Judith Armatta

Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist, and human-rights activist

"When will we ever learn . . . ?"

"Regarding the hate-filled killings in Orlando: Skimming Facebook today, I have seen two posts that recall incidents in American history where more than 50 people were killed (Wounded Knee in 1890 and the East St. Louis killings of African-Americans in July 1917). Such things simply reinforce my belief that the American press lacks historical insight or sacrifices it in the name of expediency. But in the grand scheme of things, what does it matter? Native Americans, African Americans and the LGBT community have one thing in common; they are the targets of hate. Ranking them by numbers simply provides an index of available targets and killing resources, nothing more. Orlando is simply the latest indictment of society's desire to prove superiority through lethal force." -Timothy Charles Butz

I met Tim eons ago in Washington, D.C., where we were both living in the 1970s. He was an activist with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, hailing from Ohio. I was working for Rep. John Seiberling (D-Ohio), an anti-war congressman. I thought Tim’s comments on his Facebook page were thought-provoking and worth sharing. This is not a competition, it is a tragedy, one more in a long line. “When will we ever learn. . . .?”

A Menu of Whom to Hate and a Means to Express It

For the disaffected, the U.S. offers a menu of whom to hate: African-Americans, women, LGBTQ folks, Muslims, Jews, Latinos, government workers, among others. Early Sunday morning, Omar Mateen aimed his anger and hatred at the LGBTQ community. Forty-nine dead, over 50 injured in a matter of minutes.

In Charleston, South Carolina, 2015, a disaffected young man selected a group of African-Americans gathered in a bible study group. He murdered nine. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2015, another disaffected man killed three Muslim students. In Oak Creek, Wisconsin, 2012, a White Supremacist shot and killed six people at a Sikh Temple. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2015, an anti-abortionist shot and killed three people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. In New Mexico, 2016, a husband and father was charged with the murder of his wife and four daughters, three days after the Orlando massacre.

In the U.S., the disaffected are offered an easily available and lethal means to express their anger and hatred: guns. To kill more in a short time, military-style assault weapons can be purchased. The popular AR-15, used by Omar Mateen, shoots eight rounds per second. That’s 240 rounds per minute. 1200 rounds in five minutes. It enables one lone gunman to murder 49 people and injure 53 in less than a minute (I don’t know how long it took Mateen). Americans own 10 to 12 million AR-15s. When was the last time you heard of someone with an AR-15 preventing a massacre?

And who will be next target – for there will be a next time?