One of the things that stands out for me in the wake of the Orlando tragedy over the weekend is the complete and utter ignorance and irresponsibility America has with its gun protection laws. How many citizens does America have to bury before something is done?
Everything will change, but if history tells us anything, nothing will really.
Sunday’s attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was the deadliest mass shooting in American history – but there were five other mass shootings in the US during that weekend alone.
There have been 1,000 mass shootings in the past 1,260 days.
Six months ago, in San Bernardino, California, a man and woman armed with assault-style rifles killed 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party.
In 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theatre.
In 2012 again, in Newtown, Connecticult, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 28 people and wounded 2 others at an elementary school.
The common denominator? Semi-automatic assault style rifles.
36 US citizens die every day in gun related attacks. By the end of the week that’s 252. And while the events in Orlando are a tragedy, that’s undisputed, there is a tragedy everyday that you never hear about and that’s a tragedy in itself. It is so numbing for America’s leaders these days that 36 just doesn’t even seem to register anymore.
At a time when we think we have heard the worst stories about senseless violence in the world, that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, that so many people can lose their lives so quickly because of one person’s demented rage will never make sense to me. I’m not an expert, but I like to think I have shred of common sense in me. I cannot fathom how there are no laws surrounding the purchase of semi-automatic assault rifles. These are weapons of war that can kill so many people so quickly. Lamenting them afterwards is just becoming a ritual.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is often interpreted as guaranteeing Americans the right to own guns. Gun ownership for Americans has been labelled as a ‘part of Americana’. This interpretation has been lost somewhere along the way here. Because Americans do not deserve to have that right anymore.
We can’t change what happened to those victims in Orlando. But there is one thing we can change. We can do something about guns. Leaving aside handguns and hunting weapons, what’s the justification for possessing an AR-15-style weapon? What’s the justification for a semi-automatic weapon with a magazine of 30 rounds? A shooter can get off 30 rounds in about half a minute. Pop in another magazine and that’s another 30 rounds. In a crowded space, it can take less than a minute to shoot 50 people.
I understand the need for guns and I appreciate the purpose they serve in recreation and sporting use. I mean it’s a recognised event in the Olympics! And when used responsibly and in the right hands, they pose no threat to communities, or night clubs or schools. But a semi-automatic weapon? Not so much. The trouble America’s judicial system is facing, is that every time a change in gun laws is proposed, it is shut down by pro gun supporters based on this notion that a change means a complete abolition of guns. Period. That’s not what they are saying. You don’t need a semi-automatic assault rifle. You want it, and not in any kind of reasonable way. It’s either because you’re a sociopath or you’re unreasonably afraid.
If you want to drive a car on the road, you have to pass a test and get a licence. Why can’t the same adoption process be taken for guns? Why can’t similar principles apply? Or better yet, any principle?
Because a mentally unstable man named Omar Mateen went and bought a semi-automatic weapon as easy as buying milk and bread at the supermarket last week. The consequences were horrifyingly deadly. But the frustrations remain the same and the same questions keep getting asked. There cannot be a lesson to learn anymore if no action is taken.
We all know these shootings will never go away, but until Americans can tell themselves that they are doing everything in their capacity to diminish them, the burden will remain. What they can’t do is continue to passively sit and watch while the shootings continue.
Each shooting brings its own unique sense of outrage and disbelief: children massacred in an elementary school, churchgoers killed as they prayed, journalists shot dead live on air – the outcry is the same: surely this will prompt a change in the law?
But, as yet, it hasn’t come close.
The mantra that bad guys with guns can only be defeated by more good guys with guns wins every time.
I would like to believe that this country will learn something from this, but in truth, the thing I think they’re mostly likely to learn is that when they’re in public, in previously safe spaces like gay bars and churches, they need to keep one eye constantly on the nearest exit and always be ready to run.
Even the unprecedented scale of the Orlando tragedy is unlikely to change that. And that’s a tragedy in itself.
“You cannot start over, but you can begin now, and make a new ending”