Friday Firesmith – Kelly

I remember when I found out. News has been a part of my life since I was a little kid, and I learned at an early age the more sources for news the better informed a person could be. But this was a tsunami of photos, videos, of people talking about what had happened, and the horror grew with each passing moment. Gunmen had entered a school in Colorado and began shooting. There were bodies. There would be a death toll. There was even a music video of the crime, with Sarah McLaughlin’s “I will remember you,” playing as background to students jumping out of windows and running for their lives.

When I sat down to write this, I turned to what I knew, what I know, and it was my impulse to recite to you the news; the number of shootings since that day, this day, in 1999. I had the statistics and the numbers. But thus far, those numbers haven’t made one ounce of difference to anyone, anywhere. I realized they wouldn’t here, now, with you.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kelly.jpg

Kelly was a shy girl from Arizona, whose family had recently moved to Colorado. Her parents looked for a school, a neighborhood, a small town, where their daughters would be safe. Creative and intelligent, Kelly began to write her autobiography, because she planned to have adventures in life worth writing about. She also wrote very dark stories, but the stories usually had happy endings. At age sixteen, she hoped one day to have a Mustang or maybe a Corvette, a fast car, to make the trip back to see her best friend in Arizona at a good speed.

But writing was Kelly’s real passion. Poems and short stories were what Kelly loved to create, and she wanted to be published.

Kelly was hiding under a table when the murderers came in and started shooting. At age sixteen, Kelly was shot in the back, in the library, and she crawled into the hallway before she died.

Her voice will forever be silent now. There will be no adventures in life for Kelly. There will be no more happy endings. The novel that might have been will never be. The inspiration she would have been to other writers ended.

Twenty years later, Kelly Fleming would now be thirty-six. Maybe a mom, certainly a writer, maybe a teacher, but no. Think about this for a moment; how many more writers, artists, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, firemen, policemen, soldiers, musicians, and all around average and decent people, have we lost? How many survivors will carry permanent damage, scars, physically and emotionally, that will stunt their lives forever? How many children will live with fear and guilt for the rest of their lives, having survived watching people they loved gunned down in the halls of our schools?

Pick one. Choose a child that has been murdered and do some research. Read what her parents said after she was put in a body bag on national television. Read what her siblings said about her life. Listen to her friends speak of someone they haven’t let go of yet and maybe they never will because I certainly cannot.

We haven’t done anything to protect our kids since 1999.

It’s been twenty years, when are we going to start?

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

37 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Kelly”

  1. I can’t for the life of me(no pun) think of what would spark the public to bitch slap their congress critters into enacting reasonable legislation. When there’s another multiple shooting of innocent people, one small group says take away all guns, while another small group says machine guns for everyone. The rest of us are somewhere in between but damn few in the middle where reasonable laws could be formed.

    In the interest of disclosure I own guns, more than a dozen. I don’t hunt, they are secured in a 3,000 lb safe, and I know they are useless against a government harassing me. I have no delusions about standing on my roof, bare-chested, with a gun in each hand scaring off an Apache Helicopter.

    I’m told that if you give the government an inch they’ll take a mile. If reasonable restraints are passed they’ll just keep nibbling away our rights. That wouldn’t happen if your congress critter wasn’t owned by someone else. If congress critters didn’t have to sell their soul for campaign money to keep their job. More than half of them are millionaires, but who would spend $10 million to win a 2 year term that pays $350,000?
    Must be the urge to serve you, right?

    But like I said before I started babbling, I can’t think of anything that would get people serious about this plague.

  2. People have been killing each other from the beginning of recorded history, prior to bows and arrows and firearms. Until the Creator of the universe returns to set up His government and completely change the human mind, killing will continue. If not guns, then automobiles, knives, clubs, poison, or you name it. So it is NOT a case of the weapon, it is the case of human nature that must be changed to change the statistics…

    • Yes we have been killing each other since we were able, but there is no reason to make it easier. No one outside of the military needs military grade weapons. We treat guns differently than anything else that demands a certain responsibility to own.

    • Emmette, I’m as tired of this b.s. answer as I am tired of the other extremists’ idea that guns should all be banned. “People are going to kill each other, no matter what. That’s just the way it is. Also, other things kill, too! You gonna ban kitchen knives? How about spoons? They kill, too! Blah, blah, blah incoherent babbling.”

