We have all heard about the different tragic shootings that have gone on over the years, from Columbine, Virginia Tech and so many others. We as a society get up in arms over the ability that the killers have been able to get the guns which have been used. But usually a few months will go buy and the furor will have basically vanished. It’s like what happens with natural disasters, where when it first happens we rush in to help, but not much later it is forgotten about and the people are left to finish rebuilding on there own. Oh yes there are those who never leave and stay until the job is done like the group Episcopal Relief and Development, and there are others, but for the most part it’s off to other things for most.
The one thing that we often don’t hear about are the killings that happen in other places. From time to time we will hear about a killing, but for the most part we don’t. Here in this city, we had about 131 people killed in violent ways, and the saddest part is that the killings have been of those younger and younger. About a month ago, 3 people were shot outside of the building that I live in. I was home when it happened, and this wasn’t the first time that a shooting has occurred so close to where I live.
About 6 weeks ago, I was watching the news and heard about two teenage girls who were shot at 6:30 Sunday morning, and the shooters shot them at least 30 times. I shuck my head and the feelings that we need to do something about guns in this country entered my mind again. But like many, not much later it was no longer on my mind. But this shooting turned out to be something different for me.
I was watching the news about a week later when one of the news anchors mentioned the killings, but this time he said the names. I recognized one of the names, but I wasn’t sure it was the same person. Through some checking, it turned out that one of the girls killed was someone that I knew at one point in her life. Those feelings about gun control came back to mind as I shed tears thinking about her. Even though the two of us hardly ever talked, I had high hopes for her when she became and adult.
When the day of her funeral came, as much as I wanted to go and support her family, I just couldn’t handle it, as I just wanted to sit in quiet and remember her, and I really don’t think that I could of dealt watching the tears of the sadness that her family as they mourned the lost of her.
Over a weeks since then, I have gone to both church and community meetings, as I have in the past, but these times I spoke up when it was appropriate and talked about the things which had occurred, and talking about the killing of this girl (with her best friend,) and the shootings that had occurred in front of my place. I encourage people to speak up about what they had seen and heard when it comes to crime, as it will get the criminals to realize that they aren’t in a place where they will and will continue to get away with the things that they have done.
A few weeks ago, the Bishop and the Diocese that I live in said that they were going to go to a Peace Rally in my city. It took a quick second for me to realize that it was an event that I needed to be at, not because my Bishop, The Rt Rev. Marc Handley Andrus was going to be there, but because I needed to start to stand up even more than I had, so I went.
The group that was putting this rally on is called S.A.V.E., which is short for Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere. I thought that it would be a small group of people, but was surprise at the number of people who came out for this rally, which was about 75 people. I thought to myself that not enough people were there. This rally should have had thousands of people. Even though I wished that their were more people, I was glad that I went.
About a week ago, I saw a notice a posting on Facebook from the group saying that they were going to hold another rally a few blocks away from where the two girls were killed. I knew that I had to go to this one as even though the police have arrested two of the killers, I had to go as a way of showing my support to the family of the one that I knew. I am friends with two of her siblings on Facebook, so I shared the flyer that had been posted on their pages just to make sure that they knew about it.
I showed up and was the first one there. It was about 20 minuted before it was suppose to start, and I didn’t see anyone else around. I began to wonder if it was going to happen, and then said to myself that since I was not far from where it happened, I would walk over and just look and say some prayers. After a few minutes of standing there, a guy walked up to me and asked me if I was there for the rally. It was a comfort, as I knew it was going to happen. Then within minutes more and more people showed up.
We gathered together and were about to start with prayers when I looked up to see her father come across the street with one of her brothers. I spoke up and said something, and they entered the prayer circle that we had. He introduced himself and grabbed one of the signs that had been brought, as he was going to join us.
After we prayed, I walked up to the father and introduced myself and told him how I knew his daughter. Even though his son was with him, I think that it helped in knowing that there was someone there who knew his daughter.
As time went by, another brother showed up who knew who I was, and we had a chance to talk. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, and it was good to catch up.
We rallied about over and hour, then gathered back together and said more prayers. Her family that was there was given time to talk and they really appreciated that we could gather like this in the names of the two girls.
Most people had left when her mom and sister showed up. They were upset that they had missed it, but they felt good and happy that it had occurred. Her mom and her sister gave me a big hug, and we were thrilled to see each other. We stood there and talked for a bit, then she asked me if I wanted to walk up to the memorial where the girls were killed, as she was going to walk up there. There was no way that I was not going to walk up there with them.
We arrived there and I saw the two memorials across the street from each other, as they died across the street from each other. We stopped for a quick minute at her memorial then crossed over to the other one. I watched as she cleaned up around the spot, and a small feeling of the pain that she and the family was going through came into in mind. After a few minutes we went back across the street to where her daughter died, and it was really hard to watch as she cleaned the the area. I looked into her eyes and saw the pain that she was going through as she busy cleaned. It was hard to watch, as this was something that no parent should be doing. I was wishing that the killers were there to look into her eyes as she fought back the tears. I wished that the killers were there to see the pain that this family was going though. I wished that the killers where there to explain there actions to the family. I wished that the killers were there as a reminder of what they did.
Now I know that we have this Constitutional Right to have weapons, but for this and the other killings that have happened throughout the country is not what the writers wanted to see happen in my view. I think that they felt it was necessary for people to have guns in order to defend this country, to be able to go out and hunt for the food that they needed to eat, and to be able to defend ones self from attacks from wild animals, but not for going out and killing people in the ways that are becoming more and more common throughout this country.
What need to we really need for the types of assault weapons that are in people’s hands now? How many people really go out and use and assault weapon to hunt?
At a press conference not long ago, the National Rifle Association (NRA) talked about how the schools should have armed people in and protecting the schools from things like this happening again. When I was in High School many years ago, we had police in the school and still I saw students with guns, and from what I understand, at the some of the schools where mass killing have occurred there were armed police and/or security.
I have heard people say, “What kind of God would let children be killed like this?” As much as I hated for this to happen, I think that some of the answers are simply, “A God who wants for us to wake up and see the things that we do to each other.”, “A God who needs a way for us to remember that we need to treat each other like we would want to be treated.”, and there are so many other answers that can be brought forth. But sadly this comes at a cost to Loving Parents throughout the world.
Raquel, your family misses you and they always will. May prayer is that you and Bobbie are in Heaven together being there for each other and are watching over your families and will bring them as much comfort as you can.