As everyone anticipates the release of President Obama's plans on gun control, I thought it would be appropriate to share the testimony of a father who lost his daughter as a result of a mass gun murder. I'm sure you've heard of him before as well as the incident surrounding his daughter's death, although his testimony may not be as familiar to you. I am referring to Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado. Back in 1999, Darryl Scott gave testimony before a House Subcommittee on Crime known as the 'Hearing on Pending Firearms Legislation and the Administrations Enforcement of Current Gun Laws.' This father's testimony was astoundingly powerful at the time and I believe if more people read it today, it would be even more compelling.
I had the pleasure of attending a Christian Youth retreat just a few years after the Columbine shootings where Darrell Scott was a speaker. I was in high school and although I was looking forward to going to be with my friends from church, I wasn't necessarily anticipating that I would walk away from the retreat feeling changed or especially moved by God. Fortunately for me, I was mistaken.
I will never forget seeing Darryl Scott on stage talking about his daughter and giving all of us such a sense of encouragement. It truly moved me to witness a mourning, deeply heartbroken father that despite the circumstance remained so faithful and hopeful. The idea that this man could not only turn such a personally devastating tragedy and loss into something positive and helpful to others was just astounding to me. And it still is.
I walked away from that retreat feeling a renewed outlook on life with a focus on loving and appreciating my family, keeping good friends and above all trusting in God at all times. So, as I read the transcript of his testimony, I was deeply moved again because I was reminded of the retreat and how Darryl Scott played such a large part in my renewal at the time.
Below is a copy of the text of Darryl Scott's testimony. For those skeptics out there who might doubt the authenticity of this testimony, I've done my homework. I've provided a link to my source which I found through the House.gov website by simply searching the date of the testimony. Here is the actual scanned document of his testimony from the House Judiciary Committee and here is the transcript of the hearing with his testimony on pg 105. (Ironically, Eric Holder was also in attendance. He was Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice at the time.)
As you will come to find out in this testimony, the challenges this nation faces have little to do with the need for more laws and everything to do with the hears and minds of our fellow individual citizens. I want to encourage you to pass this along to everyone you know so that Darryl Scott's message can resonate in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.
At this very moment, in a cemetery in Southern Denver, Chapel Hill Cemetery, they are erecting the 13 crosses that I think are well-known across the country as a permanent memorial at the head of my daughter's grave. And my heart really longs to be there with my children, Bethanee and her husband, Don, Dana, Craig and Mike, but it is with their blessing that I am here and I appreciate that.
I realize that I am a mere pawn in today's hearings, but I am a willing pawn because I dare to believe that I can make a difference. Every once in a while a pawn has been used to checkmate a king and I have no hidden agenda and, of course, I have no political aspirations. I simply speak to you as a broken-hearted father and I only ask that you allow your heart to hear me for the next few minutes.
Since the dawn of creation, there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women and we all contain those seeds. We contain the seeds of kindness and the seeds of violence. And the death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joyce Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other 11 children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used, neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain and the reason for the murder could only be found in his heart.
In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or to defend the NRA because I do not believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore, I do not believe that they need to be defended by me. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy; it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies. Much of that blame lies here in this room. Much of that blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers, themselves.
I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expressed my feelings best and it was written before I knew that I would be speaking here today and I would like to read that.
''Your laws ignore our deepest needs, your words are empty air,
you have stripped away our heritage, you have outlawed simple prayer.
Now, gunshots fill our classrooms, and precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere, and ask the question why?
You regulate restrictive laws through legislative creed,
and, yet, you fail to understand that God is what we need."
Men and women are three-part beings. We have a body, we have a soul and we have a spirit. And I believe we fail to recognize that third element that really does need to be recognized by the legislative bodies of this country that has been ignored for so long. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our Nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries and we know this as a historic fact.
What has happened to us as a Nation? We have refused to honor God and in doing so we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs, politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA; they immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode away our personal and private liberties.
We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by more gun laws or metal detectors. No amount of laws can stop someone who spends months of planning this type of massacre.
The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our Nation hold the key and there is a spiritual awakening that is taking place that will not be squelched.
We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million church buildings built while people's basic needs are being ignored.
We do need a change of heart and humble acknowledge that this Nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God.
When my son, Craig, lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school and I defy any law or politician to deny him that right. I challenge every young person in America and around the world to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Colombine High School prayer was brought back to our schools.
Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your conscience and denies your God-given right to communicate with him. And to those of you who would point your finger at the NRA, I give to you a sincere challenge. That is dare to examine your own heart before you cast the first stone.
My daughter's death will not be in vain. The young people of this country will not allow that to happen. And remember that even a pawn and a master's hand can accomplish much.