• Local
  • El Paso, Texas
  • more weather >
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School massacre in Parkland, Florida. Kasky is founder of March for Our Lives and #Never Again, campaigns in favor of stricter gun control. His great aunt lives in Sandisfield.

It could happen anywhere … And has: A Parkland, Florida, family with Berkshire connections speaks out

More Info
By Saturday, Mar 3, 2018 News 10

When retired Sandisfield resident Rita Kasky turned on her television on Valentine’s Day and saw images of students ushered from yet another school shooting, she was flooded with memories of the Newtown massacre. “I just started crying,” she said. “Even though it wasn’t my own family, it’s just very emotional.”

Unknown to Rita at the time, it was her own family this time. Attending Parkland’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school that day were two of her grand-nephews: Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old junior who has gone on to found and help leader the #NeverAgain student-led gun control movement, and his special needs brother, Holden, 15 and a freshman.

Rita was unaware that her grand-nephews had choiced-in to the Parkland school, since they live twenty miles away in Delray Beach. It wasn’t until her brother Robert, the children’s grandfather, called the next morning and told her to turn on the television. “I did, and there was Cameron speaking with Anderson Cooper.”

The Berkshire connection to the Parkland shooting, although small, is a very real reminder of how close to home a horror like this can hit. “I remember 911,” Rita says. I was working at Gould Farm. I remember feeling safe because I moved up from New York City and now lived here, far from any terrorism targets. And then this happens. And it’s my own family. I don’t feel all that safe anymore. School shootings can happen anywhere.”

Wayne Lo, a student at Simon’s Rock in 1992 who killed 1 students, 1 professor, and wounded four with a rifle purchased at a gunshop in Pittsfield.

In fact, it already has here: Wayne Lo’s shooting spree at Simon’s Rock in December 1992, is one of the earliest such incidents.

Reached by phone in Delray Beach, Cameron’s grandfather, Robert, emphasized that the day of the shooting began as a normal day at the school. “It was just a normal school day, a normal school day with valentines,” he said. “A normal day that ended with 17 kids and teachers who are never coming home again. All because some lunatic got his hands on a killing machine and went on a killing spree with it.

“I don’t know how the kids are going to get through this without severe PTSD. They had to climb over bodies. And yet the politicians make it look like it was anything but guns that caused the tragedy. These guns are weapons of mass destruction. It’s that simple. The First Amendment has limitations – you can’t scream ‘fire!’ in a movie theater when there isn’t one. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be common sense limitations on the Second Amendment, too.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky, left, asks Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), right, if he will continue to accept money from the NRA during a CNN town hall meeting on in Sunrise, Fla. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

Cameron and his classmates are making impressive headway, Robert said. “These kids are no milquetoasts. They’re very socially aware teens, and extremely mature in many ways. They see the world through the prism of what’s fair, what’s just. They know full well that after Newtown, nothing happened. After the Pulse nightclub shooting, nothing happened. They know that there have been weekly massacres. And when this happened to them, they said: ‘We have to do something.’” Robert compares this event to a sort of ‘diluted Rosa Parks moment.’ “We won’t win tomorrow, or next month, because the politicians are so pathetic,” he said. “But these kids are going to get rid of the NRA’s influence.”

Nothing short of sensible gun control legislation – banning assault weapons — is going stop these massacres from happening, he added. “Practicing for such an event and arming teachers? That’s nuts. There’s no way to truly prepare for such an event.

“It’s about voting. Everybody’s got to vote. I don’t care how you vote, just as long as you vote. Get your representatives to state their position – without equivocating — and judge them accordingly.”

Otherwise, it’s just going to keep happening.

“Your area, The Berkshires, are magnificent,” said Robert, a former New Englander and frequent visitor. “But just like Newtown, you don’t know where it’s going to happen next, where an unhinged person is going to lose it. It could be anywhere. It’s a horrible thing for our kids to be looking over their shoulders and preparing for a day when the alarm goes off and they have to put their training into effect. They should be enjoying their youth.

“But nowadays, you can’t go to the mall, a movie theater, an outdoor concert, church, or to college, high school or even elementary school without worrying. And it’s a horrible thing. And it needs to stop. This needs to stop.”

Another proponent of gun control? Wayne Lo.

