As I’ve noted before, I understand what drives those who lose loved ones in mass shootings to start crusading for gun control. It’s an emotional time, and people don’t think rationally in those moments. When you’re not a die-hard supporter of the Second Amendment, it’s easy to get sucked down that hole, at least for a little while.
So I’m not surprised to hear a Borderline shooting victim’s family members are demanding gun control.
Susan Orfanos flipped through an Eagle Scout scrapbook. Her husband, Marc, looked downward, voice faltering. Together, they told another story about their eldest son, Telemachus.
They smiled one moment, cried the next and swore in rage a beat later. The conversation spun from beard trimmings in the bathroom sink to Tel escaping the Borderline Bar & Grill massacre then returning to help others to the threats that came after Susan made a national plea for gun control.
Sometimes, the cycle repeats itself.
“It’s still so surreal,” said Marc, assistant track coach at Thousand Oaks High School and a substitute teacher in the Conejo Valley Unified School District. “It’s been like nine weeks and it’s like no time has passed.”
The day after the Borderline shooting, a television crew parked in front of the Orfanos home in Thousand Oaks. Susan went to talk to them. Her voice shaking with rage over her son’s death, she unleashed the words that went viral.
“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control and I hope to God nobody else sends me any more prayers,” she said.
The first sign of backlash was posted within hours. “You take away my gun. Boom. Boom,” the message said, according to Susan and Marc.
In December, the family and others were sent letters suggesting the tragedy was a fabrication invented to advance a political agenda. The letter was marked with a hashtag, 1000OaksHoax. Susan and Marc gave it to law enforcement.
Look, threats and claiming the event didn’t happen aren’t helpful. I get the motivation for saying things like “You take away my gun. Boom. Boom.” (Assuming, of course, that happened. It wouldn’t be the first time something like that was made up, now would it?)
What the Orfanos also need to come to understand is that California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. They typically go beyond anything that’s proposed at the national level. By any measure, they’re the most stringent in the nation.
So which laws should we enact? No, I’d like the Orfanos to tell me, which gun control regulations need to be passed. A magazine ban? California has one. The shooter still had a standard-capacity magazine which exceeded California’s limits and of which there are millions upon millions of floating around this country already.
What else? An assault weapon ban? The shooter used a handgun.
Universal background checks? California has them. Fat lot of good it did, though.
While I’m sympathetic to what the Orfanos are dealing with, and will tell people that threats and denialism are useless, they’re demanding action happen because they’re distraught. They’re going to be distraught.
What they’re not is rational. Maybe the Orfanos never will be when it comes to the topic of guns. I can get that. I really can.
But that doesn’t excuse their calls for curtailing the rights of ordinary Americans. There’s a reason people get that level of outrage, and it would behoove anti-gunners to learn where that rage comes from. You can’t claim to want to have a conversation on guns if you’re not even willing to listen.