Orlando, guns, and why your dog is happier

There’s this illustration that always makes me smile:


I think about that little drawing more than any other cartoon with possible exception of The Simpsons. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this weekend and saw the news about Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting. The first story I read was from the NY Times. It was still early, so details were scant. It initially reported 20 dead, 40 injured. I thought of this drawing, then I thought, “It was probably a gay bar. The shooter was probably some closeted Muslim-looking guy.” Then I thought of that drawing again.

Whether it wasn’t PC for me to think that or not, that’s what I thought.

Jeremiah and I marched in Circle City Pride this weekend. If someone had told me ten years ago I’d be marching in a parade I’d have kicked them in the shin. But there I was, walking alongside a handful of other folks from the Enterprise Republicans, a group doing the daunting work of moving the rest of the Indiana Republican party on social issues. We’re Mitch Daniels types. Indiana’s a Republican state, if you hadn’t noticed. We can’t expect to move tens of thousands of voters to a whole new party to fix one really big, really bad, problem. It has to be done from within.

As we were walking along I kept seeing the faces of people in the crowd. There were a lot of confused looks and people unsure of what the hell we were doing there.

It wasn’t comfortable, to say nothing of the temperatures.

I kept running up to people and saying, “We’re not fans of Mike Pence either.” Others were playing the same riff: “Some of us understand we have to respect everyone”, or, “Not all of us are like what you think.” Ironic given the locale.

Throughout the whole parade route, the thought that someone might have a gun pointed at me crossed my mind. It’s just one of the things in my thought bubble as I was walking. You don’t go through life in Washington County as a gay teen in the early 2000’s and not think about that sort of thing.

Truth is, everyone feels hate toward some other group. I feel it on my commute when people show anger at bicyclists. I felt it in the damn Pride Parade for heaven’s sake.

This country isn’t likely to move on gun control because of a mass killing in a gay bar. If white elementary school students didn’t do it, this won’t either. Plus, we’re fighting an uphill battle against the 2nd Amendment (do you really think we can start to ratify something for the Constitution this year? Next year?).

The connection between gun laws and crime isn’t even settled. Any research showing the more gun laws a state has translates to fewer deaths isn’t even solid cause-and-effect. It could be that low gun deaths in a state just correlates to low gun owners, and low gun owners means less opposition to gun laws. It’s correlation, not causation, even though the outcome looks promising.

It’s understandable that when it comes to feelings of powerlessness, a lot of people will try to even the odds. Many do so with guns. I own a gun, but it rarely moves. But I do think about whether I’d be safer wearing it sometimes. At the very least I think I’d feel safer even if it is more likely to incite an escalation.

Regardless, like most people, I probably won’t do much different. Just file away all those thoughts for later processing like I and many others do. Just one more thing in our thought bubble.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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