Young Americans affected by gun violence say some relatives are still pro-guns +2023

“I don’t know why they blame the NRA. It’s not the NRA’s fault.”

It was only a few days after Robert Schentrups Sister Carmen had been killed in one Mass shooting at her high school in Parkland, Florida – with her 17th birthday just a week away. The extended family, including a member of the National Rifle Association, had come to the Schentrup home to help with cleaning and meal preparation when no one else could bring themselves to do it. “It was really nice,” remembers Schentrup.

However, after the extended family left, Schentrup’s mother confided that a relative had assured her that the NRA was not to blame for Carmen’s death. Instead, the relative said, the focus must be on that inaction of the police. (As time Magazine reports doctors have written down that other countries have similar mental health problems as the United States but far fewer acts of mass violence. One key difference: easy access to guns.) In fact, the family member said they were increasing their monthly NRA donation in light of the Parkland shooting.

In retrospect, Schentrup believes that the family member tried to understand the loss of Carmen. “He clung to it right rhetoric, these are really simple answers to difficult questions,” says Schentrup. “Rather than what we’re doing about the abundance of guns and lack of mental health care in this country, rather than struggling to resolve these complexities, it’s easier to say, ‘Fuck it, it’s the price you pay.'”

Schentrup was 200 miles away at college when he heard there was a shooting at the high school he graduated from the year before, where his two younger sisters – Carmen, a senior, and Evelyn, a freshman – were still at school went. He immediately texted his sisters and parents to get in touch. His first thought, of course, was that the shooting was a tragedy, but his sisters had to be okay – that couldn’t happen to his family.

As the hours dragged on and there was still no word from Carmen, Schentrup considered other explanations, such as that she might have left her phone in her classroom when she was evacuated. He eventually took to Facebook, where he posted a status urging anyone who knew where Carmen was to message him. Someone did and said they were sorry, but they heard that Carmen had been shot. (Schentrup later concluded that he might actually have seen video of his sister being shot. Someone in her classroom had recorded it and posted it on Snapchat, and he’d watched without knowing what he was seeing.)

When the night stretched into the early morning hours, Schentrup’s father called out in a cracking voice. “When I heard my father’s voice,” he says, “I knew what the answer was.”

Losing his sister was a tragedy in itself, but losing her in such a violent, public way was difficult for Schentrup to understand. Carmen had loved school and dedicated herself to academic success. For the last year of her life, her focus had been on going to college and one day becoming a medical researcher. Schentrup says: “It was really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that she was someone who had spent a lot of time trying to achieve something that she will never achieve.”

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