The following is excerpted from From Bullet to Bullhorn: Stories of Advocacy Activism and Hope, by Lois Schaffer, a compilation of stories by 18 people located in various states throughout the U.S. These stories are indicative of human resilience, turning tragedies into advocacy, activism and the preservation of life.
Ron and Norma Molen, Salt Lake City, Utah. whose son died from gun violence writes:
Our son, Steven was murdered on April 23, 1992, on the fourteenth floor of the graduate dormitory at Indiana University.
Steven was dating a graduate student who was being stalked by a German ex-boyfriend who was currently a doctoral candidate at at Stanford University. The graduate student had met the German during her study abroad. The relationship quickly terminated, but the German never accepted it. Many threatening phone calls followed the entire year, but the distance between Palo Alto, CA, and Bloomington, IN, made her feel safe.
The Tragic Event
The evening the tragic event took place, Steven was studying in his dormitory room when he heard a gunshot and a scream. He ran down the hall, tackled the German stalker, whose 22 pistol had misfired. Steve quickly pinned him to the floor. The girl stood at the door of her room, screaming. A floor monitor arrived, grabbed the pistol from the floor, then insisted Steve release the stalker. Steve let him go and immediately the stalker reached in his backpack and pulled out a Glock pistol. He shot Steven, the girl, and then himself. Paramedics rushed Steven to the hospital; the others died at the scene.
Following five days of tests, the doctors determined that Steven was brain dead and there was no way for his body to function without the machines. We had to make the terrible choice of tasking him off life support. That night his young healthy heart was flown to a patient waiting in Indianapolis.
Working Toward Acceptance
Friends and family held a memorial service for Steven in Salt Lake City, where friends and family spoke. Several days later we scattered his ashes on a prominent site in his favorite canyon. Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh gave Steven a state award for bravery for rushing to the defense of the girl.
We now had to confront the reality of a lost son, whom we would never see again. Of course, we had each other for support but we had to work through the acceptance on our own. Norma attended group therapy sessions and wrote Steven a daily letter for several years.
During our anger stage we started an organization now called “The Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah,” which evolved into the current Gun Violence Prevention Center.
Norma spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at a huge national rally for gun control.
We found ourselves among many families who had lost as child or had one permanently maimed. No matter how the death occurred, the final result was the same.
I do not know that I have any great advice to give except that for me, time heals. After many years, it is not the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning or the last thing on my mind when I retire at night.