      Guns are made for one purpose only. And they excel at that purpose. Other than bombs, they are the easiest way to kill, maim, or injure the largest amount of people possible. Stop acting like ANYTHING else would take their place equally. It’s a crap argument. Both sides need to get some better ones, but the gun nuts just plug their ears and refuse to even approach the table to try to make a difference. Grow up.

    • Emmette, have you ever read about what happens to children shot with an AR-15? It’s not like you’re lacking for material. Kelly was killed with a shotgun, remember me mentioning Kelly. That’s what this is about. This isn’t about your right to carry a five kiloton nuke in the back of your truck, no, not at all. It’s about parents having the right to see their kids off to college, and people like Kelly having the right to be alive. And people having the right not be be shot at with gun whose clip capacity exceeds that of the local police department.

      But by all means, forget totally about the lives lost, because you have the right to bear arms.

      Pick one. Read the story of a life cut down, cut short, and read what the parents of a lost child has to say.

      That’s what I did. I picked Kelly’s life, not her death, to read.

      You aren’t going to remain the same if you just see the stats as read people, and real kids, and you hear the voices of the parents, with broken hearts.

  3. This one scares the shit out of me. My son teaches, at a high school and at a college. I feel we do need stricter gun laws.
    I agree, no one needs a Military grade weapon as a personal weapon. If you say that’s your hunting weapon, you need practice hunting, you suck. That is not what you use for home protection, a shotgun is more effective. The only thing that is designed for is to kill people.
    The people we have running our government are bought and paid for by either big pharma or the NRA. It’s sad, they don’t represent the people who they supposedly are there to serve.
    If you really want to know how your representative voted on an issue, there’s a website you can find out. The next election is always right around the corner.

  4. Mike, another great article!
    As a Canadian, my views are not likely to match how those in the US feel about this. The US population is approximately 9 times that of Canada. Since 1999 until today, Canada has seen 3 school shootings resulting in 5 deaths including the shooters. (One of those was at a daycare where the killer shot his partner and then himself.) Allowing for population ratio, that would be equal to (9 x 5 =) 45 US deaths.Yet in the States, there had been 223 school shooting deaths from April 1999 until April 2018 (last year). Guns are not illegal in Canada. But there are restrictions on the types of guns and who may own one. Prospective purchasers must pass a complete background check and there is no such thing as “open carry”.
    Mike, I know you own guns. What is your thought on where legislation could be most meaningful?

    • Dianne, after a massacre here in 1996 at a popular tourist spot in the state of Tasmania, our then PM brought in tough gun laws. Tens of thousands of guns were handed in. We have had shootings of innocents but not in schools. The worry is the amount of illegal weapons which make their way into the country. So far, apart from a couple of lone terror related incidents it seems they are owned by gangland members, only interested in their own territory warfare.
      However I think we all worry that the illegal weapons will one day be used for a copy cat school shooting.
      After any massacre, there seems to be more attention given to the perpetrator, with accounts of the perps life while the victims families fade into the background with time. Yet psychologists, analytical writers, tv probing programmes continue to make headline stories wit theories on what makes a murderer tick.
      China has one of the worlds strictest gunlaw restrictions, and we don’t read about school massacres there.
      The US is way different to Australia, farmers need guns, law enforcement need guns, but I guess with the population in the US and the crime rate, I can understand people wanting them for protection.
      There is no easy answer, but it’s heartbreaking for parents worry about sending their kids to school with the ever pending threats.

      • I can’t even imagine how horrifying it must be for any parent to have to worry whenever their child goes to school, either as a student or as a teacher. While that possibility exists all over the world, the chances of it happening are greatly elevated in the US.
        Here in Canada, people are calling for the banning of assault rifles. The government would love to enact that legislation, but there is a very strong lobby in the west from farmers and ranchers who use their weapons to hunt or protect livestock. Since I doubt they use military-style weapons for that purpose, I think their concerns relate to a worry that the ban will be further extended in the future. I wish they would accept that weapons of that caliber are of no value to the average Canadian and realize that a further ban is highly unlikely.
        Everyone worries about the proliferation of illegal guns. Those are the ones that cause the most deaths. However, if people do not have them in their homes, they are less likely to be stolen and sold into the black market. Also, the fact that a criminal has a gun can rarely be solved by another citizen having one of equal force. The chances of the average person being able to defend themselves in a time of crisis with a gun that may or may not be available, is quite slim. Much more common is someone using the gun to shoot an innocent person after mistaking them for someone they were not.
        As you say, sadly there is no easy answer and likely a long road before one is presented. 🙁

      • The difference is, sadly, that the the people of New Zealand were vocally supportive of the ban. In both the US and Canada there are vociferous opponents of a reduction in citizens’ ‘gun rights’. Some gun owners are focused only on their own wants and forget about how it affects the rest of the population.

