Tonight on “60 Minutes” our VA Senator Creigh Deeds will address candidly, for the first time, the events that led to his son’s attack and subsequent suicide. He’ll talk about the plight of the mentally ill. Every month Bob, and I’m sure many other ER physicians in our state, must discharge one or more patients because their psych unit cannot access a psych bed in ANY VA hospital. But I wonder if he’ll address guns.
The following is an essay from a father, an anesthesiologist who trained with the Bride and Groom at UVA. A friend of my daughter’s. He was at the Maryland mall yesterday with his almost 2 year old daughter. I thought it was “funny” that I learned about the shooting incident via Twitter, and then went to CNN’s website to read many of their sources were Twitter. And then I moved on, because it is too heartbreaking to feel for EVERY SINGLE ONE of these senseless acts and because I’ve become cynical. After all, it seems nothing can change, no bills for background checks can get past the NRA…and yet, we turned our state a darker blue…so maybe, one state at a time? These are his words:
“I spent most of yesterday feeling scared and shaken up. When I heard the gun shots so close to me I had so much adrenalin pumping through my body that as I ran out of the play yard with Meenakshi I couldn’t even see properly and I grabbed our stroller on the way out with all Meenakshi’s food, diapers, etc and in the process spilled hot coffee all over my left leg. I didn’t even feel it. As I entered the store I was frantically running, trying to keep Meenakshi as concealed as possible, knocking over clothes as I pulled the stroller behind me and hurtled down the aisles. I started to crouch behind the checkout counter when two women who were employees of the store were screaming for me to come deeper into the back of the store. So I kept running. There was so much panic in their eyes that I thought for sure the shooter was behind me but I had to keep moving. Later I learned that the person who was shot in the foot was not more than 200 feet from where Meenakshi was playing. Once safely inside the store and after making contact with Radhai and assuring myself that she was out of the mall Meenakshi and I sat and waited with about 20 other people. Then a man came to the closed gate at the H&M entrance and started yelling. We couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see us. In hindsight I think he was a mall patron trying to get to safety, but I don’t know. There was a box of cups next to me and I ripped the cups out and stuffed Meenakshi into the box, thinking that if someone came in to start shooting at least she would be out of sight. Finally a swat team let us out. They had body armor, huge guns, and there were a lot of them. I looked around the mall as we were being escorted out and it looked like the apocalypse. There were abandoned strollers, food trays with half eaten meals, coats, spilled drinks, a random shoe here and there, children’s toys strewn about. There were armed officers at every corner. My hands were shaking. As I approached the mall exit I realized Meenakshi’s coat was somewhere buried under the stroller so I took of my coat and wrapped her in it while some kind soul held the door open for me and patiently waited for me to bundle her up. I met Radhai outside and we hugged for a long time and left.
We finally made it home safely. And after coming home and hugging my family and crying I felt confused, grateful, scared, but mostly shaken up. Today, I feel angry. I feel angry that some 19 year old boy wielded a weapon of such destruction so irresponsibly and made me and hundreds of other families feel so frightened that they might lose their children, spouses, or their own lives. I feel angry that a day of fun at the mall turned into a chaotic war zone with bullet riddled walls left behind as evidence. I feel angry that now when we go out I view it as a calculated risk that something like this might happen again because somebody is having a bad day and has easy access to a gun. Guns belong on the battle field, not in the mall.
This boy had an overwhelming amount of ammunition and home made bombs on him. The prospect of what might have happened is horrifying. I am most of all angry that in spite of all the events over the last decade that have happened in this country, nothing will change. Clearly it doesn’t matter whether adults or children are murdered, we still need to make sure that everyone can have a gun.”
The shootings, which also left five other people injured, ended a violent week which saw shootings or gun scares at American schools or shopping centers — ordinary places where people once felt safe.dition.cnn.com/2014/01/26/us/maryland-mall-shooting/
Schools, movie theaters where a dad is texting his babysitter, malls. So the question remains, are we willing to give up our freedom to congregate and walk freely in public for the narrow interpretation and political might of the gun lobby? What kind of freedom is that? Let’s get money out of politics, and the NRA out of our politician’s pockets.