“The mutilated face of the victim was left untouched by morticians at the mother’s request. She said she wanted ‘all the world’ to witness the atrocity.”
Jet Magazine, Sept. 15, 1955, on the open-casket funeral of 14-year-old Emmett Till.
The wounds were “very devastating,” said Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, H. Wayne Carver II at the press conference following the Sandy Hook shootings in December.
The worst he had seen.
Pictures of the facial features of the dead children were shown to the families rather than allowing them to see their children right away.
First responders were traumatized and needed time off, which leaves one imagining the grisly scene that could so unravel those trained to work in traumatic scenes.
In the contentious debate over the banning of assault-style rifles, I think about what we have seen —pictures of the smiling faces of the Sandy Hook schoolchildren when they were alive and well; and what we have not seen — what a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle does to the bodies of first-graders.
Finding descriptions of what a Bushmaster rifle does to the human body is a challenge. There was, however, this from the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, a 2006 study, the “Pathology of Gunshot Wounds”:
“Exit wounds from high-powered rifles may be large because of the high velocity and kinetic energy of rifle ammunition (Figure 5). Stellate-shaped exit wounds, which in rifle wounds occur over soft tissue as well as over bony surfaces, are common and may resemble contact entrance wounds.”
We hear of their power and their destructive capabilities. We recoil in horror of what we imagine.
It’s been said that the mind can conjure up greater terror than what the eyes can actually see. That may or may not be true. Although I have imagined the trembling fear in the eyes and hearts of the young victims, and while I am moved by President Barack Obama’s hanging a painting from one of the victims in the private study of the Oval Office as a reminder in the fight for a ban against this particular weapon — I just don’t think it’s enough.