  5. Ask any emergency physician the difference between handgun wounds and assault rifle wounds. There is no comparison. No matter what gun owners say, no matter what the NRA says guns are a factor in the equation and it is the easiest factor to address. But we can’t seem to get by the NRA’s control of Congress. Speaking of the NRA, they now spend something like 10-15% of their budget on education. Most of their budget goes into propaganda and like our current administration, they have no qualms about lying and spreading fear to keep gun sales up and money rolling in. It’s been 20 years since Columbine, how are those thoughts and prayers working?

  6. The United States Constitution gives the American public a “RIGHT” to own firearms (non-specific) which “shall not be abridged”. This was to give the ‘people’ the ‘right’ to bear arms to either stop or eliminate a tyrannical government (which we have all seen) from taking ALL our freedoms away. By taking away one type firearm, we are opening the door to complete elimination of any type firearm by our tyrannical government.

    • Another crap argument. Do you have any evidence that reasonable measures to limit the availability of military-style weaponry would lead to a complete ban in America? Please cite them, or get better arguments. This fear has driven the complete inability for sane people to even discuss the issue, and it’s not even a reasonable fear.

      Also, if you think the 2nd Amendment doesn’t have some limitations placed on it, you don’t understand the 2nd Amendment. There’s a reason civilians cannot purchase rocket launchers. Also, the days of fighting off a tyrannical government with your cache of weapons are long gone.

    • I will give you this: we are living under a tyrannical regime right now, for sure. Also, I am a gun owner and enthusiast. I own handguns and shotguns and I have a carry permit.

    • That Amendment was written when the hottest thing going was either a musket or a flintlock pistol. Times change. That’s why there are AMENDMENTS to the Constitution.

    • “This was to give the ‘people’ the ‘right’ to bear arms to either stop or eliminate a tyrannical government ”
      That is an outright bullshit statement. NOWHERE did the founders ever discuss the right to own guns in order to fight the government they were creating. (Hey, let’s spend a few years creating a whole new type of government and put in a provision so that people can defend themselves against the government we created for the benefit of and for the people. And let’s make it a second right, because it’s that important. How ’bout it guys?) That’s a story some teenager wrote for some gun magazine and the NRA ran with it.

      The second amendment was for militia purposes, which people leave out in order to justify their mindset.

  7. When this project: starts to happen, it will turn public opinion. That’s how opinion on the Viet Nam war changed–when the public started seeing the carnage– the tide turned.

    If the media showed the blood splattered bodies of the children in any of these shootings, there would be new laws today.

  8. It’s possible to make bombs with two things easily available from a hardware store and most gas stations, both perfectly legal. It’s possible to make poison gas banned by the Geneva Convention with simple chemicals, so easily that people occasionally do it ACCIDENTALLY.

    “Guns are made for one purpose”, yes. And guns are tools. Guns do nothing on their own. Someone who wants to kill a bunch of people is going to kill a bunch of people, if they have to use a bomb or drive into a crowd of people to do it.

    What are some laws you think are ‘common sense’ that would not infringe on my right to defend myself, and that do not punish me, that has done nothing, for the activities of a very, very few people? I’d be willing to bet that every one that you come up with is either already existent (Background checks already exist), unconstitutional (“Shall not be infringed”, so no end run BS ‘well, you can have guns but you can only buy one box of ammo per year and have to turn in all the shells to get a new one” is a particularly stupid version I’ve seen) or would put an unfair burden on poor people (“Mandatory classes every fifteen minutes that the person who wants a gun has to pay for”).

    When the amendment was written, ALL guns were ‘military grade’, that’s an entirely meaningless mouth noise. Hammers have been used to kill more people than AR-15s.. It’s just all scary and black so people freak the fuck out about it. It’s possible to buy the same exact mechanism in a wooden frame and that would be perfectly legal because it’s not the Scary Gun. It’s the same shape as the M16, and may be chambered in the same caliber, but shares no other functions with it. It’s not a machine gun, it’s not automatic without extensive (and already illegal) modifications.

