Navigating Priorities in the Wake of the Shooting at Pulse in Orlando

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A small group of attendees gathered at the Water of Life Sanctuary last Saturday to honor the lives of those lost on June 12 in Orlando, one of multiple prayer vigils held in Tucson last week.

Candles were passed at the door and Amazing Grace was sung from the pulpit, while the faces of the 49 victims flashed on a projector at the front of the hall. A few speakers expressed their sadness, confusion, and hope in the face of yet another act of senseless violence on United States soil. After a final prayer, names of victims were read. One man, from Puerto Rico, was in town for a Selena Gomez concert. Another had just bought his first home for his mother. One couple had just opened their own beauty salon.

When the floor opened up to members of the congregation, a man approached the podium to speak not for Republicans or Democrats, but simply for people facing a violent reality where guns have been increasingly falling into the wrong hands.

The NRA has been working overtime in the wake of the Orlando massacre to urge constituencies to oppose legislation which would tighten restrictions on gun acquisitions and ownership. Democrats staged a 15-hour filibuster during an appropriation bill debate to shift focus to gun laws. Republicans cry terrorism, Democrats scream gun access.

The Pew Research Center, in a survey on Islamic extremist rhetoric done in February of this year, found that 68 percent of Americans feel that religion doesn’t cause violence, but rather is used as a justification for the actions of violent people. Yet the question remains, are we facing a problem with rising organized extremism or a random assortment of home-grown crazies who have found convenient American boogeymen to hide their firearms behind?

Regardless of which side of the line you fall, a tragedy like the one in Orlando should compel us to push for productive solutions amongst each other, rather than continue the political screaming matches which so often distract us from lives lost. For now, shows of community and support (like the one below) could do wonders for our shared humanity.

"A Celebration of Unity," presented by HighWire Lounge, The Independent Distillery and Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market will take place on Friday, June 24 starting at 7 p.m. at Gibson Court in downtown Tucson (14 S. Arizona Ave.). The event, which will feature speakers and performers, aims to raise money for those directly affected by the tragedy while bringing together different sections of the Tucson population in a message of unity. All Proceeds from Door and Portion of Sales along with All Donations Collected go to the Victims and Families affected by the tragedy in Orlando.

You can find the GoFundMe campaign here

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