On The Massacre in Orlando—An Essay of Contradictions

Shep Rose



I’m a big fan of John Oliver’s show on HBO called Last Week Tonight. To me, it’s biting political and societal commentary, usual left-leaning, however it basically exposes any sort of stupidity, without prejudice. 


It’s funny and a joy to watch. A few Sundays ago they did a show that addressed the Orlando shootings as it pertains to gun control, followed by coverage of the “Brexit,” Great Britain’s decision whether or not to leave the European Union (EU). The Brexit piece is much more enjoyable and interesting given that Mr. Oliver is British. 


I watched, laughed and yelled at the TV for 30 minutes and thought that maybe I’d write a little about my views. You see, my views are contradictory, because I’m neither a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a hybrid, I take issues as they come, analyze them and devise an opinion. I don't watch Fox, or CNN, and I don't hope to hear from a talking head what I should believe so that I can then regurgitate those views. I do listen to other’s opinions and, possibly, shift my way of thinking. I don’t claim to be the smartest guy in the room or have any tangible answers. But here goes nothing. I guarantee you won’t know what the hell to think of me by the end. 




The Massacre in Orlando 


I’m going to forgo mention of domestic terrorism and religious zealotry and its intolerance of homosexuality. I don’t have enough space. I’ll simply say that the killings sickened me.


I am a big supporter of LGBT rights and basically any lifestyle that someone espouses that doesn’t hurt another soul. The pursuit of happiness (without harming others) should be every human’s goal.




Mr. Oliver launched into an eye-opening and sad but true analysis of gun control in America. I happen to agree with most of what he said. I am a gun owner and a hunter. I own several guns, most of which are in a safe at my family’s farm. I do, however, have a shotgun in my closet. If I hear my alarm go off one night and footsteps coming up my stairs, someone might just get turned into hamburger meat. (after a fair warning of course, don’t want to shoot a potential booty call)


I understand and agree with protecting myself and my home. But I think that the supporters of the 2nd Amendment have gone way too far. And it is fueled by the incredibly effective and evil organization called the NRA. They can spin it however they want, but their sole goal is to take away any and all barriers in order to sell more guns.


They are in bed with the manufacturers and cash is king. One thing Mr. Oliver touched on was that the NRA consistently fights against the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) in their desire to have a database searchable by name for gun owners. Seems reasonable, after all if you are a responsible owner, you should have nothing to worry about.


So ATF workers have a terrible time checking who owns what firearm and tracing guns that were used to commit crimes. The NRA wants gun purchases to be as easy as getting a cheeseburger—it’s more money for them and their buddies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-gun. I just want it to be harder for citizens to obtain one.


It shouldn’t be as easy as going to Dick’s Sporting Goods. By the way, the common agreement is, criminals will find the guns anyway. Well, OK, maybe you’re right… but can we at least try, isn’t throwing up our hands and saying “fuck it” irresponsible, dangerous, and just plain lazy?


Some effort should be made. But hell no, the NRA owns the Republican Party and some of the Democratic Party. Even smart pragmatic senators and congressman aren’t crazy enough to piss off their gun-loving constituency. Because, you see, there’s something about the gun issue that makes people crazy, overly-passionate and almost conspiratorial. “Man, if we pass gun control legislation, next thing you know they're going to beat down our doors and take our guns!”


How dumb do you have to be to really believe that’s a possibility?  There’s have to be some crazy coup d'état or something for things to get anywhere near that far. It’s implausible to the nth degree.


Now what personally drove me crazy about the gunman in Orlando was that he legally bought guns! And he had been investigated by the FBI more than once! Read that again, because it is patently insane.


It’s the NRA at it finest. An organization that is against any and all gun control, even for dangerous citizens. My favorite NRA defense is, everyone should be armed and we’d be ok. What the Fuck are you talking about? We should walk around like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday at the OK coral? You can’t be serious.  I recently got into a spat on Facebook because I posted a tweet from a comedy writer named Mark Drucker:


I don’t have the solution. I just know that when I has a gun pulled on me, I didn’t think “I wish I had a gun.”

I thought, “I wish he didn’t.” 


I thought, yes, wonderful point there. Of course gun advocates clamored, well, if he was armed he could fight back... etc.


If you are an ordinary citizen with no military training, do you really think that if faced against a random gun on the street being pulled on you, (which has to be astronomically low odds) that you pulling out a gun will end favorably for yourself?




