It was just a matter of time.
I think we all knew it was going to happen again. We just didn’t know “the where” or “the when” or the “to whom” or “by whom.” But those horrifying answers came early Sunday morning when we all woke up to find out what had happened in Orlando.
My husband first told me what was being reported when I was still half asleep. Various news outlets were saying at least 20 people had been killed at a popular gay club.
“What? Was it some sort of hate crime?” I asked.
He said they were saying either that or maybe terrorism.
Now we know it was both.
Sad, how we immediately try to classify such atrocities. As if labeling it somehow makes our brains able to comprehend something so incomprehensible. Because really, aren’t all of these shootings full of both hate and terror, no matter who the cowardly perpetrator happens to be?
Of course, later we would learn it was much worse than they initially thought. Fifty dead, including the gunman, with as many wounded, some of those critically.
We sat in front of our TV, mostly silent, watching frantic mothers sob as they desperately tried to find their children or answers of any kind, as well as images of those who had managed to escape carrying the wounded to the back of police pick-up trucks because there were not enough ambulances to transport so many. Too many.
My husband and I didn’t say much to each other because we had already said it. After Newtown and Charleston and San Bernadino and the others. Perhaps the shooters had varying motives, but they all ended in the same result. Unbearable, unacceptable loss of precious life.
I eventually said, “The sad thing about this is the news is going to cover this all day, every day for days and days, and people are going to be outraged and demand change, and then absolutely nothing is going to happen.”
To which my husband simply responded, “Yep.”
I grieve for these victims and their families like the rest of America does. The story of the mom whose son was texting her from the bathroom “Mommy I love you” and “Im gonna die” is particularly gut-wrenching to me, as is the story of the investigators hearing the constant ringing of cellphones as they walked around the dead — knowing their families were frantically trying to reach them and knowing that they never would.
I feel like this latest incident is pushing us all to our collective breaking point, as it should. But it is also pushing us further into our corners.
In the days following Orlando, there has been a lot of love shared, but there has also been a lot of hate being spewed on news sites and social media among strangers and friends alike. Everyone wants someone or something to blame, a simple solution to an extremely complex problem.
I get it. I want one too, but it’s unfortunately not that simple or the first one of these attacks would have been the last. And it’s easy to see why this is so hard because I find myself agreeing with points made on many different sides of this argument.
Personally, I just don’t see any good reason for anyone to be able to legally buy a weapon that shoots 24 rounds in nine seconds, as can be heard on one of the tapes from the Orlando shooting. But I also know simply banning the AR-15 won’t solve this entirely either. But to me, if a ban just saved one family from losing their snaggletoothed first grader or 20-something-year-old kid who went out for a night of dancing, it’s a no brainer.
And I know people who disagree would say to me, if it’s not that gun, a mentally disturbed person who is determined to kill a lot of people will just find something else or some other way to get their weapon of choice, and we need to focus on mental health issues. And I agree with that too. This is why it is so complicated.
And there are other things we need to look at as well, like how U.S.-based technology companies handle hate and terrorist organizations who use their platforms for recruitment and to radicalize troubled people worlds away, and how we monitor such activity online.
We need to look at watch lists and background checks and a whole bevy of other things.
I don’t know the answers either, but I just want our leaders to at least start working on some solutions. Some that will not be easy to swallow, I imagine, and will force us to make choices as to what kind of society we want to live in — choices we would probably never make in a perfect world, but I think we all know we don’t have that anymore.
Again, I don’t know the answers, but I do know if we keep up this bitter rhetoric and finger pointing and refusal to listen to any other viewpoints whatsoever, I assure you nothing will get done. And our leaders, per usual, will use our divided country as cover to do nothing at all – their favorite thing to do.
And then, all we will have once again is the hope that during the next massive slaughter of Americans none of us will receive a text message from our child who is hiding in a bathroom saying, “Mommy I love you. I’m gonna die.”
And that’s really sad if that is the only hope we have left.
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