Another day, another horrific shooting. 14 dead. Or is it more? Wait another day, we’ll have a new stat. The news cycle goes into overdrive. How does the adage go- If it bleeds, it leads. Both sides move to their respective corners. (Some) gun “rights” activists stock up on ammo and ludicrously, get MORE guns. The majority of the country- those who support sensible gun control search for a weapon of our own- we know that adding more guns to the equation is like adding more gas to blazing fire. That route is paved in nothing but more bloodshed.
We’ve written, we’ve talked, we’ve pleaded. We have shown charts, statistics, the tear streaked faces of families devastated- broken forever by the entirely preventable carnage that has been laid at their feet.
What we haven’t done and as much as pains me to suggest it, what I think we should do is show the photos. We have become a country that judges not on substance- who has the time to listen to a long speech on gun control and the success that Australia has had? No one- the Kardashians are on at nine.
Photos work. Whether the flag draped coffins returning home from Iraq, the humiliated prisoners from the same war, the burned child running from Napalm in Vietnam, or the wrenching images of living skeletons in striped uniforms from Auschwitz. Iconic photos have brought change. We are visual creatures and these photos have forced us to look at our culpability.
We have heard the stats- more mass shootings than days in the year, this year. We need to see the photos. Stalin famously said that one death was a tragedy, a million a statistic. Photos transform statistics into real people- into lives lost and potential cut short. What I am asking burns my soul. I wouldn’t ask it except that I’m desperate. I don’t want another child or teen or adult for that matter- not another innocent person to suffer a preventable death at the muzzle of gun in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have had access to them. I know we won’t eliminate all the deaths, but we can make a significant, measurable difference.
Photos will do it. I know they will. I am asking the parents, the loved ones, those left behind to do the bravest, most selfless thing imaginable. I know it will sear their hearts and open the forever sensitive wounds, but I know it will make a difference. Without a doubt, it will save lives.
Show the world the damage that large caliber bullets do. Show the NRA the carnage they have wrought on this country. Show the blood. Show the lifeless eyes and the tiny bodies twisted from impact. Show the teachers who have died shielding defenseless, terrified students.
Many of the families have never seen the photos themselves- but I know they are out there. Police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, social workers, and survivors are already walking around with these images stored away in lead-lined boxes tucked far back in their minds. Like soldiers home from battle, they must carry these memories with them everyday for the rest of their lives. It’s not fair to let them do it alone. Not when we can save lives by bringing them to light.
We need to see them. Every NRA member or politician still defending this madness should have their lawns blanketed with them. Mass shootings, suicides, preventable (aka “accidental”) shootings, domestic violence- the list goes on. Put them out there- lay them at our feet. Like the AIDS quilt in the late 80’s- just the sheer size will change us forever. I KNOW we have the capacity to change. The NRA has been banking on us being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issue. Well, we can overwhelm them. We can create a tsunami. We can create a momentum that no amount of heartless profiteering can overcome.
I thought Sandy Hook was going to do it. For me, my imagination was enough. As a mother- I could see it. When I closed my eyes, I could imagine the horror of those terrible minutes. Now, at my child’s school, when I notice the blackout shades, or when I walk into a movie theater- I close my eyes and can imagine the fear and horror of it. But it’s not enough. My imagination has always been more vivid than most.
So, as a parent, a daughter, a friend, and a citizen of this country- knowing that what I ask is more than I have a right to, I am asking the families of victims to post the photos.
By holding this mirror up to our collective madness, by showing the awful, deadly truth- I believe it will finally galvanize us to action. It will set us free from the deadly addiction that the NRA has coaxed us into accepting as the status quo. Post the photos and may whatever god you believe in have mercy on our souls.