Maybe This Is What It Will Take

We’ve said “Never again” so many times that the phrase has lost its meaning.

We said it after Columbine.

We said it after Gabby Giffords’ meet-and-greet was sprayed with bullets, and a nine year old girl was killed.

We said it after Sandy Hook, after 20 children were murdered.

Black and Latino parents say it after every drive by shooting, every murder on our streets.

But it always seems to happen again, and again.

Thirty-five thousand Americans have been killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook. “Never again” quickly turned into “business as usual”, as the NRA flexed its muscles, as Sandy Hook Truthers oozed up from the mud, as politicians scurried to assure their fealty to gun fetishists.

Now, we might have reached a tipping point.

And if it happens, if Isla Vista is what turns the trajectory, it will be, sad to say, because it happened in an affluent, influential neighborhood, filled with college students, a “white” area which wasn’t supposed to witness such horrific violence.

And if it happens, it might be due to the efforts of Richard Martinez, father of one of the slain.

From the Washington Post:

The father of a young man gunned down Friday during the rampage in Santa Barbara said he is asking members of Congress to stop calling him to offer condolences but nothing more for the death of his only child, Christopher Michaels-Martinez.

“I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a s— that you feel sorry for me,” Richard Martinez said during an extensive interview, his face flushed as tears rolled down his face. “Get to work and do something. I’ll tell the president the same thing if he calls me. Getting a call from a politician doesn’t impress me.”

Let’s listen to that again: “I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a shit that you feel sorry for me.”

Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for.

A grieving parent telling the great and the good to shove their sympathies and condolences up their asses. Sentiments are useless to him. He’s lost a son, his community has been ravaged, and he doesn’t care that “hopes and prayers” are being offered.

He doesn’t care that people are trying to make sense of a “senseless tragedy”. Because for him it isn’t senseless.

Saying “we are all to blame” for the death of his 20-year-old son, Martinez urged the public join him in demanding “immediate action” from members of Congress and President Obama to curb gun violence by passing stricter gun-control laws.

“Today, I’m going to ask every person I can find to send a postcard to every politician they can think of with three words on it: Not one more,” he said Tuesday morning. “People are looking for something to do. I’m asking people to stand up for something. Enough is enough.”

In a country awash in guns, these “senseless tragedies” are not senseless. They are the logical conclusion of too many guns in the hands of too many people who shouldn’t have them. And who acquired those guns perfectly legally. The Isla Vista shooter could have been an NRA poster child: a legally acquired, registered gun, which he used, once his sense of resentment built up, to murder and wound.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the most asinine formulation in our political discourse. It’s much easier to kill with a gun than with any other weapon. Countries with strict gun laws suffer only a fraction of the murders committed in the US. We can run away from a guy with a knife; fleeing a bullet is much more difficult.

Richard Martinez’s rage and grief might be what catalyzes this country to finally face up to one of its groaning injustices: that a gun fetishist’s “right to bear arms” trumps the right of a mother to send her daughter to school in the expectation of safety, or that of a father like Mr. Martinez to talk to his son one more time, to be buried by his son, rather than him burying his son.

A politician expressing condolences and prayers is the easy way for him to say that nothing will change. That it’s safer to be a US soldier in Afghanistan than a US citizen in the homeland should bring shame on every head. And no, the answer isn’t to have everyone carry a gun. Ten or twenty people pulling out weapons in a confused melee will merely lead to more slaughter. Every argument will escalate into a deadly encounter. The thought might make a libertarian ejaculate in glee, but should make anyone who doesn’t want to see the US descend into a Somalian nightmare shudder with fear.

Thoughts and prayers are cheap and useless trifles. We have to make politicians more afraid of us than of the NRA and gun fetishist fringe. That is one of the many great works ahead of us.


85 Responses to “Maybe This Is What It Will Take”

  1. May 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Good afternoon folks

  2. May 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you LL for writing about this fathers pain. We are all moved by it. Hopefully we are moved to action

  3. 9 Nena20409
    May 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Congrats G ❤ B on your Gold.

  4. 10 Vicki
    May 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    LL, I hope everyone sees and responds to Mr. Martinez’s loss and pain.

    • 11 No Child Left Behind
      May 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      I don’t know if there are any GOP politicians in Washington or elsewhere with a heart. I base this comment on the fact of 99% of them want to take away people’s healthcare. What is it to them that one father or 200 fathers are mourning the loss of their children when they have the millions that KOCH Bros are spreading on them?