    “Gun free zones” = “undefended target-rich environment”. All a gun free zone does is assure the criminal that there is not likely to be anyone who will be able to stop him. There’s this thing about criminals, they break laws. It’s already illegal to murder people. The Columbine fuckwits had someone else illegally buy guns for them because it would be illegal for them to buy them themselves. It was illegal to take guns into a school. So, that’s four layers of laws that failed to stop someone who HAD ALREADY DETERMINED THEY WERE GOING TO BREAK LAWS. So how many more would have done it? “Aw, darn, it’s illegal to go into a gun free zone carrying guns we obtained illegally and illegal bombs while we’re wearing black coats! Guess we better go home..”

    Gun-grabbers love to stand on the bodies of murdered people and claim they’re in the right, but how many shootings were stopped because someone else had a gun and stopped them? There’s a fair number that don’t get called ‘mass shootings’ because they got stopped early by someone else, so you never hear about them except a story buried in page five.

    Guns aren’t going to disappear because they’re made illegal, so someone is going to have to go get them. And that’s worked so well with other forms of prohibition, hasn’t it? Nobody ever has any sort of drugs anymore, since they were banned, right? And Prohibition worked so well in the 30s, too, not one person ever got drunk when alcohol was banned. All you’ll do is create another massive black market for things people want… and turn the entire country a huge shooting gallery for criminals.

    Defensive gun uses outnumber mass shootings by hundreds of times per year even in the low end estimates by the fudds, not to mention the passive effect of ‘they MIGHT have a gun, so I’m not going there.’ So, let’s hear it. Why do I deserve to have my guns that have harmed no one and will harm no one unless they break into my home or threaten me in some way, taken away from me because someone I don’t know and never met did something stupid?

    • Star, for you to present the idea that hammers are more dangerous than the AR-15 pretty much disqualifies you from intelligent and meaningful discussion about serious issues.

      • He’s presenting a dishonest argument fed to him via Brietbart and other right-wingnut websites. By separating gun deaths into specifics of weapons and then falsely doing the same with hammers (which is categorized as one of several “Blunt Objects” by the FBI) he thinks he wins the argument, when in fact his entire premise is based on misleading information.

        Here’s the stats:

        Firearms alone kill more people than the total of all the other categories combined. These people cannot be trusted with facts, as they are unable to be honest with the information they present.

        The real fact is they are scared little minds who have been propagandized to fear. If they didn’t have fear, they would possess no emotions at all.

      • Those words you jammed into my mouth taste pretty bad. My turn now? What you mean is “That because you don’t agree with me means you’re wrong and I’m going to stand on this pile of bodies and go ‘la la la’ so I can’t hear you.” Gee, this is fun.

        That link that C.A.I posted is meaningless, it’s just a list of numbers “Year of incident by Age of offender for United States”, Doesn’t even say what it’s supposed to be, just shows ages and years.

        I said what I said for a particular reason. Cars kill more people than guns. The Scary Gun that is the one making all of you wet your pants is used in fewer murders than a common household tool. And bare hands are used more often than THAT.

        Hammers are exactly as dangerous as an AR-15. IE, not at all. The TOOL is not dangerous, it’s the OPERATOR.

        Can’t help but notice the only person who mentioned laws in answer to my post thinks that removing all of them is a good idea. for the loss. Anybody want to try answering the actual question? “What laws, without punishing me who has done nothing, would have stopped any of those?” I can tell you one that would have but you show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

        • Star, will you argue that one person armed with a hammer, or a car, or a chair, can walk into a bar and kill fifty people in one hour with that instrument of death?

          Are you going to argue that for all their lethality, the common hammer, the Ford Pinto, and the human fist, are much more likely to be involved in a mass killing conducted by one person against many people, than an AR-15? Or are you quite done?

        • Don’t know what happened with my link.Hopefully this one will be correct:

          It will show that what you like to believe is false. Guns kill more people than any household object, hammers and knives included.

          But if you want to use a cars vs guns scenario, then fine. Treat guns like autos. Not only do you have be trained to use either, you MUST have liability insurance to do so.

          And if you believe removing all the laws wasn’t a sarcastic reply to your jejune rant, then you are lacking any ability to honestly debate.

  9. Okay, I wasn’t going to comment, but I have come to the conclusion I must. For the record, I am a gun owner and I am also a Paramedic. I have a unique insight into this argument.

