It’s only natural to wonder what peculiar DNA strain is present in those among us who shrug off, unperturbed, what has just transpired in Orlando, as they have every other gunfire massacre that’s now on the books. Trustingly, we dared to surmise here that the slaughter of young innocents in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 had sensitized the polity to a level of depravity sufficient to break the fever enveloping our space. With the NRA and its surrogates in Congress and across the land responding even to those martyred Sandy Hook Elementary kids with an emphatic “No dice!,” the Orlando horror finds us settled into this sense of resignation about a firearms proliferation status quo of the crazies’ design. Not good enough, if we aren’t repulsed by the very idea of tacitly accepting a so-called new normal that looks like this.
It recalls that surreal phase in gun-law congressional behavior after the assault weapons ban, with Ronald Reagan’s pivotal support, was passed in 1994. Congress, it seemed, was collectively made to atone for crossing the dreaded NRA with that action. In the face of overall congressional non-engagement, Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy was practically a lone voice condemning both NRA bullying and her feckless colleagues. No one was surprised that serious discussion about extending the assault weapons ban beyond its 2004 sunset just didn’t materialize. One might make the case that the real new normal kicked in when the NRA’s tightened stranglehold on Capitol Hill assured permanent burial for the assault weapons ban.
As a result of which the Orlando perpetrator, like others before him, could acquire his mass-destruction weapon without hindrance, ownership of it obviously making for a toxic mix with this troubled individual. It remains difficult to fathom how any measurable subset of us could hold to the belief that military-style weaponry should be out and about for general accessibility. Are they for real, the folks who are bitterly opposed even to background checks as a pre-requisite for firearms purchase? Even allowing for the well-known braggadocio resident here, is it not the least bit bothersome, the place of dishonor this country occupies globally because of its fanatical gun-culture worship?
As if adhering to a script, Orlando has become fused with other currents, the connection none too savory for many, a propaganda platform for others. Seizing the tragedy as opportunity for a new round of Muslim bashing, and intimating that eliminating Muslims from American society effectively addresses the gun violence problem, is ludicrous and pandering of the worst sort. But as we well know, this is hardly enough to muzzle the presumptive Republican presidential candidate from running off at the mouth. Donald Trump has blamed Orlando’s dark hour on President Obama, Hillary Clinton, the entire Muslim community… everyone but himself, who alone knows what needs to be done when and how. The silver lining here is that Trump doesn’t know how to shut up. And when he talks, he is most lethal…to himself.
When Trump and others conveniently ignore reality and act like the Muslim presence is the root cause of mass shootings, everyone knows this is pure rubbish. What would a Muslim purge have done to stop the mayhem at Sandy Hook? Or at Columbine? Or at Virginia Tech? Getting to the bottom of gun-violence problems that have origins in the Muslim world, here or abroad, naturally remains a top national security priority. But every attempt by apologists for the gun lobby to frame this country’s sick infatuation with guns as having now become a Muslim-rooted terror issue, should be called out for the treachery that it is.
The more important common denominator for these all too frequent mass shootings is the emotional instability that is almost always a centerpiece of the trigger mechanism. The authorities know this and routinely acknowledge, particularly when there’s a fresh episode of gun violence, how important it is that the mental health component not be neglected in any effort to get a handle on the problem. One wonders, though, whether the sensitive nature of mental health issues within family units may not at times get in the way of accessing valuable information. Which underscores how critical it is that mental health not be short-changed in the campaign to eradicate mass-shooting eruptions.
We will long remember that in Orlando we got treated to one more grisly than all that went before.