Diane Dimond: Strength in numbers could bring about change on gun control
You know how when you trip and fall and no matter how badly you are hurt your first inclination is to jump up and declare that you are OK? You automatically gather up all your strength, hop up and say, “I’m fine. Really. Thanks.” The next day the pain seeps in to let you know you’re not OK.
In my klutz-prone world this is the scenario I think of when watching the parents of gun violence victims. The media pesters them for comment and they bravely face the cameras. They instinctively declare they are fine and determined to wage a campaign for better control of the massive gun stash we have in this country. As the interviews go on for a few days we come to realize these survivors cannot possibly be fine.
The latest outspoken couple forced to join this sorrowful club of parents of murdered children is Barbara and Andy Parker. They recently lost their journalist daughter, Alison, to a deranged gunman in Roanoke, Virginia.
“Alison would be really mad at me if I didn’t take this on,” Andy Parker told a reporter about his plan to launch a campaign to do something about sick people with guns.
“And I promise you,” he added, “These people are messing with the wrong family. We are going to effect a change.”
I always wonder if the families of murder victims who make these pronouncements realize there are some 300 million firearms in private hands in the United States. That doesn’t count those used by law enforcement and the military.
I wonder if they realize there are equally determined citizens — both criminal and mentally ill — who will find ways to get guns no matter what. They aren’t the least deterred by gun laws or background checks. They just aren’t.
Our hearts go out to these survivors of gun violence, but their quest seems insurmountable. What are the solutions to ending the senseless murders of so many? Who will be smart enough, prescient enough, to figure it out?
After the media attention dies down and the pain and sadness settle in to their souls it is likely that it is all these survivors can do to just get through the day.
But history tells us there is strength in numbers — and history proves if enough like-minded people band together and demand action they can change the world.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers did it. Those who championed mandatory seat belts did it. The medical community and others indoctrinated all of us to how life-threatening smoking cigarettes can be.
Why can’t there be a meeting of the minds on what to do about gun violence? A meaningful campaign led by a collection of the very face(s) of the tragedy — those left behind when evildoers kill innocents?
Mr. and Mrs. Parker, I’d like you to meet two men named Tom. Tom Teves and Tom Sullivan, both fathers of sons named Alex who were among the dozen shot to death inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012.
Michael Pohle would probably like to meet with you, too. He knows the tragic pain of losing a child to a random act of senseless violence. His son, Michael Jr., was three weeks away from graduation when a deranged gunman stormed the Virginia Tech campus and killed 32 students in 2007.
And I’d like you all to sit across the table from the folks who run The Sandy Hook Promise, in Connecticut. Mark Barden lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, and Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old, Dylan, when a mentally ill shooter stormed into their elementary school in 2012.
All these people share a passion for keeping the irresponsible and unstable from getting their hands on guns.
How about a summit meeting with the gun control group called Americans for Responsible Solutions? Astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, retired congresswoman Gabby Giffords, established the organization after she survived an assassin’s bullet in 2011.
According to reports, Giffords’ group has raised millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of like-minded Americans. There seems to be an army out there waiting to be called to specific duty.
To the Parker, Pohel, Barden, Hockley and Kelly-Gifford families and the countless others devoted to finding a solution: Get to know each other. Share your commitment to changing this era of gun violence in which we all live. Please. We know you are in pain, but it will be your collective plea that can force change.
Yes, the first impulse is to stand up after shock knocks you to the ground, and declare you are fine and focused on a life-changing campaign. But you cannot do it alone.
There is strength in numbers.