Like so many around the world, those of us at CommunicateHealth send our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the victims in Orlando.
We honor those they lost. We stand with our sisters and brothers of the LGBT community who gathered last weekend in the type of space that has come to represent safety and acceptance to the queer community only to become witnesses to a massacre. We thank those who refused to leave the scene, ensuring that strangers who lay dying would not do so alone. We are grateful to the first responders who helped prevent more loss.
This tragedy has hit especially hard. It seems some sort of horrific convergence of the worst parts of our culture at present. And for those of us who believe that the United States is in desperate need of gun policy reform, the fact that the shooter — a domestic abuser who had twice been investigated by the FBI for terror network ties — bought his semi-automatic weapon legally and brought it home the same day is almost incomprehensible. It’s too early to comment definitively on details, but it’s looking pretty bleak.
The day after the shooting — and looking as defeated as ever in his almost 8 years in the White House — President Obama commented on U.S. gun policy with words that will likely have zero effect on the those who have the capacity to change our gun laws.
“This massacre is… a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” said the President. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
To actively do nothing has been America’s choice since Congress passed a federal assault-weapons ban in 1994 that lasted just 10 years. In addition to being finite, the law was flawed and most experts agree that it probably didn’t do much to prevent gun violence. But it was something.
For over 20 years since, we have chosen to do nothing. When 9 people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting in Charleston, we did nothing. When 12 died in an Aurora movie theater, we did nothing. When 20 children — 20 children — were shot dead at their school in Newtown, we did nothing.
There’s no reason to expect that the 49 deaths in Orlando will lead to change any more than the others did. Until our politicians refuse to be bought by the gun lobby, our country’s choice is, and will remain, nothing.
I urge you to do what you can to change that — to do what you can to stop the cycle of a few days of outrage followed by the fade to apathy.
This choice is too important to let someone else make it for you.