For some reason, the Parkland massacre has changed my view of gun deaths in the United States. Up until now, from my perch here in Canada, I simply shook my head every time there was a mass shooting. After all, I live in a country with sensible gun laws, and the glaring absence of same south of the border was basically not my problem.
But this time, my reaction was different. It's not because it was a senseless slaying of high school students and teachers, since that has been an all-too-familiar occurrence over the last 30 years. And it's not because of the numbers, since 17 deaths is dwarfed by the 58 fatalities in Las Vegas and the 49 deaths in Orlando.
My only explanation is that the frequency of these tragedies seems to be increasing, and I think that I have reached the breaking point when it comes to tolerating such ignorance and negligence. Instead of sadness and sympathy, this time I felt overwhelming anger and disgust.
To watch a nation tolerate over and over again easily preventable mass shootings cannot leave one feeling less than angry. What is a rarity elsewhere in the Western world has become a weekly occurrence in the U. S., an event so common that some Americans seem to have become used to and even accepting of it.
This time I can't just look away and pretend it's not my problem. After all, Americans are my friends and neighbours and surely we wouldn't let our friends and neighbours continue to engage in such horribly dysfunctional behavior.
Once again, we have to grit our teeth while listening to political leaders offering their condolences as if that were the solution to this ongoing nightmare. President Donald Trump read a prepared statement from a teleprompter that didn't mention the word "gun" once and, like so many others, offered only his "thoughts and prayers."
Once again, we have politicians on the right saying that this is not the time to talk about gun control. If there's a one-week zone of gun-control-free discussion then, based on current trends, there will never be a good time to talk about this issue.
What better time to talk about gun control than when people can see the harm that comes from almost unfettered access to firearms of all types? What better time to talk about the issue than when the families of the victims are left broken and pleading for someone to do something to solve this easily soluble problem?
This time I am angry. I am angry at those politicians who choose to do nothing and instead bow to the wishes of the National Rifle Association. And I am particularly angry at the NRA, a once-proud hunters' organization that years ago was hijacked by right wing militants who have turned it into the protector of every gun nut, conspiracy theorist and paranoid militia member.
Trump casually accuses Democrats who didn't applaud his State of the Union speech of being treasonous. He and his enablers in Congress and the NRA would do well to look in the mirror if they want to see the real face of treason in America.
These people deliberately ignore the obvious and do everything in their power to halt any efforts to impose background checks, bans on assault weapons and gun-ownership restrictions on spousal abusers and those suffering from mental illness. They consciously choose to expose grade school, high school and college students across the land to more gun violence and death. They callously view mass shootings as inevitable.
Ultimately, the answer to these tragedies rests with the American electorate, the majority of whom support stricter gun control. So the only thing I can do with my anger is to urge Americans to elect leaders who will ignore the NRA and do the right thing. Look to Australia, England, Canada, Sweden or virtually any other western nation and you'll find the answer. Trust me, it's not that hard.