Those two tweets above were my only contribution to the conversation about the Orlando Pulse shootings as information flowed out over social media and news channels. As you can see from the timestamps, this was only about eight hours after the unfortunate events unfolded. So, I had no intention of engaging in the matter further as there were still uncertain, unreliable speculation floating around. The last thing I wanted was to find myself attacked over social media for being ignorant on what would be and is now known as “the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept 11th, 2001, and the deadliest attack on a gay target in the nation’s history” according to the New York Times.
Now that the dust has relatively settled and solid facts have been reported on, I feel I should offer up at least some form of commentary to show my solidarity with the LGBTQ community and the loved ones of those slaughtered. As someone who can still remember the unreal horror in 2001 that brought the Twin Towers crashing down, my feelings on these kinds of atrocities have, surprisingly, remained similar to my teenage self. In other words, my emotions tend to take a back seat in the face of a clear-cut intellectual, sociological issue that needed to be addressed amidst the thousands driven purely on emotional impulses for so-called justice and righting of wrongs.
Hilary Clinton believes we should be “redoubling our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad.” I agree with this 100%. However, she goes on to say,
“That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home.”
This, I cannot agree with. As a U.S. citizen myself, how many times have we spent millions of dollars sending soldiers to terrorist home grounds to chase after groups for years in an effort to serve up a hearty helping of ‘Murica Justice™ instead of using tax money to “harden our defenses at home”? Yes, I agree we should be hardening our defenses, but not at the cost of weakening them by sending our troops on what often seems like wild goose chases only to end up KIA. How many instances of immediate knee-jerk retaliation throughout recent history will it take for political figures to understand that the focus should not be outward, but inward. Fortifying our unity as a nation just as we did in 2001 – a key element of America’s appeal that is repeatedly forgotten in the face of political soap operas and religious bigots insisting transgender people using the bathroom is a national risk to women and children.
Not as big of a risk as our citizens somehow obtaining assault rifles to kill other citizens… but what do I know?
While wading through the emotionally-charged commentary that filled Facebook yesterday, I recall a comment from someone writing in all caps something along the lines of “GUNS SHOULD BE BANNED!” The issue of banning guns is a hot topic that repeatedly rears its ugly head whenever a mass shooting occurs, but always seems to go back into hiding after a few days and a tidy speech from the President. Now, I’m no expert on gun policies, but I do have a good grasp on human nature.
When you give someone something that appeals to their senses, then take it away, their impulse will increase to want it back. In the same right, if you ban guns, people will find a way around the system to get them. The end result is hundreds of undocumented gun owners who circumvented the ban with only the buyer as a means to track the source. If they’re still alive to talk, that is.
Needless to say, I don’t agree with banning guns from American citizens. Also, I am free of bias as I’m not a gun owner myself. Some alternative suggestions would be revising our gun owner policies (since they don’t seem to be working very well), creating a proper annual audit of all gun distributor records (or raising what constitutes as satisfactory if this is already a thing), and strengthening background checks/screening of all gun distributors and their customers. My suggestions could be put into action if we turned our attention to our own nation’s weaknesses to protect ourselves from ourselves rather than throwing money and soldiers at ISIS, chasing retribution for lives lost.
“We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.” – Obama
And actively doing nothing is exactly what we’ve been doing tragedy after tragedy. Enough is enough. Given all the dubious history surrounding Omar Mateen being investigated by the F.B.I., the Orlando Pulse massacre should never have occurred. We, as a nation, need to find the change within ourselves. Policy makers need to understand that they need to listen to the many voices without affluence who are repeatedly silenced or ignored. Sadly, influential leaders will likely continue to quarrel and remain divided over petty non-issues while people continue to suffer at the hands of their own inaction. If only certain citizens and political figures could see past their own egos and remember what the United States flag is meant to symbolize – love and understanding always seems to be asking too much.
As a transgender female, I stand in solidarity with those who are grieving for loved ones and those shaken to the core as survivors of this terrible event. If nothing else comes of this, perhaps this could help close the divide within the LGBTQ community a bit more. Goodness knows there is still work to be done in our own circle.