A father of 2 boys, still trying to process the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX, addresses legislators on assault rifles.

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I’m a father of two boys, 11 and 7, in a rural-suburban town in Western NY. My oldest attends our public middle school, while my youngest is enrolled in our local elementary school. This morning, I helped my kids get ready for school and kissed them goodbye as they boarded their respective buses and went off to school. I trust that they’ll attend their classes as normal, have lunch with their friends, smile, laugh, and play, and eventually return home having hopefully learned something.

I don’t expect them to die today.

But neither did the parents of the 19 children who saw a man with a semi-automatic rifle designed for mass casualty enter their classroom at Robb Elementary School and begin firing at their tiny bodies that have suddenly, inexplicably become his targets.

Ever since then, when I look at my kids, I can’t help but imagine how horrifying it would be if they were one of those kids. What would it be like to be one of those parents? I imagine I’d get a call from the school to come down, because there has been an incident. After I arrive, I’d be told that one of my kids—an innocent, full-of-life, carefree, silly, funny, joyous little child—spent his last moments in paralyzing fear as a stranger walked into his classroom with a big, scary, deafeningly loud rifle and pointed it as his teacher and all of his friends and began to shoot.

My son watched powerlessly as bullets flew and tore through or landed in all of his friends, spraying blood and causing the most horrifying, disgusting scene he could ever imagine. He hid behind a desk as he heard and witnessed the lifeless bodies of his classmates hit the floor all around him. And the madman kept firing that booming weapon until finally pointing it at my son, a little kid he’s never met and maybe would have really liked if he knew him, then ending my sweet, naive child’s short life with the pull of a trigger.

If you’re having trouble imagining what that scene must have looked like, here’s an illustration of the damage an AR-15 or similar rifle will do to a 7-year-old child, or us adults for that matter.

YouTube video

When the bullet from an AR-15 enters the body—any part of the body—it does so much damage that, even if you survive, repairing the extreme amount of tissue wreckage is much less likely and countless times more difficult for doctors, compared to your average handgun. An AR-15 round does so much destruction, just to an adult’s arm or leg, that they will very likely bleed to death if they don’t get immediate medical attention.

Now imagine it hitting a small child and how much worse that would be. Being hit by an AR-15 bullet literally sends a child airborne, leaving their shoes behind. As if killing kids isn’t bad enough, using an assault rifle to do it results in an extremely violent, grisly, sickening event. These types of weapons don’t leave a bullet hole behind. They leave an indistinguishable mess.

Here’s a more in-depth analysis of damage from an AR-15. Comparing the bullet’s path to a boat’s wake is especially illuminating.

YouTube video

Why does anyone need a weapon that can do this much damage?

This is not a self-defense issue. This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. You can defend 2A all you want, and that’s fine, but you’re going to need to point to the section that says, “Citizens can own any type of weapon they want.”

I’ll save you some time. There is no law, federal or state, nor case law, that says this. In fact, many types of weapons are banned across all states. Unless a special permit is granted, such as for a collector, citizens are not allowed to own fully automatic rifles, bombs, missiles, and more. In my state (and 20 others), it’s illegal to own brass knuckles.

But for some reason, I can buy a semi-automatic mass casualty machine and walk around with it, loaded, in public.

What’s it going to take? Do you need to see the crime scene photos for it to become real? I’m 100% in favor of hanging them on the walls of your offices if that will make you see this issue more clearly.

All of the kids involved in the school shootings listed below have grieving parents. These are all empty bedrooms, unoccupied seats at the dinner table, birthday parties, proms, graduations, and weddings that will never happen, and grandchildren that will never exist.

These are closets and dressers full of clothes that parents will empty out while doubling over in grief and sadness that will last the rest of their lives.

They’re bicycles and skateboards, sporting equipment, clarinets, and recorders that moms and dads can’t bear to look at, much less give away because of what it represents.

They’re futures lost, joyful existences erased, and stupid jokes that kids thought were funny but make no sense to the rest of us—that parents would do anything they can to hear again.

They’re just kids. When did we make the conscious decision to not protect them?

  • Virginia Tech: 25 students dead
  • Sandy Hook Elementary: 20 students dead
  • Stoneman Douglas High: 14 students dead
  • Columbine High: 12 students dead
  • Robb Elementary: 19 students dead

And still so many more. And how many more are to come? Your inaction is complicity.

Your “thoughts and prayers” aren’t working. You were elected to legislate, not pray on our behalf. Parents don’t want your virtual hugs and condolences.

They want action. They want change. They want prevention.

Do your job.

I beg you to do something. Every parent with kids in school begs you. How can you possibly sit on your hands if you also have children in school? We all think it won’t happen to our kids until it does. It all seems so distant until you get that call or text from your kid’s school.

I fear nothing will be done to address this uniquely American problem until it’s your children in the crosshairs, and as a fellow parent, I hope for you that never happens. It seems you won’t take this seriously and stand up to lobbyists, the NRA, and gun manufacturers until you’re the one walking into your home with an empty bedroom, never to be occupied by laughter and joy again. The next time you enter your home, walk into your kid’s room and think about how that must feel—what that would be like if you were that parent.

And if you consider yourself pro-life, you cannot possibly be pro-assault rifle too.

Please act before it’s too late. Heroes save lives. Be a hero. Save our children.

Stand up and do what you know needs to be done. Ban weapons designed for mass casualty, not self-defense. Keep weapons of war out of our schools, our malls, and our grocery stores. I’ll be sure to tell my future grandchildren about the time you stood up and became a hero.

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Kevin Davis is a columnist and activist focused on topics associated with life as a nonreligious American. He's a father of two boys in a predominantly Christian town in Western NY and writes about the...