exit wound

exit wound:
Forensic pathology:  The “goodbye” lesion that a bullet or other projectile causes when leaving the body;  EWs are often larger than the entrance wound, due to tumbling and deformation of the bullet.

From The Medical Dictionary

Growing up in the south, everyone’s father had a gun — weapons were always around but generally took the form of  mysterious closets we kids weren’t allowed in. In college, I dated a hunter and his family took very seriously their responsibility for life and safety, and I think of them often  when discussing responsible gun legislation proposed by President Obama and Senate leaders with friends and strangers and their influence on me is probably most of the basis for the respectful tone I keep when disagreeing.  But violence and the potential for gun-related violence or accidents have followed me throughout my life.


When I was about nine or ten, my best friend’s stepdad awoke in the middle of the night to hear an intruder moving about the house.  In the dark, he reached for his handgun and took aim toward the noise in the hallway.  His wife appeared then, in front of him, a glass of water in her hand — terrified to come face to face with her husband pointing a gun at her.  Luckily, he had the presence of mind to relax his grip and put the gun down.  All of us kids talked about it the next day.  By breakfast, the mother had moved beyond upset and scared and was furious with her husband.


A few years later when I was a teenager, my father decided he wanted a divorce. When my mother couldn’t imagine a life without him and was uncooperative, he reached for his gun and over the course of a weekend held her captive.  He did all sorts of unspeakable things to her, keeping a gun to her head the entire time, until he finally, on the third day, fell asleep.  She escaped to a friend’s house and on Monday found an apartment and filed a police report.


My uncle, a well-loved and talented musician and music teacher, would drive home late at night across Raleigh from restaurant and club gigs he played with his band.  He would often stop at a convenient store late for something to eat.  One summer night in the 80’s, he unknowingly entered a store during an armed robbery.  The thief had managed to come around behind my uncle and was about to make his escape when he called from behind, with a hand on the door, “Don’t turn around.”  Reflexively, Jerry turned to see who had spoken to him.  He was shot and killed immediately.  He left behind a beautiful wife and daughter who still miss him terribly to this day.


“Before I tell you how the NRA and our members are going to Stand And Fight politically and in the courts, let’s acknowledge that all over this country, tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes.

These good Americans are prudently getting ready to protect themselves.”  — Wayne LaPierre, Stand and Fight

From the day of the shooting til today, this is the first detailed account of Newtown that I have found at a time and place I was able to bring myself to read:

Lanza shot his way into the school through the glass windows at the front entrance and turned left toward the first-grade classrooms. He almost immediately encountered Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach, who ran into the hallway from a meeting room, which would have been on Lanza’s right. He shot them both to death immediately.

Sources said that the two teachers who were injured were hit by ricochet bullets from that initial burst of gunfire.   [ … ]

Lanza first skipped Victoria Soto’s room and entered the classroom taught by substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau.

Lanza killed all but one student in Rousseau’s class, where the children were massed together in a back corner of the room trying to get into a bathroom. One girl escaped because she played dead and ran out of the room after Lanza left.

Lanza then backtracked to Soto’s room.  —  As reported at courant.com

What do our children think of all of this?  The terrible event itself, the impassioned mothers making phone calls, the neighbors arguing when they never have before, and far away in Washington, on the floor of a large room, someone else decides. 

The day has arrived in America when it is all too easy to obtain a weapon of mass destruction, as easy to pick up as a dozen eggs and gallon of milk, not quite as difficult as Sudafed —

“It’s not a very practical thing to do and you’ll have a lot of inconvenience to law-abiding citizens at the same time you’re not going to keep many weapons out of the hands of people who are misusing them,” said Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Chair, on requiring background checks for all gun sales.

… and pro-gun interest groups have twitchy trigger fingers.  In the days before the Senate began its debate, the rhetoric was ratcheting up to a level of extreme irresponsibility.  And from the top of the NRA and all the way down.

“It’s going to be a very rough and very ugly battle.  Fortunately, our enemy doesn’t have any guns and they don’t know how to use them.”  NRA President David Keene on new federal and state gun regulations. 

