Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘mass shootings

A Crisis of Conscience…(Mass Shootings Commentary)

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Folks, I haven’t written anything in the past few weeks, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been dealing with a number of things, and have been too scattered to put words down on the page. In addition, most of what I have to say seems old-hat, trite, or like something I’ve said three thousand times before.

Yet with the two most recent public mass shootings (one in El Paso, TX; the other in Dayton, OH), I feel I have to respond.

My own crisis of conscience, in other words, can wait. There’s a much bigger one going on in the United States as a whole, and I need to try to address it, while I still can.

First: I am frustrated. Angry. Enraged. And heartbroken.

These shootings did not have to happen. These people didn’t have to be injured or killed. And this weekend didn’t have to be marred by senseless violence, yet again.

Second: Here’s what I think will happen in the coming days.

(Crickets.)

Or, in other words, as I saw on Facebook: “Politicians send out thoughts and prayers. Facebook devolves into flame wars. Everyone forgets. And the same thing happens again.” (And again. And still, yet again.)

This is possibly the best way I’ve seen to sum up what’s been going on in the United States for the past several years with regards to mass shootings.

And that is flat-out unacceptable. We stay in the same place. More people die for no reason. And nothing gets done.

It’s wrong. And while I have no idea what the Hell to do about it — see below — I feel I must at least point out how frustrated, enraged, angry, upset, hurt, and heartbroken I am that other Americans have died because of two madmen. (As per usual at my blog, I will not name either shooter.)

And while I do think it’s a “mental illness problem” as much as anything else — I’ve said so, even, before — I don’t know what to do about this anymore.

Me saying I hate it does nothing.

Me begging my legislators for common-sense solutions has done no good.

Me trying to ask if there’s anything non-governmental entities (i.e., charities and the like) can do anything to put a stop to this has also done no good.

And yet, the killing goes on and on.

It drives me crazy that we have people in this country who think so little of others that they’ll go shoot up a Wal-mart, just because. (As in El Paso, TX.) Or they’ll go shoot up a bar scene in Dayton at night, just because.

Before my Hillary Clinton advocate-friends chime in, I am well aware that the first gunman was a white nationalist/racist. But while that shows his mental processes were, shall we say, unformed and ignorant, that does not explain why he picked Saturday as his day to shoot up a Wal-mart.

And do I think that was domestic terrorism? You bet it was. But I think every single one of these mass shootings has been a form of domestic terrorism, going back to the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

These gunmen are all marginalized souls who can’t see the forest for the trees, and they hold their own lives so cheaply, it means nothing to take others. That much is certain.

But again, what can I do about it? Nothing I do or say does any good. And it’s so frustrating, to sit here, impotent, unable to do anything whatsoever to bring healing or hope or anything other than rage to the situation.

Because we have more than enough rage already, thanks.

What we need now, somehow, is for our legislators to work with doctors and nurses and those in law enforcement and come up with something that will actually help reduce the amount of mass shootings in this country. But how we get that done in a super-polarized political climate is beyond me.

So, all I can say is what I’ve said before: I feel terrible that more good people have died for no reason. And I wish we could all come together and work out something that would do some good, rather than just continuing to let this fester…as letting it fester is obviously doing no good whatsoever.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 5, 2019 at 12:37 am

Church Shooting in Texas Leaves Me Stunned, Sick

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Folks, I am so sickened by this story, but as it’s big news in the United States (and perhaps around the world as well), I think I should comment.

A relatively young man, under thirty, who I shall not name as is my policy, opened fire on a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday morning during worship services. There are twenty-six dead, including a number of children, and among the many wounded is an eighteen-month-old baby.

I don’t understand why this even happened. Much less why a person would aim at children. (There is some talk that he deliberately aimed at the kids, though I don’t know how accurate that is.)

Because this did happen at a church, many in Texas and elsewhere are saying that God must have a purpose for this. (That is, the Higher Power.) Even if we don’t see it, there has to be a reason.

The only reason I can see is that we need to somehow stop these mass shooting events, particularly in churches. The United States is the only country in the world that refuses to pass sensible gun control legislation, and has even rolled back the minor protections citizens had to keep people with demonstrable mental illnesses from buying guns.

That this happened in Texas, which is practically the home of concealed-carry, is even more astonishing.