In 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre (32 murdered), Lo told Newsweek: “The fact that I was able to buy a rifle in 15 minutes, that’s absurd. I was 18. I couldn’t have rented a car to drive home from school, yet I could purchase a rifle. Obviously, a waiting period would be great. Personally, I only had five days left of school before winter break … If I had a two-week waiting period for the gun, I wouldn’t have done it.”

More by »

10 Comments   Add Comment

  1. DB says:

    Maybe Steve F should go have a conversation with Cameron and Wayne and try to defend his second amendment stance. Try to explain to them that it is our constitutional right to have the guns we want, why we need to have AR-15’s available to the general public and how they aren’t safe without them.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      I would be happy to discuss this with any reasonable person, at any time. I too wish the FL tragedy didn’t happen, and I wish that people weren’t capable of such things. Have you considered that the response to someone who breaks the law should not be to punish those who have not. When pressure cookers were used to bring carnage to the Boston Marathon, why did we not ban the sale of them? The right to cooking methods is not even mentioned in the Constitution. People who set their minds on such devastation have many ways of figuring out how to do so. It is a sad state of the human condition.
      DB, it used to be that kids were taught to hide under their desks or crouch next to the concrete block walls in case the Russians nuked us. Bad boys were the ones who smoked in the bathroom and pulled the fire alarms. We have come a long way sense then, and destroying the foundation of our Country is not the way to make things better.

      1. DB says:

        Has every constitutional amendment made ever ruined our country? Thats what ammendments are for. Pressure cookers are made to cook with, AR-15’s are made to spew many bullets to kill as many people as quickly as possible .
        You make crazy comparisons, we call them red herrings, to get folks to “look over there, so they won’t see what’s happening in the close proximity “. Despicable!
        When we were taught to hide under desks, it was from bombs of an outside enemy. Now we are hiding from…..us?
        There is no need for these weapons in everyone’s hands. I have guns, I don’t hate guns, but these guns are different and you know it steve. If you make them illegal, we will still have guns, lots of em!
        As i said, i dare you to face Cameron and Wayne and explain why you and your pressure cooker theory doesn’t stink. you’ll need to listen to what they have to say, not just educate them on your take on the constitution .
        Until you hear and listen to someone who knows a bit more about it than you do, you don’t know as much as you think you do.

    2. Steve Farina says:

      Not sure why you felt the need to attack me personally, insulting what “I know” as if your position is the only one. You have no idea what my personal experience is on any level. I have clearly stated that this is a condition of the human heart. Pressure cookers are not a red herring. Nor is the fact that airplanes flown into buildings inflict massive carnage. In this particular case, we find through fact gathering, that there was an epic failure on the part of law enforcement on all levels to prevent this tragedy. This tragedy is not the “fault” of an inanimate object. Keeping them out of the hands of law abiding citizens will not make tragedy go away. We live in the USA and really have largely been sheltered from the atrocities man perpetrates on fellow man throughout the world. The Bill of Rights does not give us the rights. It is there to ensure the government does not have the capability to take them from us. Your opinion or level of understanding of that does not change it, either.
      PS: you drew me into this comment thread personally. I was actually going to leave this alone in this article. Rest assured, I will not back down from vociferously defending our Constutionally guaranteed rights – even if others are willing to give up theirs.

  2. Stephen Cohen says:

    Unforatunately, we are doomed to this carnage as long as we have the second amendment and Scalia’s interpretation making gun ownership a personal right. Thankfully, Massachusetts is a more enlightened state and regulates guns as best it can, but with Gorsach on the court the 5-4 conservative balance is assured. We have lost even a shot at more robust regulation when we elected Trump. The American people got what they paid for when they decided not to vote.

  3. ANASTASIA says:

    They mean, “they can make it happen” anywhere. Millions are not being fooled. MILLIONS.KNOW

  4. peter greer says:

    Thank You Andrew for bringing this slaughter closer to home. Its already here and permeating the minds of our children. I’ve included an email from a local mom that drives this point home and highlights why we need to prioritize getting common sense gun laws .(I’ve taken out names and done a minor edit ). I Hope everyone can take time from their normal busy day and stand with the children and parents on march 14h for 17 minutes. All change begins with everyday people who become steadfast activists and say NO MORE . We need to teach them not to run and scatter but how adults (along with and their outspoken peers )are willing to stand up to protect them. 17 minutes.

