Op-ed jumps the gun on Colorado Springs' killer's hate

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The horrific events Saturday night in Colorado Springs are still quite fresh in everyone’s mind. I mean, it was just a few days ago. Howe could it not be?

As is normal in the aftermath of such a shooting, people are looking for answers. One of those is simply, “Why?”

It’s to be expected. Something like this is so unreal that you struggle to wrap your brain around it. That’s especially true if you have some connection to the victims.

But for one op-ed seemingly searching and trying to provide answers, I think they jumped the gun (no pun intended).

A 22-year-old white man in Colorado Springs walked into an LGBT-plus nightclub over the weekend and opened fire. [Killer’s name redacted] killed five and wounded 25 more before a patron subdued him. The shooter survived and was indicted on Monday on five counts of murder as well as hate crimes charges.

But others aren’t waiting around. Critics say that a young white man doesn’t bring an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon, a handgun and extra rounds of ammunition into an LGBT-plus venue, located in a relatively conservative city, if he doesn’t hate the people in it.

Now, I get the idea that a killer doesn’t gun down people in a nightclub if they don’t hate those within, but as they’re trying to lay the groundwork for bigotry as a motive, I think they’re failing to understand a few things about those who kill so many people.

Sure, hatred is probably present, but that hatred doesn’t have to be because the killer hates gay people or trans people.

Sometimes, hatred of humanity is more than sufficient.

Look, I’m personally leaning toward this being an actual hate crime; that the killer wanted to murder people because they were LGBT. However, we have more than enough mass shootings that have nothing to do with someone’s minority status that making such bold statements is only part of the story.

After all, there are a lot of people who aren’t fans of the LGBT community who would never carry out anything like Colorado Springs. That’s because, despite their issues with that group, they still have a mechanism in place that prevents them from even considering such brutality.

But that broken mechanism that allowed this shooting, even if it is a hate crime, exists in those who choose other targets.

Or are we to believe that Sutherland Springs was because of an intense hatred of churchgoers, or that El Paso was bigotry against Walmart shoppers, or even that Las Vegas was because the killer despised country music fans?

If you want to combat hate, do so. It’s a worthy enough goal.

But trying to claim that without it, such a shooting wouldn’t have happened isn’t remotely a possibility.

This killer was broken. Something inside of him, that thing that keeps us from wanting to murder people in job lots, didn’t work like it was supposed to.

Just focusing on any issues he might have had with the LGBT community doesn’t mean Colorado Springs wouldn’t have happened just the same.

Or are we to believe that it would be so much better if these five people were killed in a mass shooting driven by something else other than bigotry?

If that’s your play, you’re clearly deluded and you have forgotten that these are people, not minority group members. They’re more than gay, lesbian, trans, or whatever. They’re sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, they’re husbands and wives. They’re people, individuals who would be just as dead regardless of the motive.

Focusing on that and that alone is to ignore the bigger issue, which is that we have broken people among us and we don’t know how to spot them or treat them so they’re no longer broken in the first place.