Newtown. The Response of Artists

December 19, 2012

The past few days our community has needed a vessel to use to talk about the shooting. I wrote this up based off of facebook posts, links and blogs- we’re presenting it here and making it available to anyone who needs a conversation starter.

I think there is a general fear in sharing responses like these. The complication of wanting the response to be genuine and useful to the community without exploiting it. I know with this right now I very much feel that way. We create it and then what to do with it? Post on a blog for people to see or use? Send out? Use ourselves?

These are my struggles. But I imagine other artists have them too.

Below is the entirety of the script we are performing tomorrow in Iowa City. It is based off of facebook messages, links that were uploaded, the plethora of information in the past week and more. The resources include CNN, Fox News, Gawker, Anarchist Mom Blog, Morning Joe, NY Times, Hartford Courant, NPR, New York Review of Books, NRA Website, Facebook (including the Emilie Parker fund page), O Magazine, Huffington post, Slate, New Republic and comments sections of numerous newspapers around the country:

It is called Newtown.

Written and Conceived by Sean Christopher Lewis and Working Group Theatre

Lights rise on citizens fled far and wide across the US.

WOMAN
The knee jerk reaction? Is… I want to curl up and cry and then possibly light fire to NRA Headquarters. Honestly.

MAN
Knee jerk? Oh… It’s pointing fingers and blaming and using this to put ahead agendas. You’ll see this will quickly become about everything besides the victims.

MAN
My knee jerk reaction is I’m going to move to Canada, man. I saw that Michael Moore movie and not only do they not have guns but you can just walk into people’s houses whenever you want. That’s what I’m talking about.

WOMAN
The knee jerk reaction is to just give up our rights because of one person’s actions. It’s liberals coming out of the woodwork blaming guns and amendments for what happened.

MAN
It’s a lot of anger for everything. Guns. People with guns. People on Facebook who post about guns. And who defend them. And who you know are gonna champion them. If someone comes out and says “well if there’d just been a gun in the classroom” the first thing I’m gonna shoot is my television.

WOMAN
The knee jerk reaction is it has to stop. Or maybe that’s the gut reaction. But it’s what’s going on for me.

Lights shift to Sean. A personal narrative.

SEAN
I get most of my news from the internet. I don’t have a TV and when I got the news, it was on Facebook and the truth was I saw the first few postings “oh my goodness, heart goes out to the victims in Connecticut” and the first thing I knew right away was there was a mass killing and that it was probably with a gun. I then continued to scroll my messages.

I didn’t check or read the news yet because I’m kind of used to mass killings. That sounds crazy but there’s a lot of them and it’s depressing and it never changes I didn’t read more until I finally saw how many people had posted and what they were posting and that’s when I knew it was really bad and the truth is I wasn’t willing to look at it until it was really bad.

And as we know it was REALLY bad.
Lights shift to Reporters. Split scene.

REPORTER 1
Reports are an elementary school in affluent Newtown, Connecticut was attacked today…

REPORTER 2
We’re getting conflicting reports but it seems that there are numerous victims and many of them we are being told ARE children.

Back to personal narrative.

SEAN
I think I was most bothered that I kept scrolling and that I knew. I knew there was a big killing and I just didn’t want to deal with it. I didn’t even really want to know about it you know. But then you saw there were kids involved and at that point you have to know. I don’t know why. But that’s when I clicked the links. That’s when I read.

But isn’t that so horrible? That I knew what it was. And I knew the weapon? And I’m not saying “gun control” or anything else I don’t have a lot of opinions on it. I just know it’s really common. It’s like hearing Lindsay Lohan is in trouble. You’re like substance abuse and a car.

I see “poor victims” on someone’s status and I’m like assault rifle and a public building.

It’s just kind of how it is.

Shift to Reporters

CNN REPORTER
This is going to be a death knoll for the gun lobbyists. After what happened in Oregon a day ago and Aurora a few months ago tempered with today the call for action on this administration is indeed growing

FOX REPORTER
… And the Left is already starting to politicize and move on this tragedy. It’s unfortunate but politics as usual.

Lights shift.

SEAN
There are guns in my family. I’m from a military family. Upstate NY. All of them hunters. Very often there would be a rifle in our mudroom leaning against a wall. Personally, I never felt an urge to touch it or use it. My friends growing up had guns.

