God and the Gun: The Orlando Massacre

AR-15

Praise the Lord, Pass The Ammo

The Orlando Massacre

The loathsomely self-satisfied grin on the face of Omar Mateen will haunt me not because it is the face of a demon: it will haunt me because it is the face of an arrogant frat-boy, at once contemptuous and insecure. A lonely little man taking selfies in a room by himself, justifying his hatred by associating it with religion, and carrying it out with the psychotic’s perfect tool: the AR-15.

I first learned about the AR-15 in a brilliant and chilling Harper’s article by Dan Baum in June of 2013 (http://harpers.org/archive/2013/06/how-to-make-your-own-ar-15/). You don’t have to register any part of this kind of gun except the trigger mechanism. The rest of the weapon can be customized by adding any number of accessories. Such accessories might include an extra-large ammunition magazine, ideally suited for situations where a “high-kill rate” is the desired outcome. And such accessories can be added like accessories on a child’s toy, easily acquired without the need of permits or any other such inconvenience.

In the fight over the legality of the AR-15, its defender was of course the gun-lobby, and its front organization the NRA. Every shred of evidence on the public record (multiple mass shootings) is that this weapon is exactly the kind of tool of murder that should NOT be freely distributed, and yet the gunaholics on the American Right have only one right stuck on their brain.

Meanwhile, the gay community in Orlando is the subject of this grotesque and horrifying attack, enabled by a false interpretation of the Second Amendment, and abetted by a radical version of Islam. Having allowed the “radical” caveat, it’s worth restating that the text of Islam, like that every major religion in the West, abominates homosexuality. It’s time for all of us to recognize and condemn the awful hypocritical contradiction at the heart of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths: you cannot speak of your religion as being about love, tolerance, and charity without acknowledging that is also about hate, intolerance, and closed-mindedness. It’s time for our culture to grow up.

I was in Orlando for the Fringe Festival short days ago. My host there was an incredibly generous gay man who opened his house and his resources to a gang of Canadian guys (all of us straight, by the way). That he has lost friends and colleagues in the shooting is inevitable, and I mourn for him. Bless that man. Bless his sane Liberal views, his frank declaration of his freedom to define his sexuality as it was. Bless his rejection of the hidebound conservative version of the religious faith he was born into.

Let us be like that man. Let us grow up. Time to condemn the hypocrisy of the gun lobby, which allows a known abuser of women, a man the FBI talked to twice, to walk into one of the ubiquitous gun shops in Florida (it’s easier to find a gun shop in Orlando than an ice-cream stand), and purchase a weapon more suited for the battlefield than any form of “protection.”

As a Western Canadian of a certain era, I grew up with a pretty wide array of rifles and shotguns in the house. They were tools of survival for my father’s and grandfather’s generations.  None of those weapons has been fired in decades, and none of us is an iota the worse for it.   The two weapons used by the Orlando murderer (he carried a handgun as well as an automatic AR-15) have only one function: to kill human beings. Grow up, NRA, you’re enabling no one but the psychos.

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