There’s simply no way to make sense of the tragedy in Orlando that left 50 people dead and 53 others wounded. It just doesn’t seem possible that one human being could commit such an unspeakably horrific act against fellow human beings in cold blood for whatever twisted motive emerges from the current investigation.
It seems that way every time this happens, when a man opens fire in a movie theater in Colorado or an elementary school classroom in Connecticut or an African-American church in Charleston.
It simply doesn’t make sense.
Neither does the fact that we continue to make it easier for it happen again and again.
Nothing changes after we are horrified and we find out that the shooter was seriously mentally ill or identified with foreign terrorists or domestic hate groups or maybe was tortured himself by a lifetime of agony and abuse and self-loathing.
Sometimes the victims are targeted because they are gay. Sometimes they are targeted because they are African American. Sometimes it’s impossible to know why they were targeted.
But ultimately it doesn’t matter. They are all human beings murdered where they dance, where they worship, where they learn. And nothing changes.
There are vigils and funerals and speeches and wall to wall news coverage and experts of all sorts weighing in. And nothing changes.
A troubled man who has been tracked by the FBI can walk into a gun store in America and walk out with a semi-automatic weapon that with a magazine also readily available can shoot up to 40, 50, 100 times a minute without the need to reload.
A person that the government believes is too dangerous to board an airplane can buy that same weapon too without a second look.
Anyone can buy that weapon any weekend they want at gun shows across the country with no questions asked, regardless of their background or criminal history or mental state, because nobody there is required to check.
Polls show that troubles the majority of Americans, the majority of Republicans, and even the majority of members of the NRA. But nothing changes.
A conservative commentator in North Carolina was asked on talk show after 20 children were mowed down sitting at their desks in Newtown why people need to be able to buy a weapon that can shoot 100 times with reloading—and he yelled loudly in response “because of my freedom.”
What about the freedom of the children at the school and the worshippers at the church and the patrons at the nightclub?
Nobody is trying to take guns away that are used for hunting or self-defense but why does anyone need a weapon of mass destruction in their home?
And why is only the Second Amendment considered absolute? Freedom of speech is enshrined in our Constitution too but it has limits. You cannot shout fire in a crowded movie or produce child pornography or even communicate a threat without facing serious consequences, yet they are all forms of speech.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees us privacy but Congress continues to debate how much data the government can collect about us in the name of national security and there are calls for the FBI to increase its tracking and surveillance of people who might pose a threat even if they are citizens protected against unlawful search and seizure.
But somehow the Second Amendment is more sacred even when our safety is also at stake. Even when people are massacred by weapons that were designed to make killing easier.
President Obama, in his latest plaintive plea for some sanity in our gun laws, said in the wake of the Orlando shooting that doing nothing is a decision too. And that’s what Congress and the NRA have decided to do after every horrific event.
Congressman Alan Grayson from Florida said this week that it is way too easy to kill people in America and he’s right.
It is way too easy to kill lots of people.
The tragedy in Orlando is a devastating reminder of that.
Now we’ll see if our leaders will finally do something about it or if they again will make a decision to do nothing and let the carnage continue.