Remembering the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut and Oak Creek, Wisconsin mass shootings. Photo by Callen Harty.
With more than 300 mass shootings in the United States so far this year (defined as four or more people being shot or killed in the same general location and time) we are averaging about one a day. Two of the five deadliest in history have occurred in the last several weeks (35 days). It just seems it is getting to be too many for the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers to keep up with press releases and responses, so it seemed like a good idea to offer them a template for responding to the next one, which should be no later than tomorrow or the next day at the current rate. This way they can spend their money on lobbying and advertising instead of wasting it on explaining their positions.
[Company name/organization] was saddened and horrified today to learn about the loss of life in [insert city name] by a terrorist [if person of color]/mentally unstable man [if white]. Nobody expects this kind of thing to happen in their [home/school/place of worship/workplace/movie theater/vacation spot/favorite nightclub/army base/restaurant/post office/neighborhood/etc.].
But we strongly encourage citizens not to get hysterical and clamor for an end for all Americans’ right to bear arms. If there had been a good citizen with a gun present this would have been stopped before so many were killed [Note: in the event that a citizen with a gun was there and was killed, injured, or was unable to do anything to help, this line may be skipped]. We believe the Second Amendment is sacred and it is critical to a free and safe citizenry. It also protects us against our own government. An occasional life lost to someone who uses a gun for a reason it was never intended is the price of freedom. [If only children are killed this line may be skipped.]
Further, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. If an assault weapon hadn’t been available this murderer would have killed these [insert number from four to 58, unless the next incident is more than 58] people with knives, baseball bats, rocks, fingernail clippers, or whatever was available to him.
Our prayers are with the victims of this incident [never refer to it as a mass shooting or refer to guns] and their families [in the event of the mass shooting taking place in a place of worship this entire line may be skipped]. If you want to protect your family, the best way to do that is to go out now and purchase a firearm. There will be a sale tomorrow and likely a rush, so make sure to get there early. Maybe even buy two, just to be doubly safe. We sincerely wish peace to all in this difficult time and God Bless America.
About Callen Harty
Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores,
He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History.
He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive.
Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.