(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a message on the webpage MoveOn.org.)
Yesterday was a defining moment in our nation’s history. Our second amendment, as interpreted by the supreme court, allowed an armed 20 year old to MURDER twenty young children and 6 adults INSIDE AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. My heart goes out to all those that are affected, in Newtown, CT and beyond.
This kind of gun violence must stop, and the time is now.
While legislators, justices and politicians can debate about the constitution, laws and the “right to bear arms”, we must be clear that this is a debate about a country that allows for the repeated senseless murdering of our children!
I can imagine the emotions in Newtown CT, now and for years to come, because I have had to deliver the bad news to parents multiple times. While I am writing as a father, I am also writing as a surgeon, fully trained to take care of gunshot and stab wound victims. I’ll never forget being summoned to the Emergency Room at Emerson Hospital, in Concord, MA on a Friday morning in January of 2007. A 15-year-old stab wound victim was being transported from Lincoln-Sudbury High School. What I saw was horrific and I quickly acted. I operated on James Alenson that day, in response to stab wounds. Immediately I noticed there was a whole in the back of his heart just as big as in the front, which my fingers slid right into. At that point, I realized it was not a survivable injury. Talking with his father in the Emergency room, explaining that his child was dead only hours after heading off to school, was the hardest thing I’ve done as a physician.
All of us are brothers, sister, mothers, fathers and someone’s child. Every day, we say goodbye and let our loved ones drive off to work or ride the bus to school and assume that they are safe. The Alenson family assumed James was safe at Lincoln-Sudbury High School and the families in Newtown Ct, assumed the same at Shady Hook Elementary School yesterday.
James was murdered with a kitchen knife. Thankfully the killer did not bring a gun to school and murder many more. Our country allows and encourages violent TV, movies and video games. Young and old alike feel rage often and for many reasons. At times this rage leads to violence. We will never stop the human emotion, but we can stop access to guns that allow the human emotion to MURDER many innocent people.
In 2010 in the USA, HIV caused 9406 deaths. The same year, guns caused 8775 murders. That is an average of 24 gun-related homicides across the country every day. That is one person killed by a gun every hour, every day in this country. In 2010, the federal budget committed $24.9 BILLION to national and international HIV activities while, according to one source, only $32 Million dollars of Tax exempt funds were being used to fight for better gun control. Why is it that our country looks at HIV as a disease and MURDER as a “right”? Say all you want about your individual right to bear arms, but we still have a problem in this country…if we can’t send our kids to school and assume they are safe!
My friends and neighbors: What happened yesterday is tragic. We are all profoundly sad, and angry for those children, and teachers and families that were torn apart. President Obama said this was not the time for politics. While I understand that sentiment and I mourn with these families, it is out of respect for these families that we must not let these deaths pass without ending the senseless gun violence that is rampant in the USA. Let’s take these feelings and start the process to change our country’s future. Let’s not just talk about ending gun violence. Let’s commit the same people and money resources that have been helping to eradicate AIDS toward eradicating gun violence!
Let’s start tonight by having a candle lit vigil in order to think about and show support for those whose lives have been shattered by yesterday’s events. Let’s use this time to show support for the families touched by the violence in Newtown, CT and to start a dialog for change about this public health crisis – gun violence.
Please meet me TONIGHT, DECEMBER 15, 2012 at the parking lot of Haskell Field on Fairbank Road in Sudbury, MA at 5 pm for a candle light vigil and conversation. Please bring candles, warm clothing and an open mind.
Thanks for reading and participating,