We had one murder in my high school. It was with a knife.

And we had a suicide. Mike. A teammate on my wrestling team. That was with a gun. I’m thinking about Mike a lot today. Which is weird. I never think about Mike.

But guns… I don’t know. Me I never had one. I was never against them. They were just around. If you asked anyone in my hometown they’d tell you- they’re just a part of life.

Lights shift to Upstate NY. Very rural. A husband and wife.

WIFE
You need a gun in the country.

HUSBAND
I mean literally, for food. I mean people don’t understand that, even now you put laws on gun ownership you’re basically putting laws on food.

WIFE
For us that’s a fact.

HUSBAND
Yeah for us- it is.

WIFE
And this… what happened

HUSBAND
It’s awful

WIFE
Everyone agrees it’s awful
And it happens a lot

HUSBAND
But people killing is what’s wrong with it. Look… If it weren’t guns it’d be gasoline, or bombs or knives.

WIFE
It’d be airplanes.

HUSBAND
If people want to kill. People kill.

WIFE
We have some friends who say you arm the teachers because the guns aren’t going anywhere and at the very least then they have a chance. As a teacher, myself, and a mom it sounds a bit extreme or crazy at first.

HUSBAND
It does sound crazy.

WIFE
But. They do it in Israel. And I know that’s a worn torn country. But the idea is at least they’d know who the shooter was and it’d take focus and time from the shooter so people would escape…No one says it’s the most well loved option. But there aren’t a lot of options.

HUSBAND
People keep saying the same things- take away guns or put away unstable people but they have the same questions that no one can answer… If you wanna take guns away- how, from who? You want to regulate people. Again how and who?

Lights shift.

SEAN
Like most people I went to the ticker. The running account- time stamped-

TICKER 1
The shooter entered the school and began firing into a classroom of kindergartners

TICKER 2
A principal and School Psychologist ran into the fray to confront the gunmen
It’s believed that the principal turned on the school intercom to alert faculty and students.

SEAN
I keep thinking of the kids hearing that between math lessons, the sound of gunfire and screaming over old microphones- in place of daily lunch menus and bus schedules, I imagine the look on their teachers face, the realization, the panic

TICKER 3
Teachers hid in closets and under desks.

TICKER 4
One room was forced open by police officers shouting and telling the children to huddle in corners.

TICKER 5
Sadly one teacher Vicki Soto died while shielding her students…

SEAN
Twenty kids, six adults and the shooter.
And a lot of fingers saying “you, you, you”
And a few mouths saying not now not now not now

A live News Report.

ANALYST
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “today is not the day,” to engage in a policy debate over gun control.

JAY CARNEY
“I think that day will come, but today’s not that day, especially as we are awaiting more information about the situation,”

ANALYST
Carney ducked the question when would be a good time to engage in a substantive debate on gun control, repeating that

JAY CARNEY
“Today isn’t the time.”

ANALYST
Obama has drawn criticism for never making gun control an administration priority.
Asked about reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban, which Obama has supported but never invested political capital in,

JAY CARNEY
“It does remain a commitment of the president’s.”

ANALYST
Fellow politicans were not so sure…

Lights shift to NY MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG.

BLOOMBERG
We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.

Lights shift to Conservative Radio Host.

RADIO HOST
Of course liberals are mad at this! Of course they are up in arms! We must have a discussion! They say. We must talk about this, politicize it NOW. What they don’t understand is that THEY don’t really WANT to talk about gun control. About gun rights. About citizenship. They don’t want to actually discuss that. No. They want to dictate that. What they mean as a discussion is that they want us to give in to them. A discussion about guns for them is giving up the guns, restricting our Right to bearing arms, to protect ourselves. They want us to simply give up our rights because of something that some deranged lunatic, who slipped through the cracks of THEIR public welfare programs, THEIR social health initiatives… they want us to say it is our fault and that it is us who need to sacrifice. It is not a talk. It is an ultimatum and as anyone knows you cannot have a conversation with an ultimatum.

Lights shift. SEAN.

SEAN
I remember when my classmate Mike died, when he killed himself that his mom had said in the newspaper-

MIKE’S MOM
The only thing permanent about all of this is that he’s dead.