    First let me state that what you wrote Mike was spot on and very well thought out, thank you.

    Second, I am a gun owner and I will come to the table for any discussion on gun control but before I do I ask the opposing side to do the following:

    Go to a gun range and find about a beginners class and take it. Then shoot a firearm preferably the AR-15, so you know what it is like. I have experience with this type of rifle and if you want to understand your so-called enemy then walk a mile in their shoes so-to-speak.
    Bring facts and statics to the discussion not emotional baggage.
    Most of the facts presented by your side are not fact based, nor verifiable.
    Understand arguments likely will be verified.
    Review the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives form-4473 (hereinafter the ATF).

    Using words like Military-Style, Military Grade are using words that are made up and not in any dictionary that I can find is unacceptable. Common-Sense Gun Control is not a rational argument or statement. Universal background checks is not a good argument as there is already a required background check for buying from a Federal Firearms Licensee. There is no such thing as an internet gun sale that doesn’t require a completion of an ATF-4473 with the purchase. Using the terminology “Gun Show Loop-Hole” is just misinformation. If I make a sale to you, I don’t have to require an ATF-4473 and a background check. If that is what you want to change then say so, do use improper terminology to make your argument. Just for your information, I am not selling and I will not sell to you unless I go through a dealer with whom I place the firearm with on consignment.

    Understand also that certain gun control laws are being challenged e.g. a recently passed broader gun control law passed in Washington State and referred as the Bloomberg law (after the main financier Michael Bloomberg) is currently being challenged. The same applies to SB 143 in the state of Nevada. As I currently understand it California just had a higher capacity magazine ban overturned. I also read an online news story that there is a legal challenge to the New Zealand weapons ban.

    Using New Zealand as a point of reference and how they quickly passed a law after the Mosque Shooting in March is not having an understanding of their laws. New Zealand is under a parliamentary form of government that is quite different than the United States.

    I am not saying the NRA is bad, but they don’t have much of an education platform anymore and I have no use for them. There are other organizations that do a better job. The NRA bought congress if you will and I have some issues with the current gun laws as a result of their bad influence. For example the ATF cannot, per congresses rule, computer archive any of the hundreds of thousands 4473 forms. Speaking of gun laws there are currently 200 different laws on the books. Try and get some of them enforced is a Herculean effort in its own right. Prosecutors sometimes plea bargain just to get a conviction and one of them is to drop the firearms charge. That one I’ll admit needs to change.

    So, go ahead do what I have asked, I know none of you who want gun control will but if you do I’ll be at the table and we can have a cup of coffee and have a polite and civil discussion. You will make an offer and I’ll make a counter-offer and then we will stop speaking and that will be that. Because that the way it normally goes.

    One last request, I know you mean well and I know you thought it was an innocent question, but do you realize when you say ask an emergency physician, nurse, Paramedic/EMT, or even a police officer / Fireman to discuss what they saw in a shooting situation and what the injuries are like you are asking them to possibly relieve a horror they have worked hard to put behind them and move on.

  10. Another note. If you want to say the mentally ill cannot have firearms then why say that mental illness did not play a factor in any of the mass shootings?

    Of course mentally ill should not have access to firearms, but consider this: The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) tenth revision and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition. Better known as the DSM-IV, both state that PTSD, Depression and Anxiety to name a few are considered mental illness.

    That means veterans, police officers, firefighters, Paramedics, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, etc. with PTSD are mentally ill and should not have access to firearms per your argument. Fortunately, in order to ban them from the possession of firearms requires a Judge’s order and that usually requires two independent evaluations form psychologists.

    The Sutherland Springs Church Shooter and the Charleston Church Shooter both passed a background check, as do most people, because not that it wasn’t done right, but because someone did not enter the correct information that may have prevented the tragedy and strangely enough we don’t hear who was or wasn’t punished because the information was wrong.

    Did anyone catch that the Charleston Shooter’s sister was arrested for carrying a gun to school and a large knife? I guess she had a good example and or a bad upbringing.

    • David, your questions concerning the mental state of gun owners is, of course, very astute. If a cop suffered from PTSD, do we disarm him and fire him (or her) and the same goes for those in the military. If a soldier can prove PTSD do we discharge that person? What about someone who has been treated for these disorders? Do we allow them to own firearms again? Good questions all, with no clear path to answers.

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