Fifty-one years ago, Claire Wilson was eight-months pregnant when she was shot by Charles Joseph Whitman, the Texas Tower Sniper. The Texas Tower shooting is considered America first mass shooting. On August 1, 1966, the final body count was 16 people killed and 31 wounded. Claire survived, but her baby boy did not. She never bore another child.
On November 5, 2017, Crystal Holcombe was eight-months pregnant when she was shot by Devin Patrick Kelley, the First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs shooter. As of this writing, it has been reported that 26 people were killed and 20 are wounded. Both Crystal and her baby died. She had born five children. Three of them died that day, also.
The similarities are haunting all the way down to both killers gunning down their victims in Texas, both being in their mid-twenties, and both being former military who were court-martialed during their time in service..
Substantially different, however, are the laws and cultural norms spanning the last 50 years. Namely, the gun laws. Tucked away is Roe v. Wade. While the gun debate drones on there is no question that gun laws are much more stringent than they were in 1966. Yet, mass shootings have not abated. Conversely, while the debate of being recognized as a human being becomes more volatile with medical technology, Roe v. Wade reigns supreme. Though it is merely case law dating back to 1973 that permits a medical procedure, within the case law there is no terminology regarding the definition of when life begins. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Blackmun states, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.”
In October of 2016 I wrote: Today, Roe v. Wade is to babies what the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Dred Scott Decision were to Blacks: a denial of life as a fully recognized human being.
Just as back in that time there was a dilemma of counting slaves (regarded as property) for representation, so it is for eight-month-olds in utero: Do shooting death and wounded counts include in utero? If in utero does not constitute life, why is there even any mention of the women being pregnant? It’s as if being pregnant is an asterisk that causes the eyes to scan for a meaningless footnote in the news story.*
People ask, Why? Why did Kelley do what he did? Hate? Why all the mass shootings? What answer will satisfy a grieving Nation? A political one? How about a medical, philosophical, or theological one? Slice and dice as you may, society’s regard for one another is questionable, except for a time such as this.
*Also, on this day, 11/5, in 2009, 13 people were killed and 32 wounded by Army MAJ Nidal Malik Hasan, the Ft. Hood Massacre shooter. Francheska Velez was six-weeks pregnant when she was shot and killed by Hasan. Testimony at Hasan trial included a witness stating, “The female soldier that was sitting next to me was in the fetal position. She was screaming: ‘My baby! My baby!” I notice she didn’t say in utero.