Virginia Tech Five Year Anniversary Reflections

Monday, April 16, 2012

by Lori Haas

On the eve of the five-year anniversary of the worst mass shooting in United States modern day history, I am asking for your help.I am the mother of one of the students who, by a miracle of less than ½ an inch, survived gunshots wounds to the back of her head.   My daughter told me that with head wounds bleeding, she played "dead" by consciously going limp, face down on the floor while her Virginia Tech classmates were killed all around her as the gunman visited her classroom in Norris Hall three times and eventually killed himself there.
Having a front row seat to the devastation and pain suffered by so many families and communities inflicted that day by a person who should not have passed a background check, has propelled me head first into the fight to prevent gun violence.   I break down still when I allow myself to imagine what almost happened to my daughter . . . .  and what so many face every day in this country.
How sad that five years later and after countless additional tragedies  -  Northern Illinois,  Tuscon, Chardon High School, to name a few  -  and daily carnage that doesn't make the media reports,  we are still debating whether we need background checks on all gun purchasers.   How can a civilized society with the technological means to easily implement background checks on all public firearms transactions continue to ignore the day to day killings, the multiple and mass shootings that add up to more than 30,000 annual gun deaths.
While I am often met with disbelief and resistance when I suggest that the gun lobby's goal is an armed society - any gun, anywhere, to any one,  after the Trayvon Martin shooting many are now becoming aware that this is in fact the gun lobby's goal.  Consider:  
LoriHankyHaas :: Virginia Tech Five Year Anniversary Reflections
1) the many places the gun lobby is trying to normalize carrying of firearms:  colleges, churches, schools, businesses, coffee shops, government buildings, parks, trains, emergency shelters -  to name just a few  2) the many persons the gun lobby is attempting to arm:  There are no background checks on firearms transactions by individual sellers to the general public at gunshows, flea markets, and through classified ads in the papers and on-line.  It is a cold fact that 40% of firearm transactions are not regulated, allowing many dangerous persons (felons, terrorists, mentally ill) to purchase whatever weapons they so desire
3) the many circumstances where deadly gun use is no longer a crime,  for instance, stand your ground laws that promote killing a person instead of safely retreating;  expanded Castle doctrine and immunity bills that prevent meaningful judicial review in both the criminal and civil justice systems.
4) the easy access to high capacity magazines, used by both Cho at Virginia Tech and Loughner in Tuscon and other high powered weaponry once exclusively limited to highly trained military and law enforcement
5) the fact that law enforcement officers are being shot in record numbers
The national reaction to the latest wave of shootings is, hopefully, the beginning of society's demands for improved, responsible gun laws that will put a stop to the gun lobby's agenda and push for background checks on all firearms purchasers.   In Virginia, even in the conservative districts of southwestern Virginia, polling shows that 92% of gun owners (and almost everybody else for that matter) support background checks on all sales  -  an astounding number that reflects a cosmic shift in attitudes.
Most people now understand that while possessing a gun in the home is a right, once firearm proliferation threatens the freedom to be safe in ones own community something must be done . . . my fight is about the responsibility to ensure the right to life and liberty for all of us.
Let our representatives and legislators beware . . . your allegiance to the gun lobby is injuring and killing our children, neighbors, friends, colleagues, coworkers and law enforcement.  Voters will no longer stand for the thoughtless support of the gun lobby's agenda.
Today, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for those whose family members were killed or injured five years ago at Virginia Tech and from today forward, I ask for your commitment and support for responsible gun laws.