Fifty lives lost. Fifty more injured. Countless family members and friends and loved ones breaking in half, never to see their loved ones again. Hundreds of people who said goodbye, have fun, call me later, see you tomorrow without a thought in their head that was the last time they’d ever hear their person speak. That they’d never hear their laugh again, or see their smile. Hundreds of people who walked into a bar Saturday night, happy, laughing, dancing, looking forward to the night, with no way of knowing that walking through that door would irreversibly change their life, if they were lucky enough to make it out. Plans for Sunday barbecues that turned into horrific planning of funerals.
How is this still happening again? When the massacre at Sandy Hook happened a few years ago, when those poor babies lost their lives at the hands and mind of a madman, as a country we were up in arms. We were demanding answers. How could this happen? We were resolved in our fight against this monster – This cannot happen again. We need changes! We need reform! These lives cannot be taken for granted!!
So what happened, exactly? What were those answers? Because from where I’m sitting, it sure doesn’t look like a hell of a lot has changed. But this time, the aftermath is even worse. Because where we stood together before, we have splintered apart now. We want to blame someone. It’s left vs. right, Republicans vs. Democrats, liberal vs. conservatives and we’re all so desperate to place blame, so frantically pointing fingers that we’ve lost sight of what’s important. That fifty people are dead. Fifty. That around fifty more are fighting for their lives.
Make no mistake – this was a crime of hate. Religion didn’t do this. Gun control didn’t do this. Obama didn’t do this. Hillary didn’t do this. Even Trump didn’t do this, although I’m sure plenty of people assume I would lay the blame at his feet. Hate did this. Hate, and fear, and confusion, and a crazy person did this. And instead of banding together, instead of Congress standing on the steps of Capitol Hill in solidarity, pledging to work together to start implementing some real changes, ones that might actually make a difference, our country’s leaders are getting into fucking TWITTER wars, slinging mud at each other and the other side. Using this tragedy to further their own agenda and boast that their platform is the correct one to be standing on – election year, after all – and it’s revolting, and childish, and downright embarrassing for this country.
Here’s what we should have seen on social media today. Picture after picture of the victims; stories about their lives. Links to the stories of the hundreds of people who waited in line to donate blood. Articles about the doctors and first responders and medical personnel and police who did their jobs under horrific circumstances, likely saving hundreds more lives. Interviews with friends and family, remembering these people, these innocent people who are now dead because of who they were, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead it was full of memes – fucking MEMES – from both sides of the spectrum, boasting and explaining why they’re correct and why the blame lies on the other party. Articles depicting tweets from ignorant people who still believe that because this happened at a gay bar, the victims got what they deserved. (Do yourself a favor and don’t look that up if you haven’t seen it yet. It about turned my stomach inside out.) There’s no hand holding or unity or pledge to fight this, just a nasty stampede to prove that someone else’s agenda is or isn’t to blame.
I don’t know a lot about guns. I’ve never been a fan, one, because they scare the hell out of me and two, because I’m way too uncoordinated and like vodka too much to responsible enough to have one. But I do believe that law-abiding citizens should have the right to have them. However, I do not understand the reason that any civilian should ever have access to an assault rifle. Actually, I was corrected several times today that the weapon used wasn’t an assault rifle; that the media made that term up. I didn’t know that. To me, a non-gun owner, a weapon that is made and used for the sole purpose of mass destruction and loss of life, is an assault weapon. But terminology aside, what I do know is that 100 people were shot in a very short amount of time Saturday night. I also know that another 42 were shot right here in my city over the weekend, and that wasn’t even a blip on the news because it happens every weekend here. So in just two cities, in the United States of America, which should be the best country in the world, in the span of less than 72 hours, nearly 150 people were shot with guns, and three quarters of those people were shot with the same gun. That’s not right. You can call it whatever you want, but I’m calling it a problem. A very big, complex, and scary problem that NEEDS to be dealt with. For real – what else needs to happen? How many more people have to die before we address this giant elephant in the room, so to speak? How many more lives have to be shattered before we wake up?
We are in a very scary time in this country. A tragedy like this, the worst attack on our soil in fifteen years, should unite us, not splinter us further into more hate and fear. Our leaders need to get the fuck off of Twitter and start talking to each other, because one party – either party – on its own cannot fix this. This is America; home of the free, land of the brave. And we have to be better. From where I’m sitting, we’re just spiraling further and further out of control and it needs to stop. This has to be the catalyst to make. this. stop. Before it happens yet again.
Stay strong, Orlando. My heart and thoughts are with the victims of this senseless violence. May you all rest in peace.