it is hard to concentrate. So sorry if this message is a bit strangly worded.
    I don’t know what the answer is but I hope we as citizens don’t let the children down and we demand better control. No one should have assult weapons except our military and our defenders.
    Our earts hurt for the little ones, their families, the teachers and their families, just everyone involved……including the first responders.
    ((((((HUGS))))) my friend and lots of prayers.

    • Claudia says

      Unfortunately, Debby, the young man’s mother WAS the owner of the guns. 6 of them, in fact. I have no idea what she was thinking although some interviews say that she was worried about the economy and was in a survivalist mode. I can’t fathom it.

      I’m so sorry about your son. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for him.

  23. Annette Tracy says

    This is such a tragic and senseless act which has caused devastation to so many families for now and years to come. I was raised in Michigan with a family of hunters, I married a LAPD detective, and we have guns in the home but they are locked in a safe. When he dies I’ll have to get a gunsmith to open it up. I used to shoot, but no more. The idea of arming teachers to me is just wrong. Why his mother had an assault rifle is beyond me. I’m sure his mother never dreamed he’d ever do such an atrocious thing. God Bless those we have lost recently in all of these horrific incidents this past year and all previous years, and we all need to say prayers for these families and the children who have lost their siblings this past week, pray that they get them through this holiday season which will never be the same for them again, ever.

    • Claudia says

      Interestingly, my dad hunted (and I fought him about it) but he never could bring himself to kill any animal. For that I am grateful. Thank goodness your guns are locked in a safe, Annette.

  24. says

    In addition to all the well written points and heartrending instances you have mentioned, Claudia, I have to also agree with Chris K above. This is a double-faceted issue of gun control and mental health awareness and treatment. In my opinion no civilian needs have assault-grade weapons available to them, as you said, they are for our police and military to use under extreme conditions. Education about, easier access to mental health diagnosis and treatment and doing away with the stigma of mental illness is also something that is urgently needed. Because families are afraid of what others may think, because of lack of communication amongst family members, because it is so hard and expensive to get the help for mental health issues, this is becoming a continually growing problem. The mix of weapons (of any kind ) and an individual who is not thinking clearly is never a good thing. “I have a friend” (we all know someone who has suffered great loss due to tragic circumstances) and I truly do have a friend whose 18 year old son killed himself with a shotgun locked away in his father’s den, A young man who spent his life accompanying his father on hunting trips. A young man who knew how to safely and responsibly handle a gun. A father who locked his guns away. A young man who began having mental health issues that his parent’s were actively trying to help him with. A girlfriend who broke his heart. A locked away gun that he still managed to get to in his despair and confusion. A father who cried,”why didn’t I take the gun out of the house when I knew he was sick”? A family and community shattered. Along with my prayers to the families of the innocent victims, I also feel grief for the father and brother of the sick young man because they will always blame themselves and say “what if”?

    So sorry to write such a long comment. Thank you for stating your valid opinions and experiences so eloquently and with such emotion. As you said, we are all one. We need to help each other. Ann

    • Claudia says

      Beautifully and eloquently stated, Ann. I agree, we need to fix our system and allow more funds for mental health issues, for education and for access. I am so sorry for your friend’s loss. I cannot imagine their heartbreak, their ‘what ifs?’ My friend’s brother killed himself with a gun that was in his house. If the gun hadn’t been there, maybe a minute or two would have passed, allowing this man to reconsider his choice. I don’t know.

      I do indeed grieve for the father of the young man and for his brother, who will never be the same. Not to mention that the brother was incorrectly labeled as the gunman for a few hours. That will stay with him forever.

  25. says

    As a dual US and Canada citizen (born in States, family moved to Canada when I was six months old) the easily availability of guns is one of the primary reasons I don’t move back to the States. The other is healthcare but that is a whole big bag of worms too. We have guns in Canada but it is highly regulated and we still cannot stop the gun violence – but it is much less than the states. Something to think about. I am one of those people who think owning a gun is not a God given right. No one – including the Police, should own semi automatic or automatic weapons – PERIOD.

    • Claudia says

      I’m so glad you said that! I agree. It is NOT a God given right. And it shouldn’t be a constitutional right either.

  26. says

    Dear Claudia, I’m so very sorry and saddened for your friends losses and by extension, yours.

    Thank you so much for this eloquent and thoughtful post. I have wanted to write something myself but the words would not come together. I am completely with you. Now is the time – we must not let this moment pass as we have let all others before pass. I attended one of the Million Mom marches here in Los Angeles years ago (2000?) and stood in the crowd, weeping at the long list of child victims. We have let those that have perished down and we have let ourselves down. We must do more than simply begin the dialogue, we need to actually do something about guns and violence in our society and rectify the lack of mental health care and resources in our country.

    • Claudia says

      Well said, Sally. Now is the time – before it is too late for us. It is a moral issue that must be addressed.

