Today, I Am Angry: Why You Should Be Too

If something doesn’t change soon, we all may lose our right to be outraged.

In Orlando, Florida, on June 12 2016, fifty people were killed at the hands of a man with an AR-15 assault rifle.

In the past, when I heard about this kind of event, I immediately wanted to crawl in bed and sleep for days. I was so deeply overwhelmed by the brokenness in the world, it felt like it might crush me. But unlike the past, today I am angry. 

The past, of course, meaning last month. Last week.

These massive losses of life are happening so often now that our country has no time to grieve, no time to recover.

Instead, our country perpetually throbs like a broken bone never set properly.

Instead, we send our loved ones off to church, the movies or even school, with a twinge of worry. We send them off with the shadow of the thought, “I may never see them again,” hovering at the back of our minds.

Instead, we argue and we shout at each other about who’s to blame. Is it the gun lobbyists? Is it the mental health system? The Islamic faith? Our culture? Congress?

Instead, we make our posts on Facebook and we pray and we ache and we fear for our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Usually, I would be doing the latter.

Today, let me tell you why I’m angry:

Tomorrow, when I leave my home to take public transportation to work, I might be scared. When my mother goes to church tomorrow, I might be scared. This weekend, when I go dancing with my friends, I might be scared.

Today, I still have the privilege to be angry. Today, I still feel fundamentally safe enough to be angry.

But if something doesn’t change soon, we all may lose our right to be outraged. In a world ruled by guns and violence, there is no room for outrage and righteous anger, there is only fear.

Today, let me tell you why I’m angry:

It is easier to buy a gun in America than it is to adopt a pet—most shelters require a waiting period and a home visit.

It is easier to buy a gun in America than it is to get a hunting license—you must provide a social security number for a hunting license. 

It is easier to buy a gun in America than it is to vote—in most states, you must wait 30 days after registering before you can vote.

It is easier to buy a gun in America than it is to get a seasonal job as a Macy’s elf—an extensive background check is required.

Most of the people who perpetrated the mass shootings in 2016 wouldn’t have been able to be a Macy’s elf, but they were able to purchase deadly firearms.

Today I am angry. I am not angry at the vague, undefinable idea that sometimes the world isn’t fair.

Today I am angry at all of the people and elected officials who have refused to even give an inch on their precious second amendment.

Today, let me tell you why I’m angry:

However much you love your firearms, I guarantee the friends and family of Orlando shooting victim Luis S. Vielma, who was killed by an AR-15 Assault Rifle—a gun designed for combat that can be easily purchased at a firearms convention often with as little ID as a driver license—loved Luis more.

However much you value your right to bear arms, I guarantee Robert Adams—father of a 6 year old little girl he was planning to take to Disney Land the week after he was gun downed in San Bernardino—valued his life more.

We live with the pain because we have, frankly, grown accustomed to it. It’s as if America has decided that some things, like death, taxes and mass shootings, can’t be avoided.

If you refuse to fathom that these acts of violence can’t be all together avoided, can you concede that they can at least be minimized? Contrary to what right wing politicians and gun lobbyists will tell you, Gun Control can be effective.

In Port Arthur Australia in April 1996, a young man murdered 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle. Less than two weeks later, a largely conservative government passed The National Agreement on Firearms. According to the Counsel on Foreign Relations

“The National Agreement on Firearms all but prohibited automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, stiffened licensing and ownership rules, and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 assault weapons (about one-sixth of the national stock) out of public circulation. Among other things, the law also required licensees to demonstrate a "genuine need" for a particular type of gun and take a firearm safety course. Many analysts say these measures have been highly effective, citing declining gun-death rates, and the fact that there have been no gun-related mass killings in Australia since 1996.”

 And hey, maybe similar regulations wouldn’t be effective in America, maybe nothing would change, but by God is it not worth a try?

 How many more people have to die before we consider making the means of their death less accessible?

Yes, there are issues at play here besides how ludicrously easy it is to obtain a gun in America. But, while we try to pin down solutions to more complicated issues—like those of mental illness, racism, prejudice against the LBGTQ community, Islamic extremists, and the propensity for violence that seems to only be growing in our culture—can we not make it just a bit harder, a bit more unlawful, to purchase weapons specifically designed for the mass slaughter of large groups of people?

Today, let me tell you why I’m angry:

Many American’s are acting like children about to get their favorite toy taken away. So, if we are nothing but a bunch of kids, let me explain something to the good kids—the ones who have played nicely with their guns—in a way they might understand:

Why yes, little Wayne LaPierre, (can I call you Wayney?) most of you are responsible with your guns. Unfortunately, since there are a few of your classmates who keep murdering people in cold blood in large numbers, the whole class has lost their right to play with assault rifles.

No, it’s not fair.

No, you didn’t do anything to deserve this.

But this isn’t about you.

Is your right to bear arms more important than your fellow man's right to live?

This is a matter of being able to leave ones own house and feel a little bit less like you may never come back.

This is a matter of not tensing up when someone stands to use the restroom at the movie theatre.

This is a matter of being able to go to school and not having to control an impulse to dive under your desk when someone slams a locker too loudly in the hallway.

This is a matter of going to a club to celebrate your right to love whoever you choose and not ending up in a pool of your own blood on the dance floor.

This is a matter of less lives lost, less lives destroyed.

And no, maybe gun control won’t work, but it certainly can’t make things worse. We have come to and surpassed “worse” with no help from the government.

Maybe it will be ineffective, but are the lives of 50 people not enough to convince those who cling to their guns that something must be done?

Yes it’s true, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but how many lives would be saved if Omar Mateen had walked into that club with a knife instead of an assault rifle?

We have to try. We have to do something.

Get mad.

Demand change.

Today, tell them why you’re angry.

Do something today, tomorrow might be too late.


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