As poet T. S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” It’s true. It’s so disturbing that the month needs to be remembered for so many shootings:
April 2, 2014- the second Fort Hood shooting that killed 4, including the shooter and injured 16 more.
April 14, 2003- John McDonough High School shooting where a 15 year old student was shot and killed by 2 men with an AK47. 3 others were injured.
April 15, 2013 -The Boston Marathon bombing, of course, killed 3, injured many and caused terror to many. But it also did involve several shootings when one of the bombers shot and killed a police officer and the other suspect was shot and injured by law enforcement authorities after a long search that terrorized the Boston area for days.
April 16, 2007- The Virginia Tech shooting victims will be remembered again today on the 8th anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in America. 32 were left dead and 17 others injured after the shooter, a severely mentally ill student who obtained a gun legally, opened fire on fellow students and professors before he shot himself.
And then, of course, we shouldn’t overlook the Oklahoma City bombing by gun extremist Timothy McVeigh on April 19, 1995 that killed 168 and injured 680. McVeigh was a gun rights extremist and militia member who was anti-government. In an interview with McVeigh years after the terror attack he admitted to the same rhetoric we hear from today’s gun rights extremists:
Once the Branch Dividian siege began in Waco, Texas, McVeigh became convinced that the government was the ultimate bully, trying to take away people’s guns.
McVeigh even drove to Waco during the siege.
“You feel a bond with this community. The bond is that they’re fellow gun owners and believe in gun rights and survivalists and freedom lovers,” said McVeigh.
Dan Herbeck: “The ultimate thing that sent him toward Oklahoma City was Waco with the Branch Dividian people being killed and he told us from that day forward he decided he was going to become a terrorist.”
McVeigh believed he and the Militia Movement were now at war with the U.S. government.
Sometimes these beliefs turn into action and unfortunately, that is what happened in Oklahoma City in 1995.
April 20, 1999- Two students obtained guns from a friend who bought them at a gun show with no background check, shot and killed 13 people and injured 21 at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado. This school shooting propelled a lot of Americans into action about gun safety reform and is still remembered today because it was the first school shooting in modern memory with so many victims and marks the beginning of an era of school shootings not seen in any other country in the world. You can see the list in this article, stunning because of the continued carnage and lack of action to prevent more of them.
April 25, 2003- Pittsburgh area junior high student shot his school principal and then himself at his school. The 14 year old carried 3 loaded handguns to school that day. The guns came from his own home.
This, of course, is just one month of 11. In America, we speak of school shootings and mass shootings as if they are just part of the landscape. That is the sad truth and it should be a shameful truth. But our elected leaders continue to ignore the facts about gun violence and vote with the corporate gun lobby instead of standing up for the victims and survivors.
Where is common sense?
Today we remember the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. Tomorrow- others- and the next day and the next day and the next day……..
We are better than this. It’s past time to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. We can do something to reduce and prevent shootings. But we are not and that’s the American tragedy. Every day in America, another Virginia Tech happens when 32 Americans are killed in gun homicides. And that is only some of the 80 Americans who die daily from gunshot injuries. We have to get this right- lives depend on it.
Ross Abdallah Alameddine
Emily Jean Hilscher
Daniel Perez Cueva
I will also remember some friends I have met through my gun violence prevention work- the brother of a victim, the mother of a survivor and a survivor of the shooting.