But in this case, even if the little kids who were among the dead had carried guns, there’s no way they could’ve stopped this guy. He stepped into the church and started firing at people’s backs…whether he was legally qualified to buy the gun or not (there are many questions about that right now), the fact is, he had a gun, he shot at people’s backs in a cowardly and distasteful way, and he has become infamous in the ways of many other mass shooters before him.

I don’t know what we have to do in the United States to get the Congress to wake up. I do know that most Americans support protections to keep people from severe mental illnesses, such as this guy must’ve had to do what he did, from getting guns. And while that will not stop every mass shooter, it will stop more of them…and we won’t be waking up to this sort of thing as often. (I would like to say “at all,” but that’s asking way too much.)

I am beyond tired and incredibly frustrated at all these shootings. I’ve written about so many of them in the past seven years of this blog, and every time I feel emotionally wrung out, almost drained of purpose, when I think about what happened to innocent souls just going about their business and not asking for this at all. (Who would?)

Yeah, once in a blue moon, a shooting like this would be inexplicable. But to happen over and over and over again, in movie theatres, in churches, at concerts…at night clubs…the list goes on and on. And the only thing in common is that the United States does not have the same protections under the law as other countries to keep people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them.

I know many responsible gun owners. I do not want to take their guns away. But I do want to make damned sure that shooters like this guy who just killed a bunch of kids and others don’t get guns…and if it’s true that the system failed, well, we need to find out why that happened. (There’s some talk now that even with the lax protections we have, this guy shouldn’t have been able to get a gun.)

Anyway, those among the injured, and those grieving, need your prayers now. I know that’s not much, but it’s better than nothing…and we all need to do some soul-searching to try to figure out what, if anything, we can do to prevent the next mass-casualty event. (Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

Check Out Sally Cronin’s Blog Today…and Other Observations

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Folks, before I forget, I wanted to let you know that author Sally Cronin featured my books A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE and AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE over at her popular and very busy blog, Smorgasbord Invitation, today. She has a series going called “Christmas Grotto,” where she points out books she thinks her readers might like — I couldn’t be happier that she did this. (Thank you so much, Sally!)

Now for the other observations.

This past week was frustrating for me on a personal level, because my computer was down. I was using my mother’s computer during off-hours, so I could maintain a web presence to a degree and also get a little editing done. (I couldn’t do heavy stuff, but at least I could do a little bit to keep myself from going stir-crazy.)

Fortunately, my computer was repaired on Friday afternoon by the good folks over at Milwaukee PC in Sturtevant. (Well, it technically might be Mount Pleasant. Either way.) It came in exactly at the price they told me it would — no surprises — and it got done a little faster than we’d hoped.

But my transitory personal frustration was dwarfed to near-insignificance when I found out about the latest mass shooting in the United States, this time in Southern California. (Since it is my policy not to identify  shooters in such events unless I feel them to be mentally deranged to such a degree they might be seen as pitiable figures, I will not be identifying the two known shooters here.) I don’t understand why anyone would shoot and kill fourteen people, wounding twenty-one others, at a holiday party.

There are hints, perhaps many of them, that this mass shooting was caused by people who may have been radicalized by elements of ISIL overseas. I can’t speak to that, but I will say that a shooting at such an innocuous place is scary — which, of course, is exactly what ISIL wants. (Why else take up such a stance in the first place?)

Which brings me back to two subjects — why I write, and why I think reading something funny right now might be in order.

Look. I write because I have stories to tell. (Not just in the Elfyverse, either, though certainly many of my stories have been or will be set there.) Plus, I like to make people laugh. I like to divert people for a little while, so they won’t think so much about their problems.

The two books Sally pointed out to her readers, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, are both funny urban fantasies with romance, some mysterious goings on, and some ghosts. (Hey, when I write a book, I put my all into it.) There’s a lot going on in the Elfy duology, but at its heart it’s a simple love story between two misunderstood teens — Bruno the Elfy, and Sarah his mostly-human girlfriend. They come together because they have common interests, because their minds call to one another — and only after that do their bodies start to call to one another, too.

That is my type of comfort book, which is probably why I wrote it in the first place. (Though trying to psychoanalyze yourself after the fact is an exercise doomed to failure, isn’t it?)