      How sad!

      • 12 anniebella
        May 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        If the fact that 20 little babies were rip to pieces in that Newtown school didn’t affect those Republicans, this man losing his son won’t either. They are a bunch of cold hearted, racists Tea Republicans, who don’t give a dam about anything but attacking President Barack Obama.

      May 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm


  5. May 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    This is me right now:

    • 15 No Child Left Behind
      May 27, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      LL, I do give a lot of credit to you for writing these 3 sentences:

      In a country awash in guns, these “senseless tragedies” are not senseless. They are the logical conclusion of too many guns in the hands of too many people who shouldn’t have them. And who acquired those guns perfectly legally.

      They summarize the state of affair of the US when it comes to gun ownership and gun violence.

      Thank you.

  6. 16 Nena20409
    May 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    LL, How wonderful are YOU, sir.

    Reading your heart-wrenching essay is hard. I did finish it and I and sobbing.

    You crystallized it, sir. Thank You.

  7. 18 japa21
    May 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    LL, as usual a great post. And as usual, I don’t see anything coming from this most recent tragedy.

    Oh, I want to see something happen, but I think it now goes beyond fear of the NRA. The gun nuts are truly dangerous and I think more than a few Congresspeople are literally afraid of some nut shooting them down.

    I have guarded optimism about us moving forward in other areas. such as immitgration, climate change, infrastructure, etc.

    In this, I just don’t know.

    • 19 No Child Left Behind
      May 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Sad but so true.

      The cultivated yet fake fear of government, the ownership craze, the fascination with firearms, the application of an old law written for an old time, all that makes a very precarious situation.

      I grieve and hurt for every family affected. I am so sorry for those lost senselessly when they had a bright future before them.

    • May 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      I hear you, japa. Most of my reason for writing this was to merely bear witness. But I do detect something more steely in Mr. Martinez. I hope I’m right.

      • 21 japa21
        May 27, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        Oh, there is no doubt about it. Mr. Martinez is, too steal a quote, “Mad as hell and not going to take it any more.”

        It’s just that when even the mildest of proposed legislation is met with threats of violence, his anguish will be tossed aside and ignored by those that actually have the power to do something about it. When even a lot of Democrats are afraid to do something in Congress, it really makes me despair.

    • 22 jackiegrumbacher
      May 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Japa, you’re right about the fear politicians feel and it isn’t just about being re-elected. They are targets for crazy people and they’ve convinced themselves that they will remain safer if they appease the nutcases. Unfortunately, their weakness has created an endless circle of more guns and more intimidation. It was take an heroic act of will on the part of Congress and state and local governments as well as a massive enforcement effort to make a dent in the ownership of gun stockpiles in this country. Also it would help if a sane SCOTUS were to rule on the second amendment and define the constitutional limits implied in the words “a well-regulated militia.”

  8. 23 Ladyhawke
    May 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Scandal Backfires as Veterans Groups Rip Republicans for Politicizing Problems At the VA


    • 24 No Child Left Behind
      May 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Not enough backfire. Not enough. The GOP should harvest all the wrath of VA victims – republicans or not.

      • 25 Ladyhawke
        May 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm

        Totally agree NCLB. We need to tear down the media firewall. When the VA story first broke I lamented that if we could get some fact based reporting it would backfire for the Republican hypocrites. I have seen some great articles and tweets about the filibustering of the VA bill and the GOP crocodile tears. But it has not backed fired nearly enough for me. Any reporting on the VA story should put in context the history of the department and GOP obstruction.

  9. 26 Nena20409
    May 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    During ‘Nam……per reports read, once the News media started showing the affects of war in all it’s harsh reality, the support of that war began to turn.

    The same was true for the killing of Emmett Till.

    Majority of Americans have very little idea to what happens to those shot. That ER doctor in MD said as much in 2013 or 2012. I can’t find her Youtube tape. The national media loves to keep a count…..why not a count of the number of those killed by gun shots and the number of those wounded. The story of Gun Shot Deaths are Not reported accurately in US. All we get are sanitized versions.

  10. 27 Linda
    May 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    With Blood on His Hands and Lies on Lips Lindsey Graham Accuses Obama of Losing Wars


    • 28 No Child Left Behind
      May 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Please proceed to the next “Volunteer fighters for Afghanistan Needed” sign, Senator!

