In the early morning of June 12, a man opened fire in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. He reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS before the attack, and ultimately killed 50 people and wounded over 50 more: The worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.
Surely America will put aside its differences to unite together as countrymen against a common opponent, radical Islam? Surely after an attack involving a radical Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS that directly targeted gay men, America would not argue about a damn machine? Surely.
No. Before the bodies turned cold, Americans from all sides began peddling various agendas, but the main agenda debated on social media was gun control. It was vile. Back and forth all day, gun control and gun rights activists spewed contemptuous hate for each side. The animosity and disdain was palpable through the screen. It was grotesque. When does the madness stop?
Too often we use tragedy as opportunity to advance our political agendas, especially to frame a winner or loser in issue debates. Exemplified today, for instance, America generally tries to make gun control a black and white, binary issue with either an absolute right or absolute wrong answer, a winner or a loser. It’s not.
Gun control has layers and complexities that all sides need to quit ignoring. Are guns dangerous? Absolutely, when used improperly. But when do we confront the reality that there is a violent culture that glorifies, incentivizes, and encourages pulling the trigger?
Would gun control have stopped this attack? Honestly, possibly, and gun rights groups need to be willing to admit that. But when do gun control groups ask themselves whether or not the assailant would have just bombed the bar? Or when do they ask themselves if the scope of the attack would have been lessened if the bar patrons were armed?
I’ll wait. Clearly, gun debates are far from binary.
If we’re going to politicize tragedy for our own political interest, at least attempt to respect and recognize the complexity of an underlying issue surrounding said tragedy. Perhaps if we understood this concept, we wouldn’t argue and hate everyone on social media in the days following attack which only makes the problem worse.
The Orlando attack provided a unique mix of agendas and optics that set America up for a horrible, vile day. Perhaps that was an end goal for the terrorist. We generally tore each other apart, and that may ultimately do greater damage to our nation. Divided we fall, or so I’ve heard.
When do we begin to recognize the complexity of issues to reduce our contempt? When do we end the madness of political competition and opportunism regardless of the event or tragedy? When do we come together as Americans again for once?
Not soon enough.