There are days where the title of this column feels especially appropriate, where my understanding of the world I live in feels woefully insufficient. Today is one of those days.
I'd planned to write something silly and light, but as I wandered towards the patio to begin, my boyfriend said, "There's been a shooting in Orlando. 50 people have been killed. Dude had an assault rifle."
I shuffled outside without a word. I didn't know how to respond to that, and as I sit here now, after spending the past two hours scouring news sites for information, I'm still not sure what to say.
More details will come out by the time this hits papers and I am not in any position speak confidently about specifics. What I do know is how I feel, right now, in this moment, and I highly doubt I'm alone.
I'm angry this keeps happening. I'm frustrated people going to a movie or a concert or a club, or commuting to work, or going to school are being killed by others who have assault rifles.
If you hunted with an assault rifle, you'd utterly obliterate your quarry. They're called "assault rifles" for a reason, they're made to shoot people, and this guy was able to get one, carry it into a club, and create his own personal warzone.
I'm confused why background check favorability polls show support ranging from 80-90 percent across the country and yet they're still not a federal mandate. Refusing to make a change because it won't mitigate every possible negative outcome seems foolish.
I feel heartbroken this most recent attack was allegedly directed squarely at the LGBT community during Pride Month. And I feel outrage that many of the people who lined up to donate blood — a peaceful, positive way to offer practical support to those who need it — are being turned away because they're gay. I could sleep with a different dude every week for a year and still give blood, but a married gay man cannot if he's had sex with his husband in the last year.
In June 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement requesting the FDA modify their blood donation policies, stating that "The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science." That policy was changed, but still gay men cannot donate blood if they've had sex in the last year even if they've passed an HIV/AIDS test.
This whole shitstorm feels like a massive failure from start to finish: A person gets an assault rifle into a public space, kills and maims in numbers so high it's instantly the worst mass shooting in American history. Then, the community this person has allegedly chosen to attack is prevented by our own government from giving blood, based on discriminatory policies not based in scientific fact.
I guess now I do know what I want to say: Let's expand background checks, let's find better ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, let's make blood donation policies based solely on the health of the donors, and let's vote out all the people in Congress who aren't willing to make those changes.