The featured photo was on Facebook last night. There was a time when I would have found it funny, but I have to admit that I was actually a little triggered seeing it… Given all of the gun violence these days, it’s hard for me to laugh at jokes involving weapons, even if the actual joke is about men peeing and missing the toilet. But at the same time, I no longer feel “shock” when I read or hear another story about someone dying due to another person’s hatred, rage, and inability to control their violent impulses.
Yesterday morning, I was reading about the terrible mass shooting incident at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There were many people at the club, there to have a good time watching a drag show. Suddenly, 22 year old Anderson Lee Aldrich burst into the venue and started shooting, eventually killing five people and wounding at least 19 others. He was tackled by Richard Fierro, a man who spent fifteen years as an Army officer and went on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Fierro left the service in 2013, just a few years before he would have been eligible for retirement. I don’t know the circumstances of why he left the military. My guess is that the repeated war zone deployments had a lot to do with it.
On Saturday, November 19th, 45 year old Mr. Fierro had gone to Club Q with his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend, who would sadly perish in the chaos that erupted that night. The family was having a good time watching Fierro’s daughter’s friends perform in a drag show, when Aldrich ruined everyone’s evening with his AR-15. Without a single thought, Fierro leapt out of his seat and charged toward the hulking young man, said to weigh at least 300 pounds and wearing body armor. The combat veteran tackled the gunman, throwing him to the ground as the AR-15 clattered out of his reach. Aldrich pulled out a pistol, which Fierro immediately relieved him of and began beating the shit out of Aldrich with the gun until he was bloody. Another man grabbed the AR-15, while a drag queen stomped on the man with her high heels.
As the wife and the daughter of men who went to war, I have seen what time in a literal war zone can do to a person’s psyche. Fierro went into action because of his training, and because he spent a long time in combat, training himself to go on autopilot when violence erupts. He didn’t think. He simply reacted to the indoctrination that he had to kill or be killed. This is an instinct that never really leaves a person. I saw it in my father, who went to Vietnam and came home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband, Bill, also spent time in Iraq during the war. Fortunately, he wasn’t involved in any war zone violence; he just had to work with a malignant narcissist, which was certainly triggering enough. But there were still some lingering effects from his time downrange. War changes people.
In this case, it was a lucky thing that Mr. Fierro had been to war and had the reflexes and will to take action. He is a genuine hero. However, I know that this incident will traumatize him. He’s not at home enjoying his hero status. I know that all he wanted to do was go out with his family, and have a good time. He never should have had to use those sharply honed war zone skills again. He did enough for his country, having earned two Bronze Stars. And now, he’s going to have to live with the trauma of what happened at the Q Club, where people had just wanted to dance and have a good time. I fear that he’s never going to feel safe again… not that he necessarily did before this tragic incident occurred. I pray that he’s able to access adequate mental health services. I’m sure he’s going to need them.
Bill and I talked about Mr. Fierro over breakfast yesterday, not knowing that today, November 23, 2022, we’d be hearing about another incident. This time, it happened at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. I happen to know Chesapeake, because I grew up about an hour away from there. I have friends who live there now. This morning, my friend Mary Beth posted on Facebook about a shooting in her town… and then I saw the news.
Not to be outdone by Anderson Lee Aldrich, a man believed to be the store manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, opened fire in the store and killed six people and injured more before killing himself. The man who did this has not yet been named, as, at this writing, the crime happened only a few hours ago. It does appear that, at this point, the man acted alone. Naturally, there are a lot of “thoughts and prayers”, which do fuck all to stop the violence. I guess it sounds nice to offer up prayers… but what good are prayers when someone suddenly loses their parent, child, or friend to gun violence?
Leo Kosinski, a spokesman with the Chesapeake Police Department, said “I mean it’s sad, you know we’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday.” As if it wouldn’t be just as sad in the middle of September or March? Okay, I guess a mass shooting does cast a sad pall on the holiday, especially for those who lost loved ones in these horrific attacks. Still, I find that statement kind of shocking in its banality. I think a lot of us are just numb to the violence. I haven’t set foot in the United States in 8 years. I haven’t seen most of my family in the time I’ve been away. You’d think I’d miss being “home”, but home is becoming less recognizable by the year, as more people go off the rails and kill perfect strangers with high powered weapons.
Meanwhile, there’s a whole contingent of people who are hellbent on forcing women to gestate, no matter what. And there’s no shortage of internet based idiots who want to argue– even with board certified OB-GYNs like Mama Doctor Jones– about what constitutes abortion. I ran into one of those idiots last night. She was relentlessly arguing with people about this subject… shaming Mama Doctor Jones for correctly referring to treatment for an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion. That is PRECISELY what it is, by the way. Abortion is not a dirty word. But these folks refuse to understand that, and they want to pass barbaric laws that will KILL women. Or force them to birth babies they aren’t ready to raise… which will lead to a childhood potentially full of poverty and abuse, as well as escalating violence from gun toting right wing nuts. Below is what one idiot posted to Mama Doctor Jones’ Facebook post about treating ectopic pregnancies. She was taking on all comers, berating them for pointing out her lunacy.
