So a man walks into a bar.
By the time he’s carried out he’s managed to meld America’s debates over homosexuality, religion, race, immigration, mental illness, terrorism, and gun control into one enormous teary/snotty/screaming fest. Three hours and he has all the citizens of the United States scrambling to define and defend and battle each other.
A novelist couldn’t have written it better.
This is where fiction has one up on reality. In a book, an attack like this, the largest attack since 9/11, and the deadliest single-gunman mass shooting in American history, would result in an immediate, swift, and effective response. Some amazing coagulation would occur: legislation would be passed, unlikely allies would join hands across the aisles of Congress and American streets. Fighting would stop, unity would reign. In the movie version the shot would pan fade as we all marched triumphantly down Main Street, arms around each other’s shoulders.
Alas, this is neither a novel nor a screenplay.
We are stuck here in reality with no director, and multi-faceted problems that will take a hell of a lot longer than two hours to resolve. Sucks to be us. We who like tidy solutions, we who favor all-in-one-cleaners.
So what do we do?
Where do we start?
What will fix this, or at least make sure it never happens again?
Omar Mateen was mentally ill and abusive, according to his ex-wife. So maybe we need to ramp up mental health services. Make sure everyone has access. You know, like how anyone can go to an emergency room for a gunshot? Nice idea, but not everyone who needs help will seek it out, even if it is available. So scratch that.
Omar Mateen was a homophobe (though possibly also gay) so maybe we need to force the entire country to participate in diversity training. Yeah right. We can’t even get public preschool. Ok, maybe we should just teach our children to respect themselves, as well as all other people, regardless of what color they are, what religion they ascribe to, or gasp, who they love. If we start now, we could have a more embracing and peaceful society in about eighteen years. Then again, the Evangelicals are never gonna go for it. Since we can’t get 100% participation, lets just scrap that idea too.
Omar Mateen was a “radicalized Muslim.” We definitely need to take care of those fuckers. Let’s not let them in our country. Oh, wait, Mateen was born here? Ok. Let’s just ban Islam. All the peace loving Muslims can just convert – we’re all sons of Abraham, right?
The First Amendment?
Well, damn, why hasn’t someone mentioned this to Trump? Alright. Let’s just try to keep people from being radicalized. We could cancel the Internet. No? How about shuffling some resources around to try to reach the people that are most susceptible to radicalization – you know, those poor, desperate, brown people living halfway around the world. The people that hate America because we tore up their countries with agenda after agenda going all the way back to WWI, and then left them to figure out how to clean up the mess.
Of course, that would take time. Maybe generations. And money. Oh lord, the money. It’s cheaper to rebuild the towers. Scratch that too.
Omar Mateen was armed with an MCX, a military style assault rifle (designed for Special Ops forces) and a hand gun. He purchased them shortly before the shooting, and after being investigated by the FBI for terrorist connections. He walked into a gun shop, and by all evidence, spent about ten minutes purchasing a gun that he would later use to kill or injure over one hundred people. The gun he purchased, a Sig MCX, is a semi automatic rifle that fires approximately 45 rounds per minute – just under one bullet per second. Let’s assume you are a really shitty shot, in five minutes you’ve fired 200 bullets, and had time to reload. Surely, you’ve hit something. Or many somethings, many times.
I totally get why your average American gun owner would need one of these – after all, your basic home intruder needs to be shot 45 times in the first minute in order to keep him from harming your family or property. Clearly, one or two shots from a handgun would be grossly inadequate. I mean, there’s dead, and there’s dead dead, am I right?
The gun folks call these weapons “modern sporting rifles,” bringing to mind sunny fall days on the estate hunting pheasant. Of course, if you hit a bird with one of those guns you’d be collecting feathers for weeks.
There’s NO reason a civilian citizen of the United States needs access to a MCX, an AR-15, or any or other assault rifle. We aren’t engaged in warfare with heavily armed combatants. That’s why we have a military. You know, the ones for whom these weapons were designed. And if you’re thinking, “Oh but an AR-15 would’ve have come in handy at Pulse,” give me a break. Are you going to take your assault rifle to church too, just in case?
Anyone who thinks an assault rifle is a necessary defense against our government is a scary fucker who belongs in Waco, waiting for the day all of our brothers-in-arms lose their collective minds and decide to turn on the American populous. Have you ever MET anyone in the military? My conservative friends, you can’t be both pro-veteran and pro-protect-ourselves-from-the-evil-militia at the same time. So what do you think? That the members of Congress are going to come barreling out of DC toting their secret MCXs and gunning for your property?
Maybe we should ban assault rifles, mandate background checks on all people buying guns, decide that if you can’t fly on a plane you also can’t buy a gun of any kind. Of course, gun legislation would require an Act of Congress. Literally. There is a reason that phrase is an idiom for something nearly impossible. But even if it happened, you know some bad guys are going to find ways to get bad guns. And if they can’t get guns, well, they’ll just spend a few months trying to figure out how to build a bomb. And if they don’t blow themselves up in the process, they might still manage to kill innocent people. So, since gun control won’t solve ALL.THE.PROBLEMS. lets just scrap that too.
Not ONE of these ideas is going to solve all mental illness, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, terrorism, or mass shootings.
That’s right, you heard it here: a liberal says, “Gun control will not solve ALL.THE.PROBLEMS.” But you know what? Carseats don’t prevent ALL the children from dying in accidents, and still, they’re a damn good idea.
There is no Magic Eraser that’s going to clean up all of the world’s mess. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try anything. Everything.