Orlando Massacre: Not the First or Last
I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what else can be said.
As recently as two years ago, when mass shootings would occur, I would offer “thoughts and prayers”, and I look back on that — with whatever good intentions — and cringe at the hollowness and grating insensitivity of those words. I can’t imagine the anger felt by the families of victims reading those words today.
I look at today’s victims of the worst mass shooting in American history, and I am disturbed by how numb I feel. I am disturbed by my casual expectation — our collective casual expectation as a society — of mass shootings.
I am disturbed by the clockwork of it all, the regularity of gun violence, the existence of what must be described as a death lottery since it can happen anywhere at anytime, whether a kindergarten classroom or a place of worship or a military base.
I am a gun owner. I’m a Texan. I’m a military veteran. I respect the concept of responsible gun ownership, and I believe in the right of Americans to own firearms under a comprehensive, licensed, heavily-regulated system, something far, far more than currently exists.
But I will never prioritize my “right” to own an AR-15 over the value of a human being. I will never buy into the theory that the murder of 36 Americans per day is a necessary collateral damage for the limitless right to own a firearm.
I cannot accept the distracting and vague threat of “Islamic terrorism” within our borders when I am far more likely to be gunned down, for no reason, in a mass shooting in downtown DC.
I cannot understand how the carnage in Orlando is being spun by some as an example of Islamic extremism while they, at the same time, deny the role of unchecked access to firearms and existence of hate crimes against LGBTQ Americans and women and people of color.
I cannot, for the life of me, stomach the meaningless and cowardly response of Members of Congress to today’s massacre and the one before that and the one before that.
I want action. I think any reasonable American wants action before we lose someone we love — to say nothing of ourselves — to a violent and random death that could have been prevented with proactive leadership.
I am not interested in arguing about this. If, at this point, you cannot look at the wealth of evidence and acknowledge that a problem exists as it relates to our gun laws, we have nothing to discuss.
Charles Clymer is an Army Veteran and blogger based out of Washington, D.C., where they live with their girlfriend and two cats. They have been published in several places and quoted by Time, Newsweek, The Guardian, and numerous other publications. You can follow them on Twitter here.