How Many Moments of Silence?
Call it an act of terrorism. Call it a lone wolf. A hate crime. A tragedy.
It’s all of those things. But for 50 people, for their families, for their loved ones, it really doesn’t matter. For them, their lives will never be the same.
12,000 Americans die in shootings every year. That’s tear-inducing, white knuckle-gripping insanity. And most days we don’t even pay attention to it. Only when those victims come in groups of 27 1st graders and school staff in Connecticut or 50 people at a gay bar in Orlando do we offer electronic thoughts and prayers or let it take over our discussions at a bar or around a dinner table.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, our culture embraces guns. So many Americans argue that they’re at the core of our country’s values. Half of the country references the second amendment with passion, but I’d venture to say that most couldn’t identify that there are 26 others.
Guns are put on a massive pedestal and for all the wrong reasons. We need them to protect ourselves. We need them to defy some anachronistic version of “tyranny” that seems omnipresent in right wing discourse.
And I honestly could live with those arguments.
The only thing is it doesn’t stop there. So many Americans idolize weapons without drawing a line in the sand. Without considering safety. Without doing little things like ensuring they’re locked away from children (a conservative estimate says 62 kids under 14 die each year from accidental shootings). By defending loopholes in background checks and scapegoating video games and mental illness. By insisting on owning weapons that were unmistakably designed for use in war.
When you combine factors like these with a hate that’s still all too common, you get events like Orlando.
If you’re reading this article as an average American, statistics or facts probably won’t change your mind. You’ve heard them all before in the latest White House press conference or from the talking heads on the news. Whether you’re on the right or the left, you’ve probably taken a stance. Maybe I’ve become cynical enough to believe that stances on gun control can’t change. One thing is certain though: the debate on guns is one of the most polarizing issues of our time. Maybe it tops the list.
Take a moment to think about that. The idea that mass shootings, including the largest mass shooting in US history in the early hours of this morning, has the most polarizing political debate at it’s core.
Somewhere over the course of our history it became more important to preserve our right to wield an assault rifle than to focus on solutions to a problem that sees the deaths of 12,000 people year after year.
This past December, Congress held is 25th moment of silence for the victims of Newtown.
And in that same amount of time, we haven’t passed a single piece of legislation that might lead us down a different path. We’ve tried it this way. The NRA way. The guns-for-all way. That got us 372 mass shootings in 2015. It’s got us 133 mass shootings in 2016 so far.
I wonder how many moments of silence they’ll hold for the victims in Orlando.
Blood donation centers in the Orlando area:
There are over 50 injured still in Orlando hospitals. There has been a huge outpouring answering the call for donations, but supplies will need to be replenished throughout the week. If you are in the area, please consider scheduling an appointment. O negative, O positive and AB plasma are needed most.
345 W Michigan St # 106
1800 S Kirkman Rd
8669 Commodity Cir
2242 Aloma Ave
2311 N Orange Ave