Six-hundred and one. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the Club Q shooting was the 601st mass shooting of 2022.
It does not even end there. As of Tuesday night, there have been 606 mass shootings in the United States in 2022 alone.
I am afraid that the terms “stop the violence” and “save the children” have lost their meanings.
Upon hearing that five people were killed and 17 injured at Club Q Saturday night, I feel like people’s reactions were closer to, “Again?” rather than, “I cannot believe it.”
Gun violence has become part of American culture. We have become so desensitized to it—almost used to the idea of our loved ones possibly being shot while doing mundane things such as going to school, grocery shopping or grabbing a drink.
We called for the violence to end after Sandy Hook. We called for the violence to end after Pulse. We even called for the violence to end two times earlier this year following Uvalde and Highland Park.
The unfortunate truth is that this pattern of mass murder will not stop until we shift the discourse.
We need to talk about what this really was. This is not about mental illness. This is about how our criminal justice system noticed the shooter’s red flags and did nothing.
Why does the conversation about mental health only come up after a white person essentially commits domestic terrorism?
We need to address gun violence at the source—recognizing violent behaviors, implementing stricter gun laws and ensuring everyone has access to sufficient health care and support.
But with the Club Q shooting, we also need to address the discourse that has surrounded the LGBTQIA+ community lately.
Over the past year, hundreds of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been proposed across the country, many of which target transgender youth.
Right-wing politicians and religious leaders have attempted to villainize queer individuals, calling them “groomers” or “pedophiles” when that could not be further from the truth.
The truth is that gender-affirming care saves lives. The truth is that being able to be your authentic self saves lives. The truth is that if you stop kids from living how they want, more kids will die.
While the Club Q shooting is still under investigation, it is widely believed to be a hate crime. Personally, I cannot help but wonder if the hateful rhetoric we have been hearing from politicians, religious leaders and extremists may have triggered this tragedy.
Those who have proposed anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and enabled hateful discussions might as well load the bullets for people like the gunman at Club Q.
Ending the violence starts with spreading love.
Learning to love and respect marginalized communities is a perfect place to start when we discuss where to go from here.