It’s hard to imagine that it’s been one year since the tragic events that befell attendants at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, where a disturbed individual and terrorist opened fire upon patrons, killing 49 people and then himself. I, as a gay man, was shocked at the sheer carnage of the incident and believed it was a personal attack upon me and my people. A few weeks later, an equally appalling incident occurred in Dallas, where six police officers lost their lives. One year later, the United States still remains stubbornly steadfast on the notion that more firearms are the answer to gun violence.
In the weeks that followed, I watched the news reports and updates as a frustrated spectator of the ignorance and inept actions of my elected officials in Washington. It was the kind of pride that doesn’t celebrate love or diversity in the streets, but one that remains determined to ignore the very fact that fifty-six people ― fifty-six people ― lost their lives in both tragedies, and that Republicans would rather sit on their hands and pray that something else bumps the story into the faded short-term memory of the American voter. It was the very definition of deplorable.
So what happened in the year after Pulse and Dallas? What legislation got passed, preventing this tragic event from happening again? We’re safer now, right? Wrong. Nothing happened. Republicans, once again, sat on their hands, even when they pretend to pay lip service to the police unions and our first responders. You can’t play the “Blue Lives Matter” card if you won’t even make an effort to stop the violence directed at our police officers.
Will America ever learn that the answer to solving gun violence isn’t more lethal guns? Probably not. If not after Dallas, Orlando, or Sandy Hook, then perhaps never. It is a disgusting truth when nearly 60,000 citizens are affected by gun-related incidents, and over 15,000 of which result in death (Source: Gun Violence Archive). These statistics are real people! These are real mothers losing their children, real brothers and sisters not coming home to their families for supper. All we offer those affected are ‘thoughts and prayers’, turning a blind-eye to actual solutions. My belief is that the hands-off approach is not working — our people deserve better, especially the families of the victims. Republicans may have forgotten and shrugged off their pain, but I and many in the LGBTQ community and families of law enforcement have not. Stop allowing us to kill each other. The time for a respectable, adult discussion for combatting gun violence has long since passed. Let us not wait for the next Orlando or Dallas before we start this whole cycle over again.