They say the worst sound you can hear is a click when you expect a bang... I can tell you that's just not true. The worst sound you can hear is a bang when you had no idea it could be coming.
On April 24th, my son killed himself using the handgun I purchased to protect my family and the ammunition I selected for it's lethality.
Our family was home and heard the shot - but it didn't sound like a gunshot. It sounded like someone falling into a door. Since he was 15, Joey had a severe form of intractable, unresponsive epilepsy so I ran to Joey's room thinking he had fallen into the door from a seizure. I saw him on the ground, I saw the blood, and then I saw the handgun.
I know I screamed.
It was less than 10 seconds for me to be in the room and my son was gone before I got there. I started to assess for first aid as I screamed to call 911. No one responded so I dialed for myself and handed off the phone. Regardless of our medical supplies and my medical training, it was too late. How I wish I was wrong.
The next 6 hours are a blur of family, friends, neighbors, and police... lots of police with lots of questions. Too many people saying "don't try to figure out why this happened" and then asking me to tell them why this happened. Explaining to my 8-year-old that his brother, his idol, was gone and never coming back. Watching the Medical Examiner roll out that black bag on a stretcher. And so many people saying "if there's anything we can do, just ask".
Nothing in our lives will be the same yet everything is the same. We still face bills, school, work, and life yet we face it without Joey.
For a few minutes that day I was Mayor Bloomberg's biggest advocate and supported absolute gun control. Of course, that's not what my core values are but in that moment I was on board. Most of my personal values are being questioned right now as our family moves forward from this.
I can tell you that I don't believe in limiting anyone's choices or freedoms and that I don't believe in attacking people for the choices they make. We debated shuttering the site but Joey put a lot of time into this site - including some older guns being entered into the database we built but rarely promote. The site is going to take on a different feel as I feel less inclined to report on the violence (deserved if it is) and more inclined to call people out for their bullshit on both sides of the gun debate.
Whether it's kids and guns, smart guns, or mental health services (like why it was hard to keep Joey in counseling for the stress of his illness yet there were three counselors at our house less than an hour after he died) we're going to look at issues and discuss them without the drama or hyperbole that is so typical on both sides.
On that note - it pisses me off that next year, once the CDC and FBI compile their data, Mayor Bloomberg, Moms Demand Action, and their ilk will dangle statistics including Joey as a "victim of gun violence" or some listing of gun deaths as if all of those are the same. The term "gun violence" brings to mind images of armed intruders, of drug dealers having shootouts in the street, and of mass shootings. None of those applied to Joey - and using him as part of a campaign of misinformation is just more of the same bullshit in this debate.
People who have reached a level of pain or desperation so great that they take their own lives aren't victims of gun violence. They are dealing with whatever is the root of their situation... physical illness, mental illness, or some other factor. To lump these people in with criminals killed by other criminals, home invaders gunned down by law abiding citizens defending their homes, or even innocents killed by madmen and criminals is an insult to them, their families, and their memories.
If you're so certain of your moral stance - why are you basing your numbers on untruths? It seems everyone has become so dogmatic that they are unwilling to see their viewpoints exposed to real data? And why does the gun lobby fight research into gun violence?
If our rhetoric is true then the data is a boon for Second Amendment advocates. Hiding from data is like hiding from technology - it's a losing cause. Let's lead the way and provide the most comprehensive - and honest - studies on gun violence, on the effects of concealed carry, and on the enforcement of laws barring criminals from firearms. That won't happen, but it should. Off the top of my head, here are some studies that would have real value in addressing gun crime:
► What is the definition of gun violence?
Of course, getting gun control groups to admit Joey and people like him aren't "victims" of gun violence means they lose a substantial portion of the statistics they like to trot out each year.
► Is gun related crime any different from violent crime as a whole or is the gun truly just a tool for the criminal?
► How do firearms training standards for concealed carry impact concealed carry uses and results?
► Who commits gun crimes and who are the victims of gun crimes?
There's a distinct difference in approach between criminals killing each other and criminals attacking random innocents. Side note: some initial studies show that the leading indicator of being shot in your lifetime is having a criminal record.
► What is a realistic number of defensive gun uses annually?
What the number is matters less than having a solid, scientifically accepted number.
► What would enforcement of existing gun laws (i.e. background checks, felons, etc.) be on gun related crime nationwide?
There are plenty of other questions that deserve legitimate, independent research with a goal of finding ways to decrease overall gun deaths and real gun violence. Honest data will allow us to, for the first time, address fundamental questions about what is happening on our streets and in our homes. I'm not foolish enough to believe this will happen - both sides have too much money to make and too much credibility to lose to care about real research.
In the mean time, I'll wait for next years statistics with a sense of dread knowing that, according to some people's agenda, Joey somehow became a victim of gun violence alone inside his own bedroom.
If you're having thoughts of harming yourself, please seek help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24 hour hotline available via phone or chat. Mantherapy.org is an informative site that bills itself as "therapy the way a man would do it."
Jason isn't too worried about his bio right now. He wrote them up for other people and was going to write one for himself but feels like it's a stupid ass exercise in vanity at this point. Plus, Mayor Bloomberg uses one so they have to be bad, right?