Par­ents in plea for gun con­trol

‘I don’t want prayers,’ says vic­tim’s mother

Vancouver Sun - - WORLD - ISAAC STAN­LEY-BECKER

Marc and Su­san Or­fanos awoke at 2 a.m. on Thurs­day, to a call from a rel­a­tive in New York. The groggy-eyed cou­ple stum­bled into a rit­ual that is fa­mil­iar to par­ents in Columbine, Blacksburg, Au­rora, New­town, Or­lando, Park­land — and, as of this week, also in Thou­sand Oaks, near Los An­ge­les.

They waited to find out if their child, who had sur­vived the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­tory last year in Las Ve­gas, had per­ished in an­other mass­ca­su­alty shoot­ing.

“You’re al­ways hold­ing out hope,” Marc Or­fanos, 63, said in an in­ter­view. He and his wife had raced to the Border­line Bar and Grill, where a line-danc­ing night for col­lege stu­dents ended when a lone gun­man opened fire shortly be­fore mid­night. As they waited in a cri­sis cen­tre nearby, sev­eral sur­vivors told the dis­tressed cou­ple that they thought they had seen their son flee the bar.

It wasn’t un­til noon on Thurs­day that a po­lice of­fi­cer told them their 27-yearold son, Telemachus Or­fanos, was dead.

The Or­fanos par­ents chan­nelled their pri­vate an­guish into a pub­lic cry for gun con­trol.

But what distin­guished their plea was an ut­ter dis­avowal of the stock re­sponse to the vi­o­lence that claimed their son’s life.

“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun con­trol,” Su­san Or­fanos said on lo­cal TV.

“And I hope to God no­body else sends me any more prayers,” she said, vig­or­ously shak­ing her head. She em­pha­sized each word, de­mand­ing: “No more guns.”

Whether any­one will lis­ten, her hus­band said, the vic­tim’s par­ents know that’s in ques­tion.

“If mow­ing down five-yearolds at Sandy Hook didn’t make an im­pres­sion, noth­ing will,” said Or­fanos, a semi-re­tired teacher.

“The bot­tom line is the NRA owns most of the Repub­li­can Party, and prob­a­bly some of the Demo­cratic Party as well. Un­til that vise is bro­ken, this is not go­ing to end.”

(The NRA gave fi­nan­cial back­ing to a hand­ful of Demo­cratic con­gress­men this cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­si­ble Pol­i­tics, a non­par­ti­san re­search group.)

There was hardly a groundswell of sup­port on Thurs­day for new mea­sures to re­strict ac­cess to firearms. A muted de­bate un­folded along fa­mil­iar lines. Every­town for Gun Safety, founded and fi­nanced by for­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, urged the new Congress to take “com­mon­sense, strate­gic ac­tions” to re­duce gun vi­o­lence.

The NRA, mean­while, pointed to Cal­i­for­nia’s al­ready-tight con­trols — the state was the first to ban as­sault ri­fles, nearly 30 years ago.

The se­nior Or­fanos said his son, who went by “Tel,” was some­thing of a gun en­thu­si­ast.

Dur­ing his time in the Navy, he of­ten vis­ited shoot­ing ranges, and when he re­turned home to live with his par­ents sev­eral years ago, he asked if he could keep a gun in the house. They wouldn’t al­low it.

“My son was a Navy vet­eran, and, for­tu­nately, he never faced com­bat,” Or­fanos said. “Last year in Las Ve­gas, he sur­vived as his friends were shot all around him, only to come back to our home and be mur­dered in our home­town.”

Telemachus Or­fanos

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