I was in the middle of writing a much different blog, happier, a flowing reflection on the wonderful time the Trinity community enjoyed at last week’s dedication of the Payden Academic Center. That blog will come later this week. Today, the news from Orlando demands setting aside business-as-usual to stop and reflect, once more in sorrow and rage, on the violence that tortures this nation without relief.
(Map from Vox.com)
Tragically, vox.com had to update its running story about mass shootings this morning when the news flashed across our screens that yet another mass shooting occurred in this country — the bloodiest and most devastating yet. 50 people thus far dead at a nightclub in Orlando, more than 50 in a hospital. The nightclub was a hot spot for the LGBT community in Orlando, and news reports speculate on the possible anti-gay motivation of the shooter. Sadly and predictably, some politicians are already trying to blame the Muslim community for this latest horror since the shooter apparently expressed some sympathy for ISIS. The same politicians make no note of their own anti-gay political stances or the fact that many religious oppose gay lifestyle.
The most urgent issue, ignored by the politically expedient rhetoric about terrorism, is the plain fact that Americans keep killing themselves in shocking numbers, and the killings most often occur with readily-available guns. The Vox story tells us that there have been 998 mass shootings since we pledged to end the madness after Sandy Hook, with more than 1100 dead and more than 3900 wounded.
Public officials have a large responsibility to keep the people they serve safe. They are doing a miserable job of this. People no longer feel safe in movie theaters, sporting events, workplaces and classrooms. The same politicians who do nothing about stanching the tsunami of guns in this country think nothing of imposing heavy regulatory burdens on those of us who run institutions to keep people safe — they won’t stop the guns but they will impose all kinds of sanctions on institutions where shootings occur.
We are in an incomprehensible rabbit hole of doubletalk when it comes to priorities for this nation. The Second Amendment was never intended as an excuse to allow every citizen to arm themselves to the teeth with AR-15 machine guns and other military-grade weapons. The right to life must surely include a reasonable balance between the freedom of a relatively sane person to own a hunting rifle versus the tragic consequences of twisted minds whose access to guns allows them to live out their sick fantasies.
We pray once again for the victims of violence. But I join those who are tired of just praying and wringing our hands. Let’s take action. In this election year, we voters must move the issue of gun violence higher up on the agenda — let’s insist that the politicos stop tweeting about nothing, and start laying out their plans to ensure the safety and security of all people in their homes and communities.