  27. says

    I found your blog via a comment on Steve’s blog ( An Urban Cottage)
    I totally agree with you-and your other commenters- that the time has come for strict gun control laws, and a good hard look at mental illness and how it’s handled in this country.
    My late husband was an Aussie, and his country has it so correct- it took but one tragedy there to change their laws. Sadly, we have had too many gun related deaths to make our ineptness at changing any of our gun laws in any way excusable. The time is NOW.
    I’ve already emailed all my reps and the white house-we can all go here to do that:

  28. says

    Being Canadian Claudia, the U.S. guns laws have always baffled and alarmed me. I had a friend who moved to Conneticutt for her husbands job and came back after two years out of fear because of the crime in her area. I am not saying that our laws are perfect and that we do not have shooting crimes because we do but you cannot own guns in Canada and all hunting rifles must be registered.

    I hope the U.S. follows the steps of their Canadian neighbours and their British ones and puts a control on guns as well as getting national health care.

    My heart goes out to all of those who have suffered this senseless crime. No one deserves to die in this way and no parent should have to go through the agony of seeing their baby shot in a civilized, non war zone society or any society for that matter.

  29. says

    I agree with everything you have said. Why in hell would anyone need an assult rifle!!! Doesn’t make sense. I will never understand the attraction to guns. But that is just my opinion. Too many times they get into the hands of people who use them for harm. I know some people have them for protection. But how many would actualluy be able to use them against someone in their home? Either not awake enough or seeing a human standing in front of them. But I guess we never know what we are capable of. How many shooting in the last month or two have happened? They are getting to be more and more the “norm” of what you hear on the news. Now a church in Newtown had to have the people leave mass because of a threat! Really!

    • Claudia says

      A good point, Teresa. Too often guns that are kept in homes are used against the gun owner. I understand that some people feel very frightened living in certain communities. And I understand that many people are responsible gun owners. But many aren’t. And too many, in the passion or heat of the moment, use guns to kill.

  30. Kathy says

    Thank you Claudia–and all of the posters. Not only could I not give words to my grief but I felt helpless–again. I am going to write to my Congress people and Senators. This cannot continue.

  31. Carla says

    Drunk drivers take the lives of innocent children all the time. Why no outrage there? Knives and bats and hands kill children too. Why do I have to give up sport shooting? I don’t drink and drive for a reason. I don’t take drugs for recreational purposes – children die at the hands of drugged people too. Why not teach responibility and teack consequencies follow actions. Texas has a 3 dwi law but it isn’t enforced. This is a horrible trajedy. Why weren’t the 2 recent killers treated and under watch? Do I really believe either event came out of the blue? No. We don’t take responsibility for ourselves nor do we look out for those with mental illness- it’s easy to look the other way and blame the wrong thing. I am stll not going to give up my guns. They are well hidden. In parts and the bullets are kept separately and it takes me 30 minutes to get all the parts to go shoot at the indoir range. I’m far more concerned about drunk drivers along the way.

    • Claudia says

      There IS outrage about that. Mother Against Drunk Driving. And many other organizations who work to keep drunk drivers off the road. Talking about one thing (gun control) doesn’t negate the need for laws and education – and there ARE laws – against drunk driving. And there are consequences for that. Why does asking for serious dialogue about the amount of guns in this country – and the easy access to all sorts of semiautomatic and assault weapons in particular – indicate that I also don’t take seriously drunk driving, or drugs? It doesn’t. But let’s face it. The amount of deaths due to guns – both children and adults – is extraordinarily high. I don’t go along with the ‘people kill, not guns’ school of thought. That’s too simplistic. Yes people kill. They kill in all sorts of ways. And we need to address all of those methods. In the meantime, I doubt seriously whether anyone wants to take your own particular guns away, which is always the rallying cry of the NRA and one I’m personally sick of hearing. I will end with this – as an earlier commenter said, what about the rights of the rest of us to go about our daily lives, attend church, go to school, watch a movie, attend a rally, and go to the mall, without the threat of gun violence? Those children had rights, too. And those teachers. As did those innocents who were killed by drunk drivers. But this post, this discussion, is about gun control. And how could it not be after what happened on Friday?

  32. says

    Writing from the UK, where gun crime is a rarity and where almost all citizens neither own nor would wish to own guns, I’m afraid I find the defence of gun ownership for all utterly incomprehensible, as incomprehensible as the deaths of 20 children in Connecticut, and as incomprehensible as the deaths of over 6000 children (equivalent to a 1/4 of the entire population of Newtown) *every day* globally for the want of good food (that’s 2,300,000 a year). I wrote about the latter today. I guess we have to pick our battles according to the changes we feel we can hope to make.

