Ever since I heard about the massacre in Orlando, I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach – a swirling mixture of anger, frustration and overwhelming sadness. When will this senseless violence end?
Whenever I’m confronted with such atrocities it seems to drain the joy out of the world, as I imagine is the case for a good many people. Granted, it’s comforting to see the waves of support around the world – the vigils, the rainbow coloured monuments and flags, and even the overwhelming generosity of people donating blood for the victims. It helps, but it’s not enough. As comforting as offering prayers may be, the gods aren’t going to fix the issues behind this…only people can.
Of course, this latest travesty has struck an even more personal chord with me, as it was a slaughter of people just like me, who were simply out enjoying themselves. Even more horrendous was the fact that it occurred during the time of the year where gay pride is being celebrated and in a place that was traditionally considered safe. Admittedly, I don’t directly know anyone who was killed but one doesn’t need to in order to feel empathy and compassion for the victims and their families, and to be weighed down by the sheer horror and awfulness of it all.
Regardless of the gunman’s motives, which we may never truly know, this was indisputably a hate crime and an act of terror. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that this terrible situation was brought about by a number of factors and is a multi-faceted problem that has no quick fixes. That being said, it still demands that people at least try and address the real issues. Yes, it’s about terror, but it’s also about homophobia and the horrifically easy access to assault rifles in the US.
As if we needed more proof, the following day another, apparently unconnected, gunman was arrested en route to LA Pride with assault rifles and explosives. Even though the queer community has achieved great strides in recent years, the level of hate and discrimination out there still poses a threat. We may have achieved marriage equality in the States but we are a long way from being considered truly equal, unless you count the ability to die in mass shootings.
Perhaps, the most frustrating part for me is that I know that it won’t change a damn thing. America’s rabid gun culture will undoubtedly continue unabated. Sure, there’ll be a great deal of political grandstanding for a few months, where everyone will blame everyone else in increasingly heated debates. Then things will continue on how they were, with nothing being done to actually deal with the problem, leaving only a growing acceptance that mass shootings are something that are somehow normal and an expected part of life. For my part, this was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt after the government’s lacklustre response to Sandy Hook. If those in charge of legislating can’t react when children are being executed in the schools then what hope does the rest of American society have?
Personally, I don’t believe all guns should be banned, but there should be some sort of common sense approach to the distribution and sale of the damn things. When the majority of American gun owners support universal background checks, why can’t they be implemented? If you’re mentally impaired or are on a ‘no fly’ list due to perceived threats, then why should you be able to purchase a gun? Also why on earth does an ordinary citizen need an assault rifle in the first place? Are there marauding hordes roaming the countryside? Even hunters and farmers don’t need that kind of firepower to get their jobs done.
I’m also so sick of the excuses.
“You need good guys with guns to stop the bad guys.” – Well how’s that fucking working out for you? Despite massive gun ownership it still hasn’t stopped your daily mass shootings.
“If everyone was armed then you wouldn’t have these problems” – Firstly, in this case, who thinks that a club full of drunk, gun-toting, dancing people is in any way a sensible idea? And, secondly, what kind of society deems it necessary for its citizens to be armed to the teeth just to go about their daily lives – going to school, to the movies, to church, to a club? It’s absolute insanity!
Don’t even get me started on the shameful responses, not just of internet trolls wishing more death and mayhem, but of elected officials, basically saying that the victims deserved it because of who they were. Or, in the case of one particularly vile politician in my homeland, using the massacre to talk about the need for opposing marriage equality.
Why can’t we just be kind to one another? Surely there is already enough injustice in the world without this continuing, pointless loss of life?