I shouldn’t be writing this. I know that. It’s still too raw. I’m processing what this is, how this came to be, why it was allowed, why we’ll all have our ‘moment of silence’ and go right back to the way things were. People are already making political hay out of this. Let’s put that aside for a moment and discuss why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because an aspiring hockey journalist, Jessica Redfield, was killed. I didn’t know her. That’s apparently a shame as she was a wonderful person who impacted many people I consider friends. I saw an outpouring of emotion the likes of which I cannot accurately put into words. Jessica, her mom says, was a big fan of twitter. I can attest to why, even if some people don’t get it. It’s pretty amazing to be at or watching a game and see your timeline fill up with exactly what you were thinking. Yelling at the coach for sending out THAT guy and seeing your peers simultaneously thinking “WHAT THE EFF IS HE DOING OUT THERE?”. It’s a kinship. The hockey community is especially tight knit, probably because hockey always feels marginalized, at least here in the states. There’s a almost familial bond that develops. I’ve met several good friends through writing about and reading their writings about this sport. That exchange began on twitter. Jessica touched a lot of lives through her work, and was working on a non-for-profit she set up to get young hockey players who lost all their gear in the CO. Wildfires replaced. That’s something someone needs to carry on in her name. She was also an intern for YouCanPlay, which is something we should all be behind.
I’m going to include a few links here about her work and update when I can on statements from relevant parties on what and where to donate. Firstly, if you are near Aurora, go donate blood. They need it.
Please donate to http://www.youcanplayproject.org/ if you’re interested in supporting the work she was involved in. I’m in the process of finding out information on that fund for the Wildfire victims she started, and will update as I do.
A memorial article of sorts from Yahoo is here: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/colorado-movie-theater-shooting-claims-life-hockey-blogger-151130034–nhl.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter and a touching story from her friend, Jesse Spector is here: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2012-07-20/colorado-shooting-dark-knight-rises-jessica-redfield-ghawi-jesse-spector
The politics of this are something we are unsure how to place, given how raw the events are. Some people say ‘grieve first’. I understand that. I do, genuinely. However, I’m not good at grieving. I have two reactions at these times. In a situation like this, it’s anger, which I’ll deal with in a second. Also, if the person was especially close to me, I tend to react with gallows humor, regaling some of their more comedic escapades. There’s a lot of reminiscing now, and that’s what her friends are doing at #RIPJessica. I urge you to check that out. That other reaction, the visceral anger, is where I’m at now.
I’m going to say this getting on my soapbox with apologies, because I don’t know how to let it pass. It’s chewing me up. I get the second amendment. I get the right to carry a handgun for personal protection. I get the right to hunt and a single shot rifle. I understand and have made peace with the reasons to own these things. I do not, cannot, will never understand the need to sell and own high-powered assault or sniper rifles. I understand the infatuation with the power of these firearms. I watch ‘Son of Guns’, too. I also understand competition. Oddly enough, dutiful marksmen aren’t usually the ones who go on these rampages, because they know what these firearms can do. These firearms of this capability shouldn’t be for sale to the general public. There’s no justification for needing an AK-47. If you want to permit owners for various contests and events, I understand, but the general public able to by these in large quantities is disturbing. The AK-47 is a killing machine. It has been since World War II. It is efficiency and reliability. That is why it is the gun of choice for a myriad of criminals. There’s no reason for these weapons to be available to the general public.
My father, a retired and distinguished captain with the New York City Department of Corrections AND BY NO MEANS as ideologically left as his son, also made a point while I was sitting down to write this: Why is military grade body armor available to the public? Surely, people with these diabolical intentions feel additionally emboldened knowing that nobody can actually hurt them? A fair point, one I hadn’t considered.
Additionally, I cannot fathom the abandonment of the mentally ill in this country. As a society, we avoid them, knowing full well that clinics in the 80s and 90s were defunded and shuttered forcing these people out into the streets. They are left feeling abandoned and helpless, often with nothing but their anger. This is not to excuse that piece of subhuman filth that shot up this theatre, but rather an attempt to prevent similar tragedies. Nor is this an accusation he suffered from a particular mental illness. I’m aware that not all mentally ill people are violent, and are more often, because of their limited ability to defend themselves, victims of heinous acts themselves. I’m saying that it’s easier to get a gun then to get a mentally ill person consistent and proper care. That’s a distinctly American problem that needs a solution, yesterday.