This weekend in Orlando, the United States saw yet another savage gun spree, in fact, the worst in the long history of America's love affair with firearms. If it were to be the last of its kind, it will come 250 years too late. Over 50 people have died and at least 53 have been hospitalised with injury and it's all because they went to a gay club.
It seems every few days another story of a mass shooting emerges from America. The world feigns shock and the American political class feign an invigoration to change things. Within hours, the compassion wains and nothing changes.
50 people alone died in Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Saturday night. ISIS have claimed responsibility for an attack that many feared would come, but the gun laws in the US made this all the more possible.
All statistics show that gun control results in fewer violent gun crimes; the United States' has twenty five times more firearm deaths than any other developed country where significant gun control measures are in place. Every year, around 10,000 Americans are killed by gunfire, yet the right to own a military style weapon is held sacrosanct.
In recent years, we have seen instances of people, sometimes even children, effortlessly slaughtered by one person armed only with loathing and ammunition. Then, the response is always the same; a spike in gun sales and tacit rhetoric from politicians. Since the Dunblane massacre led to the UK outlawing handguns in the late 1990s only one mass shooting has occurred. Yet, without those restrictions the US has recorded 187 shootings since 2013 in schools alone.
This is a nation that is so enamoured with the cult of the Star-Spangled Banner that revising their 18th Century constitution for the modern world is seen as a greater evil than slaughtering fifty people for being LGBT+. In fact, a Republican government official did not even bother with the usual sham empathy for the many victims of the tragedy, instead inferring that the gay community had 'reaped what they sowed'.
And this is what is so painstakingly distressing about this weekend's attack; it echoes the broader issue of irrational revulsion in society. A prominent politician has effectively endorsed the killing of gay people - this is an actual event that occurred in 2016, one which suggests that this is an endemic that corrupts all social spheres.
Of course, these vile attitudes are problematic enough but are made much more so in a nation like the United States. Where it is legal to buy AR-15 assault rifles but in the most callous sense of irony, illegal for gay men to donate blood to those 53 people injured, because of an unscientific stigma.
Speculation over whether this attack was religiously motivated has delivered no conclusion but what is clear is that society still has so much to do in regards to remedying homophobia. All communities be they atheists, Christians, Muslims or whatever, need to do more to challenge any hatred that causes violence like this. If your doctrine can be construed to condone things like the atrocities in Orlando, then society needs you to help prevent them - not because you are responsible but because it is the right thing to do.
I was hollered at by a group of men, and called a 'faggot' and a 'bender' in the streets of cosmopolitan Central London on Friday night, I rebutted and nothing else happened. This is what homophobia can be restricted to when guns aren't readily available. After all, that is the only thing all of these shooting sprees have in common; hatred and a weapon. Society must purge the Earth of both.
The LGBT+ community will be united in solidarity as they prepare to solemnly engage in another Summer of Pride events. But make no mistake; despite this being a crime that targeted a vulnerable group in one of their safest environments, this is a challenge at the bequest of each and every one of us.
Defenders of freedom and liberty must unite in the face of the worst terror attack on US soil since September 2001. We must reform society and reverse the gun laws that enable this barbarism. The LGBT+ community must stand up as one and be louder and prouder than ever before, and I know we will be.
It is inconceivable that this still possible in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" in 2016. A country so free that 91 people are shot dead in supermarkets, night clubs, schools and their own homes every single day. A country so brave that it is paralysed in to doing nothing to prevent hundreds of thousands of needless deaths to protect an archaic tradition. A country, as my friend so succinctly articulated, that is less afraid of two men holding guns than it is of two men holding hands.
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