Gun Violence Comes Home

It is with a lot of sadness, that we pass along the news that gun violence has struck home for the child of one of Philadelphia's truly good guys, Lance Haver. On Saturday night, his 24 year-old son Daren was getting some late night food on Cheltenham Ave, and was shot in the neck. Although he survived, he lost the ability to move, and the ability to breath on his own.

The Daily News has an article today, discussing the choice Daren had to make, as well as the kind of person he is:

WHILE THEIR son, Daren, lies in a hospital bed - permanently paralyzed from the neck down, unable to breathe on his own after a bullet shattered his spinal cord - Lance Haver, the mayor's consumer advocate, and his wife, Lisa, wait for him to decide whether he wants to live or die.

"We had to tell Daren that there is no reasonable possibility that he will ever regain the use of his limbs," Haver said.

"We had to tell him that there is no reasonable possibility that he will ever be able to breathe on his own. We had to tell our son, 'If you choose to go, if this is too unbearable for you . . . ' "

I would love to be poetic here, but frankly, I don't think there is much to say.

Lance sent around an email about the situation, and ended it like this:

I would ask you to keep a good thought for Daren, if so moved a prayer would be great and if you have any advice or ideas of where there may be some appropriate treatment, please send them to me.

We are very thankful for all words of support and ask your understanding that e-mail is the best way to contact us right now, as we often turn off our cell phones when meeting with the doctors.

Please feel free to share this e-mail with anyone you think ought to know. If people learning of our tragedy are moved to help end this senseless violence and help stop the flow of illegal hand guns, then perhaps it will be more bearable.

The plague that is gun violence in our city hits another amazing Philadelphia family. I know I speak for all of us here when I say our thoughts are with Daren and his family as they get through this.

A moment for Lisa Haver

Lisa Haver is a Philadelpia public school teacher and a fierce advocate not only in the current struggle around public education but was a true warrior five years ago during the anti-privatization battle. She has fought for accountability and quality schools all the years I have known her. Our prayers are with her and her family as they are with all families -- too many of us in the public schools -- in our now lessened society.

Daren, Lance & Lisa

My thoughts, prayers and hopes go out to your family during this painful time. Please know that countless people, many that you have never met, are sincerely concerned.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

Havers Are Latest Of All Too Many Gun Violence Victims

Having known Lance Haver since he came to Philadelphia in the late 1970's to work for Max Wiener and the Consumer Protection and Education Association and the Consumer Party, I am deeply shocked and outraged that he and Lisa Haver have become the latest of all too many people to have to devote massive amounts of time to helping and grieving for a loved one senselessly struck down by gun violence. At least Daren is still alive, but living as a paraplegic will be a difficult and painstaking but surmountable challenge for Daren and his family.

My personal anguish at the plight of the Havers--as dedicated a couple of citizen activists as exist anywhere--is deep. The physical rehabilitation that Daren will have to undergo will be extensive, painful, and inherently frustrating. But I wish to share the hope that the pessimistic forecasts about Daren are influenced by professional norms aimed at reducing the incidence of malpractice cases, and that there still may be a chance for greater recovery than forecast.

Random violence is the greatest fear that many Philadelphians have. There is absolutely no fairness, no justice, no rationale why people who are totally innocent of any wrongdoing should have to spend a life of pain and suffering do to the sudden action of crazed gunmen.

Obviously there are far too many guns in the hands of criminals, and far too many criminals walking the streets of Philadelphia. To meaningfully impact this dismal and shameful situation requires massive governmental and civic mobilization far beyond what has gone on before. I share Lance's hope that at least some good will occur from this tragedy. We need to penetrate the armor of ideological fervor and blind indifference in the camps of NRA followers and those complacent about crime, poverty, and cultures of hopelessness and acceptance of violence and a part of very day life.

Keep fighting Daren, Lance, and Lisa, this time on a new battlefield. The hearts, hopes, and prayers of many, many people are with you.

Thoughts & Prayers for Daren Deiter

My heart goes out to Lance & Lisa, Ramsey & Branden and certainly Daren during this unbelievable difficult time. Although it has been years since I have spoken with the Havers, it still breaks my heart to know that people as GOOD and HONEST as they can be struck by a tragedy this SENSELESS. Lance has devoted his life to helping us, let's give a little back by praying (or whatever your chosen equivalent may be) for the strength Daren needs to serve him right now, and in the decision that is ultimately his to make.

Dan

Heartbroken

Daren and I attended Central High School together and we were friends. He was a good person, a talented artist who never deserved anything like this to happen to him. This news was so difficult to hear and I am really heartbroken. It sickens me every day how many young people are taken away befor they even have a chance to make a difference in the world. I am praying for Daren, his family, and for this city which is slowly disintegrating as poverty, anger, poor education and lack of economic opportunity are becoming the norm. Taking guns away from criminals will help in the short term, but will do nothing to address the underlying socioeconomic problems that are leading to a blatant disregard for human life. It will take the cooperation of every one to help our city piece together its shattered reputation; and the sooner we stop blaming everyone else and realize that it truly does take a village. I have lived in Philadelphia my entire life but this city has taken on a quality reminiscent of guerilla warfare in the streets of Bogota. But at least those people were fighting for something. There is no reason for this violence; our children need to be taught problem solving and conflict resolution skills and we HAVE to stop the flow of illegal handguns. It amazes me that these exburbs and microcities and rural communities in PA can yield such power in the legislature that politicos in large cities cannot pass any sort of gun control initiatives as the blood of our children spills on the streets every day on the streets every single day. The irony is, of course, that if this type of violence was occuring in Exton or Blue Bell, the National Guard would have been sent in by now. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to Daren and his family.

Worth repeating

Jill Porter of the DN spoke with Lance and reports Lance's directions to Philadelphians who want to take action:

"The first thing people could do is to contact their elected officials and say it's time to end the flow of illegal handguns," Haver said yesterday from the hospital.

"The devastation to Daren's life and our lives has been caused by the people who refuse to see the damage that illegal handguns cause, and a federal government that would rather kill people in Iraq than spend money to develop a cure for spinal cord injuries."

Haver noted, typically, though, that his family was "lucky" to be able to afford the best health care for his son.

snip

So, now what?

Pick up the phone, said Phil Goldsmith, head of Ceasefire PA.

Call Gov. Rendell, he said, (717-787-2500), who's verbally endorsed proposed gun-reform legislation such as one-gun-a-month laws and requirements to report stolen guns but not pushed the bills. "It's time for him to spend political capital on this issue," Goldsmith said.

Then call Speaker of the House Dennis O'Brien, (717-787-4610), a Philadelphian who's "done nothing on this issue," Goldsmith said, suggesting that voters could potentially put his career in jeopardy.

"He has to understand there's going to be a price to be paid when people are getting paralyzed, people are getting killed, people are getting shot."

Then call Attorney General Tom Corbett (717-787-3391), who's made it easier for guns to come into the state by recognizing gun licenses from other states with even less restrictive laws, he said. Citizens need to become engaged and speak out on this issue, Goldsmith said.

These are pretty simple calls to make and it's the least we could for all of the people in Philadelphia who have been affected by gun violence.

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