I am still having a rough time wrapping my mind around what happened at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. More and more states are legalizing same sex marriages, which gave me so much hope. More and more people are able to transition to the gender they identify with, with the assistance of doctors, family and friends, which is amazing. Businesses who refuse to serve same sex couples are usually greeted with outrage instead of congratulations, which is exactly how we should react. It seemed like we were getting somewhere.
Out of nowhere, on a night where friends, family members, old and young, of various genders and orientations were having fun and enjoying life, one horrible person destroyed everything. Innocent people were murdered, others injured. A former safe place was riddled with bullet holes. The wrong kind of history was made thanks to the death toll.
Some people want to blame terrorism. This would be a mistake. Idiots like Donald Trump want you to believe that this was an evil Muslim who came to this country with the goal of destroying America. Not the case; the shooter wasn’t attacking America, he was attacking the LGBTQ community. I don’t care if he did it out of self hatred or for religious reasons or because society still doesn’t fully accept certain lifestyles; the point is, he targeted this community out of hatred.
If you don’t care about the shooting at Pulse, you are part of the problem. “But I’m straight and don’t believe in homosexuality, so it doesn’t affect me.” Simply because you don’t believe in someone’s lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should feel justified in ignoring their suffering and silently condoning their slaughter. We’re not savages; we should value every human life regardless of whether or not we agree with their personal choices. We should not get to turn our backs on this type of tragedy, especially one as horrifying as the shooting at Pulse.
Thanks to the actions of one horrible person, who thankfully is no longer around, people around the country have been afraid to celebrate Pride month. People who I call friends are afraid of their lives. Let me repeat: THEY ARE AFRAID FOR THEIR LIVES. All because of who they prefer to spend their time with. There are not enough of us fighting for the rights of our peers. We need to be more vocal. We need to make it clear that the ones filled with hatred are the ones in the wrong, not our LGBTQ community. We need to do more, and we need to be better. We can’t keep allowing this to happen.
The news has been filled with violence lately. People are shot in New Orleans, bombed in Boston, and kidnapped in Ohio. Some stories have somewhat happy endings, but they are all plagued with sadness, death, and heartache. When horrible acts get this kind of attention, the discussions of gun control are always very present and extremely heated. When a gun is used to take a life, we understandably get very upset and want to prevent future unnecessary deaths. The solution for many is to pass strict gun control laws that would keep weapons out of the wrong hands and would make the process of purchasing a weapon much harder.
A popular argument is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” On the flip side, you have people who claim that the reason these violent acts take place is due to the ease of the purchase process. Sandy Hook would have seen less deaths if the killer only had access to knives instead of guns. Sandy Hook would have happened regardless because the killer is crazy. In our need to understand why these things happen, we look at the various ways it could have been prevented in the first place. Obviously the recent event in New Orleans relied on guns, so the reasoning is that we could have prevented it if guns were not accessible. But what would prevent the New Orleans event turning out like the bombing in Boston had guns not been available?
No amount of speculation has prevented massacres and attacks from taking place. The issue of gun control is visited and revisited time and time again with what seems to be the same result; we argue, laws may or may not be passed, and we forget about one event while waiting for the next. We react with shock when a child dies due to an accident involving a gun in the home, but we place the blame on the gun instead of the negligent parent who made the gun available. We sign petitions that eventually are forgotten, we write angry blogs, and we shout out for some sort of change. We do a lot of talking, but is it doing any good?
Obviously we need regulations that prevent certain people from obtaining weapons through legal channels, obtaining too many weapons or certain types, and owning weapons they are not properly educated on. Illegal gun sales need to stop, although the task of stopping it will no doubt be as difficult as it is to stop the sale of drugs and other illegal substances. Gun owners need to properly secure their weapons and educate their children and themselves on gun safety and proper use. There is a lot that needs to happen, but unfortunately the problem we have with guns cannot be solved simply by passing a couple of laws. There are multiple factors that must exist in order for a person or persons to go on a rampage and injure or kill others. Laws alone cannot stop this.
James Holmes, for example, does not seem like a person that would have been stopped by better gun control laws. He slipped through so many cracks on his journey to the movie theater that night where he stole the futures of innocent people. Controlling guns is only one thing among many that would have prevented him from massacring the theater. It is important for us, in our outrage and sadness, to focus on the whole picture and not simple the tool used to kill. A gun in his hands and a gun in mine are two very different instruments. The gun itself is only a piece of a very large puzzle.
It has been suggested that we begin to arm teachers in order to deter future school shootings. People who have never held a gun in their life are looking to purchase one so they feel safer in their homes. We want better laws but we also want to arm the innocent against the psychos out there who choose to use guns improperly. We are desperate to fix our nation but we’re not sure how to go about it. Do we fight fire with fire or do we try to extinguish all the flames? If guns were totally absent, would we be free of violence? If mental health assistance was easily accessible, would people get help instead of lashing out? It’s simply impossible to know the answers.
