The Names We Didn’t Hear on August 3rd

The names of the shooting victims from August 3rd are starting to be released, but some names have been withheld until family members can be informed:

Queen Dean- 1-month-old
Andrew Naquin- 30 years old
Quanisha Fernanders – 23 years old
Kymon Haley – 21 years old
Roberto Vargas – 23 years old
Susan Clark –  64 years old
Johnny Parris – 23 years old
Joshua Smith – 19 years old
Angel Venegas- 22 years old
Samuel Chocico – 22 years old
Unidentified male – 19 years old
Unidentified female – 32 years old
Unidentified female – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified male – age unknown
Unidentified Victim – age unknown
Unidentified Victim – age unknown

We will never know what the world lost when these people died. In fact, most of us will not even know their names, because these are not the victims of the mass shooting in El Paso, TX. These are the rest of the people who died in gun-related incidents on August 3rd.  At the time of this writing, there were 21 gun-related deaths (22 with the shooting death of one of the murder suspects by police while resisting arrest), but I’ve already had to update the list three times with new deaths since I began writing.

One-month-old Queen Dean was in her house in Shreveport, Louisiana when it was fired upon in a drive-by shooting, killing her early in the morning. Quanisha Fernanders was shot and killed during a domestic violence incident in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Kymon Haley was murdered in Danville, Virginia, while Roberto Vargas was killed in Hartford, Connecticut.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, a woman was attempting to break up a fight between two men when she was shot and killed. Sixty-four-year-old Susan Clark was shot and killed by her son, who was then killed by police in Safety Harbor, Florida. In Baltimore, the body of a woman who had been shot multiple times in the head and body was found abandoned in a car. Joshua Smith was shot in the back, and his body was found in an alley in Chicago, Illinois.

(Three additional victims were added to the gun deaths list on www.gunviolencearchive.org since I started writing causing me to edit the total dead up to 18.)

To compile this list, I read through multiple newspaper articles, police reports, and news feeds.  It didn’t take long to see a pattern emerge, and with that pattern came a numbness. There is an efficiency that comes with repeating a task over and over.  After reading all of these articles, it became clear that these writers had streamlined and economized their reporting, and, whether it was Louisiana or California or Virginia, they were able to churn out these stories on a conveyor belt of tragedy perfected to produce the greatest shock with the least humanity possible.  The details were at arm’s length display for us to read while we sipped our coffee and questioned the state of the world before flipping the page.

Americans have spilled almost as much ink debating gun control as we have spilled blood at the hands of gun violence.  Any mention of gun control sets off a flurry of articles from the Right regarding the sacrosanct 2nd Amendment and legends of “the good guys with a gun.”

Likewise, gallons of ink and millions of pixels have been used by the Left to decry the 2nd Amendment and demand gun quotas and gun ownership registrations.  In a foxhole war of words, volleys are sent back and forth while people continue to die.

(At this point in my writing, two more gun deaths were reported bringing the total for the day, without the mass shooting in TX, to 20: one unidentified victim in Bronx, NY, one male victim in Cedar Park, TX.)

Legislators are stuck in a battle of “all or nothing,” while the American people support a more moderate viewpoint. A majority of Americans, about 60 percent depending on the poll, say that they support some form of gun control in order to stem gun violence in this country. Less than 10 percent think that we need less strict gun laws.

A Reuters article from February of this year published a poll stating that of those who supported some form of gun control legislation, only 14 percent actually thought that their elected representatives would act. It is a risky issue to take on for a politician because the base of each party will severely punish any legislator or candidate who dares to consider compromise or bipartisanship on this issue. So they sit in a bloody stalemate as we become anesthetized to the deaths happening around our country every day.

There is a danger in not acting; political tides shift and there may come a day when either side might have wished they had come to the negotiating table. The gamble that each side is making is that it will be the other side that is locked out of the issue. The pendulum can swing at any time.

(At this point it was after midnight, so I thought that any additional names will be the first of Aug 4th.)

I have had five friends murdered: three were shot and two were beaten to death. I don’t know if stricter gun legislation would have saved any of those who were killed by a gun. I don’t know if the two who were beaten to death could have saved themselves if they’d been armed. That is the thing about death; it leaves all the what-if questions unanswered.

What is known is that at the time of this article 8,734 people had been shot and killed this year in America. I have to say “at the time of this article,” because that number goes up almost every hour. So far this year, 17,308 people have been injured in gun violence, and Queen Dean is the 390th child to have been shot this year.

I know what it feels like to hear the news that someone you care about has been killed. I know what it feels like to have to tell someone else that a loved one has been murdered. When I see these numbers, I know that each person’s death on this list is just the beginning of the suffering that will have to be endured.

(The death of 22-year-old Samuel Chocico, who was killed on August 3rd by someone trying to rob his apartment, was added to the list of dead after midnight when I reached this point. He was the last reported death on August 3, 2019.)

My son wants to go to the mall, and I am scared. I’m scared because I went to bed thinking about the mass shooting in El Paso and woke up to the news of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. My family went to an open-air festival this weekend, and my mind kept wandering to the shooting at a festival in California. My daughter went to a club on Friday night, and thoughts of the Pulse shooting raced through my head before I told her to have a good time.

Movie theaters, colleges, concerts, government buildings, schools, softball games — there is no place that feels untouched by this epidemic.

A few weeks ago, the Virginia legislature held a special session ostensibly to debate gun control legislation. It was a farce before it even started, which I wrote about here.

I freely admit that I do not know the magic combination of laws and social pressures that will stop these gun deaths from occurring, but I do know what the first step has to be: people who disagree with each other are going to have to talk to each other. Gun advocates are going to have to sit down with gun control advocates and work out a solution instead of staying locked in the political prisoner’s dilemma that they’ve created. Until they do, Americans will continue to die.

(Gun violence killed 41 people on August 3rd.  At the time of this writing, 10 people had been killed by gun violence on August 4th.)

Also from Bearing Drift: A Time to Talk, Listen, and Act by Will Shewmake