Heckling the mourners

Heckling the mourners

by digby

Usually, this sort of thing is confined to Fred Phelps and his constitutionally protected band of psychopaths. But apparently it's become socially acceptable for everyone these days:

“He was my son, he was my buddy, he was my best friend,” testified Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in December before a Connecticut gun violence prevention hearing Tuesday. “And I never thought I’d be speaking like this and asking for changes on my son’s behalf. He’s my only son, he’s my only family.”

As Heslin asked legislators to tighten restrictions, gun rights activist interrupted his testimony, yelling “our rights will not be infringed!” and “Second Amendment!” Local news sources reported that there were nearly a dozen hecklers, who were quickly silenced.

Heslin continued to ask why anyone needs assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“We’re not living in the Wild Wild West, we have the strongest military in the world we’re not living in a third world. We don’t need to defend our homes with weapons like that. I just hope everyone in this room can support change—ban assault weapons and high capacity clips and magazines. That’s a step in the right direction.”

Heslin’s son, Jesse Lewis, died after trying to flee the gunman with other students.

“Jesse died bravely trying to lead other children to safety. He ran into the hallway to help when he heard the shots. In our hearts we already knew because that was the way he lived his life—fearless, full of courage and strength,” his family said in a Legacy.com obituary.
If only six year old Jesse had been armed. Sure, a few more bodies would have probably fallen, but that's the price we pay for freedom.

Another father of a 6-year-old boy murdered in the shootings fought back tears as he told lawmakers to make any changes in gun laws simple.

"I don't believe it's so complex," said Mark Mattioli, whose son, James, was among the first-graders slaughtered on Dec.14.

"We need civility across our nation," said Mattioli, who appeared with his wife, Cindy, before the legislative panel. "The problem is not gun laws. It's a lack of civility."

Heckling the father of a boy who'd been killed with semi-automatic weapon fire by evoking the 2nd Amendment is more than uncivil. It's indecent. So yeah, civility is a problem. But so is the gun culture that makes it impossible for adherents to understand that their right to own certain kinds of guns is coming into direct conflict with an innocent little boy's right not to be mowed down in the middle of his first grade classroom. I would think that any human being with some basic empathy would at least be decent enough to be silent as his mourning father was testifying.

On the other hand, this callous behavior is hardly confined to gun owners. There does seem to be a major empathy gap in our culture at large, doesn't there? It's tempting to ascribe it to the bad economy, but unless they were forgetting how it really was, I recall my parents and grandparents always saying that the Great Depression brought out the best in everyone, not the worst. So, something's different this time. (It does make you think about the behavior of some of the Europeans during their time of economic stress in that era. I suppose incivility is one way to describe how they treated one another.)

I would be more sympathetic to these fanatical gun owners if they were truly in danger of losing their right to bear arms. But nobody's threatening that. All anyone's saying is that gunmen shouldn't have the capacity to kill large numbers of people in the matter of a few seconds with an easily obtainable weapon. After all, nobody's saying they shouldn't have the right to easily buy a handgun and kill children one by one. We're all good with that. The only thing that anyone's trying to do is make it hard for one murderer to obtain an obscenely high body count in one single event. That just doesn't seem like too much to ask to me.