Mourning all over again: Charleston, Orlando shootings within one year are unbearable
As I sat seemingly unable to move while watching coverage of the carnage at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub this past weekend, I realized that I was no longer surprised, frustrated or even sad about yet another deadly shooting massacre in the United States.
No, this time I became enraged by the fact that one powerful lobby, the National Rifle Association, has for generations had such a lock on the hearts and minds of so many Republican and Democratic politicians, lobbyists and pundits to render them incapable of using good judgment on this critical issue.
Until this past Sunday, I, too, was among those foolishly unwilling to budge one inch with respect to Second Amendment restrictions.
I was raised in the South, and like many Southern boys, I was hunting with my father and older cousins around the same time some kids were memorizing their multiplication tables. Because of that background, whether the mass shooting was in a movie theater, a political rally or even an elementary school, in my columns and blogs, I would harshly blast the killer or killers as evil cowards, all the while reciting the old mantra that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
But this past weekend, I recognized the flaw in that mantra and no longer believe that any private citizen should own assault weapons. Yes, I realize that a pair of 9mm handguns could have killed quite a few people too; just this time last year, South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, pastor of historic Emmanuel AME Church, was killed alongside eight church members during Bible study by Dylann Roof.
Lest we forget that Roof’s weapon of choice was a 9mm.
But since the turn of the century, the weapon of choice for mass murderers typically has been the AR-15 assault weapon that Omar Mateen used with deadly efficiency this past weekend. Indeed, the names and religious backgrounds of the mass murderers may change, as do the motivating factors, but the tie that binds is that these domestic born and raised terrorists are able to legally purchase assault weapons that inflict catastrophic damage.
After meeting with the victim’s family members on Thursday, President Barack Obama rhetorically asked “why our liberty requires these repeated tragedies?”
The “why” is simple; we have reached a point in our history in which we have allowed the NRA to stifle if not completely shut down even reasonable debates about methods to prevent assault weapons falling into the hands of domestic terrorists. Which is curious when considering that the same NRA that has no problem with state and federal laws that prevent former felons who have paid their debts to society from legally owning weapons but now sit unmoved by the idea of placing reasonable strictures that could thwart a man like Mateen, one who was on the FBI radar for years, from committing multiple acts of felony murder.
In cities and towns across America, the solemn job of burying and cremating the dead from the Orlando massacre has begun. Meanwhile, in Washington, NRA puppets sit prepared to dishonor them by refusing to swiftly enact Sen Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif) proposed legislation that says those who are on the “no-fly” list are prevented from purchasing assault weapons and ammunition.
It is also my sincere hope that in short time, common sense will prevail in the form of a renewed assault weapons ban.
The simple truth is that at some point, our collective tears, anger, candlelight vigils and social media hash tags and memes have to morph into a concerted effort to vote for candidates who will exercise good judgment — if not common sense — by enacting measures that protects us all from the domestic enemies that lurk in the shadows among us.
Chuck Hobbs is a trial lawyer and award-winning freelance writer. Follow him @RealChuckHobbs on Twitter.