I know I’m proud of my Elfy duology, and I’m glad they are both out there for people to read. I hope during this time of great stress in the world that maybe reading a funny book will help you feel a little better.

Because somehow, we need to remember that life contains good things, too. (Or as my late husband Michael used to put it — “Enjoy yourself, live your life — and spite the bastards.”)

The Aurora (CO) Massacre: Why Did This Happen?

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Another horrific incident has happened, folks — James Holmes, 24, of Colorado, shot at least 71 people at an Aurora, CO, movie theater during a midnight showing of the latest “Batman” movie.  So far, 12 have been killed, with more people in critical condition who could pass on at any time in what’s being called the worst mass shooting in American history. 

And Holmes did this . . . why?

The best guess as to why Holmes did this seems to be that Holmes is a psychopath, and/or is mentally ill to such a degree that he does not understand the world or the people around him in the same way most of the rest of us do.  Holmes may have thought he was the Joker (one of the best-known “Batman” characters); Holmes may have thought that what he was doing was sanctioned and allowed, considering the current “Batman” movie features explosions in public places.

Here’s a link to Yahoo’s report:

http://gma.yahoo.com/colorado-batman-movie-shooting-suspect-phd-student-085940589–abc-news-topstories.html

What has come out about Holmes thus far is troubling.  Holmes was a Ph.D. student who’d moved to Colorado in order to pursue his degree at the University of Colorado Medical Center.  He was brilliant, planning his attack to a surprising degree (to the point that he had not one, not two, but four separate guns, with at least two being assault rifles — this last according to AM 620 WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee.  Their on-the-hour news report gave these additional details).  And Holmes booby-trapped his apartment to the point that had the police not known about it (because Holmes himself told them), the apartment building would’ve blown sky high.

So those are the facts as we know them right now; what I’m after, though, is a bit more elusive.  To wit: why would someone this bright do something this terrible?

Honestly, I have no answers, though I do have many questions.

First, why was this man not in a mental hospital?  (Especially considering that his mother’s first reaction after being contacted by the media was, “You have the right guy,” not the usual “I can’t believe this is happening!” denial?)

Second, how did this man successfully buy four separate guns of various descriptions in only a few months?  Especially as it appears he bought them all within the city of Aurora or its environs (meaning Boulder or even Denver, but not all that far away as the crow flies)?  Additionally, how did this guy amass all the military-grade body armor he was wearing at the time of his arrest without anyone taking note of it, either?

Third, the story of victim Jessica Ghawi, also 24, is instructive . . . Ghawi had narrowly avoided a different public shooting in Toronto a month ago, but was unable to avoid being shot and killed by by Holmes.  She was an aspiring sports journalist who loved hockey, had a hockey-player boyfriend who spent much time in the minors, just looking for his big break — his name is Jay Maloff — and was well-known to many hockey reporters and sports reporters of all sorts due to her Twitter presence.  (She wrote under the name of Jessica Redfield.)

This was a young woman with everything ahead of her.  She had a great boyfriend.  She had done many internships at radio stations, newspapers, and was about to be hired at Mile High Sports, which seems to have been enthusiastic about Ghawi’s writing and knowledge of hockey.  She had drive, charm, what friends and colleagues are calling an outsized personality, and was the type of person who was going places and doing things.

So why, oh why, is Jessica Ghawi dead today?  Because of a crazy man, that’s why.  And that’s not good enough; it shouldn’t be.

All we can do is this.  Remember the people who died in this senseless act.  Remember their lives.  Remember what they did while they were here, and honor them.  That’s the only way to gain any meaning whatsoever from this atrocious act.

But before you say it, I am well aware that it’s not nearly enough.  (It’s just all we have.)

Aside from that, do your best to remember your sense of betrayal and outrage when you heard about this latest tragedy.  Remember how awful it is that twelve people, including the young and talented Ghawi, are already dead, with more to assuredly follow.  Remember that it didn’t have to be this way.  Then push for more mental health funding and treatment, because the possibility of prevention is far better than the “pound of cure” we’re now forced to endure.

No matter what you do, though, don’t you dare become inured to horrific violence.  Don’t start seeing things like this terrible Aurora shooting as typical behavior, either.

Because if you do become inured, or start seeing things like this as typical, psychopathic gunmen like Holmes win.  And the rest of us lose even more than we already have.