The only things that change from one massacre to another are where it happened, how many people were killed and injured, and what motivated the attacker or attackers to turn their guns on pure innocents. Today it's Orlando, Florida, and the number is 50. Was it a hate crime against the LGBTQ community? Was it radical-Islam-infused terrorism? Mental illness? Some or all of the above?
As always, the pro-gun-nut lobby trots out its usual litany of arguments - guns don't kill people, people kill people, none of this would happen if everyone carried a gun, blah, blah and ad nauseum blah - to defend their gawd-given, constitutional right to bear arms. And as usual the entire thing descends into an online and in-person mess of arguments, counter-arguments and mean-spiritedness.
Before long, the headlines fade. Until it happens again. And again. And again. Endlessly.
The following quote, attributed to Steven Denn, feels appropriate to share at this time:
"You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, it's a choice."Well, America, this is way beyond your second time, and it's pretty clear that as a country, you have decided to choose to live with this.
You choose to allow anyone with a pulse to have ridiculously easy access to military-grade weapons so that they can mow down complete strangers for reasons that make sense only to them. You choose to allow racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination and hatred to be validated right up to the top of your political system. You choose to use centuries-old frameworks to justify policies that place the most vulnerable members of modern society in increasing peril. You choose to allow elected officials - and wannabe-elected officials - absolute freedom to spew hatred and misinformation. You choose to put precious few resources into addressing the fundamental issues - caring for the mentally ill, tolerance-in-curriculum, political reform, legislative reform - that would begin to rein this scourge in. You choose to do nothing beyond arguing about it through your laptops and smartphones, "praying for Sandy Hook/San Bernadino/Orlando/wherever" and installing a colorful tribute icon in your Facebook profile picture.
Because while you were busy arguing over bathrooms and Confederate flags instead of looking for ways to better understand and live with each other, you made it easy for gun-toting idiots to learn their murderous craft, hone their trigger-happy skills and figure out even more efficient ways to crank the death toll even higher. You widened the cracks through which the violently-inclined mentally ill could slip. You created the conditions within which mass shootings would become epidemic.
Orlando is only the latest chapter in a book that seemingly now has no end. Prepare for more, America. Because you chose to allow this to happen by failing to do anything constructive about it.