    “Tonight I asked my kids, as I always do, to tell me something about their day. (her child) spoke up ‘today Mr.(school admin)came into our classroom so we could learn how to do a quick exit, we all have to run and scatter around, we are supposed to run as fast as we can, scattering, and not stop, we are even allowed to run into the woods.’

    For those of you who don’t know, this is the supposed new idea for how to escape a shooter, vs bunkering down and barricading in a classroom.

    Hearing these words from my 7 year old made my heart sink, they filled me with dread and intense anger. Do not forget that 2 weeks ago 17 children and faculty were killed, The things we focus on in our small communities are insignificant in comparison to the trauma and danger our children face as they go to school.,and it follows the discourse, priorities and headlines of the nation- the news cycles onward, our Congress is taking no action on gun control, and is onto discussing deregulating banks, etc etc.

    I will be removing my kids from school on March 14th we will walk out of the building at 10am for 17 minutes to represent the 17 children and teachers who were murdered in Florida , and possibly again the 24th we will travel to DC for the March For Our Lives.

    in our small village and towns we are now teaching the kids to run and scatter to escape being mowed down by a murderer with a semi-automatic rifle designed for killing humans in war. This is what our children are learning. Think about that. ”

    I thought about it and will be standing with our friends and neighbors on march 14th and urge you all to take 17 minutes to do the same .

  5. Anthony Ehrlich says:

    Especially telling in this fine article is the quote from Wayne Lo, the shooter at Simon’s Rock. Lo stated that a waiting period might have prevented his heinous crime. Waiting periods allow frayed tempers to cool off and provide time for people to come to their senses. We all know and have experience that.
    A 5-day waiting period is needed. Hunters already have their guns, but if they need different ones, they are already planning their outing. Hunters I know, and respect, don’t just decide they’re going out tomorrow; they plan and scout the hunting grounds carefully. Five days would not be an infringement on anyone’s rights.

  6. Sheela Clary says:

    I am not at all surprised to hear that the Rita Kasky I admire at home is related to the Cameron Kasky whose courage and eloquence I’ve been admiring from afar!

  7. Jim Balfanz says:

    How about a little more information?

    March 5, 2018

    After reviewing the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on criminal data among Northeast states, the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts (“GOAL”) believes that it is yet another empty promise from elected officials providing themselves with nice soundbites for voters. GOAL is certain this MOU only represents an admission of guilt by our government for not doing their jobs to stop criminal gun traffickers. For decades, GOAL has been asking why our state’s existing gun laws were not being enforced.

    In Massachusetts over the last five years, GOAL has successfully passed comprehensive criminal laws that provide tools to law enforcement to stop criminal gun traffickers including passing legislation in 2014 that created a “State Police Criminal Firearms Task Force”. Just two weeks ago, GOAL filed legislation that combines the Commonwealth’s gun and drug trafficking laws. The bill provides up to life in prison for anyone convicted of both crimes.

    As information comes in daily about the teenage shooter in Parkland, FL, we are becoming fully aware of one thing – what happened was a direct result of a systemic failure of government at every level. From the local level – to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they all failed to do their job to stop a person repeatedly identified as a public threat.

    Now, in an effort to provide themselves with political cover, the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, have all signed a letter outlining how they also failed. The MOU claims to attempt the following:

    1. Create a data system to trace and intercept illegal guns –There are database systems already in place within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and on state levels that can already be utilized to track criminals and gun traffickers. Why weren’t law enforcement agencies doing this already?

    2. Enhanced Intelligence Gathering – Are these states telling us that their state and local law enforcement have not already been gathering information on criminal gun and drug traffickers and other prohibited persons and providing that information to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS)?

    3. Explore Reciprocal Law Enforcement Powers – This measure is supposed to provide an avenue for neighboring law enforcement agencies to share information and provide assistance when needed. Why is this not already in place? If we learned anything after 9/11 it was that law enforcement agencies around the country were communicating effectively to each other to stop threats. Nearly 20 years later, there is no excuse for states’ law enforcement agencies to still not have the means to communicate effectively with each other about dangerous and violent criminals.

    4. Comprehensive Study of Gun Violence –We know who the bad people are. We know they traffic guns and drugs. What is it we need to study that we don’t already know?

    The bottom line is that for decades our state leaders have had the necessary tools to get criminals and gun traffickers off the streets – and they have failed to do so. Yet another systemic failure of government. DO YOUR JOB!

    How about enforcing the laws already on the books?

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.