Last week, a man with a history of mental health issues opened fire in a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two women were killed, several more were injured, and he took his own life when he saw there was no way out. It appears as though he had planned to escape, using a car he left near the scene, and it is likely more attacks may have been planned.
That movie theater is two miles away from my home. He was allegedly staying in a motel even closer to my home than that. The entire community was shaken by this, but has rallied around the victims and remembers the fallen with happy memories. Their contributions to the community have been in several local news reports.
The day before the shooting, my wife, child, and I headed north to Natchitoches, Louisiana, to visit family and for a big family celebration. When we came home from a dinner, we saw the news reports of what was happening. Both my mom and my wife sat on the couch, watching every bit of information that came out. I was actually taking a final for a class I was in over the summer, and in between questions, I would look at the TV or go check Twitter.
What bothers me is that, so quickly, the debate turned political. Very little, if any, information was out, but within a matter of hours, there were people calling for stronger gun control and condemning the Right, the NRA, etc. Shannon Watts, a shrill harpy for gun control, was out there immediately calling for the removal of guns from society. A news editor from BuzzFeed told us not to pray but to push for gun control. Pundits from both sides of the issue were out there, pounding their keyboards and saying what they wanted to say on the issue of gun control.
Lafayette has been my home for a few years now. It is one of the best, most unique, and friendliest places in America. It is culturally so profoundly separate from the rest of America that even heading north on I-49 feels like leaving a completely different world. It may not be my hometown – Natchitoches – but it is my home. And my community suffered a major blow on July 23, 2015.
Have we forgotten that these incidents are not abstract, but involve real people? Is there no longer time to mourn for the loss of innocent lives?
It took TIME, BuzzFeed, and other left-leaning media outlets mere days to link the shooter to “Republican” or “conservative” ideologies, no matter how fringe and out of touch with society he clearly was. He booby-trapped a home of his that was foreclosed on to prevent others from moving in. He had major issues with the law. He had been involuntarily put into mental health treatment.
This was not a case of not enough gun control. It was not a case of right-wing conservatism gone awry. This is a case of a sick and twisted man whose issues led to a dark compulsion. Where there is a will to get a weapon to use, there is a way. He found it, and he carried out an evil act. No matter your views on the gun debate, shouldn’t we at least have a non-political time to mourn for those who are lost?