Photo Of Man With An Assault Rifle In Starbucks Causes Hot Debate Online

On Saturday, 22 people were murdered by a gunman in El Paso, Texas. Less than 24 hours later, nine people were killed in Dayton, Ohio, by a different shooter. The high mortality and proximity of attacks made the mass shootings rise above the general noise of gun violence. In the U.S., a lot of people have to die before we’ll even discuss what happened. Dayton was the 255th mass shooting in 2019. That’s more mass shootings than days of the year so far.

Anxiety about dying in a mass shooting is escalating amongst ordinary civilians, whether or not there is a statistically significant chance that it will happen to someone. That’s part of how domestic terrorism works—extremists create conditions that make daily living harder and more dangerous, so people live in fear. It’s changed how a lot of people view and navigate the world.

Political writer Charlie Sykes asked a question of his followers on Twitter how they would navigate a pretty specific scenario. He shared an image taken in a Starbucks in 2013 of a man wearing an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

“Serious question: You walk into a business and see this —> do you 1. Leave 2. Feel Safer 3. Don’t Care,” Sykes asked.

Depending on where you live, bringing an assault rifle into a coffee shop that’s capable of killing everyone in sight is perfectly legal. I don’t know why anyone would do that, besides wanting to aggressively intimidate others and/or kill them, but here we are.

The response to the photo was intense. Most people said that it wouldn’t matter how benign someone’s intentions were (they’re not), they’d get the hell out of there:

A few people discussed how white privilege allowed this man to buy a cappuccino, instead of being shot by police in the parking lot:

Gun control has somewhat bafflingly become a partisan issue. Many conservatives want to own the libs by insisting everyone should be allowed to carry an assault rifle wherever they like. I’m not sure what value that adds to your morning croissant, but this isn’t how most sane people want to start their day.