SEAN
Not counseling. Not prevention. Just death.

COMMENT
Our prayers go out to the families of the victims-

COMMENT
To the unimaginable situation of receiving a phone call like that-

COMMENT
Of being a parent one moment and a victim the next-

SEAN
When Mike died there would be similar questions why wasn’t the gun secured, how had no one seen the warning signs, what was going on in that home. Luckily, he had only killed himself. Though he had written things that his teachers flagged, his mom had been called, this was the early 90’s and he had started hanging with different kids, wearing Marilyn Manson t shirts all the things we used to associate and give reason to senselessness back then…

REPORT
The picture being constructed of Adam Lanza- the believed perpetrator in the Connecticut murders is still hazy-

REPORT
Reports call the twenty year old shy, quite and intelligent… others refer to a loner with a quality of creepiness…

SEAN
Mike and I had gone to wrestling camp together. Adjacent dorms. He was always joking. And laughing and then months later he was a different kid. At the time I paid no mind. I liked the old Mike. I had little interest talking to or helping the new one.

Lights shift to a Soccer Mom. She looks like a sweet normal Soccer Mom.

ANARCHIST SOCCER MOM
Three days before Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

MICHAEL
“I can wear these pants. You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

ANARCHIST MOM
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said,

MICHAEL
“Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

ANARCHIST MOM
“No way,” I told him.
His face turned cold,

MICHAEL
“Then I’m going to kill myself,”

ANARCHIST MOM
I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

MICHAEL
“Where are you taking me? Where are we going?”

ANARCHIST MOM
“You know where we are going,”

MICHAEL
“No! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

ANARCHIST MOM
I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with….at what age did your child….were there any problems with…has your child ever experienced…does your child have….”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said,

MICHAEL
“I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

ANARCHIST MOM
By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own.

I am Adam Lanza’s mother.
I am Jason Holmes’s mother.
I am Jared Loughner’s mother.
I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother.
I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother.

And we need help.

Lights Shift to SUSAN KLEBOLD.

SUSAN
I am Susan Klebold.
Just after noon on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, I was preparing to leave my downtown Denver office for a meeting when I noticed the red message light flashing on my phone. I worked for the state of Colorado, administering training programs for people with disabilities; my meeting was about student scholarships, and I figured the message might be a last-minute cancellation. But it was my husband, calling from his home office. His voice was breathless and ragged, and his words stopped my heart. “Susan—this is an emergency! Call me back immediately!”

The level of pain in his voice could mean only one thing: Something had happened to one of our sons.

When my husband picked up the phone, he shouted, “Listen to the television!”— and poured out what he’d just learned during a distraught call from a close friend of our 17-year-old son, Dylan: There was some kind of shooting at the high school…gunmen in black trenchcoats were firing at people…the friend knew all the kids who wore trenchcoats, and all were accounted for except Dylan and his friend Eric…and Dylan and Eric hadn’t been in class that morning…and no one knew where they were.

My husband had told himself that if he found the coat, Dylan couldn’t be involved. He’d torn the house apart, looking everywhere.

No coat.

I don’t know when I finally was told what happened.
I don’t know who it was that said it.
On the radio
And by politicians we were blamed.
We hid out. We avoided.

And… I was obsessed with thoughts of the innocent children and the teacher who suffered because of Dylan’s cruelty. I grieved for the other families, even though we had never met. Some had lost loved ones, while others were coping with severe, debilitating injuries and psychological trauma. It was impossible to believe that someone I had raised could cause so much suffering.

Dylan was a product of my life’s work, but his final actions implied that he had never been taught the fundamentals of right and wrong.

There was no way to atone for my son’s behavior.

Lights shift to a talk show.

HOST
I am speaking today with Pscyhologist David Barnes. Thanks for joining us on the show today.

BARNES
Of course.

HOST
A lot of our listeners have been troubled of late. Just the senselessness.

BARNES
Right.

HOST
You’ve spent a lot of time working with people suffering from very severe mental problems and your take- I find this interesting, isn’t that it’s simply bloodlust or for lack of a better word evil-

BARNES
No.

HOST
You say that these people are- depressed.

BARNES
Severely depressed. Listen. Depression is, basically, the feeling that you do not exist. That you are shrinking into obscurity-

HOST
To your family, to your community,

BARNES
Yes! To your friends…

HOST
So you do whatever possible to be noticed?

