Mass shootings are becoming so normal in the US that they don’t even come as a shock anymore. The pattern is pretty much the same – twentysomething boy with mental health issues is bullied in school. He legally buys or has easy access to guns and ammunition. He uses them. And most times, innocent people die and twentysomething boy’s pain leaves his body and takes up residence in those left behind.
That’s what happened in California on Friday. But this time something else happened, too.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Albert Einstein said that. And just a day after his own twentysomething son, Christopher, was killed, Richard Martinez made us understand it.
Before I had children I wondered what happened to people once they became parents. I could kind of understand why all of a sudden reading or hearing about tragedy, illness or death involving kids was too much to bear. But not really.
Whether you have children or not, Richard Martinez’s pain is heartbreaking to watch. His anguish is more shocking than the news of the shooting itself. Because in the midst of living this most unbearable kind of grief, Richard Martinez put Einstein’s point into a context we can all understand.
“You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does. Chris was a really great kid,” he said. “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A.,” he said. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: not one more.”
Richard Martinez’s son and six others did die on Friday because of the N.R.A. and politicians. While mass shootings have become so common that they no longer shock us, states like Wyoming, Arizona and Texas have actually loosened their gun laws. It’s easy to get a gun in Constitutional Carry states like these, because there are NO legal restrictions.
And since guns are designed for the sole purpose of killing, making it easier to get one also makes it easier to become a victim of one.
I hope that by the time my children are twentysomething, the world won’t be as dangerous a place to live as it is today. Not because there will be less evil, but because there will be more people who are unwilling to do nothing about it.
And to Richard Martinez, I say this: You’re right. And I’m sure Chris was a great kid. I’m sure they all were.