The President wants an honest, “politicized” conversation about shootings? Fine. Let’s have one.

President Obama, following the campus shooting in Roseburg, Ore, declared that mass shootings ARE something Americans should politicize. Maybe it’s time we indulged his wish.


Less than a full day had passed after the events in Oregon before President Obama was already stumping for gun control in Washington. In one of the more callous, tone-deaf statements he has made this year, he said
“…somebody, somewhere will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.”

This isn’t the first time our president and/or his associates have tried to advance a political agenda on the back of a tragedy, and usually the response of the conservative and gun advocacy wings is a call for Washington to stop politicizing people’s pain and suffering.
However, it’s important to realize that, to the majority of American bystanders, who are equally horrified by events like those played out on October 1st, this stance comes off as an equally callous dodge to a very important issue. Average Americans are outraged by mass shootings, and are demanding real, viable answers, and while liberals may be giving vague, smarmy, non-solutions, conservatives give the appearance of trying to avoid the subject completely when they say “we shouldn’t politicize this.”
Additionally, this constant delaying of conversation allows highly partisan opposing voices to control and dominate the discussion; setting up straw men and thoroughly pillorying their opponents with fallacious arguments, ungrounded emotion, and misleading statistics. Then, it’s only a matter of time before left-leaning websites like Slate and Salon have taken a horrific tragedy and figured out some convoluted way to blame the entire thing on inanimate objects, “toxic masculinity,” and the Christian Right.

Frankly, I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of immortalizing human monsters like the Umpqua Community College shooter. I’m tired of the 24-hour media circus that encourages other angry, disenfranchised people to right their wrongs with violence and murder. I’m tired of the self-righteous, hypocritical posturing from beltway liberals who will adamantly demand smothering gun regulations “to save lives,” but have no problem surrounding themselves with armed guards.

I’m tired of hearing late-night hosts trot out the same, tired talking points and accuse Americans of willful insanity, and generally talk to us like we’re children. I’m tired of seeing gun advocates groundlessly demonized, as their ideological opponents are viciously gas-lighting them with implications that they’re purposefully defending a culture of violence and death. I’m tired of the lies, the misinformation, and blatant ignorance. I’m tired of debates where the talking points are made over fresh corpses.

I’ve previously said that I dislike media and pundit exploitation of recent tragedy, but Obama believes that this issue is one that SHOULD be exploited and capitalized on… so he and Hollywood have spent the week hounding the airwaves, saying it’s time the United States had an open, honest, realistic talk about gun control.

You know what? Maybe he’s right.

Maybe we SHOULD be politicizing these mass shootings and exposing some uncomfortable things, because the facts simply do not support the narrative we’ve been force-fed.

The president wants us to have an open, honest, “politicized” conversation about guns and shootings?
Fine. Let’s have one:

Let’s talk about how gun homicide rates in the United States have dropped FORTY-NINE percent since the 1990s, and that the United States is actually the safest it’s been in DECADES, in spite of the fact that the number of guns bought has dramatically INCREASED.

homicide rateLet’s talk about England, where they have regulated guns into near non-existence… and now where someone is stabbed every four minutes as the violent crime rate is rises.

Let’s talk about how, if we factor in per-capita murder rates IN GENERAL, not just firearms, the United States isn’t even in the top 100 worldwide… and we’re only even that high because of a handful of super-violent (and liberal Democrat) cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore.

Let’s talk about how, in spite of the President’s bluster, the USA is still in the same (low) bracket murder rate as plenty of other “advanced nations” like Norway and France:

murder rate

Let’s talk about how hammers were used to kill more people than AR-15s (WITH HIGH CAPACITY MAGS!!!) in 2011.

Let’s talk about how a huge percentage of “firearm related deaths” aren’t homicides… but suicides. You say that banning guns will decrease the number of suicides? Let’s talk about Japan and Korea, which have the lowest gun ownership per capita and yet have the highest rates of suicide on the globe.

Let’s talk about how even if America WAS descending into violent chaos, Obama’s constantly referenced “common sense” gun laws would be completely ineffective at best, and advantageous for shooting sprees at worst. Why? Because nearly every horrific event of this nature during his presidency has occurred in states that already HAVE those laws, and they don’t work.

Let’s talk about how even if we DID enact his “common sense” regulations on a national level, none of them would have stopped these maniacs from obtaining weapons. They passed background checks, sat through waiting periods, and none of them purchased firearms from gun shows.

