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I found out about today’s slaughter when we were eating lunch in the office.

The tone immediately went from, “Can you believe we got a free, delicious meal? We should totally eat there forever” to “Those kids that survived will never be the same.” “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” “Remember Columbine?” “It’s teachers and kids; those kids will never feel safe in school again.” “Who thinks it’s okay to kill kids?”

Just months earlier, there’d been a similar tragedy in a theater involving a machine gun and a man without the right thought process. And the tweets, Facebook posts, news updates, revealing pictures on Tumblr, and sad feelings started outpouring.

But nothing changed.

All we got was another guy with a machine gun and more bullshit social media. We had town hall questions central to the presidential election. We had whole communities lose a generation. And we got some fucking tweets.

So I thought I was going to be prepared for that. Maybe I’d be up to learning more details. Maybe I’d be ready to learn just how many people died this time. But as I tried to go about my day as if nothing had happened–I don’t deal with senseless murder well and tend to try to distract myself with happier things–I still found the Facebook posts and tweets seeping through those attempts. So I started reading some of it. I found myself willing to rally behind a lot of the “Fuck the NRA” ideas or “When kids die, that should be enough–at the very least–to ban automatic weapons” concepts, but when the more “heartfelt” comments started creeping in was when I lost my mind.

It was the all-caps-lock-outrage posts about the kids dying. It was the idea that you have to hug your family now. Now you have to hug your family–because family’s never been important before. But the posts that pissed me off most were the posts about people’s hearts going out to Connecticut.

What is your heart, a boomerang? My god, you’re a real hero here. You sent your heart and your prayers to Connecticut? And it came back? That’s really far, I bet the postage was expensive. You’ve sacrificed a lot with your heart donation.

So I tweeted the only thing I’ve said about it all day on any social platform (besides what I’m typing): “I’m not reading any of your gun-related social media posts and breaking news updates until you call your Senator or your Rep.” Because nothing else solves this. Everyone is sad about it, but digging deeper into the details of who this man was (is?) or how he came to the decision to bring a gun into a school doesn’t fucking solve anything. No one cares if you’re sad about it, because we’re sad about it, too. You’re not the first person to have emotions, just the first person to tell us all about it.

And that’s when I totally checked out of social media (as well as television and news sites) for the day. I already know what happened. Here’s your archetype: Lonely person feels lonely. Without using the proper psychiatric jargon, a screw got too loose and made that person feel like their potential had gone unrecognized. That person came to the conclusion that people will notice them when they achieve revenge on _____ group of people or ensure humanity understands their greatness by killing _____ group of people and living to tell the tale.

I don’t want to know. There are too many absolutely beautiful things and people in this world for me to focus on someone who needed help, slipped through the cracks, and did something absolutely abhorrent. To get back to one of the lunch questions, this is a human who missed out on the counseling that would have helped them understand society’s rules–specifically, the rule that we don’t kill (or touch) kids. There were signs, but something went wrong and this person was set free in a society that did not subscribe to the same rules they did.

But more importantly, it’s your job as a member of that very society to understand that what we’re doing right now is missing the main two issues: mental health and gun reform. Fucking Christ, what animal needs to be hunted with an automatic machine gun besides the most dangerous game. Yes, I’m saying we can have automatic guns in the military for freedom or whatever, but what zombie horde (OF CHILDREN) are you fighting off that you need a machine gun? But even before that, let’s talk about basic healthcare. I’m not entirely sure we need to have a mental screening before gun purchase so much as we need a healthcare system that can carry the load of a mentally unwell person desperately in need of help.

Maybe you’ve had the flu. Maybe you’ve had, I don’t know, blood poisoning or ringworms or something. Try this on for size instead: the entire chemistry in your fucking brain is off. There’s no “Hey, guy, check out this quick-fix penicillin. Boom, polio over” or what have you. What you have is a history of, shit, to quote an excellent movie and its title, violence. Sometimes violent people do violent things. But there are people who can help those very people or come very close.

And until either you or those specially trained people are helping them, shut the fuck up about how you much you care. Seriously, put up or shut up. Yep–in this case, specifically–either drive to Connecticut to help grieving parents get to and from funerals, hearings, ceremonial events or fucking call someone in Congress. Your social moment did nothing. I literally could not give two more shits about how angry you are because I’m just as angry. Don’t share another goddamn link about who this murderer was or where things went wrong because we have all already heard the story. The glorification just escalates the next one.

At the most basic level of American politics, maybe your congressperson of choice is firmly for or against reform. But there’s a tide here. Your call lets them know they’re in the right or wrong–they can either change sides or bolster the thousands. Unless you’re protesting with signs, email campaigns, letter writing, pitching in in CT, etc., those people making the laws don’t know what’s happening or they’re being paid too much to ignore the repetitive news coverage–and those are the people making changes, not the twenty-second literacy test where Facebook asks you “What’s on your mind?”


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