Focusing On The Second Amendment In The Aftermath Of The Pulse Massacre
In the late night/early morning hours of June 12, 2016, one of the worst tragedies to ever occur on American soil was perpetrated by a lone gunman. Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, FL, was the site of a hate crime of massive proportions. Known locally as a gathering spot for members of the LGBT community, as well as their friends, their loved ones, and their allies, Pulse became the target of what many in the Mainstream Media are calling a “domestic terrorist attack”.
Just after 2AM, the attacker opened fire on the armed security guard, an off-duty Orlando police officer, patrolling the front of the club. The attacker gained access to the club, and began firing on the crowd inside. After several hours, police and SWAT forces were able to gain access to the building, engaged in a firefight with the attacker, and rescued the remaining club-goers, hostages who were trapped inside with the killer.
The death toll is currently at 49 people, plus the attacker. Another 53 people were injured, some critically, and many are still hospitalized. The death toll may yet rise.
This is the worst mass murder perpetrated by a lone gunman in US history. This is the deadliest attack on the LGBT community in US history. The attacker was a Muslim American citizen who claimed allegiance to ISIS, which also makes this the deadliest terrorist attack inside of our borders since the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
102 people either dead or seriously injured at the hands of just one man. Just one man with a handgun and a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle.
I sit writing this with a picture of Brenda McCool pulled up on my second monitor. Though I did not know her, she was a strong woman, as shown by the fact that she not only raised 12 kids, a superhuman feat in itself, she also fought and beat cancer. Twice. She was one of the victims at Pulse that night. She was out dancing with her son, who is gay. Her son survived. She did not.
First, and most importantly, THIS IS NOT A FUCKING POLITICAL ISSUE. People are dead. Though medical attention is being given to those who did not die, there is a possibility that those with more serious injuries may yet perish. So, if you are using this tragedy as a way to push some insane rhetoric of “This is exactly why we need more guns in this country”, you should take your nicest, shiniest handgun, shove it up your ass, and pull the trigger until it goes “click”.
No, this is not a political issue – it’s a moral issue. This was a “terrorist attack”, and it was a “deadly mass shooting”, to be sure. But, it was also a Hate Crime. Perpetrated against members of the LGBT community and those that support equal rights for the members of that community. Hate is hate, regardless of whom it is directed at. And that takes this out of the realm of “protecting our Second Amendment rights” and into the realm of morally reprehensible. And to be completely clear, the NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations on the planet, through their zealotry and political purchasing power, are morally culpable in this and every shooting where an innocent person winds up dead.
So, allow me, if I may, to address some of the absurdities that I have seen in the past couple of days since this tragic incident took place. These are the same old arguments that get trotted out every time something like this happens. We heard them after Sandy Hook, we heard them after San Bernardino, and we are hearing them again right now.
If everyone was armed, criminals would think twice before they try something. We need more guns, not more gun control!
I remember hearing some people say we should arm teachers after the Sandy Hook massacre. There are literally enough guns in our country right now to arm every man and woman, and most children, too. There are more guns per capita in our country than anywhere else in the world. There are also more gun-related deaths per capita in our country than anywhere else in the world. In countries where gun laws are stricter, or guns have been banned outright, the number of gun-related deaths drops exponentially (there are exceptions to this rule, such as Honduras and South Africa – but is it really a matter of pride to claim to be better than those countries? Seems to be setting the bar rather low, in my opinion). If you don’t see a correlation between more guns and more gun deaths, you are either blind or willfully ignorant of the facts.
Going back to Sandy Hook, if teachers were armed, then the first target of the gunman would be the teacher, to neutralize the threat. And children still would have died. Maybe not as many, but even one is too many. How about Pulse? If every person inside of that nightclub was armed, the death toll might have been lower, but there would have still been a death toll. There were an estimated 320 people inside Pulse. How many people would have been hit by “friendly fire” if 320 people, in a dark, noisy club filled with flashing lights, and with varying degrees of proficiency at handling firearms, all began shooting in any general direction? My guess is that the death toll would have actually been higher. Much higher.
It’s in the Constitution! It’s our God-given right as Americans to own guns!
Well, aside from your inclination to believe that your all-loving God, who allegedly said “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, really wants to make sure you have things designed to do just that, you are factually correct. There is, in the first ten amendments to the living document that is our United States Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, the provision that allows American citizens to own firearms.
But, let us examine what an Amendment really is. It is an addition to a previously drafted document that clarifies a stance on a particular issue. And, as a living document, our Constitution was intended to be changed as the times changed. For example, another Amendment to our Constitution, the 18th Amendment, prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcohol within the US. We know how well that worked out. After almost 14 years of prohibition, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment. And that is the point. Just because the 2nd Amendment says you have the right to own firearms doesn’t mean that it is etched in stone. It certainly is not without flaw. And certain restrictions should apply. Say, oh, I don’t know, fucking assault rifles.
The 2nd amendment was written 240 years ago. The “arms” that they were speaking of were barely functional muzzle loading muskets, not the death-sprayers that have been manufactured en masse since then. Perhaps it is time we took a look at what “arms” we should be guaranteed the right to own.
I keep guns for hunting/sport! I’m not a murderer! I deserve the right to whatever guns I want!