Sources said that Lanza’s shooting spree lasted less than five minutes and that he fired 152 bullets while making his way through two classrooms in the elementary school. — courant.com

“We have so much to be proud of as gun owners, shooters and freedom lovers. That pride, especially when it’s not hidden in the closet, is itself a form of protection for the Second Amendment.

We will not surrender. We will not appease. We will buy more guns than ever. We will use them for sport and lawful self-defense more than ever. We will grow the NRA more than ever. And we will be prouder than ever to be freedom-loving NRA patriots. And with your help, we will ensure that the Second Amendment remains America’s First Freedom. “– Wayne LaPierre, Stand and Fight

vince March 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm
“See that is exactly the point Eugene, the right to bear arms is a god given right OUR govt has neither the right nor the authority to deny us that right. They have already infringed upon our god given to bear arms. A Thompson sub machine gun is a fire arm and i should be allowed to own it without the BATF’s permission. So is an F-16, and Abrams tank, if i should be inclined and able to afford it i should be able to own any weapon the United States Military operates!! Predator drones, B-52′s whatever. I should be able to arm myself with any weapon i want!!”  — Comment on a pro-gun board from this article


With gun safety measures headed to the Senate floor, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees have quietly made permanent four formerly temporary gun-rights provisions largely favored by Republicans. Those provisions are part of a spending bill that would keep the government running through Sept. 30.  — The New York Times, March 13, 2013        


None of this is acceptable.  There is no God-given right to own a gun or threaten another human life.  There is a Constitutional-given right in the form of the 2nd Amendment and it gets warped and twisted badly, mostly by those who stand to profit greatly from more gun sales and loosened restrictions, and repeated often in slogans and talking points by those whose fear of some unknown, and primarily fictional “bad guy,” who was created in the minds of men much like the fairy tales we were all raised on.

I know from my own history that often it is a good guy with a gun that later becomes an impassioned, irrational, frustrated, angry bad guy.

I will protect anyone’s right to own a weapon but in fact no one needs weapons of mass destruction that too many times now has found their way into the hands of troubled youth.  Until we do a better job of taking care of our mentally ill, we must make it harder to obtain these weapons.  (Owning a weapon should be regarded as a serious responsibility again. I actually watched an NRA YouTube video interview with N.H. gun store owner Keith Cox refer to them as “toys for adults” here.)  I support the assault weapons ban, universal background checks, stricter penalties for illegal gun sales, mandatory liability insurance for gun owners, and increased spending for our mentally ill.

Though I haven’t seen any photographs, I cannot shake the image — indeed, my mind can see it more clearly than if you’d shown me a photograph —  a child with his hand and jaw blown off.  The hand presumably raised to protect himself.  To protect himself.   … He had seen and he knew.

For a six-year-old to possess that horrible knowledge, even for an instant, was and is a lot to bear.   There are small moments of victory and many moments of discouraging or frightening news.  But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said — there comes a point when silence becomes permission.

Newtown was the point of entry.  The exit wound — the goodbye lesion — was left on the nation.  Goodbye to silent witness.

I am a good American, too, Mr. LaPierre.

28 responses

  1. In a world where it seems only the loudest voices are heard, this reminds us that sometimes the most powerful voices begin with a tear-soaked whisper. But in those voices, in those tears, a steely determination can be forged and hearts and minds can be changed. Beautifully and powerfully written by a voice forged in steel. Well done Melissa.

  2. “Newtown was the point of entry. The exit wound — the goodbye lesion — was left on the nation. Goodbye to silent witness.
    I am a good American, too, Mr. LaPierre”

    This is so powerful. I hope it makes it to his ears. Thank you for putting it out there.

    My heart still hurts everyday for those children, parents, families, friends…. we must stand up for them. We must stand up for us. We are good Americans!

