The six-year and seven-year-old children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School were each hit up to eleven times by a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The muzzle velocity of a rifle like the AR-15 is about three times that of a handgun. And because the kinetic energy of a bullet equals one-half of the bullet's mass multiplied by its velocity squared, the potential destructive power of a bullet fired from a rifle is about nine times more than that of a similar bullet fired from a handgun.
Nine times more. I spoke to Dr. Victor Weedn, chairman of the Department of Forensic Sciences at George Washington University, who told me that chest x-rays of a person shot with a rifle will often look like a "snowstorm" because their bones will have been shattered into fragments. This happens not just because of the bullet's direct impact, but because each bullet sends a shock wave through the body's soft organs -- one so powerful it can break bones even when the bullet didn't hit them. A video here shows what the shock wave looks like in the "ballistic gelatin" used by experts to simulate human tissue. (Would Gabby Giffords have survived if shot by a rifle rather than a Glock pistol? Probably not, says Dr. Weedn; the shock wave would have damaged the most critical parts of her brain.)
As horrifying as this is, there's more; much more. Dr. Cyril Wecht, past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, told me this:
The kind of ammunition used by the Newtown killer would have produced very extensive, severe and mutilating injuries of the head and face in these small victims. Depending on the number of shots striking a child's head, substantial portions of the head would be literally blasted away. The underlying brain tissue would be extensively lacerated with portions of hemorrhagic brain tissue protruding through the fractured calvarium and basilar skull, some of which would remain on portions of the face...actual physical identification of each child would have been extremely difficult, and in many instances impossible, even by the parents of any particular child.
We also know this, according to Dr. Wecht:
In one case, the parents have commented publicly upon the damage to their child, reporting that his chin and left hand were missing. Most probably, this child had brought his hand up to his face in shock and for protection and had the hand blasted away along with the lower part of his face.
Veronique Pozner, the mother of Noah, the six-year-old boy described by Dr. Wecht, insisted that the Governor of Connecticut look at Noah in an open casket. "I needed it to be real to him," she said. The Governor wept.
The pictures showing all this exist right now, somewhere in the police and medical examiner's files in Connecticut. And as of right now, we've somehow all decided together that we don't need to look, that in some way we're okay with what's in those pictures (after all, over 2,600 Americans have been killed by guns since Newtown) -- just as long as we don't have to look at the pictures ourselves.
But I am telling you now, that moment will come with the Newtown photos -- and you will have to look. You will have to look at who and what we are, and what we've allowed to happen. At the end of World War II, General Eisenhower ordered that thousands of German civilians be forced to march through the concentration camps so they could witness what was happening just down the road from them during the years that they turned their gaze away, or didn't ask, or didn't do anything to stop the murder of millions.
We've done nothing since Columbine -- nothing -- and as a result there have been over 30 other mass shootings since then. Our inaction means that we are all, on some level, responsible -- and therefore, because of our burying our heads in the sand, we must be forced to look at the 20 dead children at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The people we've voted for since Columbine -- with the exception of Michael Bloomberg -- almost none of them, Democrat or Republican, dared to speak out against the NRA before Newtown -- and yet we, the people, continued to vote for them. And for that we are responsible, and that is why we must look at the 20 dead children.
Most of us continue to say we "support the Second Amendment" as if it were written by God (or we're just afraid of being seen as anti-American). But this amendment was written by the same white men who thought a Negro was only 3/5 human. We've done nothing to revise or repeal this -- and that makes us responsible, and that is why we must look at the pictures of the 20 dead children laying with what's left of their bodies on the classroom floor in Newtown, Connecticut.
And while you're looking at the heinous photographs, try saying those words out loud: "I support the Second Amendment!" Something, I'm guessing, won't feel right.
Yes, someday a Sandy Hook mother -- or a Columbine mother, or an Aurora mother, or a mother from massacres yet to come -- will say, like the mother of Emmett Till, "I just want the world to see." And then nothing about guns in this country will ever be the same again.
Pack your bags, NRA -- you're about to be shown the door. Because we refuse to let another child die in this manner. Got it? I hope so.
All you can do now is hope no one releases those photos.Yours,
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