We speak so often about how “senseless” mass shootings are, as if there is ever a kind of mass shooting that would make sense, and we continue to pray for the victims and their families – as we should. We neglect, however, to have honest conversations about the gun culture in American society and how we, as a country, fail our brothers and sisters every day that we go without having meaningful (and respectful of the Second Amendment) conversations – AND LAWS – with respect to gun ownership and the ability to purchase such weapons. We can say this is not the time for a political discussion about guns and gun control, and if that’s your viewpoint, please let me know when would be the right time. Fifty people are dead and another 50+ injured in what is now the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history. Let’s stop the truly senseless banter about gun control and have some real action that has the potential to save lives.
I write about this shooting in particular because it occurred in Orlando, FL, where the American Library Association (ALA) is set to have its annual conference in just a few weeks. Some ALA members have raised objections to having the conference in Orlando because of Florida’s application of the Stand Your Ground laws with respect to the Trayvon Martin case. After some discussion, the ALA formed a Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, that I happen to co-chair along with Martin Garnar from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The Task Force has been trying to find ways to help the ALA, the library profession, and our communities be more welcoming and inclusive. Although we don’t yet know the motivation for this particular shooting in Orlando, that it happened at a gay nightclub leads one to believe that the shooting was bias-related. We will certainly hear more about the motivation of the suspect as the investigation unfolds, and can have more conversations about an inclusive society.
The American Library Association will be making a statement about the conference soon, I’m sure. The Task Force members are also contemplating s statement. We will also discuss how we can (re?)focus the activities we had planned to help demonstrate our sympathies for the victims of this horrific act. For now, though, I will continue to pray for all those who have been affected by the shooting and hope this will be the last time we need to have a conversation about a “senseless” mass shooting incident.