This isn’t going to be a long post. But I’m emerging from the shadowy frontiers of dissertation- and novel-writing to say this: there should be universal outrage over the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where gunman Omar Mateen murdered at least 50 people and injured another 50. News broadcasts from NBC, the BBC, CNN, and others indicate that Mateen targeted the club precisely because of it was a gay club—a place where the gay community should feel safe, should feel free to be themselves. So we should be enraged—enraged at this commission of a hate crime, irate that once again a mass shooting has taken innocent lives, infuriated at a perverse system of laws and loopholes and outmoded constitutional provisions that allow anyone to own these deadly weapons.
Write your congress(wo)man; write your senator; write your governors and your state and local legislators. Tell them: don’t just say you’ll “pray for the victims.” Tell them to legislate and initiate action that will stop this for good.
President Obama already issued a national address, around 2:00 p.m. (EST) today. He described the attack as “an act of terror and hate.” It’s yet another in the long line of the President’s public statements on the issue, which have previously met with little effective action and stalwart opposition from the gun lobby. (I wrote about these speeches here five months ago, in a post entitled “Emoter-in-Chief: Presidential Tears as Argument for Gun Control.” I stand by the arguments I made there.)
Listen, I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and the folks there stand by there guns, claim that firearms are part of their “way of life.” And yes, it’s a hunting culture—but that culture gets hoodwinked into being support for deadly assault weapons. (I rankled watching today’s coverage on NBC, when a few commentators tried to think through when you might need an “AR-16 type of weapon.” Complete list of occasions: NEVER.) But if a “way of life” is complicit in hatred, complicit in racism, complicit in sexism, complicit in discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, complicit in robbing broad swaths of innocent Americans of their lives . . . when it does all these things and perpetuates the worst and most hateful aspects of our nation, it cannot be defended.
So let’s be angry, and let’s stay angry, about this.