Look at that face. What a beautiful boy. He could have been of my students, making me laugh in the middle of a math lesson.
He could have been one of the kids on my son’s sports teams. He could have been at my daughter’s birthday party. He could have been my neighbor’s child. He could have been my own.
What a beautiful child.
And he is gone, taken from us by a gun.
I mourn the loss of yet another innocent young life, killed for no good reason. I was sick when I heard about what had happened to him, literally sick to my stomach. This child was playing with a toy gun when he was shot to death by police officers who were told to respond to a report of a “guy with a gun” in a local park.
I was sick, disgusted, horrified, angry when I saw the images of the patrol car pulling up to confront the kid with the toy.
I wanted to be furious at the cops who failed to warn him. I wanted to be enraged at the speed of the lethal response.
But I can’t.
I can’t blame those officers. I keep imagining what it must feel like to have to confront men with guns every day. I keep thinking about the gun crime rate in Cleveland, where Tamir held his airsoft gun. (Gun Epidemic in Cleveland)
I can’t stop wondering about the complete and total insanity of our current gun soaked culture and how many children have died from gunshots in the past ten years.
Cleveland, like so many American cities, is rife with gun deaths. You can read about the deaths of infants, caught in the crossfire in this article: 5 month old killed by gun. You can check the crime stats for the state of Ohio here: Gun Death Stats. People in Ohio are dying from suicides, homicides and accidental gun deaths at an incredibly outrageous rate. Tens of thousands of people are involved, every single year, in some form of gun violence.
But gee, you say. Tamir was not holding a real gun! It was just a toy!
OK. So let’s think about these so called “Imitation guns”. Seriously? American companies think its OK to manufacture and market guns that look exactly like real guns??? Here is what the “Airsoft” folks had to say after the death of young Tamir on the night that he was playing in a park with one of their products:
Airsoft guns are not designed to kill or seriously injure. The novelty guns shoot small plastic pellets and come in all shapes and sizes, including pistols and rifles, said Chip Hunnicutt, Marketing Manager for Crosman, a New York-based company and one of many manufacturers that produce the guns.
“They’re recreational products. I wouldn’t call it a toy,” Hunnicutt said.
Ohio has no restrictions on the sales of airsoft guns, a State Attorney General spokesman said. That means minors can purchase the weapons.
So when those officers were called to that park on a cold night, and were confronted by a young man/boy with what sure as hell looked like a REAL gun, and they shot him dead right then and there, it was a horrific and unacceptable tragedy on every single level.
But I can’t make myself blame the cops. I can’t.
I do blame those who claim that “guns save lives”. I do blame those who refuse to admit that handguns have no purpose other than the killing of humans. I absolutely blame those who make money off the sale of “imitation guns” that look just exactly like the real thing.
I blame everyone who refuses to accept the fact that we are in no way a “civilized country” when we calmly accept the slaughter of babies, tens of thousands of them every year, so that adults can play with guns.
I blame the NRA. I blame Congress. I blame the media. I blame the President and the Vice President and the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader and the extremist who pretend that outlawing handguns and assault weapons means “taking away our guns.”
I blame every single adult in the entire United States of America who is willing to call the death of a 12 year old boy with a toy an appropriate price to pay for their “gun rights”.
What about Tamir’s right to grow up? What about his right to play in a park in his home city? What about his rights, huh? What about the rights of our nation’s children to go to school, or the movies, or the mall, or a local restaurant, or a park without fear of being shot to death?
What about our rights as parents to raise our children in a truly civilized country?
We all failed you, Tamir. And I am so sorry.