As most of us are preparing for the holidays, my thoughts go to a group of families bracing for the one-year anniversary of an event they wish they could forget: the mass shooting in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015.
On Friday, hundreds gathered to remember the victims of that horrific day when gun violence claimed 14 more lives and left 22 people with serious injuries. It was a day when the survivors and the victims’ families joined the ever-growing ranks of those whose lives are forever changed because of guns.
It is a club that no one wants to join — and I am a member of it, too. On an August day 34 years ago, my sister Vickie went to work and never came home. She was 28 years old. Just weeks before she was murdered, she had been the maid of honor in my wedding. To this day, I’m quick to go to a dark place when a loved one doesn’t reach out to say they’ve arrived safely at their destination.
It’s my version of post-traumatic stress, and I am certainly (and sadly) not alone. Across this country, hundreds of thousands of people live with the anger, the loss and the trauma of losing a loved one to guns.
Every year, guns kill more than 30,000 Americans, the equivalent of the entire undergraduate population at UCLA. Think about that for a moment — the lives of 30,000 moms, dads, kids, sisters, brothers, lovers and friends cut short in an instant of mayhem, with legions of loved ones left behind to wonder why.