They’re Coming

Emergency Helicopter

Emergency Helicopter

They’re coming, I thought to myself. Even though I was very heavily sedated, the sound was unmistakable. It was one of those noises; once you hear you never forget. Like geese on the wing or coyotes howling in the dark, one just knew what was making the noise the minute one heard it. The deep eggbeater sound was made by the rotor blades of a helicopter. The chopper passed directly over my room, landing on the heliport of the hospital connected to the rehabilitation hospital where I was. As soon as one landed, another one came. It was only later that I learned they were bringing in wounded individuals. I’m sure you’re wondering where this was. Was it Vietnam, the first or second Gulf War? No, it wasn’t any of these; as a matter of fact, it wasn’t even a war zone. It was April 20, 1999, and while I didn’t know it at the time, the helicopters were bringing in the students that had just been shot at Columbine High School. Kids who thought they were just going to have another day at school had their lives altered forever by the firing of a weapon.

I had been waiting for almost 2 months for a stage four pressure wound to be clean enough for major surgery. On April 28, the doctors were finally ready to operate. Then after spending five weeks in bed waiting to heal, I was at last able to begin my rehabilitation therapy. Craig hospital only treats individuals with spinal cord injuries or brain trauma. Three of the students who had been shot at Columbine were now going through rehabilitation with me. My heart went out to them. Their situation was so different than mine. At 55 years old, I had my wife of 37 years by my side and a large support system of family and friends who were already reaching out to us since my accident had happened. The Columbine students were still teenagers who, more than likely, the day before the shooting had been struggling with the same personal and developmental problems as any other adolescent. I had a vast amount of life experiences that I could draw on to help me deal with the overwhelming demands and challenges of my new life. What resources did these young people have to draw from? Adjusting to a new life, we knew we would have unbelievable challenges overwhelming us at times. What would it be like for these young people?

Looking back now, Columbine was the beginning of a terrible new trend in our society. You gain a very different perspective on the personalization of tragedies like these when you watch the victims struggle with not only the physical adjustments, but the psychological impact as well.

The shooters at Columbine had semi-automatic weapons. For one semi-automatic pistol there were three magazines or clips which held 52, 32, and 28 bullets respectively. It is impossible not to ask why? If you have read my blogs or visited my website, you know what an avid hunter I am and the struggles I had to overcome to adapt to the challenges of my quadriplegia, including switching to a semi-automatic shotgun. The shotgun I use can hold five rounds but we never put in more than three. Why do we need assault rifles and large capacity magazines?

Newtown School Bus

Newtown School Bus

Why do we need these weapons, with the high capacity clips available to members of the general public? People can go hunting and enjoy target shooting without this massive potential firepower. Anyone opposed to limiting the availability of high capacity clips, at the least, should try imagining themselves in the position of the victims of these heinous crimes. The scars these people and their families bear, both physical and psychological, will be with them every day for the rest of their lives. How can we do less than limit the availability of these weapons and magazines? For all the victims, family members, relatives and the millions of Americans who supporting sensible gun control laws, we can only hope THEY’RE COMING.

One response to “They’re Coming

  1. I have mixed feelings on this topic too. I am an avid hunter and was even a member of the NRA but don’t agree with their position on having an armed guard in schools. I don’t think the way you fight violence is with the potential of another violent act. Do we need an armed guard to go to the theaters too? What happens when a crazy targets a super market or the Library? Will we need an armed guard there too? None of us wants this to happen again but arming everybody is not the answer, I am afraid eventually that will only make things worse. I do believe we need to look at the social issues facing our country and try to combat the mentally ill instead of avoiding them.

    There is room for more gun control. I lived in Canada which in my opinion had some good laws. You can own a gun in Canada, but they were much stricter on how you registered your guns and had to keep up your records. Plus if you sold your gun without telling anyone and that gun was used in a crime you were partially liable. Another example of control that is acceptable which may not be a good comparison but makes sense to me is when you are hunting migratory birds you can only have 3 shells in your gun. Why is it that the federal government makes it a more level playing ground for a duck than a person?

    I don’t think our second amendment rights will be taken away. I also don’t think that is what government is trying to do right now. I do think we should do something about it and putting a task force together seems like a logical approach. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.

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