Let’s talk about the numerous scholarly studies, ranging from Harvard to the CDC, which have found that regulating firearms will have little to no impact on violent crime.

Let’s talk about Australia’s gun “regulations,” frequently used as the paragon example that the United States should be following… a paragon with a massive spike in crime, robbery, and sexual assault that occurred immediately following the ban, and how it’s taken fifteen years for those rates to drop back to below pre-ban levels.

Let’s talk about the numerous women across the country that have stopped rapists and murderers because of their constitutionally-protected access to firearms. Or maybe we should talk about the likely scenario that gun bans would see a large spike in violent sex crimes against women, like it did in England and Australia.

Heaven forbid we support the idea of women having the ability to defend themselves.

Let’s talk about the fact that the worst school massacre in modern history happened during Prohibition, and didn’t even involve firearms.

Let’s talk about the fact that, in spite of the nearly constant howl from places like Slate, Salon, and your sociology professor, not only are these mass murderers NOT the product of “toxic,” gun-toting, NRA, Republican cultural forces, the majority of these shooters were irreligious, apolitical, and some had only loose associations with left-wing or far-right wing fringe movements. None of them were members of the NRA.

Let’s talk about the fact that the shooter in Oregon was an avowed atheist who was reportedly targeting Christians for his sick executions. Let’s talk about THAT.

Let’s talk about how students of UCC and the surrounding community, following this atrocity…. Are actually even MORE in favor of gun rights.

But those aren’t the kinds of “honest conversations” that the president and his allies want to have.

That it isn’t the right KIND of politicizing. They don’t want a conversation with facts and trending statistics; especially if those stats make them look wrong. They want a conversation based solely around vapid emotional outrage that can be farmed from social-media slacktivists ad-infinitum; a conversation that doesn’t ACTUALLY care about public safety.

An open, honest, and analytical conversation has never been what they wanted.

If we want to have an open, honest conversation about guns, then we need to acknowledge that there is no verifiable, legitimate, or even just coincidental correlation between gun ownership/availability and murder rates. It’s not argument of “correlation does not equal causation;” the correlation itself doesn’t even reasonably exist.
On the other hand, while it’s just as impossible to prove causation, there actually DOES appear to be a correlation between banning/confiscating guns, and increases in violent crime.

If we want to have an open, honest conversation about guns, then we need to acknowledge that smugly saying “I don’t want to ban guns, just regulate them,” isn’t a valid response, because the “common sense” regulations that the President is proposing are ALREADY IN PLACE and they DON’T WORK. Even if you DO want to ban guns, that has already been tried and doesn’t work either. Data from countries that have effectively done just that indicates that it has little to no bearing on actual rates of violence; even INCREASING it in some cases.

If we want to have an open, honest conversation about guns, then we need to acknowledge that the knee-jerk, feel-good, emotionally-exploitive and politically-expedient rhetoric that the anti-gun lobby throws around after every public tragedy isn’t based on any actual facts or figures. Just feelings.

Unfortunately, “feels” are not a basis of statistical reality.
(Neither are Trevor Noah soundbites.)


South Africa’s gun violence and murder rate is, like, six times higher than America’s. Just saying.

This has nothing to do with gun owners being callous, or selfish, or paranoid. This has everything to do with them being opposed to a highly partisan camp of people being more than willing to railroad and enforce a bad system (that is already not working) and quite possibly endanger even MORE lives, just for the sake of their emotional self-satisfaction.
People accuse us of not caring, but, on the contrary, we seem to be the only ones caring about all the lives that DON’T get TV time. Or, more accurately, lives that aren’t part of the body count next to someone ELSE’S TV time.

Our leaders want to control and ban weapons when weapons clearly aren’t the problem; people are. It might be a tired trope, but the data backs it up.
We just don’t want to address it because that’s not a problem with an easy, soundbite solution, and our culture is no longer willing to address problems unless they have easy, soundbite solutions.

Want to have an honest conversation about mass shootings and violence in America?
Then it’s time to acknowledge the fact that blaming and banning the weapons used is not just short-sighted, but completely misdirected.
It’s factually incorrect, it’s functionally ineffective, and worst of all… it’s LAZY.

Stephen Colbert is right about one thing: We need to change SOMETHING. But we need to grapple with the big issues, and not just swing at the low-hanging fruit of “gun control;” a fruit that isn’t even on the right tree.

~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA, and he finds it super weird that liberals have spent the last year telling him that cops are out-of-control murder-machines… and then telling him that cops are the only ones qualified to have guns. Follow him on Twitter!


