Grieving Mother Schools CNN On The Real Facts Of Gun Violence – ‘I Suppose If Your Innocent Son Is Shot…’


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A poignant open letter  from Annette Holt, a Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief and mother of Blair, who was killed in 2007 from gun violence:


Our country suffers from an epidemic that’s uniquely horrible in the developed world. Gun violence is twenty times worse in the United States than in any other developed country. Worst of all, it inflicts damage on our children in the place where they should feel safest — at school.

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Shootings take place at schools almost every week in this country. In fact, Everytown for Gun Safety has documented every time a gun was shot on school grounds since the Sandy Hook tragedy. They’ve found that in the 77 weeks since that day, there have been 74 school shootings. These 74 shootings reflect an even more disturbing statistic — eight children and teens die from gun violence every day.

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But it’s more than just a statistic. It’s eight families who will never see their most precious gift ever again.

My son Blair was an honors student. He was the most important thing in my life. And in 2007 a gang member killed him — and injured four others — on his way home from school on a public bus with many of his classmates. Blair died trying to save another girl’s life. He was just another innocent bystander whose life was cut short because a gun was in the wrong hands.

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But to CNN and other media outlets, murders like my son’s don’t count. You see, they looked at the list of 74 school shootings and picked and chose the 15 they thought were worthy of mentioning. Their reasoning? Because our innocent sons and daughters are killed by gang members, they don’t deserve a spot on the list.

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According to their own count of school shootings, the ones with “personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals” don’t merit mention.

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Whenever a gun is fired at school, parents are rightfully terrified. Students are rightfully terrified. Try explaining to a shocked and devastated community that the school shooting it’s mourning is disqualified because the gun was fired as the result of a “personal argument.”

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I suppose if your innocent son is shot by a gang member, it doesn’t make the cut. Or if he was shot in an “accidental” shooting (how it’s an accident that a gun wound up on school grounds to begin with is beyond me). Or if he pulled a gun out in a classroom and shot himself. Or if he got into a “personal argument” and was shot down in the type of mild playground fight that happens every day in schools, but turned deadly in that instance because a gun was present.

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Maybe I should be giving CNN credit because they’ve managed to do something Washington politicians could not. They’ve reduced the number of school shootings across the country. But their insistence that 59 school shootings — which have killed 25 people and injured 40 others — don’t matter isn’t much consolation to parents like me.

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Maybe I’m being selfish to think that my son’s murder isn’t discredited by the fact that he was shot by a gang member. Or any of the other horrible episodes of gun violence that gangs perpetrate all over the country. Let’s discuss solutions for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people — gang members, criminals, the seriously mentally ill — but we can’t address the violence if we don’t even acknowledge these shootings exist.

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The fact is, 33 lives are cut short by homicide by gun every day (and some 50 more by suicide), and each of those cases deserves our attention. The families of victims deserve our sympathy, not our scrutiny. And they also deserve some basic reforms, like closing the loophole that allows criminals to go online and buy a gun without a background check.

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There is no single solution that will stop every instance of gun violence. But there are simple measures that are proven to save lives and enjoy the support of 90 percent of Americans. CNN can do its part to make a safer America by holding the politicians who reject these measures accountable, and not by sweeping gang violence, suicides, and “personal arguments” that turn deadly under the rug.

I can’t imagine losing a child. I don’t even want to think about it. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. I’m grateful to Annette Holt for telling her story and challenging the media. I hope more parents speak out. More than that, I hope laws change until reasons to write such letters and tell such stories – will no longer exist.

Special Thanks To Huffington Post For Posting Annette Holt’s Open Letter

Photo: billpeduto.com

Cross Posted in Daily Kos


Leslie Leslie Salzillo is a pro-choice mother, Rush Limbaugh boycotter, political commentator and visual artist. She began contributing to Liberals Unite in June of 2013. Join her on the new Facebook page, Pro-Choice Liberals.