“Orlando’s Turn”

For years now, America has been engaged in the most heated debate of our lifetimes; the debate that has ended friendships, raised eyebrows, been a staple of the campaigns of respected politicians (and Donald Trump), and literally led to the deaths of millions of innocent people. We’ve heard it over and over again, how we can’t do anything to stop people from dying in a hurricane of bullets, how assault weapons have no place in civilian hands, how it’s unconstitutional, and how Muslims are evil and we need to kick them out. It’s unfortunately become routine when we talk about gun control, it’s a script that we all have memorized. Now, with the Orlando terrorist attack, we’ve heard the script yet again, and have been either relieved or heartbroken that nothing is getting done. But, is it possible to preserve the sacred Second Amendment while preserving the sacred lives of our fellow citizens, or is it really a lost cause?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to understand the arguments on both sides. First, let’s see the Republican point of view. Here we have a party that believes in tradition and the “it’s the system we have, therefore it’s a good system” philosophy. The idea of change to the Constitution terrifies them (even though it was amended dozens of times over the years) and they argue that, unless we can 100 percent eradicate crime, there’s no use to having any gun laws at all. They say that guns are fantastic for hunting and self-defense and “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Of course, there’s also that classic line, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Oh, and their politicians are total slaves to the National Rifle Association.

Now, what do the Democrats believe? Well, a lot of them are in favor of banning the guns that are inherently dangerous and made for no purpose besides killing people, like the AR-15s that the Orlando shooter used to kill 49 people in a gay nightclub a few weeks ago. They argue that the Constitution is a breathing document that should be updated from time to time, and that the Second Amendment is an outdated product of its era. The Democrat perspective also says that, the less guns there are, the less gun crime there is, and point to Australia, which hasn’t seen a mass shooting since they heavily regulated guns in 1996, as an example.

So, is there any way to find common ground with common sense? Well, let’s start with pointing out what both sides can agree on. Any non-sociopath can agree that innocent people dying is no reason for celebration, even if they’re gay, black, Muslim or any minority you’d see being made fun of on Fox News (the number one news network in the world for people who left the TV on and lost the remote). So, we can also say that we should come together as a society to prevent as many mass shootings as possible. Democrats say we should ban guns, Republicans say we should invest in mental health, and Trump supporters say we should ban Muslims and arrest Obama, King of the Terrorists. So, we can reach a compromise by banning semiautomatics, that are made for no other reason besides killing people. Radicals argue that people need killing machines to hunt but, let’s face it, if you need an AR-15 to shoot deer, you’d probably be crowned the world’s worst hunter. We could also compromise by allowing government agencies to research what causes gun violence, in order to prevent it. Again, only a sociopath would agree that people on the terrorist watch list should be allowed to have easy access to killing machines, so it makes sense to ban people who we know are dangerous from legally getting the weapons needed to kill people.

Or at least you’d think those things would be true…

As we all saw coming, even after a 15-hour filibuster by the Democrats in Congress, any common sense gun control legislation died on the floor of the Senate yet again. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see, but everyone knew it was going to happen. The NRA spends millions of dollars to buy politicians and the worst part is, it works. If someone offers you money to do what they want, you’re going to do what they tell you to. That’s what happened in Newtown a few years back, when five and six-year-olds were murdered en masse, but the NRA successfully bought politicians to make sure that they’d strangle any legislation that would keep that from happening again in its crib. The situation has gotten so horrible that former Presidential laughingstock Marco Rubio justified the Orlando shooting with, “this could’ve happened anywhere in the world, today was just Orlando’s turn.” Yeah, we’re taking turns now. NRA lobbying happens even though a majority of Americans, including a majority of NRA members, support at least universal background checks. For god’s sake, even Republican papa bear Bill O’Reilly said:

“The NRA and the gun owners should be reasonable. The FBI should background check anyone buying a firearm in America, that just makes sense. If you are paranoid and believe the government is stockpiling information so they can come to your house and take your guns, that’s your problem, but the government has an obligation to enhance public safety.”

To me, that quote shows one of two things are true. The first option is that Republican politicians have gotten so radical that even an egomaniacal idiot like Bill O’Reilly seems reasonable by comparison, which I find very easy to believe, or the second option is that even a broken clock is right twice a day, which I find very hard to believe when it comes to Bill O’Reilly. The saddest part of all this is that these problems can be solved so easily and we know exactly what we need to do to solve them. At the end of the day, the culprit is money in politics. Since Citizens United, we have allowed people and organizations to buy politicians to do their bidding, at the expense of the people. Does NRA Spokesman Wayne LaPierre have blood on his hands, and is he an enabler of gruesome murders? I’d say yes, but you might reasonably say no. The problem is we have a system that allows atrocities like Orlando to happen and, in the end, nothing gets done because money is too influential. I can only hope that the next President, whoever she may be, will have the good sense to overturn Citizens United and get money out of the political system. It’s a long shot, but I hope she can get the job done. We offer our meaningless thoughts and prayers until she does.

This story was originally published here on June 28, 2016

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