A Pulse Of Anger: Haven’t We Had Enough Mass Shootings?


Does an American’s right to buy an AK-47 trump all other considerations?

I live about three hours away from Orlando, in a conservative, well-off town where the big social events are the Moose Lodge lottery and the Catholic church rummage sale.

Plenty of lesbians and gay men live here, but we don’t have a bar, bookstore, or even a coffeehouse that’s especially gay friendly. For that, we go to Sarasota, Tampa – or Orlando.

Local reaction to the shooting was swift and surprisingly universal: “It’s sad. It’s so sad.” I heard person after person say those words, but I didn’t say the same, because I wasn’t sad so much as angry.

How many people have to die before we can get gun control? The shootings are not just massive but endless. The Orlando massacre was the biggest one in history, but it was the 176th mass shooting in the USA this year. That’s right: on the 164th day of 2016, there had already been 175 mass shootings in this country. More than one mass killing per day.

Remember: Oklahoma, Fort Hood, the black church in Charleston, the community college in Oregon, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, and more. Everyone, even the NRA-supported Republican senators of this state, bemoans the violence and deaths. Everyone’s sad and sorry. Everyone calls for “a national conversation,” but the conversation never gets anywhere.

The very moderate measures that were on the floor of the Senate on Monday June 20th, a week after the shooting, were aimed not at limiting the types nor the numbers of guns Americans carry, but mainly at preventing people who were suspected of terrorist links from legally buying weapons. The four bills failed: apparently it’s okay with our governing body for anyone to own any weapon they can afford.

Senator from my state, Marco Rubio, said why he voted against a measure to prevent people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns: “It would not prevent terrorist attacks, but it would deny thousands of law-abiding Americans their constitutionally protected right to bear arms without any due process.” OK, Rubio – if that “right to bear arms” is more important than the lives of 49 citizens of your state, how important is it? Is it more important than anything?

The US already has one of the highest gun-murder rates in the world.

Australia has one of the lowest of any developed country: Why? Because after they had ONE mass shooting, they enacted the National Firearms Agreement, which strictly limits who can own or carry a gun. The government bought back some 400,000 weapons – and the murder rate plummeted. We could do that, too.

President Obama has said that the problem of curbing gun violence has been the most frustrating part of his presidency. In a BBC interview he said that the United States “is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun safety laws.”

What will it take for the NRA-funded Republican senators to give the American people sane gun laws? So far in 2016 more than 6,000 people have died. On average 10,000 die in the US annually from shootings – compared to fewer than 50 on average in Japan, 200 in Canada. What’s the number that will make us stop?

The NRA and its puppet members of government argue that the (unfettered) right to bear arms (of any description) is valuable. But at what cost? Does an American’s right to buy an AK-47 trump all other considerations? Or is it just that we haven’t reached the point yet where members of Congress are willing to say, “Enough”? How many people have to die? If they still think 10,000 deaths per year is an acceptable price to pay, how about 20,000, or 50,000? If it reaches the point that Americans kill each other more than the citizens of any other country on earth, say by shooting 100,000 people each year, is that going to shame the government into acting?

If the deaths of 49 innocent people enjoying a night out in Orlando aren’t enough to move our congress members to take action, what will?

I am hoping – and, yes, praying, and most importantly voting – that the next president and the next Congress will make the changes we urgently need.