    A great post Claudia, good luck in your battle x

    • Claudia says

      I’ll keep on fighting it, Annie. I also find the defense of gun ownership incomprehensible. And equally, the deaths of so many thousands of children due to lack of food is indefensible. xo

  33. Carla says

    I guess I should be forth-coming and say I have lost relatives and friends to speeding reckless driving, jealous exes, and drugs. I do not blame the cars, bullets, or plane ( oh yes druggies on a plane). God decided he needed those that died more than I did. Can’t say I understand it but I can accept it and still love God.

    • Claudia says

      As have I. Nevertheless, there is a rampant gun culture and a culture of violence in this country that HAS to be stopped. I respect that you handle your guns responsibly. However, we are a country of over 340 million people with 300 million guns. Something is very, very wrong with those statistics.

  34. Jill J. says

    Claudia – Thank you for today’s post and sharing your thoughts on the issue of gun violence in our country. Thank you also for the suggestion to contact our congressional representatives on this issue. I plan on doing just that this week. We all need to make our voices heard. Thanks again! All the best to you.

  35. says

    You are such a prolific and powerful writer! I am standing up and applauding you, Claudia. I agree with every word you said – and you said it well.

  36. says

    Oh Claudia, you have expressed the words I could not find. Thank you.

    As a naturalistic pantheist, I don’t believe in any “will of God” – for me that’s a ludicrous cop out for accepting situations that we as people can change – but I do believe we are one, and despite being far across the atlantic in a little English village, this does affect me and mine. I have been deeply saddened all weekend at this tragedy (probably heightened by the fact I came home from my 6 year old’s Christmas performance to the news on Friday – it was all too easy to empathise). As another Brit looking in, like Annie I can’t begin to comprehend the gun culture in the States or why people want to be armed and teach their children to use weapons, and this talk about ARMING teaches, well, it beggars belief. Really. I am stunned that this is considered as an option.

    What pain and suffering must a 24 year old feel to do something like this? How hopeless that this was the best option. It is desperately sad any way one looks at it. I hope that issues surrounding care and treatment of people with mental illness will not be swept aside in the gun debate. (I personally feel the the normalisation of horrific violence in films and video games also does not help, although I have no idea if that is pertinent in this particular case. )

    I hope that your fellow Americans will act and that your congressional representatives will listen so that this preventable loss of innocent life does not continue.

    Sending much love and healing thoughts.
    Sarah xxxx

    • Claudia says

      I absolutely agree with you about the ‘it’s God’s will’ stuff I hear. That’s simply not true. I am so sick of the gun culture in thi country and have been since I was in high school. All these years later, it’s worse than ever. And now the news is reporting that sales of the Bushmaster rifle have skyrocketed. Why? Because everyone is afraid they will be outlawed. What is the problem with these people?

  37. Diane says

    I agree with you completely on the gun control issue. I have felt the same as you do for years as well. Why the assault ban was allowed to expire is beyond me. We live within 30 miles of Clackamas Oregon and we were extremely upset about the mall shooting there, two wonderful people lost, and then Friday came and we were horrified. I could go on because this is a subject I feel strongly about as well. Thanks so much for posting your thoughts on this.

  38. says

    There is no reason for anyone other than law enforcement or military personnel to have automatic weaponry or hollowpoint bullets. Period. But look around: there is rage everywhere, there is selfishness, there is lack of accountability, there is the irresponsible thirst for thrill seeking regardless of what impact it might have on others, and there is an inexplicable affinity for violence. Unless THESE are addressed, until THIS mindset is altered, nothing will change. Regardless of laws or imposed controls. We need to re-educate the human spirit. We need to encourage people to care about one another. We need to teach people — from the time they’re children — to take responsibility for one another’s well-being. That, I think, is at the real heart of the matter. And until that happens, all the laws in the world won’t stop the violence.

  39. says

    Claudia, I simply could not agree more. I returned home late last night from Indiana, where my family gathered over the weekend to bury the best man I have ever known, my beloved Uncle Lowell. Lowell was a kind, generous, loving man who never met a person he didn’t like and try to help. And last Friday night he was brutally murdered in his own home, shot in the back of the head during a home break-in. The murderers now have a Sony flatscreen tv. And my uncle is dead. I am reeling with shock, disbelief and grief. And during a time of love and renewal of spirit I am instead filled with anger so deep I don’t seem to have room to feel anything else. When will our nation wake up and start recognizing enough is enough?

    • Claudia says

      Oh, Martha. I am heartsick to hear this news. I cannot even conceive of someone who would do this to a fellow human being. Of course you are filled with anger. Shot in order to get a flatscreen television? Oh my god.

      My friend, please know that I am thinking of you and your family at this time of profound loss. Is there any chance of catching these despicable people?

      Words fail me. I’m so, so sorry.

  40. Judy Ainsworth says

    Claudia, I have heard the comments over and over,Laws only work for law abiding citizens. I am here from a law enforcement family to tell you WRONG! If for no other reason than giving Peace Officers tools when and if these cowards are brought to justice You took a very courageous stand today and I applaud you! -Judy A-

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