My heart goes out to the victims of the Orlando shooting. I hope people in the area continue to donate blood and that people nationwide give money and support to local organizations working to protect LGBT rights.
We know the script: the breaking news of the first shots, the rise of the body count, the revelation of the shooter’s identity, the grief and rage, the thoughts and prayers, the knowledge that nothing will change. That the script is known only makes it more painful, with every tragedy reviving past anguish and warning of future loss. American geography is carved in pain. Small towns have become shorthand for shootings – Newtown, Conn.; Littleton, Colo. No region is safe or spared.
No population is safe either – not the Sikhs murdered in their temple in Wisconsin in 2012, nor the black churchgoers gathered in South Carolina in 2015, nor the moviegoers in Colorado in 2012, nor the college students in Oregon in 2015 and California in 2014, not the office workers in California in 2015, nor even the elementary school children in Connecticut in 2012.
America is a diverse nation, politicians announce proudly. Yes, diverse in our death toll – and united in our frustration and fear.
Gun culture is debated most after mass carnage. But it permeates our everyday routine, especially for those of us who live in the most violent states. My state, Missouri, leads the country in shootings by toddlers. The streets of my city, St. Louis, are lined with teddy bears tied to trees – makeshift memorials for shooting victims. “Rolling gun battle” is St. Louis vernacular for people shooting at each other from cars on a highway. One candidate for governor, Eric Greitens, fired an assault rifle into an empty field in a TV ad to appeal to voters. This is normal life.