  11. May 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    “Richard Martinez’s rage and grief might be what catalyzes this country to finally face up to one of its groaning injustices.”

    I so, so hope you are right LL, when I caught up with what he said I felt that too, but it’s so hard not to feel this will be another ‘never again’ moment that will soon be forgotten.

    But his words will ring forever: “I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a shit that you feel sorry for me.”

    Another beautiful, thought-inspiring post, thank you LL.

    • May 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you Chips.

      Seems like I did miss a lot during my sabbatical.

      • 31 GGail
        May 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm

        LL, if you use or should I say miss use the word sabbatical one more time. You of all people should know better! 😯

        Were you off work for a minimum of two months up to a year? No? Then you ain’t been on no sabbatical. A holiday – maybe, a vacation, ok, time-off from work – definitely.

  12. 34 Ladyhawke
    May 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you LL for another brilliant post. This says it all …..


    Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for.

    A grieving parent telling the great and the good to shove their sympathies and condolences up their asses. Sentiments are useless to him. He’s lost a son, his community has been ravaged, and he doesn’t care that “hopes and prayers” are being offered.


  13. May 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Man, the argle and bargle are unusually strong in my Notifications today.

  14. 36 yardarm756
    May 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I think that business as usual is a dying term.

  15. May 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I guess I’m not very optimistic about getting gun violence legislation passed especially before 2014. Part of the reason is that I have had such terrible experiences with local gun fetishists that I personally am afraid to do any organizing about it and the same is true of some of the other women who were involved locally (they go after the women even if men are just as visible and vocal).

    There is a lot of intimidation and threats of violence and it keeps good people silent. Unfortunately it will probably take something really extreme before Congress has no choice but to act. It feels to me like the time before Oklahoma City with the paranoid conspiracies and the “red dawn” type of fantasies about confronting government tyranny. In those years, I had an address that was really similar to a militia leader/gun shop owner and man oh man the mail that came to my house accidentally was beyond disturbing. I had a big, burly football coaching neighbor return it for me because I did not feel safe going to that house.

    I don’t like to be a downer on this site because it is such a wonderful place, but I am really scared about what is happening right now.

  16. 41 hopefruit2
    May 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    So true. Damn tired of all the meaningless “tributes” and candlelight vigils. We need to see ACTION in congress and holding the GOP/NRA responsible.

    Thanks again LL for another excellent piece.

  17. May 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Just got back from having lunch with one of my friends and her boyfriend. Went to a seafood place about 30 minutes away. It was right on the water and had a tiny little beach. Lots of boats. I was nervous because where I live is not known for restaurants. At all. 🙂 Found it Yelp and my friends loved it. I’m glad because they drove 2 hours from Orlando ( on their vacation) and I didn’t want to end up at some generic place. 🙂

  18. May 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    From now on, it appears I will be at least one thread behind.

    Here’s my response to that smug self-righteous @EzraKlein from the previous thread, courtesy of Debz.

    Despite the fact I’m super busy right now, I am diligently working on rallying California Dems to wage an assault on DC on behalf of reasonable gun safety measures.

    Still working on it, hope to have something to post on TOD tomorrow (when I’m even busier than I am today).

  19. May 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I feel so much hurt at this father’s pain. But it saddens me that he lumps President Obama in with the heartless pols who refuse to act. President Obama cries over all these innocents who lose their lives to this senseless violence. He went everywhere trying to get Congress to move on legislation. He and Joe crafted a comprehensive plan. POTUS did what he could do on his own by signing more than 30 executive orders to try and stop the madness. He is not like the other pols in the Senate and the House, and I’m so tired of people not acknowledging this.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone here. I truly do understand this man’s sorrow and pain. I just hate that our president always has to bear the burden of someone else’s heartlessness or incompetence.

    • 51 Linda
      May 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      I think his emotions took over in regard to PBO…..

    • 53 jackiegrumbacher
      May 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      LP, I felt the same way about his statement. The president’s proposed legislation was flat out rejected by Congress. They will never give him the satisfaction of enacting gun legislation. Our president feels deeply about this and is doing everything he can. That said, I can understand how a distraught parent will say things out of grief. This man’s heart is broken.

