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If it wasn't so appallingly easy to get a gun in this country, it wouldn't be easy for the next gunman to deliver the kind of carnage that's as much a part of this country as the American flag. This has been said, but bears repeating and repeating and repeating some more. But I try not to think about any of that as I drive over to the gun shop in Philadelphia. "Yeah, because it was about the gun, not Islamic terrorism, right? Even if that's not true, the radicals won't have a problem with that. A festering fear and hate that we better think about when it's time to vote for our next president, because the fear and hate is not all coming from the outside. Increasingly it's from within, from down the street, the next state over, the next potential leader of this country.
If nothing changed after children - babies - were slaughtered inside their school, do any of us really believe anything will change following the deaths of people so many fear and loathe simply for trying to live their truths? I need to come up with some plausible story, I think. As I walked to my car with my brand-new gun, I wasn't sure what to do with it.
If it wasn't so easy to get a gun in this country, the 29-year-old gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a popular gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday wouldn't have been able to buy the weapon he used to kill 49 people and injure 53. I felt a little squeamish about not telling him who I was and what I was trying to do, but this wasn't about them; they weren't doing anything illegal. I told the guy I was on a budget, so I got an AR-15 for 9.99. No need for even a moment to at least consider how gross all of this felt as relatives of the dead were still being notified. So pick whatever reason or narrative matches your politics or agenda.
If it wasn't so easy to get a gun in this country, another gunman who came before him wouldn't have been able to use the same kind of firearm to kill elementary-school children in Newtown, Conn. The truth is that I could have bought the gun as easily in any gun shop in Pennsylvania. To be fair, there was an extra 10 or 15 minutes or so of chitchat inside the gun store before I walked out with a cardboard box with the words Smith & Wesson emblazoned on it, and an atta-girl for thinking ahead and buying the most popular rifle in the country before there's a run on the gun from nervous gun owners who fear a ban on them. The fact is, what shattered so many lives in the early hours Sunday was about many things. Radicalism - the gunman claimed allegiance to the Islamic State and praised the Boston Marathon bombers. Have at it, because the truth is that while they all play a part, what's really destroying this country is fear and hate.
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That's how long it took me to buy an AR-15, the type of semiautomatic rifle used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. From the moment I handed the salesperson my driver's license to the moment I passed my background check.
Maybe surprising to some - though it shouldn't be, not at this point in our bloody, hate-filled history. "All we have to do is fill paperwork out." I've filled out more paperwork at the doctor's office for a routine checkup than I did Monday afternoon. Wait (if that's really the right word for it) for an instant background check, and then pay the man. No mandatory training, though the guys did give me a coupon for a free day pass for a local gun range.
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I'm a gun enthusiast with a soft spot for military-style rifles? As an officer prepared the paperwork, I noticed a sign that hung over one of the walls. To be shocked at the world we live in, left to do little else but hold vigils.
Helen Ubiñas is an award-winning columnist at the Daily News.
She is a champion of the little guy (or gal), especially those Philly residents who go unseen and unheard, and a not-so-easily-plucked thorn in the side of city politicians and organizations who forget they serve the public.
The gunman was apparently enraged over seeing a same-sex couple kiss. What if I'm asked why, a day after this massacre, I want to buy the very type of gun used to slaughter people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. I didn't want it, but I also didn't want it in anyone else's hands either.
I consider my options: I'm a woman who wants a rifle for safety reasons? So I drove to the Philadelphia police's Sixth District on 11th and Winter, where I seemed to stump more than a few officers when I explained who I was and what I wanted to do. Spoiler alert: It takes longer than it does to buy a gun. We are more divided every single day, and yet our answer to that is to meet fear and hate with more fear and hate and then expect a different outcome.