Parents in plea for gun control
‘I don’t want prayers,’ says victim’s mother
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.”