  20. 54 0388jojothecat
    May 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you LL for posting this very important diary. I was so glad Mr. Martinez showed his raw emotions and blasted the lazy scared and greedy pols and the NRA. I think if he held back he probably would have exploded. That is exactly how I would feel if someone murdered my innocent niece or my friends baby granddaughter. My friend likes guns but he is for responsible gun laws including stringent regulations. I plan to buy post cards and mail everyone of the representatives in California D’s and R’s and the ones in Congress & the President that “Enough is Enough” We need gun and ammo regulation NOW! or be prepared to go home in November! I am going to ask as many people that I know to do the same especially those with children. It is scary and I am afraid but I don’t care anymore. They can threaten me all they want. Remember there is strength in numbers! When they start getting all those post cards they have to take notice. Don’t wait for your loved one to be the next to die.

  21. May 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Sorry, meant to add that this is a wonderful piece, LL.

  22. 56 japa21
    May 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I just had a nightmare while awake.

    As long as the Second Amendment stays as it is, nothing is going to be accomplished. The SCOTUS has declared irrelevant the militia part of it and nobody is going to have the cojones to fight the NRA. (By nobody, I mean nobody who actually has the power to change things.)

    My nightmare started when I pictured a constitutional amendment which revised the current Second Amendment so that it specifically stated Congress can restrict the type of firearms allowed, limit quantity, limit ammunition and institute requirements that need to be met prior to being able to purchase, etc.

    So far so good. This amendment could be put up before the voting public and, if approved by a certain number of states would pass into law.

    Then, I pictured election day when this amendment was on the ballot. We saw pictures out of Ukraine of supposedly pro-Russian Ukrainians intimitating people, destroying ballot boxes, etc. I think thos pictures would turn out to be tame here. I think you would see AR toting gun fanatics outside each and every polling booth working to intimidate people to keep them from voting, and I would fully expect to see violence break out.


  23. 58 donna dem 4 obama
    May 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

  24. 59 Jovie
    May 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Isn’t that nice?

  25. 66 donna dem 4 obama
    May 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    “Thoughts and prayers are cheap and useless trifles. We have to make politicians more afraid of us than of the NRA and gun fetishist fringe. That is one of the many great works ahead of us.”

    THIS^^^ is it right here. Our politicians don’t feel that there are any consequences for their (in)actions. Until the public rise up in protest and stays on theses imbeciles day in and day out without ceasing to call them out and politically harass them into action they will just keep bowing to the ones writing the checks and essentially say screw you to the rest of us.

    They figure this will pass in short time and then the public will go on back to ignoring it until it happens again.

  26. 67 jacquelineoboomer
    May 27, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    “That is one of the many great works ahead of us.” Yes, it is, LL. Well said.

    It’s gonna take a big village to do it. Saddle up.

  27. May 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Ugh. Another freak out email from DCCC. This time saying they feel like throwing in the towel. I think I’m going to have to write an essay on that for tomorrow.

    • 69 Ladyhawke
      May 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      I look forward to that essay LL. The subject lines are downright embarrassing. I can’t delete those emails fast enough. And don’t get me started with the duplicates.

    • 70 donna dem 4 obama
      May 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      LL you should also tweet them your comment from earlier today regarding Act Blue. http://theobamadiary.com/2014/05/27/president-obama-at-the-whsciencefair/#comment-1035102

    • 72 MightyPamela
      May 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      It started Saturday. It’s the end of the month. Every single month. Then at the beginning of the month, they write and say, GollyGee, you blew our fundraising goals out of the water.. And so on. A while ago, I started putting them into SPAM, after writing countless times to explain my financial situation has bottomed out for the unforeseeable future. None of them ever replied to say, gee, we are sorry to hear of your hardships, we understand, and we hope when things are looking better, we will be able to count on you again. Not one. That’s when I decided on SPAM, at least I don’t have to see those beater subject line. And I don’t feel bad about it, either. Not a bit. I found at least 78 messages in there, and many were from groups I have never given to, so I know my info is being rented or sold, and it’s hard to appreciate that.

    • 74 Vicki
      May 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Rev. Al is covering this tonight. It makes me so angry. Rev. Al correctly identifies Rush and Company as vicious about FLOTUS. Rush likes to sneer that the First Lady isn’t following her own diet advice.
      I think Michelle Obama is a great beauty exactly as she is. Has the obese cigar stinkpot looked in the mirror lately?

      • 75 anniebella
        May 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm

        Vicki, I watched Rev. Al, I’m glad he cover it. This attack coming from a man where the only thing that moves on his body is his foul mouth. No Rush Limbaugh doesn’t look in the mirror, he can’t find one big enough for him. This First Lady is in better shape then he ever will be, she exercise, does Rush exercise? He’s a disgusting fat racists drug addict human being, and I hate to even call Rush human.

