I've dealt with such a range of emotions over the last 24 hours - shock, horror, sorrow, anger, among many others - that this post could have taken many forms. Given that, this is about the best I can do to write up something vaguely rational.
We used to be a rational country when it came to guns. People owned them. They used them on their hunting trips, and some had them around the house for protection. By and large, however, we kept them at home. And every now and again there would be a "mass" shooting where a couple people died, and there would be calls for gun control. Sometimes they gained traction; sometimes they didn't.
Somewhere over the last several years - and by several I mean somewhere in the last 10-30 years, given your definition of when everything hit the fan, I don't feel the desire to get into arguments of when the exact moment was - we completely lost that rationality. Gun control has been replaced by gun rights. Concealed carry laws were passed in just about every state. The NRA - who as of the time of this post has said nothing on Twitter since the Sandy Hook massacre - has demonized any sort of effort to regulate gun usage or ownership. Every republican (as well as many Blue Dog and other Democrats) has cowtowed to them at every opportunity.
And this is how we get to where we are. The point where we can't even have a rational discussion about assault weapons, carrying guns into bars, closing gun show loopholes, or passing tougher laws to prevent people with mental disabilities from obtaining guns. The point where any discussion of these topics leads gun owners to scream that the 2nd amendment guarantees their right to bear arms, though the part about a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state is usually omitted.
(Never mind that the 2nd amendment was written during a time when they could not have envisioned the idea of a weapon that held clips that contained tens of rounds of ammunition, any more than they could envision talking with someone from the other side of the world, or keeping meats in a chilled box so they didn't spoil in a day, or being able to take a pill - whatever a pill is - that ensured that strep throat or an infected cut would not be a death sentence.)
We have just accepted that guns are just going to be everywhere. We've resigned ourself to accept that things like Stand Your Ground Laws and Castle Doctrines are just how things are going to be. We are powerless to fight against local and state judiciaries that, after being packed by local republican parties over the past 30 years, have struck down just about any sort of legal impediments to carrying a gun wherever and whenever people want.
But yesterday's massacre (and yes, it was a massacre)...this has to be the tipping point. We have to start having a real conversation about our gun culture. We have to start asking ourselves what can be done to preventing something like this from ever happening again.
And I refuse to tolerate arguments that "it's too soon to talk about this" from the same people whose intransigence on this issue has allowed for tragedies like this to continue to occur. And I don't want to hear how this would politicize the issue, and use the families of the dead as political pawns, when I'm certain that every one of them wishes that we had "politicized" this issue a long time ago. I don't want to hear that we just need to handle crazy people and that will take care of everything, because the great majority of people that feel that is the magic solution probably also believe that Obamacare is socialism. And I will not dignify the position of "guns don't kill people", because its just senseless anymore. Guns just make it easy to kill a bunch of people really quickly - feel free to provide the laundry list of times when 25 people died because one person delivered a mass beating, or mass stabbing.
Understand, I'm not in any way saying that we need to get rid of guns, but there's room to discuss things like assault weapons, multiple round clips, improved mental health care, among others, in a civilized manner. But it needs to happen. And if you're going to say that it's just too soon to talk about guns, then it is imperative upon you to provide me with a date and time when you will feel it's ok to talk, or what will get you to that point. Because I need to know, if something like yesterday's massacre won't make you at least consider that something needs to change, what exactly will get you that point. It's no longer acceptable to say that this conversation is for another day. You have to commit to when that day will be.