My husband was shot, point blank. He was shot because he saw a man violently whack me in the head and his instincts kicked in to chase the bastard away in defence of me, his wife. The assailant had hit me, so that my iPhone would fall from my hands and into his. I wasn’t aware of this in the first instant because he was out of my peripheral vision. Then the attacker’s accomplice joined the fight after he had finished robbing the other tourists. While in hiding, I heard two loud cracks pierce the air. Mr T did not know that the other guy had a gun.
He managed to get up and run to safety, disperse his valuables in nearby bushes and calmly joke ‘Lucky he wasn’t a good shot, aye Babe.’ I wrapped him in a blanket to keep him warm, I watched him struggle for breath while cradled in my arms in the back of the police car, I watched him lose consciousness, and I watched his body rigidly jolt at the force of the defibrillation machine. I did not realise at the time, but I watched him die.
Every day there are tragedies involving guns; whether it’s pre-meditated, accidental, in self-defence… through war, for greed, for food, for drugs, to gain power, to gain revenge.
So this morning when my mother said “I have some bad news”, my heart sank as she told me about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. I cried “Why???” and cupped my hands to my face, catching the tears. The feeling was all too familiar.
The media is in a frenzy. Twitter is offloading news, heartfelt thoughts, opinions on gun control and there has been the occasional ‘joke’ about kids carrying guns. Poor form. It’s bad enough 3 ½ years down the track when casual conversations utter the words ‘Just shoot me now….’, ‘I’d rather be shot than…..’, or last night when an intoxicated woman swayed and said ‘there’s nothing wrong with murder.’ I shook my head, sucked it up and walked away feeling sorry for her.
I had never believed it was possible, that such a tragedy could befall me. I’d watched countless movies with Mr T where bullets merely dented the ego of the hero. Mr T was a good guy, but that is not enough when a piece of metal is being fired at you for what you’d promised in your wedding vows “I will protect you… ‘Til death do us part.”
Each subsequent shooting since then has weighed heavily on my heart; sincere empathy born from personal tragedy. But this morning renders questions of why? Innocent lives robbed from within the safe haven of a school; the terrified faces, the devastated families, the teachers traumatised, the students scared shitless, the incomprehensible task of identifying victims, a community weeps…
The world watches in despair.
And I wonder how many more lives have to be lost at the hand of gunfire?