Heartbreak, then anger. That was the progression of my emotions after learning of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Oh I’m still heartbroken, but anger is the overriding emotion now—anger that a person on the terrorist watch list was able to legally buy an assault rifle, a weapon that has no place in civilian hands; anger that the Republican party is still doing everything they can to block common-sense gun legislation. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) both introduced legislation that will save countless lives (increased background checks and preventing people on the terrorism watch-list and other suspected terrorists from buying guns, respectively). That is, if the Republicans don’t block it, which according to most pundits, they will—if they haven’t already. The vote is today.
Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can possibly think that blocking suspected terrorists from purchasing guns is a bad idea. The counter measure proposed by the Republicans provides merely a seventy-two hour waiting period and puts the onus on the government to prove that the purchase should be blocked. Prosecutors would have to go to court during those seventy-two hours to show probable cause to block the sale permanently. What if the prosecutors can’t prove it on time? The blood of any mass shootings would be on the hands of lawmakers refusing to see that the world is an increasingly terrifying place when it comes to gun violence and that something needs to be done about it.
I’m fairly certain that when our Founding Fathers inscribed the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution, they did not envision that it would translate to the right to bust into a crowded nightclub and gun down forty-nine innocent souls just out for an evening of fun. Nor did they imagine that this constitutional right would allow a crazed madman to slaughter twenty-six beautiful, innocent children and heroic teachers. And I’m guessing that office workers eating cake in a conference room are absolutely not whom the Founding Fathers had in mind when imagining the need to bear arms against an enemy. By allowing assault weapons—weapons that only the military and police officers would ever need—to remain easy to obtain legally (and therefore illegally, as well), our country is failing to protect its own citizens.
Gun rights advocates piss and moan that they have a constitutional right to own whatever damn gun they wish. “You can pry it from my cold, dead hands,” they cry. Yes, the second amendment states that one has the right to own a gun, but it was written long before assault weapons, long before terrorist watch lists, long before our country has cried rivers of tears for the murdered. PrayFor… hashtags have become so common-place, that it rings hollow now. Prayers are wonderful, prayers help ease the pain crushing our souls, but we need more than prayers—we need change. We need the Republican party to haul themselves out of the cozy bed they’ve made with the NRA and do something, finally. We need Republican lawmakers to vote for an assault weapons ban and agree to the simple measures that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the evil among us to get their hands on weapons created to kill many efficiently.
Republican lawmakers, make the right decision. You have a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, hateful rhetoric-spouting asshole who looks like a constipated pumpkin as the presumptive public face of your party. Do something to enhance your reputation here and around the world. Come together in a bi-partisan fashion to make our country safer. We—or at least any sane person with half a heart—beg you. Make a difference.
I’m not talking about taking away handguns, though I do believe it should be much, MUCH harder to purchase one. And I do believe there should be stricter laws governing how a gun can be kept—way too many children are killed accidentally; way too many spurned lovers are able to carry out revenge; way too many disgruntled employees can settle a score with a bullet and even way too many suicides are thanks to the pull of a trigger. I could go on and on, even though I know there are many who will say, “Guns don’t kill people…People kill people.” It makes it a hell of a lot easier, though. But, I get it—there are some responsible gun owners out there. My boyfriend in college owned a gun and took me target shooting. It was actually fun. He never used it to kill anyone, though. The ONLY use for an assault weapon is to kill the maximum amount of people in the minimum amount of time. You don’t take an assault weapon to a field and shoot at some empty Coke cans on a fence. No, the owner of an assault weapon takes it to a gay bar; a movie theater; an office building; a shopping mall simply to commit mass murder.
I’m terrified to send my children out into the world after an atrocity like the Pulse shooting, because I don’t know around what corner a mad gunman may lurk. My parents worried I’d date the wrong boy; get into a car with a drunk driver; walk down a dark alley by myself late at night. Parents today need to worry about all of those things, plus if their children will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, simply doing something mundane—enjoying a movie, a night out at a club, shopping at the mall or even just going to school. They need to worry about any public place without a swat team present to immediately take out an assault weapon toting lunatic. I’m also terrified for the LGBT community—and those in it with whom I’m close. It shouldn’t be like this. It’s ENOUGH.
How to help: