I’m so overwhelmed by outrage and sadness, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep unless I wrote about a death I heard of this afternoon.
A teenager–a child, really–was walking down a street in Santa Rosa with what looked like an assault rifle. The sheriff deputies who saw this didn’t see the 13 year-old’s face nor did they necessarily get a good look at the gun. The reports say that 10 seconds after the deputies ordered Andy Lopez to put down his weapon, they shot him seven times. Seven. Granted, they shot 8, but one shell missed him. They had no idea that they shot and killed a child. They realized, after the fact, that the “assault weapon” was a pellet gun. This happened Tuesday. I found out about it today. Normally, something like this would get the posts on Facebook going. There would be outrage from the Occupy and Anonymous groups, the continued politicizing of the pros and cons of the Second Amendment, something–anything. But I heard nothing.
To be honest, I can’t decide what outrages me more: that no one I know has spoken out about this tragedy publicly and that it seems to have been kept relatively quiet by the media; or that an eight grader was shot and killed by a man who is sworn to protect the people of this community. It’s disturbing to think that Andy Lopez could have been my son, Travis Spaulding, 13 years ago. And I am appalled for Santa Rosa, for Sonoma County, for Andy’s grieving parents and friends, for all the adolescent boys and girls who make questionable choices, like carrying a pellet gun while walking down the street. But before we start blaming Andy Lopez for having a teenage brain, perhaps we need to start examining the irony and hypocrisy of the situation through a set of questions:
Why are pellet guns made to look like assault rifles?
Why are they made to look so much like assault rifles that law enforcement officers can’t tell the difference?
Why do the same people who fully support owning assault rifles worry for their lives when they see someone carrying one–so worried, in fact, that they feel the need to shoot and kill that person?
Why do we glorify violence in the form of warfare, the military, action movies, video games, and gun rights then become incensed when someone shoots students and teachers? Why do we feel the need to kill someone for emulating this violence by walking with a pellet gun?
And while I hate to bring up race, would Andy Johnson have been as readily shot as Andy Lopez?
I don’t have any easy answers for this conundrum. I’m not even sure I have hard ones, although I would ask anyone who reads this post to carefully consider their stance on and partaking of gun control/rights and the exaltation of violence. But really, all I know at 02:20 is that I wasn’t going to bed until I wrote about how deeply disturbed I am by the killing, and how badly I would love to fix this problem now because it is reducing me to tears and I don’t readily cry.
My heart breaks for our community and our country. It breaks for the people who lost a 13-year-old boy on Tuesday. It breaks for the lack of questions and outrage “brought” on by his death. It breaks for a boy who is never going to be a man.
(Note: I acknowledge that I am making the gross assumption that all law enforcement officers/people in uniform are conservative, potentially racist, and fully support the NRA and the ability for people to purchase assault weapons, which may or may not be true.)