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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Shooting in Orlando

I woke up early on Sunday--well, early for a Sunday, 8:30--to walk the dog. I saw an alert on my phone that there was another mass shooting, at that time with 23 dead. I didn't want to know more. I didn't turn on the TV. I hoped it wasn't a Muslim and went back to bed, burying my head in the sand.

I awoke to find that it was 50 dead, 53 wounded, and that the crime scene was a gay nightclub. The shooter was a Muslim, Omar Mateen. He made a call to 911 to express solidarity with ISIS, although he was not coordinating an attack with them. That does not matter to most.  The die was cast. America would know see three special breeds of asshole: the Islamophobe, the homophobe, and the gun nut. It was a perfect storm of idiocy.

Mass shooting are now something we see regularly, like rain showers. Since the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, there have been 998 mass shootings in the U.S.! 998! And each time a nation collectively wrings its hands and people raise their voices but nothing gets done, because a powerful lobby called the N.R.A. has too many politicians in its pocket. No law can get passed. As President Obama pointed out just a few days before this tragedy, the CDC isn't even allowed to do a study on gun violence.

The Islamophobes spoke out, led by Donald Trump, who instead of expressing any sympathy made a tweet in which he took congratulations on being "right" about terrorism. The thing is, he's not right. Of those 998 shootings, only two have been by Muslims. Mateen was born in the United States. Unless he's talking about rounding up all Muslims (maybe he is) there's not a lot we can do about that.

Oh, but wait! Mateen had been investigated by the FBI before. He was an abusive husband and spoke openly about killing people to co-workers. But he had no trouble buying an AR-15 rifle. A Facebook friend of mine, my old college roommate, who is an avowed Islamophobe, asked why people are blind to the problem. Yes, people are blind to the problem--the problem is guns. Mateen should have never been able to buy a gun that's sole purpose is too kill as many people in as short a time as possible. No one should.

But we have the gun nuts out there who have their heads up their collective asses so far they must see brown. There are the nitpickers, who say the AR-15 isn't an automatic weapon, yada yada yada. I don't care what its specifications are, a man under investigation by the FBI shouldn't have one. We also hear rationalizations that are bloodless--oh well, bad guys are going to get guns anyway. By that reasoning, we might as well do away with speed limits, or all laws entirely. After another mass shooting some time back sniper Chris Kyle's widow said something so blitheringly stupid to Obama that it's a testament to his kindness that he didn't bite her head off: "You can't outlaw murder." Well of course you can, and every nation has. Murder is a crime.

The third type of asshole, the homophobe, has thankfully mostly been kept to the fringes. The predictable Westboro Baptist Church chimed in that god sent the shooter, while Steven Anderson, a repellent pastor from Arizona, said that it's no big deal, that's just 50 less pedophiles. What is more heartwarming is that most decent people have put out their hearts and minds to the gay community. I was at an ATM today and Wells Fargo bank of all things had a rainbow-colored flag on their home screen. The people and the law have spoken about gay rights, and anybody who can't agree should get out of the way.

Meanwhile I'm just angry. Angry at a loser like Mateen (today it is revealed that he was a frequent visitor to the club and had an account on a gay dating site, so it could have been a case of a self-loathing gay man) but even more so at a congress that is unwilling to do anything about this epidemic of destruction and loss. We must ban the AR-15 from private use, and the sooner the better.

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