It feels like “you have to convince people to care about what happened to you.”
“I don’t know why they’re blaming the NRA. It’s not the NRA’s fault.”
It was just days after Robert Schentrup’s sister Carmen had been killed in a mass shooting at her Parkland, Florida, high school — with her 17th birthday only a week away. Extended family, including a National Rifle Association member, had come to the Schentrup house to help with cleaning and making meals when no one else could bring themselves to do so. “It was really nice,” Schentrup remembers.
After the extended family left, though, Schentrup’s mother confided in him that one relative had assured her the NRA was not to blame for Carmen’s death. Instead, the relative said, the focus needed to be on police inaction. In fact, the person said they would increase their monthly NRA donation in light of the Parkland shooting.
In hindsight, Schentrup thinks the family member was trying to understand the loss of Carmen. “He latched on to right-wing rhetoric, which is really easy answers to hard questions,” Schentrup says. “Instead of what do we do about the amount of guns and lack of mental health care in this country, instead of wrestling with solving those complexities, it’s easier to say, ‘F*ck it, it’s the price you pay.’”
Schentrup was 200 miles away at college when he heard a shooting was occurring at the high school he had graduated from the year before, where his two younger sisters — Carmen, a senior, and Evelyn, a freshman — were still in school. He immediately texted his sisters and parents to check in. His first thought was that the shooting was a tragedy, of course, but his sisters surely had to be fine — this couldn’t happen to his family.