The Sandy Hook massacre was one of the worst things to happen in my life. What it lacks now in numbers, it makes up for in horror.
And I felt it deep in my bones when I read the comment last month (after some other mass shooting, does it matter which?) from some tragic realist: "If Newtown didn't change anything, how can we expect it to change now?"
I know that the beginnings of gun control won't prevent the next shooting. The guns are already in the hands of the next murderer. And the one after that and the dozens after that. And I know there are some on the anti-gun side who are too far to the left of reality — with the Pollyanna hope that some magic gun control bill will bring an end to this horror. And that's unfortunate.
But the pro-gun response is just plain sorry.
First step is to call cries for gun control "politicizing" the event, even as renegades from the far right spread lies: "Sandy Hook was a hoax!" "The Sutherland Springs shooter was on the DNC payroll!"
The next step is to argue semantics and false equivalencies online — "It's not an assault rifle!" "Cars kill people, too!" — as if you didn't know exactly what the fuck we mean.
Then come the fake hysterics designed to stir the stupid: "The left wants to take away your guns!" "The media is attacking the Second Amendment!"
Then we blame mental illness. But we refuse to do anything about that. Because it's hard.
Ultimately comes the most basic response: "There's nothing we can do."
And that's the kicker. It's about the most un-American thing you can say.
You remember that Facebook post that went around early this fall? The one about the heroic working-class fellow who took his bass boat into the post-Hurricane Harvey waters and went around saving people while the liberals sat at home wringing their hands? The guy with the guns and the NRA sticker on his big truck and is supposed to be the answer to the left's preaching about decency and values?
Yeah, that guy reads about men with guns murdering his fellow Americans in cold blood and says "fuck it, there's nothing we can do."
Is that harsh? Don't like it? Then do something. If you believe in responsible gun ownership, then support legislation that will hold people accountable to your values.
Integrity, right? There's been so little of that, it's hard not to give up on that idea, too.
If Newtown didn't change anything, how can we expect it to change now?
There's something I can do.
I can hope that my friends and family aren't the next victims.
I can write. And I can vote.
There is no light at the end of my tunnel, train or otherwise. It's hard to see now that my voice will be heard or that my vote will help.
But Americans don't quit.