It’s been a week since the attack in Orlando and much of what’s happened is predictable. Both political parties have rolled out their positions on gun control, and both are very familiar. Democrats want new background checks and to ban sales of guns to anyone on the no-fly or terrorist watch lists. Republicans counter by saying that more people should be carrying guns and that denying anyone their second amendment rights is abhorrent. Further, the man responsible for the massacre wasn’t on any list when he purchased his guns, so changes in the law wouldn’t have stopped his actions.
It’s a tiresome debate, and the more it drags on, the more we will see horrible scenes like the one in Orlando. Remember that there was an armed guard at the door to the Pulse nightclub, and he couldn’t stop Omar Mateen from entering the club. The NRA fantasy is that a nightclub full of armed patrons would have killed Mateen before he could have done damage, but the reality is that it’s likely that far more than 49 people would have died if there was a shootout because most people just aren’t very good shots. I could imagine bullets being sprayed all over the club and more innocent club-goers losing their lives. More guns is not the answer. It’s a punchline.
The most sensible reform would be to know who has guns in this country. Background checks, licenses, and ones that need to be renewed like driver’s licenses, and mandatory safety classes should be the law of the land. More than that, the culture needs to change. This was an attack on gays, plain and simple. It was a terror attack too, but only insofar as Omar Mateen’s personal and religious views were hostile to the LGBTQ community. Despite the positive changes in marriage laws and more widespread acceptance of gay rights, we clearly have more work to do.
As for politics, this past week was a terrible one for Donald Trump, as he acted as though this was a personal referendum on whether he was right that we’d have a terrorist attack on American soil. He also repeated his call to bar all Muslims from coming or returning to this country until…well, he hasn’t said. Polls show his appeal to women, Muslims, Hispanics and African-Americans dropping like a stone. Hillary has rightly been supportive and empathetic, and she’s smart enough to get out of the way when her opponent is imploding.
It’s been a sad week, and one full of national and personal reflection. Can we please not do this anymore?2