Twenty kids at an elementary school. Six students on a college campus. Nine worshippers at a church. Fourteen working people at a center for disabilities. 49 individuals at a nightclub.
Nothing is sacred. No one is safe.
We say never again, yet have sat and watched 998 mass shootings in the 912 days since Sandy Hook. That means four or more people (not including the shooter) have been shot at the same general time and location 998 times in our country in a matter of a few years.
The Onion headline rings all too true: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens."
I am horrified by the Orlando shooting – an act of terrorism, a heinous hate crime, an unfathomable tragedy. May it not be lost upon us that the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the USA occurred at a gay bar during Pride on Latin light. Homophobia is deadly. And we must rise up against such despicable hatred, standing strong with the LGBT community and my dearest of friends.
So what now? Will anything ever change?
Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough, an affront even to the severity of this all-too-familiar crisis. I cannot fathom the pain of the families and loved ones of the victims of this shooting – and yes, I too am holding them in my heart, but we need action.
Not a single piece of gun control legislation has been passed by Congress since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That inaction is complicity.
Barack Obama can ban a suspect individual from flying, yet not from purchasing an assault weapon. We restrict freedom of movement for individuals who pose a threat to national security or are on terror watch lists, but we fail to restrict gun sales or ownership.
We cannot accept that the current rate of gun violence is unavoidable. We can, should, and must introduce sensible, evidence-backed measures to reduce gun violence, such as allowing law enforcement and family members the right to remove or prevent individuals from owning firearms or ammunition, ever-strengthening background checks, and banning high-caliber, assault weapons. AR-15s gunned down innocent individuals in Orlando, San Bernadino, Aurora, Newtown and more; these types of semi-automatic assault weapons have no place on our streets.
It is impossible to prevent determined individuals from getting their hands on guns with the intent to kill, but we CAN make it significantly more difficult. The fact remains: more gun control means less dead people. Why would we NOT save lives?
My final note in this stream of consciousness will be on LOVE. Love is love is love is love is love, as the incomparable Lin-Manuel Miranda stated eloquently at the Tony Awards last night. In the face of hatred and violence, we must love bigger, bolder, stronger, without bounds and without ceasing. May we activate our fellow citizens with love. May we bring about justice with love. May we ignite movements with love. May we heal and grow with love.
And go read this chilling tweet of mine from October 2015.