At least five people were killed and 25 injured in a mass shooting late Saturday night at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado Springs.  The gunman—who used a long rifle–was subdued by brave Club Q customers. The suspect has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich 22.

The violence came on the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which celebrates the lives of transgender people who have been murdered simply because of who they are.

At Truth Wins Out we are devastated by this horrific news. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the Colorado Springs LGBTQ Community.

While the motive remains under investigation, it is clear that LGBTQ people are under attack by right wing extremists. Last year, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes increased by more than 50%. The Human Rights Campaign has recorded at least 300 violent deaths within the community since 2013, including 32 this year. Hate crimes against all minorities have increased four years in a row.

These assaults on LGBTQ people take many different forms. One is legislative – with more than 300 anti-gay or anti-trans bills introduced this year. Each one of these mean-spirited bills portrays LGBTQ citizens as less-than and menaces to the community. It sends the unmistakable message to extremists that we are legitimate targets and harming us helps “cleanse” the community.

Some of the perpetrators who created a climate of fear and hate violence are offering their “thoughts and prayers.” We don’t need your prayers. You’re not our pastors, rabbis or imams. You’re lawmakers. We need your voices and your votes in favor of equality.  

We’ve seen attacks come from government officials like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose administration called LGBTQ people “groomers” insinuating that we are child molesters. Hateful words like these give license to vigilantes and goad extremists and thugs to act.

The shooter in Colorado was not a lone wolf. He was an inspired wolf who belongs to a violent pack. Other members of the pack are homophobic politicians, right wing media that disseminates stereotypes and lies and vulgar street thugs who show up at Pride Events or Drag Queen Story Hours to harass and intimidate patrons.       

There can be no doubt. Bigoted rhetoric leads to hate crimes. When Donald Trump called COVID the “Kung Flu”, hate violence against Asian Americans increased. We know that recent anti-Semitic rhetoric has led Jews to become targets.

And, yet, right wing Republicans keep engaging in behavior that inspires and motivates society’s worst impulses. It’s about damn time they stop. Our lives are not political props to get them elected or guest spots on FOX News. The price for their non-stop divisiveness and intolerance is our blood. And we are sick and tired of it.

Something must be done. If the police can go undercover to arrest prostitutes and petty drug dealers, why hasn’t every neo-Nazi and white supremacist cell been penetrated by the FBI? These nefarious plots should be foiled by law enforcement before they get off the ground and the perpetrators arrested.

Social media sites can do their part by choosing not to profit off hate speech and bigotry. They must decide if the piles of cash are worth the carnage.

In the coming days, we will see right-wing media propagandists spinning conspiracy theories about the massacre. We must stand up to fight these lies and disinformation. These are the same losers who tried to blame Jan. 6 on Antifa. They spin fiction to obscure the facts and create false narratives to bury the truth. We must not let them.  

Finally, this incident was grotesque and beyond distressing – but no one can say it was shocking or unexpected. Mass shootings are as American as Mom, baseball and apple pie. It’s part of America – it’s who we are. It’s what we do.    

This was the sixth mass killing this month – and by the time I finish this sentence, who knows, we might be on the seventh. There have been more than 600 mass shooting this year. But the NRA and Republicans will tell you that a society armed to the teeth saves lives. How delusional must our society be to continue buying this patently absurd, ridiculous, obvious lie?  

The right wing’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is an experiment that has failed. Far from protecting us, the 400 million guns floating around the United States today are killing us. We have created the means where any psychopath, hateful bigot, disgruntled worker or jilted lover can seek revenge on a massive scale.

Or, maybe you just look at someone the wrong way on freeway and he decides that you no longer deserve to live. In just one minute the gunman in Colorado was able to shoot 30 people. No ordinary citizen should possess enough firepower to create so much death, so quickly.

As they say, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. On the gun issue our nation has gone nuts, so this will not be the last heartbreaking tragedy. So, we come together and mourn, but knowing full-well that each morning brings new pain and suffering, as we bury the innocent victims of hatred and senseless gun violence.  

America, we must do better. We must be better.

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