The attack on Colorado Springs did not happen in a vacuum

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The bullet doesn’t a sound.

It makes the initial roar when it leaves the gun, of course. His body shock is matched with a vicious slap to the eardrum. Noise can be amplified if it reverberates, as is often the case when a gunshot is fired in an enclosed space, such as a school hallway in New cityConnecticut, basement Bible study at CharlestonSK, or the lobby of the synagogue in the city hall Pittsburgh. The casing can make its own distinct sound whether it’s bouncing on the linoleum floor of a school classroom in UvaldeTexas, or is muffled in the carpet 32 ​​floors above Las Vegas Tape. And the reverberations can last for years, especially for survivors who just wanted to experience Valentine’s Day in ParkFlorida, or to find theirs safe space in Orlando.

And then there is the echo of the second wave, history lesson it tells us that any talk of trying to silence the ear-shattering explosion of each bullet is meaninglessthat ultimately nothing can be done about guns in a country that has More ▼ weapons than citizens.

And so, as is all too often the case, the screeching of more bullets established America’s newest weekend soundtrack as a shooter I explode at a gathering of members of the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs on Saturday night, opening fire to kill five and wound at least 18 more. A suspect is in custody accusations of murders and hate crimes, but these are subject to change as more is learned about him. Officials have been careful not yet to determine a motivation for the attack on Club Q. But it’s far-fetched to think that the suspect in this case just happened to show up heavily armed and wearing body armor at one of the few places in the Springs where gays — including young people on some evenings – I felt comfortable.

It also requires an aggressive suspension of suspicion to think that the current national environment regarding LGBTQ rights is irrelevant when a 22-year-old man allegedly walks into a gay bar and starts killing. This legislative season alone, lawmakers have introduced at least 344 anti-LGBTQ proposals, and 25 of those have already law, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The most common headlines surrounding this attack on the legislation were to prevent transgender youth from seeking health care, playing sports on the teams of their choice, or even identifying in schools—very controversial efforts if you spend much time in the conservative corners of internet when one can simultaneously mourn Caitlyn Jenner’s persecution and obsessed with the University of Pennsylvania swimmer in the same outburst of online outrage. Nothing, especially targeted executions, happens in a vacuum.

Colorado flags are flown at half height and vigils are popping up around the typically conservative city of Colorado Springs. The expression of pain is sincere, but what follows is likely to be a faint echo of it. Mass shootings often spark anger about why politicians didn’t foresee it, wrangling over how to stop the next killing, mutual recriminations about the power of gun manufacturers, retailers and sportsmen’s groups that have been co-opted into political machinations. But one thing remains louder than all this chatter, and that is the many sounds of bullets.

I spend a lot of time in the days after such mass murders reconstructing the details of those evenings and considering the prospects for legislative relief. I’ll often send memos and texts to lawmakers surreptitiously asking what Washington will do in response, and in a performative way, everyone pretends that this time will be different. Optimism about restrictions is getting weaker with every passing road, the time for such talk is getting narrower. Every passing hour makes any meaningful adaptation less imperative; this half-life was measured in weeks, not commercial breaks. All the while, it’s impossible not to imagine what it must have been like—the sound of each bullet tearing through the rooms, the bodies, the lingering echoes of the crime scenes.

It’s as deafening as it is depressing.

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Write to Philip Eliot c [email protected].

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