  28. 76 dotster3
    May 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you, LL, for this. I hope with all my might that Mr. Martinez’s efforts might make a difference and lead to change. But, as others have stated, it is tough to be optimistic after Congress failed to act when 20 6 yr. olds were mowed down in their school classrooms. That was just incomprehensible to me. I know that the majority of Americans are horrified by this increasing gun violence—–happening daily. And polls indicate a huge majority want some common sense gun legislation, and still Congress fails to act. Congress—–our representatives in government is ignoring the will of the people. I don’t get this love affair that the gun nuts have with guns. What in the world??? They seem to care more about their guns than anything else in this world. That is sick. And I agree with Mr. Martinez about the emptiness of extending “thoughts and prayers” ——that’s worthless—–as people say that and move along——feeling they have done their duty and feel no obligation to make the needed change. I think the change has to come from the people finally taking a stand ——I’m not sure postcards will do it—–but need some massive demonstration making it clear that this is not the kind of country we accept for ourselves——-something which will bring as much pressure on Congress as that of the NRA. I think the current gun culture is out of control——with all the new conceal/carry, open carry, stand your ground laws being passed in states—I think it’s wrecking our country—we are desperately in need of some brave champions determined to rein in this dangerous current climate.

  29. 77 JER
    May 27, 2014 at 5:51 pm

  30. 78 Nena20409
    May 27, 2014 at 5:51 pm
  31. May 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for this post, LL. It absolutely DOES make a difference if we speak out. People in the US are hearing that father’s grief and anger. There is energy for change right now. He said send post cards saying Not One More. I am totally focusing on the GOP right now and I will send post cards. I’m going to gather stats of gun deaths and call tomorrow. Democrats who have voted against gun control have their minds open and are people we can influence, it’s the GOP that has to really hear that the US has had enough! Shift a number of them and we can have this. Thanks again, LL.

  32. 82 dotster3
    May 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Perfect response to Tapper suggesting ‘Hollywood is turning its back on Obama’…(Tapper is desperate for today’s anti-Obama spin)…

  33. 84 desertflower
    May 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you, LL…this was in my Inbox just now:

    Another rampage, this time near Santa Barbara, has left six dead — three of them shot and killed — plus another 13 injured.

    Mothers and fathers and siblings and friends have been left grieving — another community shattered by the gun of a sick man targeting women.

    The fact is, women are the target of far too many shootings in America. The story that desperately needs to be told is that the majority of mass shootings in this country are in fact domestic violence incidents.1

    Are you ready to stand up and declare #NotOneMore with me? There’s important legislation in the Senate that will strengthen our nation’s domestic violence laws and help save women’s lives — but we each need to speak out to move it forward.

    Send a message to your senators now asking them to co-sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bill to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.

    Limited edition t-shirt

    Sen. Klobuchar’s bill is called the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, and it works in two key ways:

    It would add stalkers to the group of people prohibited from buying guns, which already includes the severely mentally ill and violent criminals.
    It would prohibit all domestic abusers from buying guns, including dating partners — not just spouses.
    As we saw this weekend, and far too many times before, women are too often the target of gun violence. Driven by misogyny and enabled by lax or non-existent gun laws, gunmen like the shooter near Santa Barbara channel their rage into shooting women.

    We can do more to put an end to horrific crimes like this. We can do more to save women’s lives. We can declare #NotOneMore.

    Please send an urgent message to your senators now:


    The Senate is in recess right now, and that means senators are at home to visit with constituents. As they meet with families, your message will help reinforce the importance of this bill.

    Thanks for speaking out,

    Shannon Watts
    Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

    P.S. — In case you didn’t have a chance over the weekend, please consider sending a condolence message to the families and survivors of the tragedy in California.

  34. May 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    ….”It’s not that people haven’t brought this up before, it’s just the word ‘secret’ lists blew it up in the media,” Vietnam Veterans of America’s Richard Weidman said in an interview. “They weren’t secret, they were handwritten” logs kept aside from computerized scheduling. “People should stop the hysteria and say what the root of this problem is.”

    The problem, according to Weidman and several other veteran service organizations, is there are not enough medical personnel to meet the demand for VA health care. Several of the groups have complained for years that the VA budget — though continually rising — is too small to provide enough doctors, medical centers and services….

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