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The United States of the NRA

June 13, 2016

Like many, I awoke yesterday morning to the news that a gunman had killed fifteen people in an Orlando nightclub the previous evening. Then I realised I’d misheard the newscaster. The death toll was fifty, not fifteen, making it the worst mass shooting in US history.

Then the newscaster said the gunman had been identified as a 29-year-old American male named Omar Mateen. I didn’t even have to hear his last name before I thought oh, crap. Omar. This is going to almost immediately turn into something it isn’t.

And it did.

trump tweet

Did I mention that the nightclub where the carnage took place is frequented by Orlando’s gay community? No, I didn’t, because the sexual orientation of the victims is no more relevant than the colour of their hair or the colour of their eyes. At least it shouldn’t be. But of course it is.

This is what happened in Orlando on Saturday night: A homophobic born-and-bred American man walked into a nightclub carrying an assault weapon which he’d legally purchased two days earlier and started randomly killing people because they were gay. This is called a hate crime.  A terrible, terrible hate crime.

A year ago, a racist born-and-bred American man walked into a church in Charleston with a legally purchased weapon and slaughtered nine people. The church and the victims were black. This is and was immediately called a hate crime.  It was also an act of domestic terror. The white, supposedly devout Christian killer said he wanted to start a race war.

Last November the latest of many supposedly devout Christian American men used a legally purchased assault weapon to kill three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. The objective of this and all previous clinic assaults is to terrorise doctors and deny women the right to choose.

After his first self-congratulatory tweet yesterday, Trump followed up with a tweet demanding that Obama resign for failing to refer to “radical Islam”. (How about Trump resigns from his presidential bid for failing to refer to his much-loved poorly-educated devotees as Christian whack jobs?)

There was some (although not nearly enough, as he’s still in the race) backlash against the tweeting twit.

There was even more backlash against Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for this appalling tweet released in the aftermath of the Orlando bloodbath.

Dan Patrick tweet

Patrick’s staff (after some delay) removed the tweet, stating that it had been scheduled for release by Patrick before he went on a trip and before the massacre. Whatever the timing might have been, the sentiment is clear and repugnant, as is Patrick’s well-known and long-standing opposition to gay marriage or any laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.

The United States does not have a monopoly on hatred. What it does have is a monopoly on is the easy availability of  what can only be called weapons of mass destruction.

James Madison rolling in his grave

Made law in 1791 (along with nine other amendments to the US Constitution) the infamous Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The right to bear arms applied to free (white) men between the ages of 18 and 45. These are the arms they had the right to bear.

 1791guns

This is not what James Madison, author of the amendments, had in mind.

assault rifle

Nor did he imagine a completely unregulated army of gun nuts. What Madison envisaged, as detailed in this Truth Out article was “a locally-based, well-regulated – under the control of local authorities, who answer to national authority – militia.” That militia still exists. It’s called National Guard – properly trained volunteers who can be called up in a state of emergency.

How many times?

When he took to the podium in the White House yesterday, President Obama looked drained.

You can see it in his face. Despite the twenty dead schoolchildren and the nine dead parishioners and now the fifty dead gay men and women, he knows the choice for now and for the foreseeable will be to do nothing. If it helps, he’s still very welcome to the speech I wrote for him in January 2013. (I wish.) It is the tragedy of his presidency.

Rabid gun worship arms haters of all persuasions. It is the tragedy of the United States of the NRA.

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