The End of Complacency

25 May

gunThe only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  

 –Edmund Burke

I’m the first to admit that I’m complacent person. It’s not that I don’t feel things deeply—I do. It’s just that I’m a busy working mom with my own set of problems and it’s often difficult to muster up enough indignation to spur myself into action or even believe that any small act on my part will bring about any necessary change.

Over the past few years, I’ve cried my share while glued to the television screen, watching news reports of the mass killings that have taken place across our country. I’ve felt real pain and anger, and spurred on by the solidarity of social media, I vowed to do something to make a difference. But like the majority of us, I would soon move on with my life after a few days, conveniently forgetting my initial anger and frustration. After all, those instances of gun violence never really affected me personally.

Well, now it’s happened in my own backyard. Last Friday night around 9:30, as I sat talking with my husband and kids in the living room, I heard multiple sirens. Now, it’s not unusual for us to hear occasional sirens as our house is located near the 101 freeway between the ocean and the mountains. When they didn’t quit after a minute or two, I turned to  my husband.

“Honey,” I said, opening the back sliding door to better hear what was going on. “I think this is something really bad—the sirens aren’t stopping.”

“Maybe a high speed chase?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I said, “It sounds like a lot of police cars are headed somewhere.”

Less than ten minutes later, my nineteen year-old son, Nino’s phone rang. He is a UCSB student and often spends weekend nights hanging out with his friends in Isla Vista, the beach town adjacent to the university.

“What’s up?” he said into the phone. I watched his face fall. He stood up and began to pace around the living room. “Dude!” he shouted. “Are you f**king serious?” After a short conversation he hung up the phone.

“Mom,” he said, “There’s been a shooting in Isla Vista.” On the phone was one of a group of Nino’s fraternity brothers who had been headed home from an out of town event, but were unable to get to their apartment because the entrance to Isla Vista had been cordoned off. They needed a place to spend the night so they came to our house.

The following morning and throughout the day we learned what happened in Isla Vista: Six college students dead; the mentally ill shooter dead. We watched rambling Youtube videos, accounts from students who witnessed the horror, and what was most heart wrenching of all: a plea from the father of one of the victims begging for the violence  to stop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN6NBDYPuhY. I sobbed while watching that, knowing it could have been my son, Nino who was killed.

How many more people have to die for us to do something? Fighting against the NRA is virtually impossible—time and again it’s been proven that this gun-loving organization is just too powerful. They will protect their second amendment rights no matter how many of our children die from gun violence. They say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” Yes, people do kill people, and since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, almost ten thousand Americans have been killed by people using guns.

But why was it so easy for these killers to get their hands on guns?

The following is what Michael Moore had to say about the Isla Vista Shootings:

With due respect to those who are asking me to comment on last night’s tragic mass shooting at UCSB in Isla Vista, CA — I no longer have anything to say about what is now part of normal American life. Everything I have to say about this, I said it 12 years ago: We are a people easily manipulated by fear which causes us to arm ourselves with a quarter BILLION guns in our homes that are often easily accessible to young people, burglars, the mentally ill and anyone who momentarily snaps. We are a nation founded in violence, grew our borders through violence, and allow men in power to use violence around the world to further our so-called American (corporate) “interests.” The gun, not the eagle, is our true national symbol. While other countries have more violent pasts (Germany, Japan), more guns per capita in their homes (Canada [mostly hunting guns]), and the kids in most other countries watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video games that our kids play, no one even comes close to killing as many of its own citizens on a daily basis as we do — and yet we don’t seem to want to ask ourselves this simple question: “Why us? What is it about US?” Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that? Even when 90% of the American public calls for stronger gun laws, Congress refuses — and then we the people refuse to remove them from office. So the onus is on us, all of us. We won’t pass the necessary laws, but more importantly we won’t consider why this happens here all the time. When the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people,” they’ve got it half-right. Except I would amend it to this: “Guns don’t kill people — Americans kill people.” Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon.

It’s time for all of us to stop being complacent.

It could have been my child.

It could have been yours.