Nine Things Everyone Should Learn From This Past Election

It’s been a week since the tumultuous mid-term election cycle ended; a week since Republicans metaphorically painted the nation red in a tidal wave of Congressional victories.
Let’s take a moment to go over nine lessons that Democrats, Republicans, and the American People hopefully learned from last Tuesday:
election 2014 map the HouseI know I’ve been AWOL for a few months (real life got real busy) but here’s my apology in the form of a shameless, BuzzFeed-style list post.

1: The Public really, REALLY does not like the “Affordable Care Act.”

Gripes, real or imagined, are mounting, benefits aren’t appearing, and patience is running out.
The embattled piece of legislation popularly known as “Obamacare” has been generally disliked from the start, and rising costs, cancelled plans, and a trainwreck of a website have only made things worse. Saying the American people don’t like Obamacare isn’t “Empty Republican Rhetoric.” Polls show that over HALF of the nation is opposed to it.

That’s not just one poll. The AVERAGE of every major poll conducted says that the disapproval rating still holds at 51.1%.

With the disapproval rating leading the approval rating by double digits in every major poll conducted by liberals or conservatives, Democratic candidates spent most of their time running as far from the bill as they could, even if they voted for it. The ones who kept defending it, for the most part, lost their jobs as voters went to the polls seeking vengeance for their lost healthcare plans.

2: The Public really doesn’t like Obama’s policies either.

The President really brought this on himself:

In his speech at Northwestern University, Obama came right out and declared that while HE was not up for reelection, his “policies were on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Democrats spent most of their time not just running from Obamacare, but from Obama too, and close association with the President made them just as unemployed.

If Obama’s standard of measure regarding public approval is to be believed… he dun goofed.

3: Turns out that Democrats are just as racist and sexist as Republicans. If not more so.

Liberal Democrats are insufferably proud about how loving and tolerant they are of minorities…. unless, of course, those minorities dare to do something as uppity as disagree with them.
The amount of hate and bile directed an women and people of color running on the Republican ticket was disgusting, and it was coming from their Democratic opponents.

Meet Tim Scott, Senator from South Carolina:


Tim Scott literally made history by getting elected. He is the first black man to be elected to the Senate since the days of the Reconstruction over a century ago.

(EDIT: He is the first black man FROM THE SOUTH to be elected to the Senate since the Reconstruction. He IS, however the first black man to be elected to both the House AND Senate.)

Instead of celebrated, Scott has been maligned, ridiculed, and made fun of. Twitter is rife with comments I’d rather not reproduce.
Everywhere else, Liberal Progressives everywhere are calling him an “Uncle Tom,” a race traitor, and a token boot-licker.
All because Tim Scott is a conservative Republican.

Meet Mia Love, the new Congresswoman from Utah:
Even though Love is much more moderate than Scott is, she has had it even worse… simply because she is both black AND a woman. The first African-American congresswoman from Utah has had to endure relentless racism AND sexism from the “progressive” left, simply because she ALSO ran and won as a Republican.

It goes beyond the typical racism/sexism on Twitter to the downright bizarre. The Huffington Post published a rambling, poorly argued op-ed piece about how Mia is actually somehow enjoying “White Privilege.”
No, I’m not kidding.Writer Darron Smith actually argues that the fact that Mia is able to win elections and be taken seriously is NOT due to her own merit, but because she’s made some sort of “Deal With the Devil,” where she sold her soul to the Republican party to get a slice of that sweet “Privilege Pie.”

These are not just “Token Examples,” as people are quick to claim. All across the United States, in both state and national elections, women and people of color had made impressive strides under the Republican banner, and been viciously lambasted by the progressive left as too stupid, traitorous, or ignorant to possibly accomplish this on their own.

Liberals are suddenly very OK with racism and sexism when the minority in question disagrees with them.

4: If you spend all of your time patronizing and ignoring a demographic, it will be hard to make them vote for you.

Democrats had a BIG problem getting black Americans and women to vote this year, the first time they’ve had this problem since before Obama was elected, and it perplexes them, when it really shouldn’t.

The African American community and women in general were promised a change in the status quo if they voted for Obama; if they voted for Democrats. They were promised a LOT of things, and pretty much nothing has been delivered. Every year, the Democrat party would come around and promise “hope and change” if they would just vote Democrat one more time… and every year nothing would happen.