  3. The Noah Pozner story has had a huge impact on me. Ever since I first saw his face on TV, I couldn’t help but notice he looked a lot like my own son Samuel. Particularly his, eyes, cheeks and smile. He was one of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t get his face out of my head. Eventually I decided to read his obituary to find out a little more what kind of kid he was. While I don’t regret it, I would be lying if i said it didn’t make things A LOT harder. I found myself grieving for the poor boy, even though I never met him. Just a few weeks ago, I was going through my pictures and I came across the picture of him I downloaded from the web. I began to cry uncontrollably. I do not cry easily. Last time I cried was when we lost our first son to a miscarriage. Before that… I honestly don’t remember the last time I cried before that. What happened to him is just unthinkable. To see his beautiful smile and then knowing his jaw was completely blown away. The level of evil it takes to do something like is… I just can’t wrap my head around it. Before Newtown, I’m not even sure I believed in that kind of evil. Sure people do evil things, but usually they have some kind of justification in their heads about it. I used to think that nobody just wakes up and says, “I’m going to do evil today.” Yet Adam Lanza did. How do you justify to yourself the killing of 20 innocent children? To go from having thoughts to actually doing it is beyond me.

    I’m very angry about the whole thing. I was never a gun control activist, but Newtown awoke that in me. Newtown made me realize just how reckless, irresponsible and selfish our gun culture has become. I also support an assault weapons ban. The fact that these weapons are selling like hot cakes AFTER Newtown infuriates me. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who bought an assault weapon or joined the NRA after Newtown has demoted themselves out of the human race. The way I see it is this: Protecting children is a basic human instinct. If 20 children are gunned down and your first thought is to protect your fucking guns (which nobody is even trying to take away) instead of the children, you are not human. I have no interest in civil debate with these people or the NRA. They’ve had it there way long enough and we’ve seen the consequences. It’s time for the other side to get loud and demand change for our children. I truly believe it is parental instinct taking hold here. I’m thrilled to find many other parents on the net who were effect just like I was, including the President. I’m hopeful that change will come and it will make a difference. It’s the least we could do to honor the memory of the Newtown victims.

    If only Noah knew how much he impacted me. Who knows? Maybe he does know. I don’t know. I can only hope. Either way, R.I.P. Noah Pozner. R.I.P all Newtown victims and gun violence victims

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and leave your thoughts — your words have moved me greatly. Maybe Noah knows, but certainly Newtown does. Keep channeling that anger into positive, constructive ways to help change things. We are who we have been waiting for. No one else will do this if we do not.

    • I feel the same way, I never knew that sort of evil existed. Noah Pozner left a large impression on me, as well. He might as well have been family, and I feel very strongly about the gun control issue going forward.

  4. I think of the Newtown parents with a surviving child, an older or younger sibling who is scared and grieving and confused, having to try to hold it together for the sake of that other child or children, while trying to cope with the loss of such a small child. I think of the Newtown first responders, the ones who had to go into those classrooms and try to find any survivors among the massacred little ones, and if they are even yet able to sleep at night without major pharmaceutical assistance.

    And the gun freaks whine that universal background checks or smaller clips or magazines might INCONVENIENCE “legitimate gun owners”?

    The blood boils. We don’t HAVE to let the gun lobby win, and I hope enough other people feel as we do, that we DON’T let them.

    • Oh, yes. Channel that boiling blood into positive action. Stay fearless in your words and determination to protect our children from future harm — that is the very definition of courage. They don’t have to win, we ARE in the majority, but we have to make lots of noise. Keep fighting!

  5. Your thoughts gather the coherence I’ve been searching for lately. Our collective wound keeps returning from a more distant past.

    When I returned from Japan in 92′ it only took only one child’s story to affect me as your words just did. He has been waiting for so long for America to wake up. Please read more his story on the blog.


    There’s no such child as other peoples children.
    Who’s that child any way?
    I’m a grim tragedy on your television.
    Why don’t I go away?
    How can you ignore my ache so deep?
    I remember you!
    Born in America when your senses were asleep.
    Aren’t you the father that I knew?

    Blind man staring at the tears in my Heart,
    Your conscience used to feel so clean.
    Was it neglect on someone else’s part?
    Who’s ear was deaf to my scream?

    There’s no such child as other peoples children.
    Who am I any way?
    I’m a grim tragedy on your television.
    I will not go away!
    Please don’t ignore my pain so deep?
    “I” am your child too!
    Born in America when your senses were asleep.
    I am the child you grew

    continued on http://heartdancing.wordpress.com

    • Brian — thank you for your comments. Please know that I am not backing down, and I am not going away. It will take a commitment from all of us — but we will never forget. Newtown is forever in our hearts.

