Has our country really come to this? The debate over gun control has gotten so vitriolic and divisive that we’re now heckling parents who lost young children in mass shootings? I am quite simply astonished that anyone, no matter how they feel about the Second Amendment, could stoop so low.
Neil Heslin is a Newtown resident whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Monday, Heslin went to the Capitol building in Connecticut to testify before legislators about gun control. Holding up a picture of the son that he lost, Heslin asked why assault-style weapons, like the one that killed his son, should be sold in the state?
That’s when gun advocates started shouting, “The Second Amendment,” to drown out the grieving father’s statements. They heckled a man who had to bury his 6-year-old. They sunk the civility of our country about as low as it could possibly go.
Roughly 1500 people were at the Capitol that day. Obviously, tensions were high as people debated an extremely contentiousness and emotionally charged issue. But that doesn’t feel like an excuse for this behavior at all. No amount of tension in the world could excuse interrupting and jeering while a father talks about his murdered little boy.
The Newtown tragedy broke the hearts of parents and childless folks alike all over the country. And it has stirred a national debate about gun control like no tragedy or mass shooting before it. It even stirred President Obama to put a large amount of his election capital into passing gun control legislation. But it’s easy to look at the big picture implications and forget that for this town, for these parents, it’s still a deeply personal issue. It’s still the loss of a life, the loss of a child. Newtown parents deserve nothing but our total support and sympathy.
The fact that we couldn’t give that respect to this man is an issue that every citizen of this country should be ashamed of.