Ok, so you like hunting, or target shooting. That’s fine. In fact, so long as you use the meat and hide, I have no problem at all with hunting (before the animal rights activists jump in my ass about it, I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I don’t kill animals either – someone has to do it for me, and if I am going to ask someone to do something that I can’t or won’t so that I can enjoy the fruits of that labor, I won’t be a hypocrite and tell someone who enjoys hunting that they can’t or shouldn’t). But, I feel like you don’t need a semi-automatic rifle capable of firing multiple rounds per second to get that buck. If you need something like that to get your “kill”, you aren’t a very good hunter. Actually, the guys with the bows are laughing at you.
I need guns to protect my home and my family!
This is one of the more valid arguments. There are people out there, bad people, from whom we should have the right and ability to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and, to a certain extent, our property. A handgun in the hands of a person properly trained in its use, including the care and caution deserving of an instrument of death, is an excellent form of personal protection. But, do you really need to be able to pump 100 rounds into the attacker in a matter of seconds? A well placed shot to the knee, the shoulder, or even the belly, is likely more than enough to stop an attacker from carrying out the crime they intended, and will probably avoid yet another gun-related death. A handgun is more than sufficient for this. I still don’t see that you need an assault rifle for personal protection. If you need a death-sprayer in order to hit your target, you are not a very good shot, and need more training and practice. Until you can properly fire your weapon and hit your target, you should probably not have a gun.
The 2nd Amendment was put in place so that Americans could protect themselves from a tyrannical and oppressive government!
The most factual of all the pro-gun arguments. And also the most asinine. Are you part of a “well-organized militia”? Most likely not. And, even if you can claim to be in a militia, you probably aren’t all that well organized. Besides, what has your little rag-tag band of camo wearing gun enthusiasts done to protect the American populace from any attacks, domestic or foreign? Not a goddamn thing. You really believe that if the most powerful
government on the planet, with the largest and most powerful military, decided to bring the hammer down, you and your assault rifles would be able to stop them? Further, do you really expect us to believe that? Look, fool, they have fucking TANKS. They have UNMANNED DRONES with BOMBS. If they had the inclination to, they would squash your band of rebels without even needing to put real people in danger, and you would never even get off a single shot. Luckily for you and Ted Nugent, they really aren’t all that worried about you (As an aside, you realize that by today’s standards, you would be considered insurgents and not the patriots you think you are, right?). So, if you have to give up your death-sprayers so the rest of us can be a little bit safer, I guess I’ll just have to listen to you cry over it like a baby whose favorite toy was taken away.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!
This is my favorite, and I’m sure you have heard this a million times as well. Usually it is followed up with some version of “What? Are you gonna ban knives, too? How about baseball bats?” and the inevitable “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns”. This is all part of that circular rhetoric that the NRA has pumped into their gun loving members since its inception. First, you’re right, the gun itself doesn’t actually do the killing. If you want to get really technical about it, the person holding the gun doesn’t do the actual killing, either. It’s the bullet. Maybe we should just ban those. But, the point of the argument is about intent. Neither the gun nor the bullets have the capability of intent, because they are inanimate objects. But the entire purpose of a gun is to kill.
Whether it is a human or an animal, killing is the explicit purpose of a gun. To say “guns don’t kill” is to ignore the entire point of that gun. And also makes you a goddamned moron.
In terms of destructive power, knives and guns are not even in the same ball park. Granted, if a person really has the intent of harming someone, even killing them, they can do it with a knife. If they wanted to harm several people, they could use a knife, and they might even actually kill one or two of them. But, if they want to get those astronomically high death counts that we saw in Pulse and at Sandy Hook, only one thing will do – a gun. And not just a handgun either. A fucking assault rifle.
And, my final point – while many people do favor an outright ban on guns (I don’t think it would be an awful idea – several countries have done it, and they have drastically decreased gun-related deaths and crimes), the only thing I am talking about here is assault rifles. You want a handgun for “personal protection”? Fine. You want a rifle for “hunting/sport shooting”? Go ahead. You want an assault rifle, designed and manufactured with the sole purpose of killing as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible? Yeah, you don’t need that. And, if you want it NOW and just CAN’T WAIT for it, you really really don’t need that.
No, I am not suggesting that the government should come to take away all your guns. I am suggesting that maybe we need some regulation. Some restriction on the type and amount of weapons that a person can have. Tougher background checks. Though I disagree with President Obama on a number of things, I couldn’t agree more when he described it as a travesty that he can know that certain American citizens have been on ISIS websites, and that they can be put on no-fly lists, but he can’t prohibit them from purchasing a death-spraying assault rifle.
49 innocent people died at Pulse. We have had more mass shootings in the US than we have had days so far in 2016. We have a mental health problem in our country that is definitely contributing to this epidemic. And until we address that, we will always have psychopathic people who intend to harm others. Maybe, in the meantime, we can limit the access to instruments of death that these unstable people have. It isn’t a matter of protecting your rights. Not anymore. This isn’t political. This is moral. People are dying
every day. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. People who love, and are loved. And, if your need to own deadly weapons outweighs the deaths of innocent people, you have no empathy. Combine that with your destructive tendencies, as is evident by your emotional attachment to instruments of death, and your narcissism in believing that your right to have death-sprayers is more important than another person’s right to life, and you have trademark characteristics of a textbook sociopath.
Which means you probably shouldn’t have a gun.