Two weeks after the rampage in Tucson, survivors struggle with ‘what if’…
So does Suzi Hileman, who days after the shooting awoke in her hospital bed shouting: “Christina! Christina!”
That Saturday morning, Ms. Hileman picked up Christina-Taylor Green, her 9-year-old neighbor, and promised the girl’s mother that they would return in three or four hours.
Ms. Hileman, 59, had simply wanted to take Christina to meet their congresswoman. They would make a day of it — going for lunch and a manicure after the “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a local Safeway. Instead, a gunman opened fire, killing Christina and wounding Ms. Hileman.
“I never got to bring Christina home,” Ms. Hileman said. By now, her voice is almost matter-of-fact. But her sadness is betrayed by the long pauses she takes, the way she buries her face in a throw pillow when the tears start to fall.
The guilt comes in waves. It was there in the hospital. It still lurks, threatening to return at any moment. When someone asks about it, she calls her husband over to hold her hand as she answers.
Another survivor, Joseph Zamudio, had a gun and came within a second of shooting one of the bystanders who was trying to stop Jared Loughner. It was a scene of mass confusion.
After the disaster ended, we were no less confused about who to blame, what to do.
What if we made treatment for mental illness as accessible as treatment for physical illness, instead of cutting mental health services? What if we demanded more accountability from people who buy and sell guns? What if we limited bullets as strictly as we limit how many pseudophedrine tabs we can buy? What if we re-instated the ban on assault weapons?
Since the Tuscon shootings the background noise of gun violence continues. More children have been shot, four police officers shot by a man who walked in with a gun drawn and ready.
Guns don’t make you safe if you don’t know how to use them. If you don’t keep them out of the hands of children. If you can’t ensure they won’t get stolen. If someone in your family is having a mental breakdown. There’s such a thing as responsible gun ownership, but it’s not politically correct to support stronger gun laws.
We can’t make sense of it until we recognize that glamorization of guns, loose gun laws and a culture of hate speech makes it certain that susceptible and troubled individuals will try to achieve fame and glory with a mass shooting– a crime that we are almost getting used to.