Four months after Orlando
What does it mean to really survive? What was it like before mass shootings were routine? These questions from the morning newspaper resonated and triggered this commentary.
Mass shootings are the price America pays for ignoring gun safety. Normal people can buy guns. Crazy people can buy guns. Battle enactors can buy guns. Criminals can buy guns. Children have access to guns. Most Americans now have access to guns to defend their skyscrapers and condos, time shares and cabins, from native Americans and oppressors. No one can enslave us. No one can take over our country because we have guns in every home in America, and we are much safer as a nation. Except when we have random anticipated mass shootings. Random anticipated memorial services and Presidential visits. Random anticipated mass shootings and classroom slaughter. Nightclub shootings as gunfire punctuates percussion.
Municipalities that have contracted for temporary morgue services in advance of anticipated mass fatality incidences. Response plans that assume someone is going to kill a lot of people somewhere nearby in the near future. Where chaos is a normal budget consideration and an assured expectation. Not if, but when.
Because of our humanity, for some, because their faith, because our sense of basic justice, and our hope that someone will be there to help us in a critical future incident, we buy guns. We also train for the first few minutes, the first hour, what to do when we know what will happen. The response and the rescue. The heroic and the critical, the automatic neutralization of the perpetrator.
The good guy kills the bad guy.
We train for crisis. We train for consequences.
Sometimes it's the black guy killing the white guy. Often it's the criminal shooting the police. No sane person immediately resorts to violence to solve altercations, to end disagreements, to take back parking spots or brushing accidentally against someone.
When does a history of violence become a collection of memorials and annual gatherings? Almost everyday.
Almost everyday is the anniversary of a mass shooting. Almost everyday people gather to remember a loved one killed in an act of mass violence. Almost everyday someone reads a name that has been shortened to a number. Almost everyday we recall a husband or father, son or daughter, who died in a flurry of gunfire or shot at close range in the back of their head.
We imagine what they could have been, what they might have done, what celebrations they could have planned and attended, what comfort and love they could have shared with us if only they hadn't been shot.
Guns do kill people. And, guns are never around when you need them to stop a mass shooting until it's too late.
If we ignored mass shootings, didn't give them any publicity, would they go away? How much of this is seeking immortality through infamy? Knowing that in one's last breath, the headline with one's name is already created with identification the only minute delay in broadcasting it to the world. I wonder who will be killed today. Will I be shot today?
My great, great, grandfather was a Minute Man. There was a Revolutionary War. Would Fox News have sided with the British?
My right to own and carry a gun is guaranteed by the 2nd amendment. Does my right to clean water, a decent job and home, the right to an education and equal justice under the law have any less importance?
How about police and other law enforcement only having the option of carrying a gun? An imperfect solution to mass shootings? Or, do we write off mass shootings as collateral damage and the price of freedom in modern society?
Yes, there are bad cops. Yes, the idea is realized already, but the assumption of surrendering instruments of war...not peace keeping domestically...should be tried. Do mass shootings need to continue, to be routine?
Mass shootings are not routine for those who respond to them. Police and EMTs' who may be military veterans. One survived Afganistan and Iraq, but what about Orlando? What toll accumulates with every tragic incident? Are they still tragedies if we know they are going to happen?
Not only what does it mean to lose someone we know and love in a routine mass shooting, the question is what does it mean to survive?
Yes, you are alive, perhaps with a gunshot wound nicely healing, but what does that mean?
You will need emotional and, for some, spiritual support. The first question always is 'why did it happen to me'? After, "Is the gunman finished?" Will there be another round of gunfire? Did my friends survive? What was the extent of their injuries? Will we be able to dance again? Make love like we did before the gun shots?
Who will help me go to the bathroom? Who will pay my rent? Who will drive me to rehab or future Doctor appointments?
Who will hold me in the night when I have nightmares or feel guilty that I lived when so many others died? Who will take care of me? Or, I'm overwhelmed with emotions and pain and can't go on? Or, let me join my friends in death because we'll be together again and be able to dance in heaven.
To dance in heaven. We are all angel sparkle butter and the glitter must be so much better framed by rainbows and sunbeams. Yes, 'we are stardust, we are golden'...and, 'we've got to get ourselves back to the garden'.
Why is it normal to see more suicides in places where there have been mass shootings? Why does the gunfire never really end after the gunsmoke evaporate?
Bullets are psychological as well as in cartridges. Everyone knows that. That is only stating the obvious until it happens to you or someone you know, you love. There is a sting before one really knows what is happening, then a crack, a sound, and, quickly the realization that this is finally happening to me. Now is the time that I need help. Perhaps there is someone around me that I can still help. I need to stop the bleeding.