So I wrote this back:
I choose not to arm myself unless I'm hunting... I'd just like to make it more difficult for everyone to obtain firearms... especially easily concealed and semi automatic.
Of course people like us have nothing to hide and are moral people. So, I’m ok with waiting several weeks. I'll bring a note from a doctor, reference letters, whatever, I'll jump through those hoops.
The NRA wants it to be extremely easy because they're in bed with the manufacturers. It's corrupt and crazy. Common sense has flown out the window. If you think our Founding Fathers wanted this type of environment, you should have your head examined.
The Second Amendment was enacted to protect our brand-new country against other countries invading our borders and dissenters and upstarts within the new government.  
At the time, we didn't have a sophisticated rmy or navy or an established internal government. Our new leaders knew only of corrupt and oppressive monarchies in Europe who kept their citizens under their thumb. So we gained our independence through guerrilla warfare by armed citizens (South Carolina’s own Francis Marion being the prime example.)
I think it's safe to say our military is now more than capable to defend the country and our democracy, while flawed, gives people a voice and provides ample dissension and freedom. We don't need every yahoo armed to the hilt... precisely because the guns trickle down to the black market and are used to murder innocent people.
The sad fact is that it’s doubtful that any meaningful gun legislation will take effect. Maybe one more day of waiting for a ex-con to be able to buy a glock. The reason for this is that the NRA has one singular goal, and they work towards it all day, every day. It’s sad because I think politicians equate the NRA’s laissez-faire attitude towards guns with all of their gun-owning constituents. Which, I believe, is simply not true. I’d love to hear a Republican politician calmly lay out some gun control measures while ameliorating the fears (irrational or otherwise) of normal gun owners. I’d sure as hell listen.




When I started writing this, the two senseless killings of African-Americans by overzealous police officers hadn't yet happened. Of course, that was followed by the tragic attack on the Dallas police officers by a lone gunman.


So I’ll just briefly touch upon this: more guns, does anyone believe thats the answer? How unintelligent does one have to be to actually think this?


The man in Minnesota that was shot had a personal carry permit. He was legally carrying a gun and got shot. Forget for one second about the racial implications. (again, another topic for another day) This is what happens when everyone carries guns. The law and the citizens. It’s ambiguous, dangerous, and leads to tragedies. Can you imagine if we had cell phone cameras in the Old West? I wonder what injustices befell citizens then? I bet you there were an inordinate number of accidental shootings, mistaken identity, drunken fools misreading a situation, overzealous law officers, etc. 




Moving on to Dallas, the other thing that I found telling and fascinating was there were a good many citizens and law enforcement officers who were carrying guns legally and it took a robot to kill the gunman. When someone is shooting to kill all around you and you aren't a trained professional in military or SWAT team tactics, it’s probably awfully scary and difficult to take the SOB out.


But hey, we should all have guns and this stuff wouldn’t happen.


It’s what Thomas Jefferson and the other framers wanted. For America to a be a giant paintball course with deadly bullets instead of acrylic paint.


Because guns don't kill people, people do. Right? Give me a break.


People with guns kill people!


Making procurement easy for people increases the chances that bad people, EVEN ones that are currently being investigated by the FBI, can procure them. 


A few final thoughts about guns, because something terrible will have probably happened by the time this is uploaded.
I have been on this earth for 36 years, and you can rest assured I've been in some crazy situations. Wrong neighborhood, wrong time. Unknowingly mingling with incredibly unstable individuals, drinking to excess and just being an loud and obnoxious, etc. Never once have I been in a situation where I needed a gun, or any sort of weapon. The only fight I've ever been in was over Nintendo 64 with a friend. (He kicked my ass... not in the game, in life) So it seems implausible to me that a law abiding/rational citizen would ever need a gun walking around in public. 
Finally, a letter written in 1995 by former President George H. W. Bush surfaced and it made my soul smile. He wrote a publicly scathing letter to the NRA. In the fundraising letter that lead to Bush’s resignation, the NRA played into the fears of anti-government militia groups, trying to win legislation for the sale of assault weapons. The scare tactics in the letter—that government agents, donned in “Nazi bucket helmets and black stormtrooper uniforms,” were licensed to “harass, intimidate, and even murder law-abiding citizens” was enough for the former president.


In 1995 Bush publicly cut ties with the National Rifle Association over the incendiary fundraising letter sent to the gun group’s 3.5 million members: “Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of NRA, said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.”


I'll end here...Thank Mr. H.W. Bush. You're cool in my book.


Part Two on the way….vastly different topic.