Once upon a time in a land of great promise and wise statesmen, the sale of military style assault weapons was banned from its eastern shores, through the great plains, over mountain ranges, and all the way to its western frontier.
The leaders of this great empire ruled that the manufacture of certain semi-automatic firearms known as “assault” weapons, along with ammunition magazines defined as large capacity, had no place or purpose amongst its cities, schools, churches, or anywhere throughout the civilian population.
If only we, as a nation, had such great leaders who stopped the sale of these deadly weapons, a weapon whose only purpose is to “assault,” rapidly firing a barrage of bullets and killing everything and everyone in its path. These weapons are not for hunting, sport or personal safety. They are for assaulting and killing. What if the gunman had been able to purchase only a rifle or a handgun? Perhaps 40 or so people would have made it out alive that tragic night. Instead, we allow weapons of such quick and deadly force to be legally sold to basically anyone, even a possible terrorist suspect or someone listed on the FBI’s No-Fly List. Does this make any logical sense at all? It is unbelievable that someone prevented from getting on a plane can walk into a gun shop and purchase a deadly military assault rifle.
Why can’t we be more like the fictional land mentioned above, a country where citizens are protected, where leaders keep deadly weapons out of the hands of lunatics and murderers. Well, we were that great, wise land once upon a time. Back in 1994 our government had the wisdom to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned assault weapons and the high-capacity ammunition magazines that the shooter so easily purchased and used to murder 48 people. Unfortunately for all those who lost their lives in Orlando and other shootings around the country, that ban was allowed to expire in 2004 by the United States Congress. Their negligence and failure to renew the 1994 legislation in 2004, and every time thereafter should have them all facing charges of accessory to murder. Their inaction has knowingly assisted the gunman and others to commit multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.
The ban on assault weapons had the backing of four Presidents and both parties in Congress. Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan all firmly supported President Clinton when he signed this bipartisan legislation into law. Then came the 10-year expiration clause in 2004, when our leaders negligently let the ban expire rather than having the backbone to renew the law and take a stand against the National Rifle Association. The results of their negligence are all too clear.
As I worked through the raw emotions of the week, I had a hard time with the various “Love will Conquer All” mantras making headlines. I wanted to hate the religious fanatics who preach hatred and intolerance from their pulpits that help create these psychopaths of the world.
I wanted revenge for such tragic deaths, so many innocent young lives lost and families changed forever. I wanted to curse all those bigots whispering amongst themselves that the victims deserved what happened. Love was definitely NOT what I was feeling.
Thankfully I decided to watch the Tony Awards that Sunday evening, the night of the fatal shooting. The words of Lin-Manual Miranda, the writer and creator of the hit Broadway play “Hamilton,” kept playing over in my mind and got me through a week of very raw emotions. His words came in the form of a sonnet, addressing the love of his wife as well as the shooting massacre in Orlando. Here are a few lines that say so much:
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers.
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer;
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
From the tragedy in Orlando over a week ago, to the Stonewall Festival celebrated here in Wilton Manors this past weekend, I begin a new week leaving all my negative emotions behind as I, and hopefully all of Wilton Manors and beyond, embrace the last line of Miranda’s sonnet, “Now fill the world with music, love, and PRIDE!”
Life is, and always will be, just better here!