An Open Letter to the Government of the United States of America:
There's a veritable wellspring of emotions flowing through me this weekend, and I wish I could say any of them were good. Confusion, sadness, grief, outrage... all of which are more than adequately justified, I'm sure. One tragedy this weekend was enough to be called depressing, but two in two days? In the same city? What in the hell is going on here?
On June 11, in Orlando, we lost a true treasure. Christina Grimmie, a talented, wonderful artist whose star was well on the rise, was shot and killed after a concert, while she was signing autographs. She was 22, and had far too many years in front of her to end up dying so needlessly. And now, one day later, fifty people in a gay nightclub were gunned down and killed in what CNN is describing as the worst terror attack since 9/11. Fifty lives, snuffed out in yet another needless waste of life.
The motivations behind the two incidents are different as night and day. The one who killed Christina Grimmie, then himself, was a man who police suspected planned to commit murder. The attack on the nightclub was by someone who openly supported the Islamic State. But the common denominator in both of these obscene events is that these men had far-too-easy access to guns when they shouldn't have.
I'm a Canadian. I've never been to the United States, nor have I ever really ventured beyond the borders of my home province of Newfoundland. I don't claim to be an expert, but like many, I watch, I listen, and I learn. And from what I've been learning about the staggeringly high statistics of gun related violence, the gun lobbyists who practically worship the Second Amendment, and that a total of fifty-one people are dead this weekend alone, I'm forced to wonder what goes through the minds of the people in charge.
I've seen more than my fair share of skewed focuses coming from members of the United States government. Desires to ban gay marriage, abortion, birth control, creation of “religious freedom” laws that blur the line between church and state have cropped up so many times in the course of the last few years, usually with strong, almost radical conviction. Yet in the discussion to restrict guns and tighten gun regulations, the conviction dies on the spot. People rally to defend the Second Amendment as if protecting the Ark of the Covenant, or some other holy relic. The arguments of “People will find ways to get them” and “Guns don't kill people, people kill people” become the standard argument from so many, even some of my own American friends. I have even heard from one or two that gun control laws would cause more harm than good if not implemented properly. And while the debate goes merrily on, more people die.
People fail to realize that what President Obama wants is no different than what we already have in Canada, and in many other advanced countries throughout the world. Tighter regulations on who can purchase guns, restrictions on what kinds of guns can be bought and purchased, and how they can be sold. Especially the last, because the fact is, people truly will find all kinds of under-the-table ways to get their hands on a firearm. So why not find a way to take that out of the equation? It's the sensible thing to do! All of these ideas only the sensible thing to do, so why not just do it? They're not talking about disarming the nation, just making sure these damned things stay out of the wrong hands so that crap like this doesn't happen anymore!
The Second Amendment may grant a right to bear arms, but the line must be drawn here. You need to act. Now. For Blacksburg. For Binghamton. For Newtown. For San Bernardino. For Orlando.
For God's sake, please. Do the right thing.
A distressed Northern Neighbour.