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16 Responses to “The End of Complacency”

  1. Theresa May 25, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    Thanks for writing this. The tragedy is so horribly frustrating. I thought after Sandy Hook would change things and lead to stronger gun laws. When the NRA finally came out after that tragedy and said that we needed to have teachers have guns, I thought it was a joke, aka Steven Colbert. However, they we serious. Then all the politicians folded under their threats. What does it take?

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      I felt the same way after Sandy Hook. I really believed that something would finally change, but instead we’ve just become used to these kind of tragedies occurring. How many more will it take to change laws?

  2. Deborah Mele May 26, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    What I see as the saddest part is our society’s unwillingness to deal with the mentally ill. My bipolar nephew is in jail- He is homeless do jail is a place where he has food, shelter and medication. I feel so sad for all the families. My aunt was murdered and my brother disfigured by 3 shots from a 27 year old. They put him in jail until he was twenty five, let him out and he killed someone. What can we do when we think someone is dangerous. The parents of this disturbed boy tried to do something. To me this is the bigger issue. If no guns he could have used explosives or? How can our society help the alienated?’

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      You’re right, Deborah. We need to do something drastic to help the mentally ill and to prevent guns from being so easy to obtain.

  3. Britton Swingler May 26, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    I’m glad your family is safe. So sad for the families of the others. Words fail…

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Such a senseless tragedy. I’m so tired of this happening again and again.

  4. Michele Abbott May 26, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Agreed. And it could’ve been my Mom. My mom has been going out to UCSB since the mid 1980’s to the Gamma Phi Beta house – she has been a devoted Advisor and attends all their functions and ceremonies etc. For some odd reason she forgot to attend one of their meetings that night – the Gamma Phi House is 1/2 a block away. It always comes as a shock to hear of these events – but as Michael Moore says above.. why are we surprised..? It will happen again. I grew up with guns, I know how to shoot them, we had them around, I was taught they were not toys etc. But even though I am familiar with guns & learned responsible ways to handle them, I do NOT believe that is enough. Not everyone should have them at their fingertips. Not everyone’s mental state can be trusted. And so it goes.. one day while riding your bike down the street at USCB or driving to a sorority house you could be gunned down. It is NOT ok to allow people to have guns the way we do in the US.

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      I’m so glad your mom wasn’t there. Even to be near that scene would have been horrific. The gun culture here in the U.S. is so out of control. It’s gone way beyond self-protection. Violence has become a way to solve problems and it’s got to end.

  5. Kati Bennett May 26, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Thank you, Jessie for how eloquently you write about this. So heartbreaking and I, too, have felt frustrated by our inability to bring about change on this issue. Peter is 19, the same age as Nino and as Chris Martinez, and in a fraternity at Cal. He is in IV now visiting his best friend from childhood who goes to UCSB. This could have been any of our children. What can we do? I know we can contact our lawmakers but that hasn’t worked. I follow the Million Mom movement and am willing to stand up to anyone who wants to argue that there should be no action against gun violence. But that’s not enough to effect any change. I’m at a loss.

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

      I guess until we vote out the politicians who support the NRA we’re not going to be able to do much. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’m so glad Peter is okay. What a big mess our country is in.

  6. Betty Pierskalla May 26, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    I too wept at this tragic event and when the father of one slain cried out for some regulation of registered gun purchases I shed tears. How moving. Yet we all feel so crippled to do anything. Such a helpless feeling. Voters will take too much time to find anyone brave enough to stand against the NRA. Yet I do not know the answer. but we must act.
    Thank God, Nino was at home and is safe. My heart breaks for those families who lost their precious child through this senseless act. My heart aches for our community of Santa Barbara.

    • Allegro non tanto May 26, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      I just wonder how many more children will die before our government takes action…

  7. Tracey May 27, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Another tragedy and yes, it will happen again and soon. I am so sick of it. Even the politicians are afraid to do something and lose the money for their campaigns. They care more about their power than our children.

  8. Becky Green Aaronson May 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I read this when you first posted it, but it has taken me until now to be able to write something without ranting. It is well beyond time to stop this insanity. Not One More.

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