BARNES
To make yourself NOT disappear. You may do this with sex- that can be a pathology, others have been known to do this with creative work-

HOST
Sylvia Plath.

BARNES
And hundred others. And then some people are violent.

HOST
People like Susan Klebold, other parents of these shooters, they often refer to the act as a suicide.

BARNES
Because that is how their loved one has ended their life. It was a suicide. And there is something in that. They- the parents- lived with a depressive who then killed themselves.

HOST
Do you think the randomness- the killing of strangers of innocents- that it’s an attempt to stave off that depression, that idea that they didn’t exist.

BARNES
It’s a statement for sure. Listen. It’s scary to talk about it in these terms-

HOST
Because it humanizes people behind inhumane acts.

BARNES
And I have distance so I can talk about it more clinically. But outside of war and serial murder human beings do not want to kill people they don’t know. They hardly ever do it as the motive itself- separate from robbery or some other crime. Targeting. Planning and enacting a murder on someone who is a stranger to you is a deeper pathology. People have to stop trying to piece it together like a rational crime because nothing about it is. It will not follow a tidy narrative. Because to our rational minds it is senseless. But trust me there is something deeper happening there.

VIDEO

Lights shift. SEAN.

SEAN
Counselors were available the week Mike shot himself.
In homerooms we talked about warning signs, guilt, fears… we tried to make sense.
My counselor laid out the steps-

The problem happens mentally first. The depression seeps in. And life no longer seems precious. The next step is finding the means to do something about it.
If we were feeling suicidal we were to put away sharp objects, hide any dangerous pills and especially lock up guns.

Where we lived the last one was the least popular- people don’t want to be told what to do with the most powerful thing they own.

Lights shift to GUN OWNER.

GUN OWNER
I am a law abiding citizen. I own three guns. One of which is an assault rifle. If you want to know why I have these weapons it’s because I can. Because it’s my right and that is literally that. I understand- a tragedy, people will look everywhere for answers but I don’t have to answer that. Do you know how many guns are already out there that are never used to kill people? Millions. Drunk Drivers kill people we don’t outlaw cars. Obesity kills people we don’t outlaw spoons. I don’t mean to make light of it. But you takeaway a basic right out of fear and all basic rights are then up for grabs. Because it’s fear not anything real. I mean you can’t get rid of guns. Even if you tried. So I’ll be damned if I let you take away mine.

Lights shift.

OLD MAN
It is in the end about God. Not guns. We live in a day and age when no one cares about life.

OLD MAID
You read it. You see it.

OLD MAN
The video games we play, the movies we see, serial killers have their own tv shows that they are the heroes in!

OLD MAID
There is no morality.

OLD MAN
None.

OLD MAID
To be honest it makes guns more important than ever. As human life becomes worth less and less in this country, we’re going to have to protect ourselves more and more. We live in an evil world.

OLD MAN
No God leads to no consequences… and in that we all perish.

Lights shift. GARY WILLIS, PROFESSOR EMERITUS at Northwestern.

SEAN
Gary Willis, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University.

WILLIS
Thank you. In Leviticus there is the story of Moloch. He was a false idol that children were sacrificed to. So ‘Do not sacrifice your children to Moloch’ the bible says. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture. In Ancient Rome they destroyed Carthage saying they were followers of the god. They were sacrificers of children.

That’s us today.
The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes by mass killing sometimes by private offering. And like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. Guarantees life and safety and freedom. Guarantees law.

It has the power to make us think irrationally. To deny any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them…

It has the power to turn all our politicians as a class into invertebrate and mute attendants at the shrine.

It distorts our constitutional thinking.

It is the one true American religion. So those saying we don’t have God are not looking close enough. Molochism is our religion. We bow to the great God gun.

Lights shift. JOE SCARBOROUGH.
Sound theme from MORNING JOE plays.

SCARBOROUGH
We will watch the burials of these babies. We will hold up their parents in prayer. And we will hold our own children tighter as we thank God every afternoon watching them walk off their school bus and into our arms. But every American must know — from this day forward – that nothing can ever be the same again.
In the words of the New Testament, we need to let this be the hour after which we did all we could to make all things new.