  6. In watching the dramatic cultural changes on gay marriage in what to me is a very short time, I ponder how the lessons of the “coming out” strategy can be applied to other radical change. It has been the courage of innumerable individuals making that decision, taking that risk, that has led to people recognizing they know really good people who just happen to be gay. Is there any application to gun issues? Do we “come out” publicly as pro-gun safety (I think we should change the language, so it’s not gun control but gun safety) as often and loudly as we can, so more and more people, including the gun rights types, see how many normal neighborly resonable types support gun law reform? One way to “come out” that deals with children is to make guns in the home an absolute dealbreaker for ANY playdates or sleepovers at the home. Ask the gun question and insist you don’t trust gunowners with your kids. Period. Tell people how you feel and don’t fear the negative response. We have to keep the momentum going, never forgetting Newtown — and all the others, including the thousands since then–thousands!

    • There is a two-fold strategy which I think we should all keep in mind — there was a great article from The Atlantic (I think it was The Atlantic) in the last few months that advised the responsible gun legislation group to take their notes from the anti-abortion group, and go locally, and chip away, and over a long span of time. The chipping away is how we will get better controls in place (though the NRA is doing everything they can right now at the state level to already hurt those efforts). The other model we can look at is MADD — who not only worked and worked hard to lobby and change laws, but also made it shameful to drive while intoxicated. It’s going to take an approach of patience and vision — check your endurance and make lots of noise — keep making the calls, writing e-mails, tweets. Let them know we are not giving up and we are not going away — the majority of Americans want better, stronger laws in place. It’s perfectly clear that the NRA wants to profit from our loss.

  7. Hi Melissa, I appreciate well thought opinions and liked this post very much. And though I’m not a ‘gun-nut’ it seems that ‘gun-control nuts’ are setting up many straw men to take down.

    For example, the NRA and conservatives have been for background checks for a long time… legislation that NRA has recommended making mental health issues available for instant background checks, but the ACLU said violated people’s rights to privacy. Also, the background check laws that are already in place are not being carried through because they are not being funded and because anything done federally, is simply not managed well. Michigan has a ‘universal background check’ like that is being proposed federally and it is “largely ignored” because it is very hard to enforce. So it simply creates imposition for the law abiding citizens… that’s what he means in the quote you used above… those that are trying to get around the laws already in place… will get around the new ones too. In all the legislation being proposed, there are no enforcement ideas or long term funding options offered.

    And the other solutions, we’ve tried! The Brady Bill did nothing to affect gun violence and most violent gun deaths happen by people who obtain guns illegally anyway.

    Believe me, I find it very very frustrating to hear time after time about gun violence but I’m not someone who will be placated by a democrat pushing a bill through that doesn’t do anything anyway.

    I do believe that smaller clips are a compromising point, leaving provisions for ‘well organized militia’ like those doing border patrol in Texas, etc. And I would like for background checks (the laws already in place) to actually be enforced, including access to psychiatric red flag records… certainly we don’t need to know everyone’s full record, but if they have threatened to or admitted to daydreaming about taking out tons of people to school counselors or doctors, there should be a way to get a red flag out there.

    It seems as though people who are, rightly so, passionate about gun control like to create an “us v them” atmosphere automatically making gun owners the villains.

    Let’s enforce the laws we do have. Let’s make criminals do hard time instead of getting slaps on the wrist and let’s try to figure out ways to make our kids and law abiding citizens safe… LaPierre tried to suggest one… instead of demonizing him because we don’t think its the right solution… let’s find another.

    anyway, I’ll check around as it seems you put a lot of thought into your blogs, which I appreciate!


  8. Pingback: Dear Mandy, Thank you for your comments. | An Open Letter to an NRA Defender | Melissa I. Hassard

  9. Really enjoyed this article…people forget the gun was invented to kill…to kill Humans specifically…I am ex military and am against civilians owning any weapon that is not bolt action…I am against ownership of semi and fully automatic weapons as they are not hunting weapons but weapons of war and distruction…a hunter in general needs one round to take down an animal…no more than 3 rounds or he is not a hunter…simple…the only god given right is Life and guns infringe on that right.

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