“From my cold, dead hands”

Charlton Heston, May 2000 NRA National Convention

It’s been a long time between blogs.  I could take up some space here with explanations but that would waste time better spent reading and reflecting on the eloquence of an 11 year old student and the emotion of a mother who, on that fateful day, had decided to leave her child in Robb Elementary School after she attended her daughter’s awards assembly. 

What follows appeared in The Texas Tribune a non-profit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

WASHINGTON — Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old in fourth grade who survived the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, said she covered herself in another student’s blood to trick the shooter into thinking she was already dead.

Cerrillo, wearing a sunflower tank top and her hair pulled back into a ponytail, spoke softly as she answered questions for 2 minutes on video about what she endured that day in the classroom, just a few weeks after she witnessed her friends and teacher die in a deadly school shooting.

“He shot my teacher and told my teacher good night and shot her in the head,” she said in the prerecorded video. “And then he shot some of my classmates and the white board.”

That day Cerrillo said she and her classmates were watching a movie. Her teacher received an email and then got up to lock the door — that’s when made eye contact with the gunman in the hallway, Cerrillo said.

At that point, the teacher told the students to “go hide.” Cerrillo hid behind her teacher’s desk among the backpacks. The shooter then shot “the little window,” presumably part of the door to the hallway. She said the gunman entered a neighboring classroom and was able to access her classroom through an adjoining door. That’s when he started shooting.

One of the students who was shot, a friend of hers, was next to her among the backpacks.

“I thought [the gunman] was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me,” she said.

She said she “stayed quiet” and then she grabbed her teacher’s phone and called 911.

“I told [the operator] that we need help and to send the police [to my] classroom,” she said.

Kimberly Rubio, a newspaper reporter and the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who died that day, described dropping her children off at the school and attending end-of-school-year awards ceremonies that morning.

Kimberly Rubio, a newspaper reporter and the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who died that day, described bringing her daughter to school and attending end-of-school-year awards ceremonies that morning.“I left my daughter at that school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she said, as she testified in a video recording sitting next to her stone-faced husband, Felix Rubio.

She called for a ban on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, raising the age to purchase certain guns, keeping guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, stronger background checks and to repeal gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.

What Mrs. Rubio did not share was the experience of the physicians who prepared to treat the wounded. What they shared was something that once seen can never be unseen… what they saw were not children to be treated by corpses of little children… children who had been decapitated by the bullets that killed them, children, so mutilated, that they could only be identified by their clothing .

I offer the following for your consideration… a society that can place profit, an ideological-based interpretations of a 200 year old document, and/or partisan power strategies over the lives of its children is tragically broken.  

I began this piece with words taken from a speech by Charlton Heston. After its reception in remarks he offered in 1989, the final words of his talk became the rallying cry for the NRA and its members. One particularly high-profile use was in the speech he gave at the NRA’s May 20, 2000 annual convention, which came during the 2000 presidential campaign and garnered considerable media attention.

In that speech, Heston criticized Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore for his support of stronger gun control laws.

At the end, he lifted the flintlock he was given in 1989 over his head and said:

“As we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: ‘From my cold, dead hands!’” 

Do we really want to be the country that rallies anti-gun control actions around “from their cold, little bodies?

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