Bowling for Newtown

Seriously, what can I say or type that I haven’t already said or typed? One of my friends told me, “I know what you’ll be posting on Facebook tonight.” I said I don’t think so. I have talked about gun violence until I have nothing left to say. But there is something special about this shooting in Connecticut. Children. 27 people died; 20 of them children. Bowling for Newtown. Before Michael Moore’s documentary, Bowling for Columbine, I was a trauma surgeon in Shreveport, Louisiana. Before I was a trauma surgeon, I was a resident in Shreveport. Almost every night, we would admit one or two, sometimes five or 10, victims of violence. The majority of the Americans whom we admitted were young men between the ages of 16 and 30. Back then, I went to schools, churches, old folks homes. I talked to anyone who would listen, extolling the terrible price of gun violence in the United States. The majority of the time I was preaching to the choir.

Bowling for Newtown. Back in 2002, Michael Moore released his documentary, Bowling for Columbine. In his documentary, which was, I grant you, over the top, he clearly and accurately pointed out that Americans are in love with guns. Growing up in Dallas, you would figure I would completely understand America’s love affair with guns. But no. I was clueless. It wasn’t until I went to Monroe, Louisiana in the late 1980s that I truly understood the passion that many Americans have for guns. A number of the physicians in Monroe would arrange their call schedule so that they could be off the first weekend of deer season. I’m not talking about one or two physicians. I’m talking about 20 – 30% of the physicians. A nurse, whose boyfriend gave her a gun for her birthday, actually broke down into tears because she was so happy. Yep, I checked. She was actually happy that her boyfriend cared enough to give her a gun for her birthday.

When I started my blog about six years ago, I was amazed and appalled at the Virginia Tech shooting. I had this blog and I was able to post my thoughts, day after day. I even have a category on my blog which is still titled Virginia Tech Shooting. Soon, it dawned on me that I couldn’t keep starting a new category every time there was a mass shooting. Let’s just take a moment and think about the mass shootings you can remember, just over the last couple of years – there was that Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin. There was that shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. (Oh, don’t forget the previous mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.) There was that Army base shooting at Fort Bragg. There was that other Army base shooting at Fort Hood. There was that biology professor in Huntsville, Alabama (Amy Bishop). There was that mall shooting in Portland, Oregon. There was that other mall shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was yet another mall shooting which left three dead in Northwest Indiana. There was a mall shooting in Richmond. I was recently thinking about the mall shooting in Missouri. The bottom line is that if you Google something generic like mall shootings you can get over 237 million results. Mass shootings have become commonplace in United States. (Mother Jones has put together a guide to all mass shootings in the last 30 years. According to Mother Jones, there have been 62 mass shootings over that time.) Whether it is a US Congresswoman who was shot by a man with a mental illness (don’t forget that a little nine-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, was shot dead during this shooting spree) or a deranged NFL football star who shot his fiancée and then himself. Gun violence is a part of the United States.

All the arguments for and against gun control have been made. They been made by people who are smarter and dumber than me. The bottom line is nothing that I can say or do is going to change this problem. Change in this country is going to have to come from gun owners. It’s gonna have to come from an organization like the NRA. I wish that people like me could make a difference in this terrible situation, but we can’t. It is my understanding that peace activists are gathering at the White House trying to urge President Barack Obama to do something. Unfortunately, they are gathering in the wrong place. They need to be gathering at the house of The Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Because, in the end, it doesn’t matter what legislation President Barack Obama proposes, the vast majority of the Democrats are in favor of some sort of legislation to control gun violence. It is the Republicans who’ve embraced the laissez-faire attitude towards guns and gun violence. (Let me be clear. Republicans don’t mind putting you in jail after you’ve killed people. They simply don’t want to restrict your right to own a gun before you’ve killed anybody.)

So sad. 20 children dead. Bowling for Newtown.

3 Responses

  1. It is easier to get a gun in this country than treatment for mental illness.  God help these family members as they have entered the darkest of days.

  2. @Angie N I appreciate your thoughts. You are so right. it is slightly easier to get mental health than it is to buy a winning lottery ticket. we need to fix this.

  3. The irony is that CT has stronger gun control laws than most states, and as I have read the weapons involved at Newtown were legally registered.  Perhaps this tragedy will give renewed impetus to ban semi-automatic weapons.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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