Abortion is directly related to the uterus. Literally. Once you started with that lie that treatment for ectopic pregnancy is abortion in order to minimize actual induced abortions, I stopped watching. Do better.
Reading these kinds of moronic comments enrages me… but still, even as angry as I get at people who want to deny freedom of choice to women and spread LIES, I don’t wish for them to be blown away by the gunfire from an AR-15. How is it that the people who claim to value the lives of the unborn so much, are so unwilling to do a fucking thing about the gun toting wackjobs? And they want to send people like my father, my husband, and Richard Fierro into war zones, so that they come back traumatized to the point at which they willingly hurl themselves into violence?
I haven’t even addressed the recent gun violence at the University of Virginia, where three football players were murdered by a former football player who opened fire in a garage. Yeah, I saw the headlines and the photographs of three smiling young Black men, wearing their orange and blue striped neckties. But again… I feel so numb. Because there have been SO MANY shootings. A person in the United States can’t even go to the damned grocery store nowadays without having to worry about being shot! And yet, some folks want to bring more innocent souls into the world, with no plan for supporting them, nurturing them, and protecting them from crazed lunatics with guns, invading churches, movie theaters, nightclubs, schools, and grocery stores.
When did our society become so incredibly hateful and violent? More importantly, WHY are people like this? It’s just so sad. People just seem to hate each other so much now. I kind of wonder if it’s because of social media, to be honest. It’s like we can’t stand to be so exposed to people who are different than we are… and that somehow translates to feeling like murder is the answer.
Anyway… I think I’ll take care of some chores so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving, such as it is celebrated among Americans in Germany.
4 thoughts on “Mass shootings in the United States have become almost banal…”
I am numb. I am having trouble processing that yet another senseless mass shooting has occurred. Except this time it has happened 5.2 miles from my home in a place I have been in many times.
If I hear one fucking politician say “thoughts & prayers” and continue to sit on their ass & do nothing I will scream! This awful thing that has happened has become common place. We are becoming desensitized to what should be horrifying. If I hear one single redneck, Trump humper say, “This is why I am always packing”, I will puke!
I mean seriously what are you going to do if you are “packing”? Are you going to draw your weapon and shot the other person? You think you will in all your bravado, but ask any weary, highly trained combat veteran or police officer and they will tell you it’s not that easy. I have maybe 3 or 4 people in my life who I would trust in that situation and all of them were extensively trained to kill.
I am just so sad, frustrated and angry. Angry that I can’t even feel safe going shopping anymore. Angry that our government continues to be controlled by gun manufacturers and far right idiots that do not even know our Constitution. My rights as a woman as a human being are being stripped away and now I can’t go to my local Walmart to pick to buy groceries!! I feel as though Gilleade has become our reality. What are we going to do?
I’m so sorry, Mary Beth. It’s just heartbreaking.
I think of guys like Richard Fierro, who was unarmed, but seemingly was programmed to leap into action to stop the shooter. For his efforts, he spent an hour covered in blood, handcuffed, and stuffed in the back of a police car, while he wondered what had happened to his family. And he was a man who had seen combat up close and personal, and had hoped to leave all that shit behind when he left the Army. He just wanted to have a good time with his family!
I know I will eventually have to come “home”, but for now, I am so grateful not to be dealing with that shit. It’s sickening to see it from a distance, let alone up close. Doesn’t seem like our country is very free when you can’t even go to the fucking grocery store without worrying about being shot, does it?
I agree with you. Richard Fierro and his family were out having a laugh and making memories when that fascist, Trump humper decided that he was going unalive people out of fear. Fear that as a white, heterosexual male he is loosing power. FUCK him.
I am watching the morning news and it was just confirmed that this gunman killed 6 people and then himself. The gunman is most likely an emoyee. It is all unfathomable.
I am glad you get to experience a peaceful life in Germany. I so enjoy reading about yours and Bill’s adventures. The pictures are beautiful and have created a desire in me to maybe one day travel abroad. Because right now in America I don’t even want to leave home. I feel like I am in a nightmare and I can’t wake up.
I haven’t heard anything about what motivated the Colorado guy. I know he was in trouble last year. He was also evidently raised LDS. His grandfather is/was a Republican politician– but they had been estranged, so I’m not sure if politics had anything to do with his rampage. Nevertheless, whatever motivated it is just horrifying. I’m assuming it was hate… whether it was hatred for LGBTQ+ people or just people in general.
As for the guy in Chesapeake… who even knows? People have lost their damned minds.
I’m glad you enjoy our adventures. I post for people like you. And I hope someday, you can take a trip somewhere else, just to see what it’s like. A lot of Americans think our country is the best. I’m here to tell you that an awful lot of other places are pretty nice, too.