Gordon Monson: Utah football feels the pain as more gun violence takes innocent lives

The deaths of three Virginia football players was felt across the country this week.

(Mike Kropf/The Daily Progress via AP) Students participate in a vigil in response to shootings that happened on the University of Virginia campus the night before in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

No, no, no, no, no.

Three football players at the University of Virginia are shot and killed, two others are shot and wounded, on campus on Sunday night by a gunman — a former Cavaliers player, police say.

Once again, innocent lives are taken, innocent lives are mourned, at the wrong end of a gun.

And those in and associated with the Utah football program hurt again, are caused to hurt more because of gun violence.

The lives of ambitious young people, players with not just a thousand yards of open field in front of them but a thousand miles of promising open road, taken far too early for reasons that provide no good answers, no good hope.

What remains is profound pain and sadness and the empty wonder of what these young people would have done with their lives had they been granted what they were owed — life.

Utah football and its fans know all about pain and sadness, having lost Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan to the awful effects of a gun, Jordan’s loss being self-inflicted, accidental, Lowe’s the act of an individual with no good sense, just bad intentions.

Utah, its players, its coaches, ifs fans, will never forget Lowe and Jordan. Their shortened lives have caused tears and cheers, memories of them stoked at games with every moment of loudness. Anybody who has witnessed or participated in those moments knows the hope and healing that they bring.

Young men’s lives celebrated by people who knew them as teammates and brothers and friends and people who knew them only by numbers on a jersey, by talent and exploits on the field.

I’m noting specifically what happened at Virginia because it falls within the scope of a sports writer, violence put upon young football players, college athletes who had so much, everything, to look forward to.

(University of Virginia Athletics via AP) This combo of undated image provided by University of Virginia Athletics shows NCAA college football players, from left, Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry. The three Virginia football players were killed in a shooting, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Charlottesville, Va., while returning from a class trip to see a play.

But there’s so much more to tragic stories like this one: 22-year-old D’Sean Perry, a junior linebacker, killed; Lavel Davis Jr., a standout wide receiver, gone; Devin Chandler, a junior wide receiver, murdered. Others injured, one in serious condition, the other in better condition.

And so, on Monday night, an on-campus candlelight vigil was held for students and anyone else to come and grieve and take tiny steps toward healing, to be together.

Again, Utah football sends along its heartfelt support because it knows the pain, the anguish of such senseless killing.

“We send our condolences from our program to Virginia, with the tragic, horrific situation they’re going through,” Kyle Whittingham said. “Thoughts and prayers are with them and their program. It’s awful, I don’t know what more you can say. We’re thinking about them.”

Among other thoughts, he added: “We have been through our share of tragedy. …”

We remember.

But is that all that can be done?

The discussion of guns and gun control is among the more hotly debated topics in this country, even as hundreds of gun deaths occur each year. It’s always traumatic, always horrible, for those on the outside just reading and thinking about the canceled lives and the families and friends of those taken, let alone what the victims and their families are so devastatingly affected are feeling.

Doesn’t matter if it involves adults or children, athletes or academicians, they’re all ripped away in their innocence, gone to wherever people go when death arrives.

We’ve seen the reports, over and over and over again. Shoppers in a grocery story, children in a classroom, students at a high school, celebrants at a community parade. And now we see it again, on a college campus.

Wherever you — we — are on the political spectrum, gun owners, owners of no guns, hunters, non-hunters, progressives, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, can’t we agree to do something more? Whatever we’re doing now isn’t working.

Instead, we argue and we mourn, and those innocents go on dying.

Personally, I’m in favor of greater control of guns, but some are not. I’ve read the Constitution and its amendments, as have others. I see what I see and believe there is room for more control. Others do not.

Can folks bend, compromise a little, in an attempt to save lives?

Utah football feels what I’m talking about. Virginia football does, too. So do thousands and thousands of others, people who when they read and hear about what happened to these young victims, individuals who should still be with us now but are not, have their pain stirred within them again.

We, as a country, are better than this, aren’t we? We can do better. God — if you believe in one — help us if we can’t.