I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the Newtown massacre. (It’s usually called a “shooting,” but from my perspective “massacre” is a more accurate word.)

I was in the basement of the Smith College Facilities Management building at my work-study job in the Building Services department. On one computer screen, I had an Excel spreadsheet; I don’t remember if it was the spreadsheet of the campus asbestos testing results or the spreadsheet cataloging every single vacuum on campus (both projects of mine). On the other screen was Yahoo News. The breaking-news alert popped up. The updates kept coming. The deaths kept rising.

I don’t know why Newtown sticks out in my memory so much. Maybe because my dad spent a few years of his childhood there. Maybe it’s because the student victims were in first and second grade, and my dad spent most of his career as an ed tech in a K-3 school.

But after Sandy Hook, I was much more afraid of school shootings. I don’t think we ever had a family discussion about what Dad would do in the event of an active shooter, but that was mostly because we didn’t have to. It was a fact of life that went without saying that Dad would have died for one of his kiddos. That’s what he called his students. He never started a story about his workday with “my student.” It was always “my kiddo.”

He would have put his body between a bullet and his kiddos without hesitation. Personally, if a gunman showed up at his school, I would have wanted him to run away as fast as he could and live to teach another day. (I have never been as bighearted and brave as he was.) But he wouldn’t have been Ross Hugo-Vidal if he’d done that.

Dad was a proud feminist most of the time, but he had some traditional chivalric ideals he couldn’t quite shake.


One of them was the idea that in an emergency situation, it was a man’s duty to put himself in danger to protect the women and children involved. Since he spent the majority of his career in elementary education, he was usually one of less than a handful of men at his school. He took that seriously. There’s no doubt in my mind that if he heard gunshots, he would have run straight towards them, like Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung did.

The only situation in which he would not have taken that action would have been if he was with a kiddo who couldn’t be counted on to hide quietly in a closet until the all-clear sounded. Anne Marie Murphy, an ed tech at Sandy Hook, died with her arms around Dylan Hockley, a first grader with autism. That was the work my dad did, and that’s what he would have done in that situation. I guess we’re lucky he died of cancer before he could be murdered in the workplace.

“Gun rights activists” have political leaders, from state legislatures up through the United States Senate, in a chokehold. They make arguments that we wouldn’t accept if they were used for any regulations other than gun regulation.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but whenever someone proposes a gun rule or regulation, an extremely loud and obnoxious minority says “well, this won’t stop every shooter” or “this won’t stop a really determined” criminal.

Would we get rid of all traffic laws because some people are going to run red lights no matter what?

There’s no law that will stop every single bad guy from getting a weapon, just like there’s no law that will ensure that a person who has every right to purchase a weapon will never be inconvenienced in the slightest when going to make that purchase.


“But the Second Amendment!” So what. Who cares. We’ve amended the Constitution many times throughout our country’s history. Remember Prohibition?

“But how will I defend myself against a tyrannical government?” Buddy, half the country’s government wants to force me to carry a pregnancy against my will, even at the risk of my own health and life. Sorry you can’t own a machine gun. Besides, the military would just drone-strike you if it wanted to take you out.

Gun-rights people also have a tendency to say that as someone who doesn’t own a gun, I shouldn’t get a say in their regulation. You will notice this sort of logic doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to people who have never had a uterus a day in their lives regulating abortion and birth control. It’s true, I don’t own a gun and I don’t plan to do so. This is partly because I’ve read the statistics, and I’m much more likely to be killed with my own gun than to defend myself against some random intruder. But mostly it’s because guns are power, power is addictive and I’m an addict. I don’t think I would like who I would become.

I don’t think the latest round of massacres will change much of anything. I won’t waste valuable newsprint pointing out the various policy changes we could implement to stem some of the blood. We have the means. We do not have the will.

Look at the Covenant School massacre in Nashville. The school had everything that the right wing says will prevent murder. Prayer. Armed staff members. And still. A person was able to walk in and spray 152 rounds in 15 minutes. The fact that they only managed to kill six people is a testament to their incompetence and nothing else.

Maybe I can’t blame politicians for not standing up to gun-rights extremists. I wouldn’t want to enrage people with a ton of guns and a tenuous grasp on reality, either.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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