On Friday July 20, 2012 James E Holmes went to a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and bought a ticket. Then he went to an emergency exit, opened the door, went outside, grabbed guns from his car, went back to the cinema and started shooting.
I could not believe it. Having once dreamed of writing films, I often went to the cinema alone. Not because I was a loner, but because I wanted to study films in peace. I didn’t want to be bothered with questions or snacks. To hear that a gunman had burst into a movie theater and started shooting at everyone who was in the movie theater was not only insane to me, it was hard to digest. I had to identify myself; this was in Colorado, billions of miles from Greenbelt, Maryland, where I often went to see movies. This was a crazy white guy doing crazy white stuff. That would never happen here.
Then Aaron Alexis happened.
Alexis was a former Navy flight electrician’s comrade who had been honorably discharged after several run-ins with the law. In one such instance, Alexis “passed out” during an argument, pulled out a gun, and shot the man’s tires.
On Monday, September 16, 2013, Alexis drove his rented Toyota Prius to the Navy Yard in Washington, DC carrying a shoulder bag that contained a disassembled shotgun. He went into building 4 and then up to the fourth floor where he had worked as a contractor and slipped into a bathroom where he assembled the shotgun and then slipped back to the ground and opened fire.
Whatever I had been forced to believe about mass shootings was shattered. This happened in my backyard. I could no longer cling to the myth I had created that this was a white man’s marginal crime since Alexis was black. I know it sounds silly even as I write it, but it’s true. I had consoled myself with staging mass shootings as angry, embattled white male aggression that would only happen if I hiked down Capitol Hill. I never hiked Capitol Hill.
On June 12, 2016, on “Latin Night,” Omar Mateen walked around the last call into a back entrance of Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire. He fired around 200 shots in five minutes. There was a standoff between the police and Mateen. Mateen claimed the attack was in response to the assassination of Abu Waheeb in Iraq a month earlier. After three hours of negotiations, Mateen was shot and killed by Orlando police.
Consider this: Pulse had to exist because the community the club serves is so marginalized that they need to create a safe meeting place for members. Now consider that there is another group at this club who are so marginalized that they need to have their own night. That was the one who was killed during that shootout; People who were already negotiating for their existence counted. People who were so marginalized that they were happy to have a Sunday to themselves together. People who left home thinking, like all of us, that night had the potential to be the best night of their lives. Instead, it became the second deadliest terrorist attack in US history since 9/11.
That was until October 1, 2017, when Stephen Paddock, a man from Mesquite, Nevada, went to the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas and opened fire from his 32nd-floor window at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Depression is a condition that is easy to manifest but difficult to leave. This doesn’t happen overnight, but over time. Once you realize the weight has gotten heavy, it’s usually too heavy to lift alone. It wears you down until sleep becomes a refuge, air becomes irrelevant, food becomes optional.
My father always told me this story. I don’t know if it’s his or not, but it goes like this: if you want to break an elephant, you have to get it when it’s a baby, and you tie a heavy weight to its legs; Let’s say about 200 pounds. No matter how hard you pull, you won’t be able to move that weight. They keep that weight on them long enough and over time they will just give up. So it doesn’t matter if the elephant weighs several tons – all you have to do is break out that weight and tie it back to the legs. The elephant will think they are stuck. They won’t even try to escape.
“It’s exhausting to know that all of the above shootings happened in just five years. They were all national news. tax everyone. All came with political promises, thoughts and prayers.”
Here I am. Much like depression, I didn’t just come here. It takes time to let go of hope. You don’t just decide that the fight is pointless; You must be beaten for 10 rounds until you can no longer see clearly, and then you give up the fight.
On Saturday, May 14, a gunman with a helmet camera and body armor stopped in front of a Tops Friendly Market and opened fire. He walked the aisles of the grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, looking for black people to kill. At one point in the livestream, which he’s broadcasting to streaming site Twitch, the shooter sees a white person hiding near the cash register and points the gun at him before realizing the man is white. The shooter is heard saying, “Sorry!” before going in search of more black bodies.
It’s exhausting to know that all of the above shootings happened in just five years. They were all national news. tax everyone. All came with political promises and thoughts and prayers.
Then nothing happened. Nothing has changed. No legislative fixes, no national ban on automatic weapons or body armor. Nothing at all.
America cares more about guns than people. That’s a fact. That is not debatable. This is not debatable. It is, and it is time we all accepted it.
To understand America’s history of gun violence, we must understand America’s history of guns and the law.
It was a few years before Prohibition began, when America was still trying to pretend it didn’t have a drinking problem, when the Tommy Gun was invented. In 1918, John Thompson created the first light submachine gun that could fire multiple shots without having to stop and reload. This first fully automatic weapon of its kind was originally marketed to the police force, but as with most things, it didn’t take long for the weapon to find its way into the hands of gangsters.
on February 14, 1929America witnessed one of its deadliest shootings to date. Four men, all dressed as police officers, entered the garage of a notorious Chicago street gang and opened fire. By the time the dust settled, seven of George “Bugs” Moran’s crew had been killed.
In 1934, about five years after the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Congress had Karl Frederick, then President of the National Rifle Association, testify as to whether a federal gun control law would violate the Second Amendment.
Frederick’s response was bullshit, but Congress voted to pass the first federal gun control law in American history: The National Firearms Act of 1934, which was basically a $200 tax (which was a large amount of money for the time) to prevent the transfer of these weapons. That went as well as expected.
The technology would improve on the original design. Guns would get better, faster, and could hold more ammo. people kept dying.
And here we are, some 90 years later, and America is still on the side of the NRA. The only constitutional change that seems irrefutably and unabashedly confirmed is this Second Amendment; and mass shootings are about as American as NASA and Nike sneakers.
I have accepted that America is perfectly fine with mass shootings, as hard as this is for me to write. That doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for the families who are suffering right now. I am. I feel with you. I can’t imagine what they must go through.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that we’ve seen it all before. We’ve seen Democrats argue for tougher gun laws and Republicans claim the responsibility lies with mental health. We have seen the newscasters swarming over the devastated areas. We’ve seen all the compassion and empty promises of change – and then nothing.
Not a single change in the law. Not a single fundamental push for sane gun laws. I remember the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — you know, the shooting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene believes it was staged — that there was a push teachers to be armed and demand for Bulletproof book bags soared.
America does not want to end mass shootings because ending mass shootings would require something beyond lip service. As we have made clear time and time again, we will not do anything about gun violence because our politicians have decided that the right to own and wield a gun is more sacred than the right of others to live free from bullet holes.
We could hold shooters, gun makers, murderers accountable. We could hold ourselves accountable, but we don’t want to because it might upset someone who owns a gun, and we all know that all gun owners are clearly important. all lives? no black lives? Definitely not. But the gun. Won’t someone think of the gun, a gun made to kill? This may sound deranged, but that’s what we decided as a corporation. Why else would this keep happening?