#4: Orlando Shooting: A Year on From Charlston Church Massacre

Disclaimer: In writing this post, I do not in any way condone the actions of those gun-wielding psychopaths that ruined the lives of their communities. I merely want to understand how the environment in some American states are more susceptible to mass-shootings then others. I am not a citizen of America, don’t have an opinion about gun ownership in general,  and certainly do not consider myself a homophobe. 
On Friday 17th June, time will assign to US history a year since the infamous racially- driven Charleston Church Massacre. Then on the 12th July, the people of Denver, Colorado commemorate the fourth year since the 2012 Aurora (Theatre) Shooting. Forgive me then for writing that it seems only fitting that a mass-shooting occur on the 12th June in Orlando, Florida, home to, arguably the happiest place in the world- Disneyworld. What cruel irony.
If the last five years have taught us anything, it is that loaded barrels rarely sit idle…only in America if only by cliche. I could go on to look further beyond this time-frame but I would rather you have a look at Wikipedia’s List of Rampage Killers and make your own mind up about frequency of incidents. But I will say this, in President Obama’s eight years in office since 2009, he has had to make comment on 16 massacre events . That averages out to two mass shootings each year. A statistic that would make any politician cringe. I won’t delve into the details of those event’s either but safe to say that gun’s played a role in those incidents.

What is of particular interest though is the colourful rhetoric that has come to the fore in the last five years around US anti-gun laws, or lack thereof. I support Obama’s frustration and empathise with his fight for stricter controls on ownership of high-powered weapons, a perspective shared also by his Democrat peer and Presidential hopeful, Hilary Clinton. However I do take a departure that would question my own punting habits. Frankly, if I was an American citizen, I would most likely be a Democrat, but in this instance the Republican’s seem to make a bit more sense on. Gun’s may be an issue but there is no doubt that human’s too play a small but significant role in gun-related violence.

The former speaker of the Floridian House of Representatives and Republican Presidential Candidate, Marco Rubio, seems to share that opinion too – people kill people. His comments couldn’t be more in contrast to that of Obama’s, let alone the prevailing popular opinion in much of the western world in the aftermath of the Virginia journalists shooting in August 2015. You may not be able to see a person shooting in the frame of that video footage but trust me, the gun was shot by a person.
It’s often hard to separate weapon and person. By Obama’s logic however, if a rock was used to kill people, there would need to be stricter controls on possessing rocks. My point is that, there is an issue underlying the psyche of some American’s that needs to be addressed. I pray that they do address it for the betterment of their society. Putting restrictions on gun-ownership fuels division in their society because there are people who see it as part of their American DNA, a rite of passage if you will.
It is a reality that is foreign to us in other countries and societies to even begin to grasp the symbolism and cultural significance of gun ownership but could you imagine a world where gun-related violence dominates the headlines on a daily? Maybe not here but in only in America.
Hanslee
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