The Orlando Shooting Will Change Nothing: #NowWhat
ColumnAmerica: The land of the heavily armed, hate-filled, mental-health-free extremists.
Isn’t that what America has changed its national tagline to?
All dark joking aside, this past week has suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. Forty-nine people were gunned down at Pulse, a gay-friendly nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Sunday morning. Omar Mateen now holds the disgusting title of most-prolific-American-mass-killing shooter in history.
What we know about the Orlando shooting
A lot of news has come out about Mateen’s past since the shooting.
Long before the shooting—off and on during the past five years—Mateen had been on law enforcement radar. However, the FBI never found a solid reason to open an investigation during that time.
And we now know that Mateen had been on several gay dating apps and visited gay nightclubs, including Pulse, several times before the shooting. We also know that Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS to a 911 operator. And in addition to being violent, disgruntled, and a known terrorist sympathizer, he also was violent toward his ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy.
Even though Mateen was known for all of the above, he was still able to legally buy a Sig Sauer MCX, a popular “modern sporting rifle,” on June 4 and a Glock 17 handgun on June 5.
The newest news we’ve heard—as of Wednesday evening when this post was finished—is that Mateen’s wife will most likely face criminal charges for her participation in her husband’s attack.
“Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, knew of his plans for what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, said the law enforcement source, who has been briefed on the matter,” Reuters reports.
“Salman was with Mateen when he cased possible targets in the past two months, including the Walt Disney World Resort in April, a shopping complex called Disney Springs and the Pulse nightclub in early June.”
We also know that federal authorities are now calling the shooting a hate crime and an act of terror.
How do we process this?
This shooting is first and foremost sad as fuck. No one goes out for a night on the town assuming they will be gunned down alongside dozens of other people just a few hours later.
The shooting is also heartbreaking because the shooter specifically targeted a group of already vulnerable people. Sure, gay people have won the right to marry, but the fight for equality is far from over. True allies of the homosexual community know it and people who identify as LGBTQ know it—everyone else in America, however, hasn’t caught on quite yet.
And then there’s the gun control issue. How could a man that had such a violent past be able to legally obtain guns? Well, according to President Obama, people who are on terrorist watch lists can still legally buy guns because of the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Yes. Possible terrorists can’t fly on planes, but can buy guns becauseAmerica!
Oh, and let’s not forget terrorism.
ISIS has had a lot of success converting people to its way of thinking. So far, federal investigators think Mateen was “self-radicalized”—meaning “there was no evidence he received any help or instructions from outside groups such as Islamic State,” Reuters reports.
Whether Mateen had help or not doesn’t matter—he was radicalized and whatever propaganda, information, thoughts, etc. got him to this violent state was made worse because he was fighting for some deranged hatred.
And that leads us to the other aspect of this attack: mental health. I’m going to guess that Mateen was mentally unstable. As we all know, the mentally unstable don’t fare too well in America.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, it means different things to everyone.
To President Obama, it means he has to give another speech about gun control that he knows few will really listen to.
To Donald Trump, it means he has another opportunity to say “I called it! Look at me! Let’s ban Muslims!” Because to him, all Muslims are the same.
To the LGBTQ community, it means they have yet another reason to fear being open and proud of who they are.
And for common-sense gun owners and gun control advocates, it means convincing politicians and the NRA that just because you limit the availability of some weapons doesn’t mean the government plans on taking away all of your guns.
People: I am so fucking tired of writing about these tragedies. But this isn’t about me—it’s about all of us.
So, America—let’s learn from this attack and make positive change once and for all. Because prayers only get you so far. Actions, however, get you further.
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Image of memorials in New York via Shutterstock, Christopher Penler
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