Pittsburgh Victim Families Upset That Loved Ones Are Little More Than Case Numbers

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For most of you, trying to understand what it’s like to lose someone to a person with a firearm may seem easy, but it’s not. Not really. For me, it wasn’t losing someone to gun violence that got to me, though, but that I lost a friend who meant the world to me because some maniac couldn’t sit down and order a cup of coffee anymore. Thankfully, most of you haven’t really experienced that.


But some of you have.

You know how hard it is when it seems the world doesn’t care as much about the person you lost as you do. You know how awful it feels.

In Pittsburgh, some are upset that they’re dealing with that feeling right now. I get that.

The problem is that they’re demanding legislative action, too.

People are looking for answers as gun violence happens on the streets.

“It has to start at the legislative level. It seems like no matter how many people are murdered, they don’t want to change the laws,” said Debra Germany, who lost her son to gun violence.

July marks 20 years since Germany’s son, Raymond, was gunned down in the Hill District. With each passing year, the pain does not lessen.

“Cut down in the prime of his life. And every time I see another shooting on TV, it’s tearing a scab off a wound because I know what those families are feeling,” Germany said.

Barbie Sampson is searching for answers, too.

“I feel like my daughter’s case is just a case number. I get it the police are so overwhelmed with all these shootings that are going on. But to me, she’s not a case number,” Sampson said.

Nearly four weeks ago, her daughter Jasmine Guest was shot and killed in a car on the Parkway East. While she waits for any leads or justice, she’s also looking at the bigger issue.

Honestly, I feel for these folks. However, let’s be honest, there’s a reason why Sampson’s daughter’s case feels like it’s just a case number. That’s by design. Investigators need a certain level of detachment, otherwise, they make mistakes they wouldn’t otherwise make. That’s not a good idea. Not if you want the killer caught.


But Germany is one of those people who seems to turn the loss of a loved one into a cause; as if she’s now somehow right about gun control simply because she experienced tragedy.

Well, I experience a similar tragedy. At what point do I get to be right because of that?

The answer is never. That’s because that’s not how right and wrong work. Emotion may lend weight to an argument, at least with many people, but it doesn’t change reality. Gun control doesn’t work. Folks like me don’t oppose gun control because we’re callous to Germany’s loss, but in part because it doesn’t work.

The other part is that it’s a violation of our civil rights, which is an argument that should be all you need to say, but isn’t.

I get that these ladies are reeling from their loss, even decades later. However, their loss doesn’t mean we upend the Constitution and lay down for failed policies, either.

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