I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA’s highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control.

I stood by those libertarian beliefs after Columbine, Aurora and Arizona. Those young men who slaughtered innocents were crazy, after all, and they would have found another way to kill their victims if their guns of choice were not available.

But last Friday a chilling thought crossed my mind as I saw the Times Square ticker over ABC spit out the news of yet another tragic shooting in yet another tortured town by yet another twisted son of that community.

How could it be that I knew within seconds of reading that scrolling headline that the shooter would be an isolated middle class white male who spent his days on his computer playing video games? How did I know that it was far more likely that he had a mental condition than a rational motive? And how did I know the end of this news story before the reporting even began?

I knew the ending of that story because I’ve seen it all too often before.

Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.

For the sake of my four children, I choose life. It is time to turn over the tables inside the temple, for the sake of our children and for the sake of this great nation that we love.

Lights shift. SEAN.

SEAN
The night of Mike’s vigil I did not go.
I did not light candles.
I did not pray.
I went home. I went through my old routine.
I did my best to forget. Video games, a movie, some re runs of a TV show.
I shrugged it off.
Saying he was basically a stranger to me.

I wish now I had gone.
Back then I would have gone for the answers.
If it were now I would go simply for the peace.

Lights shift to a chorus of news comments.

COMMUNITY COMMENT
The community out poring has just been tremendous.

COMMUNITY COMMENT
There have been postings on people’s websites and facebook pages-

COMMUNITY COMMENT
There is something hopeful in how people have been touched.

COMMUNITY COMMENT
We need to remember this. If only so our communities can be stronger and if only so it doesn’t take tragedy to bring us together.

Lights shift. News report.

ANNOUNCER
Robbie Parker has a message for the family of the gunman who killed his 6-year-old daughter and 19 of her school mates.

PARKER
“I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well,”

ANNOUNCER
Fighting back tears with his voice cracking, Parker asked Saturday night that the tragedy

PARKER
“Not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people.”

ANNOUNCER
Parker’s comments came amid a public mourning in this southern New England town of 27,000, where residents have been trying to make sense of the shooting.
Many of the victims’ parents asked for privacy as they grieve. But Parker, 30, stepped forward to talk about Emilie.

PARKER
“It went from … ‘I can’t imagine this is happening. This has to be some sort of a mistake. To something real. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at first. I thought with the first reports that were coming in it didn’t sound like it was going to be as tragic as it was. My daugher Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing up and giving her love and support to all of those victims, because that is the type of person she is.
She was an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for someone. She was the oldest of three girls, and helped one sister learn to read and helped the youngest to do crafts. She was their best friend. I don’t know how to get through something like this, how to process something like this and get our lives going.”

ANNOUNCER
The outpouring of grief from people around the world has overwhelmed the family.
Thousands who never met the girl are mourning her on Facebook after friends of the Parker family established the Emilie Parker Fund page. What started out as an effort to help the family raise money to take Emilie’s body back to Utah where the family had recently moved from… It has now become an online spot for thousands to mourn.

Lights shift. Comments on FB Page.

LETTER
“Dear Parker family, thank you for the love and forgiveness you have shown. Our hearts were all broken yesterday as we learned of this tragedy,”

LETTER
We are very sad and sending prayers from the Dominican Republic

LETTER
Prayers, Love & Tears from the California Coast. Ventura, CA

LETTER
Prayers and support from Acworth, GA

LETTER
I send you all my love and support along with my families from Marshfield Wisconsin

LETTER
Sending thoughts and prayers from Millersville, MD

LETTER
The Town of Boone, Iowa loves and is praying for you

LETTER
From VA TECH….we understand unspeakable tragedy…. Our hearts are broken.

LETTER
Love, prayers, and so much more from Florida.

LETTER
From Australia

LETTER
From the UK

LETTER
From us.

Lights shift. SEAN.

SEAN
When our community gathered around Mike people were kind and gracious. But they also wanted answers. A few years later when another student killed himself people were reminded of Mike and invoked him for a short while. They talked of more counselors. More ways to not have these vigils. To not have this pain. They wanted solutions. And solutions are never easy.

Lights shift. CHRIS ROCK, Comedian.

