|Photo Credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel|
50 People Killed
50 lives snuffed out by the cold brutal efficiency of an AR-15 rifle and a handgun in the hands of, and no, I do not think it's too soon to assign a label, a madman. Only a madman could perpetrate such a crime.
The slaughter of those 50 people was not the only crime committed last night. Perhaps the greater crime has been our nation's inability to take any action whatsoever to prevent these crimes from happening again. This ongoing macabre parade of mass death at the hands of gunmen happens nowhere else in the world, except for the gang at ISIS. Ironically, we are trying to exterminate them. But, hey, take action here at home? Don't be silly.
What is it going to take for these mass killings to end? In considering the history of just a few of these, because they are too numerous to count or sadly even remember, it seems like they have touched all corners of our American life. For your consideration:
Where people go to scarf down fast food: McDonalds, San Ysidro, California
Where people send their little ones to elementary school: Sandy Hook Elementary
Where people send their teens to school: Columbine High School
Where people send their kids for higher learning: Virginia Tech
Where people go for some movie escapism: Century 16 Theaters, Aurora, CO
Where people go to study scripture and to pray: Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC
Where people go for a night out: Pulse, Orlando, Florida
Notice that not one of those places was an active war zone where one knowingly understands the risks of what lies ahead. The only danger that the people eating at McDonalds that day in 1984 was from the fat in the fries, not from a crazed killer. Not one child at Sandy Hook expected to be slaughtered that morning by a madman with an assault rifle. Not one person seeing that "Batman" movie that night in Aurora knew they were at risk of being killed by yet another madman armed with an assault rifle.
The assault rifle, in all its forms, has played an outsized role in these killings. But according to the NRA and their ominously named Institute for Legislative Action, assault rifles are harmless. Because target practice. Read for yourselves:
The AR-15, the firearm that gun control supporters most often call an “assault weapon,” is the most popular rifle on the market today, accounting for one-fourth of all rifles manufactured in the United States. AR-15s are commonly kept for protection, they’re the most widely used rifle in marksmanship competitions and formal training, they’re widely used for recreational shooting, and they’re commonly used for hunting. Americans acquire roughly a million new AR-15s every year, in addition to large numbers of comparable semi-automatic rifles.
I could maybe get on board with that statement if it read with a little bit more of reality in it. Something like this:
The AR-15, the firearm that gun control supporters most often call an “assault weapon,” is the most popular rifle on the market today, accounting for one-fourth of all rifles manufactured in the United States. AR-15s are commonly kept for protection from imagined threats, they’re the most widely used rifle in marksmanship competitions and formal training, they’re widely used for recreational shooting of humans, and they’re commonly used for hunting innocent people. Americans acquire roughly a million new AR-15s every year, in addition to large numbers of comparable semi-automatic rifles.
Chris Murphy, Democratic Senator - Connecticut, unloaded this morning on his Congressional cohorts, rightfully calling them out for their complicity in this latest assault:
"This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America - nowhere else.
Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening
silence. This doesn't have to happen, but this epidemic will continue without end - if
Congress continues to sit on its hands and do nothing - again."
He's right. 100% right. These mass murders will continue to happen until our elected representatives actually do something to bring an end to the madness. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Their record of intransigence and epic 'do-nothingness' is unmatched.
In the meantime, what's happened to our humanity? We have completely lost sight of our humanity. Once you've lost respect for humanity, I would imagine that it's very easy to no longer see the child at the end of that gunsight as child but a target. Or the gay man as nothing more than something that needs to be eliminated. Or the black woman grasping her Bible as nothing more than an enemy.
Yes, guns are a huge problem and an ugly issue to even try and solve. But how are we going to solve for this issue of humanity?
We've got to figure out how to save ourselves. Fast.