Letters to the Editor: Doctors know what an AR-15 can do to kids’ bodies. The public should too

Terrified children run from Robb Elementary School as law enforcement directs them.
Terrified children run from Robb Elementary School during the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.
(Pete Luna / Uvalde Leader-News)

To the editor: Dr. Roy Guerrero, the pediatrician who was at the scene of the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, testified before Congress that the shooting was “something no prayer will ever relieve: Two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue as to their identities was blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them.”

No one wants to think about, let alone see, the effect of an AR-15-style rifle on a human body. As doctors, we see the carnage and we are never the same.

However — and with the parents’ permission, of course — perhaps if lawmakers and voters could see it too, we could finally enact meaningful change.


Anne Kennard, D.O., San Luis Obispo


To the editor: Long before the mangled face of 14-year-old African American lynching victim Emmett Till was published in Jet magazine in 1955, Americans came face to face with the true horror of war when Matthew Brady displayed haunting photographs in his New York City studio that were made by Alexander Gardner and James Gibson days after the battle of Antietam.

The exhibit, titled “The Dead of Antietam,” alternately horrified and fascinated people. But did the photos stop the Civil War? No. It raged on for two and a half more years as people became numb to the slaughter.

I suspect publishing photographs of the dead at Uvalde would have the same effect.

Rhys Thomas, Valley Glen


To the editor: Forty years ago last week, 9-year-old Vietnamese girl Phan Thi Kim Phuc was photographed running naked from her burning village during the Vietnamese War. She was screaming, “Too hot, too hot,” her back burning with napalm.

Everybody remembers this image. It told us how horrible the war was, that it had reached the level of torturing children. That’s when we really got it.


There was a photo of the front of an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. What caught my eye (did it catch anyone else’s?) was the little girl in a blue dress running in terror from the firestorm behind her. Her face is contorted with fear and confusion.

I thought immediately of that girl in Vietnam. Forty years later in the United States, children are running from gunfire — how far we’ve come.

Elizabeth Horton, Long Beach