Editor’s note: Jessica DeLoach Sabin is a frequent contributor to Talk Business & Politics. Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of Talk Business & Politics.
When tragic events occur and innocent people lose their lives, the first place many of us turn to is the world online. From here, we seek out information and the reactions of others to the scenarios that leave us grief-stricken, confused, and angry. Some of us join in and speak out in order to overcome a sense of helplessness and to provide comfort and comradery to those in need. Then there are some of us who remain quiet because helplessness sometimes wins out. This doesn’t make us cruel or any less caring. Rather, it signifies a sense of defeat that underscores why our country continues to experience the aftermath of preventable violence by those who carry hate in their hearts.
Had you been among the millions who hopped online shortly after the news broke of the deadliest massacre that’s ever been perpetrated against the LGBTQ community in the U.S., your experience would’ve amounted to this:
– Some variation of “thoughts and prayers to those affected by the shooting in Orlando”
– Calls for needing stricter gun laws in the United States with supporting data to make a case for little more than one side of the overall quandary
– Statements like “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Are we going to ban knives?!”
– A vile stream of blame lobbed at President Obama
– Statements about how horrible Donald Trump was for his victory lap tweet over the Orlando shooting and follow-up jabs at Hillary Clinton from Trump supporters who will do and say anything to convince anyone that she’s the worst person to ever walk planet Earth
– Little blips of facts that matter – about politicians who vote against curbing gun violence and accept political contributions from the NRA
– Tributes to the newest names and faces to join the ever-expanding list of preventable deaths in the U.S.
This, of course, isn’t everything but it’s enough to summarize where we are right now and we’ve been for a while.
When tragedies like this occur we can expect what responses we’ll see to them. By now, we’re all capable of writing them in our sleep. What’s worse is that we know we will relive this moment over and over again until someone with some authority rises up to do something about it. Our hope in this prospect grows darker the longer those who occupy Congress remain silent and as we watch them continue to stand resolute behind their perverted, gross interpretations of what the founding fathers sought to achieve when they crafted the Second Amendment. Then they pivot to terrorism and the struggle between the West and Islam. They spin us with “facts” compiled by special interests and argue about how it’s not gun control laws that will stop these occurrences but, rather, a continued military entanglement with a world much different than our own.
Reports have been released that the Orlando shooter had become a radicalized Islamic terrorist. But what we also know was that he held a deep hatred for the gay community, had been planning an assault on club he shot up, and was able to legally obtain a firearm that was more powerful than any one person could ever have reason to need.
You see, the faster the weapon, the higher the body count – or so I once read after a madman murdered twenty children in a Connecticut elementary school in 2012. This is why the Orlando shooter chose the weapon he did. He legally obtained a weapon with such dangerous capacity and did so even though he was once on a terrorism watch list. So tell me where the failure lies. Tell me how we did not enable this terrorist by having such lax gun laws in this nation.
I say this knowing that someone reading these words will automatically default to their interpretation of the Second Amendment and to them I say: I don’t want your guns. There are plenty of firearms you can own that will allow you to enjoy hunting, target shooting, and provide you with confidence that you can protect yourself and the ones you love. If you are offended by this suggestion, then to you I say this: It is morally reprehensible to me that you believe your right to own a powerful automatic weapon that is capable of doing more damage than the mind can conceive of in a matter of seconds is worth more than my life and the lives of others. Your hobby means nothing to me when it comes to my life and the lives of everyone else who walks this planet. This is a shared space and shared spaces call for compromise.
This unwillingness to meet in the middle over guns in America is why we keep seeing the headlines we see. It’s why there are more and more families facing a permanent and unnecessary interruption of their lives. Every redundant headline is another crushing blow to their recovery from their loss. We are past the point of having excuses for not acting and we are all complicit in these tragedies for accepting the inaction of those who have the power to make common sense reforms that can save lives.
The intent of the Second Amendment most definitely speaks to protection – and with that comes the responsibility to meet advances in technology with intellect. When the founding fathers put ink to paper and granted us the right to bear arms, they did so with muskets in mind. Not high-powered machines that were beyond their comprehension. I refuse to believe that these same men would tolerate this nation’s inclination to proudly embrace or fear to reject a verbatim acceptance of what they wrote because their overall intent was to provide us with a framework by which we could prosper as a nation. Why do we reject prosperity?
Since the Orlando shooting, there have been calls to not politicize this tragedy. In this particular instance, though, I struggle with that request because the massacre that occurred in that club was motivated by someone’s deeply-held hatred of the sexual orientation of others. That club was a safe haven for individuals who continue to be politicized for where they can and cannot use the bathroom or their ability to be who they are within their own workplace without having to fear losing their jobs. Many of the people who lost their lives just a couple of nights ago were in their sanctuary. They lost their lives in one of the only places they’ve probably ever felt safe to be who they are and with who they love. Who are we to pretend that politics didn’t play a part in their demise?
If we are to continue to accept the inaction of others who could make this country safer for us all, then this society will never be as prosperous or equality-driven as it proclaims to be. Issues like gun violence do not self-correct. We have to act if we want to see results. Otherwise we will continue living in one enduring and deafening moment of silence for generations to come.