Bang bang, my baby shot me down

Source: Trauma Center. Modern Health Care

Guest Column by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor

 

 

According to the latest stats today’s numbers say that approx. 9,000 deaths from gunshot violence have already occurred in the year 2022, with 254 mass shootings. It’s June, we are only 6 months into the year. This number is staggering, to say the least.  The reality is that although this number is alarming, what’s even more frightening is the toll that this violence takes on the people of this country.  Excuses, arguments, and debates mean nothing since nothing impactful changes.

For many years, I worked as a trauma nurse in level 1 Trauma Centers in the NY metropolitan area. I dealt with the direct consequences of these kinds of injuries and deaths.  Much more than what the public imagines, it is a horrific experience.  The chaos that occurs in Trauma Centers is heartbreaking, regardless of the circumstances of the event.

 I remember my first gunshot wound victim, it was self-inflicted, and he was 15 years old, the son of a police officer.  He was a DOA, but because of his age and his status, and the fact that I worked in a teaching facility, the trauma team was eager to crack open his chest to perform an open chest heart massage. His father, a police officer, was sitting outside of the shock trauma room holding a weapon.  I don’t know if it was the gun that had ended this young boy’s life, but I knew that out of respect to a grieving, guilt-ridden father, I would try to intercede and stop the team from mangling his already dead body, because we did know that he had shot himself in the head with his father’s weapon. I was successful in one small way of preserving some kind dignity of a senseless death, and the rest of his body remained preserved.

But his story paints a much more frightening reality.   Because of the nature of his father’s job, he had access to a firearm.  The gun was not properly secured in a safe place where no one could get to it.  A careless mistake by an unassuming parent, who never saw it coming resulting in a suicide that may have been prevented if………. if what?  If the parents of this young boy knew he would do so?  No parent can always know, and I don’t know if he displayed any signs of depression. We will never know and it may have been a split-second decision. But the pain, the guilt, the grief surpasses all of these questions.

This is one example of why it’s so important, even if one is a professional and licensed carrier, of gun safety.  The importance of respecting that gun, because guns do kill and a gun can rip your heart, as the survivor of such a fatal tragedy, your family, and your life apart.

Do I know what this boy’s mother felt, or what she said, or how much she cried and blamed and how guilt-ridden this boy’s father felt, having to live with this terrible accident, because it was an accident on his part.  He didn’t mean for that to happen, as a public safety officer he has seen this before. He made an awful mistake, one that could not be undone in any way shape or form.

So, do we continue to be lax even in the tightest of circumstances, or do we, as a country, take gun violence, whether it is intended or unintended as an act that needs to be understood and looked at seriously, with extreme caution, now.

Because beyond the number of deaths, beyond the number of mass shootings, families are devastated and broken and children are scared, and unless we do something to ensure the safety of those children, the toll will remain and become even greater.

And that child could be yours………..