I have reached the fifth stage of mourning after the last mass shooting in the United States


On Friday, July 20, 2012, James E. Holmes walked into an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and bought a ticket. He then walked to an emergency exit, opened the door, got out, grabbed some guns from his car, walked back into the movie theater and started shooting.

I could not believe it. Having one day 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 silence. I didn’t want to be bothered with questions or snacks. Learning that a gunman had stormed into a movie theater and started shooting anyone in the room wasn’t just crazy for me, it was hard to stomach. I had to identify myself; it was in Colorado, a billion miles from Greenbelt, Maryland, where I often went to see movies. He was a crazy white guy, doing crazy white guy stuff. It would never happen here.


Then Aaron Alexis arrived.

Alexis was a former journeyman Navy aviation electrician 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 rental Toyota Prius to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., carrying a shoulder bag containing a disassembled shotgun. He entered Building 4, then the fourth floor, where he worked as a contractor, and slipped into a bathroom where he assembled the shotgun, then fell back to the floor and opened fire.

Everything I had forced myself to believe about the mass shootings had been shattered. It happened in my garden. I could no longer cling to the myth I had created that this was a marginal white man’s crime because Alexis was black. I know it sounds stupid even as I write it, but it’s true. I had comforted myself by creating mass shootings as a disgruntled, embattled white male assault that would only happen if I walked around Capitol Hill. I never wandered all the way to Capitol Hill.

People visit a memorial for those killed at Pulse nightclub on June 16, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

Spencer Platt via Getty Images


On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen walked into a back entrance of Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, during “Latin Night” around last call and began to open fire. In five minutes, he fired some 200 rounds. There was a confrontation between the police and Mateen. Mateen claimed the attack was a response to the killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq a month earlier. After three hours of negotiations, Mateen was shot dead by Orlando police.

Consider This: Pulse had to exist because the community the club serves is so marginalized that they have to create a safe meeting place for those in it. Now consider that inside this club there is another group so marginalized that they must have their own party. That’s who was killed in that shooting; people who were already negotiating to make their existence count. People so marginalized that they were just happy to have a Sunday to themselves, together. People who left their homes thinking, like all of us, that this 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, drove to the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas and opened fire from his 32nd floor window of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. .

Depression is an easy state to manifest but a difficult state to leave. This does not happen overnight, but over time. Once you realize the weight has gotten heavy, it’s usually too difficult to lift on your own. It wears you down until sleep becomes a refuge, air becomes insignificant, food becomes optional.


My father used to tell 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 take 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 they pull, they won’t be able to move that weight. You leave that weight on them long enough and over time they will just give up. So it doesn’t matter when the elephant grows to weigh several tons – all you have to do is break that weight and tie it to its legs. The elephant will think it is 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. All taxing. All came with political promises, thoughts and prayers.

This is where I am now. Just like depression, I didn’t just get here. It takes time to disconnect from hope. You don’t just decide the fight is useless; you have to get beat up for 10 rounds until you can’t see straight, then you give up the fight.

On Saturday May 14, an armed man wearing a helmet camera and a bulletproof vest pulled up outside a Tops Friendly Market and opened fire. He scoured the supermarket aisles in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, looking for black people to kill. At one point during the live stream he aired on streaming site Twitch, the shooter spots a white person hiding near the checkout and points the gun at him before realizing the man is white . The shooter can be 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. All taxing. All came with political promises, thoughts and prayers.

Then nothing happened. Nothing has changed. No legislative fixes, no nationwide ban on automatic weapons or body armor. Nothing.

America is more attached to guns than to people. It is a fact. It’s not debatable. It’s not debatable. That’s how it is and it’s time we all accepted it.

In order to understand America’s history with gun violence, we must understand America’s history with 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, that 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 fully automatic weapon, the first of its kind, was first marketed to the police, but like most things, it didn’t take long for the weapon to end up in the hands of gangsters.

On February 14, 1929, America experienced what was one of its deadliest mass shootings to date. Four men, all dressed as police officers, entered the garage of a notorious Chicago street gang and opened fire. When the dust settled, seven members of George “Bugs” Moran’s crew had been killed.

In 1934, about five years after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Congress asked Karl Frederick, then president of the National Rifle Association, to testify on whether a federal gun control law would violate the Second Amendment.

Frederick’s answer was bullshit, but Congress decided 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 lot of money for the time) to prevent the transfer of said weapons. It went as well as expected.

The technology would improve the original design. Weapons would become better, faster, and could hold more ammo. People kept dying.

And here we are, some 90 years later, and America is still bowing to the NRA. The only constitutional amendment that seems to be irrefutably and shamelessly supported is the Second Amendment; and mass shootings are about as American as NASA and Nike sneakers.

I accepted that America is fine with mass shootings, as difficult as it is for me to write. That doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic to these families who are hurting right now. I am. I feel for them. I can’t imagine what they must be going through.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that we’ve seen this all before. We’ve seen Democrats advocating for tougher gun laws and Republicans arguing that the blame lies with mental health. We saw news anchors swarming over the devastated areas. We saw all the compassion and empty promises of change – and then nothing.

Not a single legislative change. Not a fundamental push for common sense gun laws. I remember after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – you know, the shooting that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene thinks she was stagedthat there was a push for teachers to arm and the request for bulletproof book bags soared.

America doesn’t want to end mass shootings because ending mass shootings would require doing something more than lip service. As we have made clear time and time again, we are not going to do anything about gun violence because our politicians have decided that the right to own and use a firearm is more sacred than the right of others to live. without bullet holes.

We could hold shooters, gunmakers, killers 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 clearly matter. All lives? No. Black lives? Definitely not. But the gun. Will someone not think of the pistol, a weapon created to kill? It may sound disconcerting, but that is what we have decided as a body politic. Otherwise, why would this continue?


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