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by Abigail Van Buren

Guns Used in Violence Make Victims of Us All

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, Amy Locicero Federici, was the sixth victim of the Long Island Railroad Massacre of Dec. 7, 1993.

Abby, we all suffer when a loved one is taken. We are never the same again. The murder of my daughter changed my life and that of every member of our family.

A dear friend of mine, Marie Patella, who, like myself, is a teacher, wrote the protest against guns that I'm sending you. I hope that you will print it. -- ARLENE J. LOCICERO, AMY'S MOM, HAWTHORNE, N.J.

DEAR ARLENE: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic death of your daughter Amy. The essay your friend wrote is chilling, dramatic, and carries a message that needs to be heard. I'm pleased to share it:

I am a gun victim.

I have never been shot. Or shot at.

I have not had a spouse, child, parent or sibling shot.

But I am a gun victim.

Were you ever with a mother when she received word that her child had been shot on a train? I was.

Five years later, can you still hear that mother's scream? I can.

Did you ever race 40 miles to a hospital with parents whose child was dying from a gunshot wound? I did.

Each time you come upon a scene where the news was received, does your mind bring it all back? Mine does.

Did you ever watch a mother caress the fingers and lovely black curls of her dying child? I did.

If this same mother were your beloved friend, would you have felt your heart break? I did.

Did you ever spend five days gazing at the beautiful dying child who once brought a daily smile and an understanding heart to your classroom? I did.

Can you imagine how it would feel to make a presentation to the teachers at the school where you and your dear friend teach, informing them of what is happening at that hospital 40 miles away? I can.

Do you know anyone who buried a sobbing face in her hands in the podium because she couldn't make it through the staff presentations? I do.

Do you know how she felt when, after a 30-second eternity, she lifted her head once again -- only to be greeted by 50 wet faces? I do.

Do you ever ride in a car with your beloved friend and pretend you don't hear her cry when a train passes by? I do.

Do you ever need to hold your friend because bad days bring sobs? I do.

Does the smiling photograph of a murdered dear one greet you each day? It does me.

Will your dreams always be haunted by the events of a week in December, 1993? Mine will.

Because I am a gun victim.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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