How long will we remember?
Do you remember Rachel Scott? The girl who wanted to change the world with kindness and compassion?
How about Jessica Ghawi, the self-described “red-headed Texan spitfire” who dated a hockey player and started a career in sports journalism?
Doesn’t ring any bells?
OK, you must remember John Roll — a federal judge, appointed by George W. Bush, respected as a knowledgeable, fair, hard-working man, a public servant for 35 years?
No, again? Well, what about Lt. Brian Murphy?
Drawing a blank?
Well, congratulations. The NRA is counting on you, and you came through for them.
They don’t want you to remember that Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School killers, was eating lunch on the grass on a beautiful Colorado day when her life ended at age 17, shot four times by Eric David Harris in 1999.
They’re glad that you forgot Jessica Ghawi, who barely escaped a mass shooting in a Toronto mall — “I learned how fragile life is Saturday,” she wrote afterward — only to die a month later in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater when James Holmes began blasting away last July with his AR15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge pump shotgun and at least one of his two .40-caliber Glock handguns.
They don’t want you dwelling on John Roll, who stopped by a shopping center in Casas Adobes, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, to chat with his congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, about the backlog of cases on the federal bench, and was there shot dead by Jared Lee Loughner, the deranged gunman who shot Giffords through the head.
And they certainly don’t think you need to bother yourself understanding the story of Lt. Murphy of the Oak Creek, Wis., Police Department, who survived being shot 15 times at point-blank range by white supremacist Wayne Michael Page at a Sikh temple last August.
Grievously injured, Murphy waved rescuers past him to help other victims.
What they’re counting on, you see, is that America, numbed by the repetition of senseless gun violence, will continue to have a short memory for such atrocities.
Now, they’d like to use a “Men in Black” memory eraser to get you to forget what happened in Newtown instantly. But even without employing the “neuralyzer,” they fully expect that if they are able to slow the gun-control bandwagon down enough, we will all forget quickly enough. Again.
President Obama knows this. That’s why he rushed Joe Biden’s gun-law task force to finish its work inside a month. That’s why he’s putting maximal pressure on Congress to act now, while we still remember.
And that’s why Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says that the Senate will take up gun control in, oh, about six months.
What an ultimately cynical tactic.
Opponents of gun regulation think we’ll forget about special education teacher Anne Marie McGowan Murphy, who died with her arms protectively cradling her student, 6-year-old Dylan Hockley at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
About teacher Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, who was in “the best year of her life” after finally winning a full-time teaching job.
About 7-year-old Chase Kowalski, who wanted his two front teeth back for Christmas.
About Charlotte Bacon, 6, who was wearing a brand-new outfit — pink dress and white boots — on that Friday just a month ago.
About Josephine Gay, who had celebrated her seventh birthday six days before, and was totally in love with the color purple.
And about the 20 other children and educators who died in Adam Lanza’s horrific Dec. 14 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary.
We haven’t forgotten them yet, and we need to remember long enough to get something done about guns in the wrong hands in America.
But the NRA’s betting that we’ll forget, long before any of the politicians they’ve been paying is put to the test.
David McCumber is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.