Editor: In the 60s the wife of my elementary school principal put a bullet in the head of each of her five children before turning the gun on herself.
In the 70s I entered a bathroom in my Fairfax County High School, said hello to a girl I knew that was sitting on the floor against the wall. She waited for me to flush before pulling the trigger on the gun aimed at her head.
A couple of years later my dad’s youngest brother, a newlywed of five months, was accidentally shot and killed by his best friend while they were hunting.
A few years later I was working for the City of Alexandria when a gun belonging to someone in an adjacent office accidentally discharged. I was relieved that the bullet didn’t pierce my office wall.
In the 90s I was a manager for a major airline located in the temporary Interim Terminal at National Airport. I was summoned to security on a particularly busy day. Our elevator and escalators weren’t working due to a power outage. Former White House press secretary James Brady needed assistance getting upstairs to the gate level. As I recall, his aide and I transferred Mr. Brady to an aircraft aisle wheelchair. I kicked off my high heels and the two of us carried the wheelchair up the stairs and to the gate for the flight. Mr. Brady was kind and gracious. His smile and appreciative words almost made me forget the dent on his head made by the bullet that pierced his skull and the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair.
About a year later I was walking out of my office behind the ticket counter when a bullet missed me by mere feet. The gun had been confiscated at the security checkpoint and discharged as it was being examined by a police officer.
My dad enlisted in the US Navy at age 16 and his destroyer squadron, Desron 23, traveled up the Anacostia River to the Washington Navy Yard in 1945 where they received the Presidential Medal of Honor. The Navy Yard became his “campus” and when I was young he would take us to visit the Navy Museum and ships at the dock. In 1983 he coordinated a reunion of the squadron with their commodore, Admiral Arleigh Burke, as the guest of honor. A prayer service and reception were held at the Navy Yard on the first night. Dad died a year before the 2013 Navy Yard massacre.
I never thought I had much in common with my dad’s younger days until that point. I am a graduate of VA Tech. Both of our campuses were devastated by mass shootings. My nephew attends UT Austin where I watched news reports of that mass murder on our black and white TV a few decades ago. I owned my first home in the Del Ray neighborhood where a gunman recently opened fire on the Congressional Baseball practice.
I was in the Purcellville Town Council chambers so often advocating for the construction of Woodgrove High that former Mayor Bob Lazaro started calling on me by first name. We were on completely opposite sides of this issue. A couple of years later he joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I returned to the council chambers, told the story of the bullets in my life and thanked him for joining MAIG knowing that his membership and my support of his action was probably just a waste of time.
In June 2015 we visited Charleston SC on our summer vacation. Our walking tour of the city included a brief stop in front of Mother Emanuel church to pay our respects to the parishioners that had been gunned down a week earlier.
Our family visited Minuteman National Park in 2016. As I watched a demonstration of a re-enactor loading and shooting a musket I thought about how we passed the exit for Sandy Hook, CT on our way to New England and wondered what took longer: loading a musket in the 1700’s or killing 26 1st graders and their teachers.
I am fine with someone owning a gun for personal protection. I’m not a hunter but many of my friends and family enjoy the sport; I wouldn’t think of denying them that privilege. I would just like any of the Republican candidates for office to tell me if that was a “well regulated militia” we saw marching across the UVA campus, armed to the teeth and spouting nothing but hate? Should we expect this as the norm on all our Virginia college campuses?
I would also like them to tell me why it is necessary for civilians to own military style assault weapons that are designed solely for the expeditious killing of humans. There was shock that the Las Vegas shooter could have amassed such an arsenal of weapons but will any action will be taken to curtail anyone from owning such a large amount of guns? Same old, same old. Republican Jill Vogel stated in a debate with Democrat Justin Fairfax “I’m not running for lieutenant governor to take anybody’s rights away”. But it is okay for me to have a lifetime of experience dodging bullets from someone else’s guns? I could start a cottage industry manufacturing memorial plaques for all the mass shootings that occur in our country.
The NRA has given almost a million dollars in support of the Virginia Republican candidates. In return for that money Republicans, elected or candidates, are like trained monkeys citing the mantra that the opposition wants to abolish second amendment rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most citizens just want to have dialog that might result reasonable action that could keep them and their families safe.
It is my hope that candidates Northam, Fairfax, Herring and Gooditis will prevail in the upcoming election so there will be someone in Richmond who will consider the rights of gun owners but also MY right to be safe in an environment where guns are abundant. If not, I’m sure we’ll be listening the same old refrain of “my thoughts and prayers” (but tough luck) are with the victims and their families for the foreseeable future.