Valentine's Day, 2018. I remember it because I was serving on jury duty. On our lunch break, I walked out of the courtroom and sat down on a bench in the hallway. I opened up my laptop to check my email and was distracted from that mundane task by the breaking news of a school shooting in Florida. Parkland, Florida. The school was Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen students and staff were killed that day.
I was excused from jury duty. Not because of the events in Florida, but because of the discussions I had been having with the prosecuting and defense attorneys who didn't expect that my attitudes and opinions were going to give the proceedings the right balance of judgement. So I was free to go, which meant that I called my wife to come and pick me up. Meanwhile, things in Florida were unraveling in much the same way that they had in all those other cities and towns before. By the time my wife showed up, I had been checking in for the details. Because that is what I have become conditioned to do.
As the days and weeks passed after Valentine's Day, something different started to happen. The students who survived that massacre started to speak up. Not just the typical, "We never would have expected that -" but "We never want this to happen again." There were demonstrations. And marches. And more voices were raised to say, "We never want this to happen again."
Bad news about that. There was a shooting at Savannah State University in Georgia just ten days after the one in Florida. And then another eight days after that in Michigan. And so on. Even though there was a March For Our Lives, people kept losing theirs. Because of guns. Or mental illness. Or terrorists. Or maybe it wasn't guns at all.
Because, five months later, people are still dying. Sure, there are a lot of them dying because bullets were encouraged to fly across space and put holes in body parts. By guns. Sometimes operated by folks with mental illness. Or terrorist groups. Or just people making awful choices. Like the guy who killed the father of a brother and sister who survived the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. His son and daughter made it past the shooter in their high school only to have their father taken away by an armed robber.
Armed with a gun.