ROCK
I’ll tell you right now. You don’t need no gun control! NO! What you need… is some bullet control. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars… five thousand dollars per bullet… You know why? Cause if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders. 
I’ll tell you that much. Every time somebody get shot you’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something they put fifty thousand dollars worth of bullets in his ass.’
And people would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your fucking head off…if I could afford it.’ ‘I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man.

Lights shift to LANA, son was avictim of violent crime.

LANA
My son was murdered with a handgun. And I will be the first to tell you that my belief is that if more guns were legal and on the street he would be alive today. If people feared that someone could truly defend themselves they would think twice about it. People expect me to be anti gun because of the loss of my son. And my son was kind he would never have carried something like that even if he could. But we are a fear based society, we only care about consequences, so you have to make consequences for these people.

Lights shift.

SOLUTION 1
I think a casualty insurance gun owners have to take out. You want a gun you pay extra for the privilege.

SOLUTION 2
Criminal charges if guns aren’t properly secured.

SOLUTION 3
Earlier screening for mental health issues.

SOLUTION 4
After 9/11 our school had police officers and metal detectors stationed in it. The guy who did this horrible thing a few days ago was wearing body armor- he was looking for a fight. So there’s little you can do but bring it to him.

Lights shift. A debate of mental health.

ADVOCATE
We need to diagnose earlier. And we need to force people to take their medications.

PUNDIT
No. No. “Force” now this is a problem-

ADVOCATE
Too many people avoid taking their medication. And it is not all right. I am the father of a schizophrenic and I say this not simply with society’s best interests at heart but my daughter’s. The mental health issue is huge. There is a law in California- Laura’s law named for Laura Wilcox- a 19 year old college sophomore killed while volunteering at the Nevada County public mental health clinic by a schizophrenia resisting his family’s attempts to get him treatment- that calls for “assisted outpatient treatment,” or, more bluntly, forced medication.

PUNDIT
We cannot force people to take medications. The Democratic party fought this in Connecticut and for good reason. The basic human rights violation of that is unacceptable-

ADVOCATE
Which is exactly what the gun lobbyists say to the left about gun control. “We can’t take away basic rights.” Well both liberals who struck down Laura’s law in other states including Connecticut and gun lobbyists who fight tooth and nail for heavy artillery need to bend.

Part of the reason Laura Wilcox is dead is because there are not enough
psychiatric hospitals, or “beds” as they are called. This is because building
psychiatric hospitals is neither a political priority for funding and
because nobody wants one in their back yard.

Nobody objects to the local hospital adding on a neo-natal unit or a stroke unit
but they don’t want psych wards. The irony in this is that the mentally ill are
already all around them.

PUNDIT
And you really think you just make Laura’s Law mandatory? Forced medication.
You’d want someone forcing medication on your own daughter?

ADVOCATE
Yes. Let me put it in everyday terms. Have you ever been flagged as possibly having tuberculosis?

PUNDIT
No but people in my family.
It’s pretty common if you develop pneumonia.

ADVOCATE
What happens?

PUNDIT
They quarantine you until they are certain you don’t have tuberculosis.

ADVOCATE
We do not allow the option to refuse treatment for tuberculosis because you are a risk to public health. It’s the same if you are severely mentally ill. You are risk to yourself and to public health. We have to treat you, whether you want us to or not. Human rights violation? Not if you have TB. Don’t like the way your meds make you feel? Talk to your doctor. But you are going to take something.

Lights shift. DEREK.

DEREK
I have one question for you if you are a person interested in gun control. Are there any of those here? Then my question for you is “who is Ron Cohen?” You don’t know. You don’t know because Ron Cohen doesn’t want you to know. P. James Debney doesn’t want you to know. Robert Nardelli doesn’t want you to know.

AMANDA
Ron Cohen is the CEO of Sig Sauer.

DEREK
And he doesn’t want you writing him letters. Boycotting him.

AMANDA
Drawing attention to him.

DEREK
And you should. Because each time this happens we attack the NRA and that’s what the NRA exists for- to sap our energy.

AMANDA
We read that a glock was used and we think handgun and not corporation. But it is a corporation and we need to take them to task for making things that kill.

DEREK
And the question is always- what can you do?

AMANDA
Here are four things you can actually do.

DEREK
Number one: Do not feed the internet trolls!