I wish I knew what steps to take, but I’m as clueless as the next person. I don’t know how we can preserve the rights of our people while still regulating the types of rights that the unstable are afforded. I don’t know if anyone could have foreseen the Boston bombing and been able to stop it, even with all the information that is now coming to light. We’re fighting a losing battle and I don’t know what the turning point will be. All I know is that we need to stop blaming the guns. We need to stop picking sides every time a violent act takes place, gun supporters yelling at anti-gun activists. It helps no one and it’s a fight we should know by now isn’t doing anyone any good. The reaction to a tragedy shouldn’t be a rush to pick a side in the fight for or against guns. We are in need of many repairs, but nothing will ever get fixed if all we do is argue.
The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is horrifying and disgusting. Adam Lanza, the coward who murdered his mother before stealing innocent lives and ultimately ending his own, committed a crime that is near impossible for us to wrap our heads around. Twelve little girls, eight little boys, and six adults are gone from this world because of one disturbed individual who had a grudge against his mother and against society. Reports are now stating that Lanza could not feel physical or psychological pain in the same was as his peers; in our struggle to understand why this happened, we are looking inside the killer and into his life. The other thing we’re doing is diving back into the argument of gun control.
I can barely think about those lives that were cut horrendously short at the hands of a selfish madman without getting emotional and choked up. My heart breaks for the families affected and for the survivors in that school and community who have the near impossible task of healing and moving on. I’m also disappointed and disgusted by everyone, myself included, who gave in and started publicly sounding off on the issue of gun control before the school had even been secured and the bodies of those poor children moved out of the classrooms. 26 people dead and all we can do is whine about how guns are evil as others whine about guns not killing people because people kill people.
My Twitter timeline was suffocated by people, both celebrities and friends, choosing sides on the argument on gun control. The largest group blamed the tragedy on the ease of obtaining guns. They referenced the attack in China where a maniac with a knife attacked children and killed no one, using that as proof that guns are to blame. The other side argued that there is no danger with guns themselves, as the danger comes only when the gun is in the hands of a mentally unstable person. Both sides have valid points and both sides deserve to be heard, but is now really the right time to bring it up?
I completely agree that there do need to be some changed in the way we control who has guns and where they are allowed to have them. I agree that guns are a more dangerous and deadly tool than a knife. I agree that any weapon in the hands of a disturbed individual can be incredibly deadly. I agree that the gun is nothing without the person to hold it and that person’s will to fire it. I’m very much in favor of gun ownership and very against restrictions on what tools one is allowed to protect themselves with.
That all said, nothing good will come of me spreading my opinion on gun control. I will not help any of the victims in Connecticut and I will not bring comfort to their families. My heart can be in the right place while I express my views on guns and my thoughts on what COULD have and SHOULD have been done, but good intentions don’t necessarily yield positive results. [SIDENOTE: click here for my blogging buddy’s entry about the shooting. Although he wasn’t my inspiration for this entry, my words take an unintentional dig at him. That said, I couldn’t help but agree with many of his points and I encourage you to go read them]
These families do not need to be caught in the middle of a country divided on the issue of gun control, not while they are trying to bury their children and make sense of a senseless tragedy. It does make sense to bring up issues when they are relevant and in the front of everyone’s minds, but is it right to do so? Should we be pushing the gun control issue right now, using these lost lives as ammunition for our arguments? What good will it do to bring the gun debate into this? If I lost my son, I’m confident that one of the last things I’d want to hear about is whether or not his death could have been prevented if guns were more difficult to obtain.
The community of Newtown desperately needs to heal. Today, they are planning the first funerals for two of the children who were murdered. Students of Sandy Hook will be sent to other schools while the town debates on whether or not the school will ever reopen. Parents in the town, and across the nation, are holding their own children a bit tighter this morning and feeling quite uneasy watching their child board the bus for school. Newtown police, and officials in other areas, are increasing patrols and reexamining safety plans and emergency precautions. Just sitting here thinking about the shooting has me feeling sick to my stomach; I cannot begin to imagine the pain that is currently radiating through Newtown and all of Connecticut.
Normally, when tragedy strikes, we see and hear messages asking the public and the media to please respect the privacy of the families. We rarely ever take this advice, choosing instead to poke at tragedy with a pointy stick until it bleeds. This needs to stop, especially with the community of Newtown. Help by donating your time, your funds, and your ear. Examine your own children’s schools and educate yourself on their plans in the event of a shooter or another dangerous situation. Be more open to warning signs and see if enough resources are available for troubled people who are considering lashing out violently. Hug your child a bit tighter and be thankful you’re both still breathing.
The gun control debate needs to happen, I don’t argue that. It just doesn’t need to happen right this second, before the students and teachers have been laid to rest and before some have even been able to process what has happened. We don’t need to be focused on what the school should have done because we can’t change a thing. We need to place the blame on the person who earned it and refrain from blaming God (or lack thereof), guns, security, or any other factors. Once the community has had a chance to bury their dead and to find some sort of normalcy again, then we can revisit the tragedy and poke at it a bit. But we cannot and should not use these deaths as catalyst for gun control, arming teachers, God in school, or any of our other causes. The memory of the fallen in Newtown deserve much better.