One day in the middle of the summer of 2013, I got a call at work. Something bad had happened to Judy, and I had to call my cousin, her sister, in California. I live in Canada, where gun violence is definitely not as rare as it should be, but still, it’s not on my radar as a daily issue.
It didn’t occur to me that violence of any kind could be part of the story of the bad thing. I was thinking along the lines of a heart attack. That’s the kind of safety and privilege I come from. I know many people don’t and live with threat of violence is on their minds every day.
Judy, who was 66 at the time, and stood 5 feet 2 inches and weighed maybe 105 pounds, was shot at point-blank range in her car a few blocks from her home in Oakland. She had witnessed a robbery. We don’t know all the details. How menacing could she have been?
Judy was a feisty person. She liked to argue. She was very bright and very sensitive. She had a lot of compassion for animals and little children. I don’t think her life was easy; her parents were Holocaust survivors who didn’t recover enough from their hurt to give her quite what she needed. But she nevertheless had a lot of love.
I can’t wrap my head around the senselessness and the malice of killing someone who really can’t hurt you, killing them just because you have a gun and maybe you’re nervous, or maybe it’s a dumb thoughtless act, or maybe it’s cruelty. I also cannot get over the senselessness of letting people just… have guns. I mean, for what?
Why do you need a thing whose sole purpose is to kill people? And if you arm a whole nation and spread hatred and mistrust and fear? When you go overseas to fight wars, what exactly is there to defend?