AMANDA
Never say the phrase “gun control” or get into a message board argument with Jimbo3421 on Politico ever again. You’ve done nothing. In fact, you’ve done exactly what you’ve been trained to do yelling and wasting energy with someone WHO CANNOT CHANGE ANYTHING.

DEREK
Number 2: Re-brand the gun debate.

AMANDA
The greatest PSA campaign in the history of advertising is the Truth campaign, which did away with the traditional “smoking is bad for you” ads that proved ineffective. Instead, what the “Truth” campaign did was demonize tobacco companies—NOT demonize tobacco or tobacco users— but the companies and say:

DEREK
THESE PEOPLE ARE FUCKING YOU OVER. They are lying to you and trying to kill you and they are getting rich while doing it.

When you change the language, you change people’s perception of what’s really at stake.

AMANDA
Make this a crime issue, not an endless discussion about what guns MEAN to everyone.

DEREK
Number 3. Exposure.

You all can write letters. All can use email. I suggest you do everything you can to draw attention to Ron Cohen, or Freedom Group CEO George Kollitides (here’s a photo to get you started).

You’re gonna have to work hard, because these people go out of their way to remain hidden from view.

AMANDA
Do not send an angry letter to Wayne LaPierre the President of the NRA. He eats those for breakfast.

DEREK
Send your letters to THESE men. Why are these men not under any scrutiny? Have you ever seen ANY of them brought up in front of a Congressional subcommittee? Someone needs to put a microphone in front of Ron Cohen and ask him, “What are you doing to make sure your guns aren’t used to kill children?”

AMANDA
Then we can all watch him fumble for a decent answer and then we can call him a prick.

DEREK
These men need to be made famous, far more famous than Adam Lanza. People need to camp out by their lawns smoking weed and holding up signs that say OCCUPY GUN STREET.

AMANDA
Number 4: Lawsuits.

There’s no point in going to a politician to help make your community safer. Many of them helped engineer lucrative government contracts for these companies to equip our armed forces and local police departments. Ultimately, money is the only language the gun industry really understands. Everything else is white noise. Cigarette companies were sued into oblivion.

DEREK
The NFL is currently doing everything short of renaming the sport “tag” to avoid punishing class action decisions. When Sig Sauer sends its products out into the world, their responsibility for them apparently ends. Why?

AMANDA
If you believe it. You need to ask it.

Lights shift. SEAN.

SEAN
It’s been 17 years since Mike shot himself with a Smith and Wesson rifle.
His dad’s I believe.
I know now he felt alone.
And disenfranchised.
Probably lied to in that way young people
And more and more it seems
Young men think they are lied to.

Gun sales have gone up in the past few days. One of the biggest gun lobby’s in the country is down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. They haven’t ceased operations for a day.

Online people continue to call each other idiots and demand that nothing be politicized.

That we just let things heal.

And I keep typing away.
Trying to make sense.
Trying to put the pieces together. Because these tragedies come at us in pieces and we keep looking for new information to make it different from the last one. To understand this one, to crack the code.

I don’t think we can stop or outlaw all guns.

I do think that if someone wants to kill they will find a way.
But I also think we can make it harder for them.

Harder to kill.
Harder to be left behind.
Harder to be so desensitized that it takes children dying to really notice.

Harder to forget.
If nothing else it’s going to be harder to forget.

The only good thing about tragedy
Is that it can force us to re-build again.
It can force us to be better.

Not just for ourselves.
But for the world as a whole.

Lights shift. Final Chorus. SEAMUS HANEY’S CURE AT TROY.

CHORAL 1
Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.

CHORAL 2
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted or endured.

CHORAL 3
The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.

CHORAL 4
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.

CHORAL 5
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

CHORAL 6
History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.

CHORAL 7
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

CHORAL 8
So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.

CHORAL 1
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.

CHORAL 2
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

CHORAL 3
Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.

CHORAL 4
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

CHORAL 5
That means someone is hearing
the outcry

CHORAL 6
and the birth-cry

Choral 7
of new life at its term.

Lights shift.

SEAN
We don’t know how to end something like this.
Because hopefully it’s just a beginning.
So before we trudge forward.
And take on the new hope.

We ask for a moment of silence to ponder
And remember
To respect
To draw strength from.
To change.

Silence.

End Play.

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