However, now people are getting disillusioned; starting to feel used.
They’ve been told for the past 10+ years to fear those “Evil, racist, rich white men” in charge of the Republican Party, but they’re starting to notice that there’s an awful lot of rich white men in charge of the Democrat Party too… and those rich white men don’t look or act much different from the Republican ones.

Left or Right, it doesn’t really matter.

And so they stay home.

An impressive amount of diversity and historic firsts were brought into Congress last week.
Mia Love, first black woman to represent Utah. Ever.
Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Tim Scott, the first black American to be elected to the Senate from the south… SINCE THE FREAKING RECONSTRUCTION.
The list goes on!

REPUBLICANS are doing that. How? By spending less time race-baiting, less time pandering to specific groups, and less time generally patronizing people. And look what happens!

THAT’S what social progress looks like, but all social progressives can do is ignore the success of people who happen to disagree with them, and lament how terrible mean ol’ Texas is for burying Wendy Davis in Greg Abbott’s landslide victory.

But why did Davis lose? Because she didn’t know lesson number five.

5: During economic crisis, choosing social issues, instead of economic ones, as your preferred hill to die on, is a terrible idea.

Even Slate acknowledged that Tim Scott was able to win over multiple demographics, black and white, by talking about economic and community improvement. Nearly every successful candidate hit the issue of the economy hard, and that’s what’s resonating with people right now.

Nearly every defeated candidate lost because they thought social issues would win the day.

senator-wendy-davis“I’ll ignore the economy and run a pro-abortion campaign… in Texas. What could possibly go wrong?”

Here’s the problem though: America is hilariously divided about most of those things. We still can’t agree on abortion, gay marriage, pay inequality, whether or not racism is still a problem, education standards, religion, etc. We CAN agree on the economy; specifically that it’s terrible right now.

I honestly do not understand how candidates like Wendy Davis can be so convinced that having a die-hard stance on a very specific set of issues will automatically boost them to victory, especially when those issues are still HOTLY contested by the public at large.

That strategy wouldn’t even make sense in a political climate that WAS worried about it, but what makes it worse is that Americans aren’t even CONCERNED about those issues right now. Most voters and families in America want are concerned with whether or not they’ll have a job next year, not whether or not there is a grand, conspiratorial “War on Women.”
6: And when it comes to social issues, you actually have to stand for something more than just abortion rights.

For some reason, “Reproductive rights” were the big thing this cycle. I guess Marriage Equality was too “last spring.”
But in this case, the Democrats really backed the wrong horse, and Wendy Davis was far from the only candidate who bet everything on it and lost.

https://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/07/02/article-2353491-1A9EA939000005DC-103_306x423.jpg*cough*Mark Udall*coughcough*

Again! When half of America is still against it, and MOST of America is more concerned about their paycheck… it’s not a great talking point… and yet you still see Democratic candidates lashing themselves to the mast. In the case of Mark Udall, it got so bad that one of his OWN DONORS heckled him for beating the “Reproductive Rights” horse to death.

To be fair, with Marriage Equality stalled out in the court system for the time being, and literally anything to do with healthcare becoming too hot to handle, the notoriously-weak-on-economics Democratic Party was forced to enter the election with an extremely limited toolbox. That said, they still didn’t handle what tools they had very well, and they didn’t distance themselves enough from Obama to avoid becoming punching bags for dissatisfied voters.

7: Love them or hate them, Americans at large like their guns, and it looks like they’re here to stay.

This election cycle also marked the first chance for Michael Bloomberg’s strangely artificial “grassroots” anti-gun campaign to shine; as grassroots as a cobbled-together organization funded by one obscenely rich man can be. Bloomberg declared a renewed vendetta against guns this past August…. about a year too late to cash in on the gun-fear craze and right as hunters started practicing for the fall deer season.

Basically the worst time to declare war on guns.

And a lot of Democrats went along with it, much to their regret.

Half of the reactions criticized Bloomberg for offering too little, too late, and the other half recognized him as being the worst possible poster-boy for gun control because of his arrogance and his fairly glaring hypocrisy.


How’d that work out? An overwhelming number of new Senators and Congressmen are pro-gun, possibly the most in recent history.

Guns aren’t going to be going anywhere soon.
8: Yes, Congress usually flips in the second Midterm Election. No, that doesn’t mean the “Republican Surge” is made up.

Pretty much ever left-leaning talking head has been quick to point out that the President’s party almost ALWAYS loses control of Congress during their second midterm election, and they’ve been using this as their justification for downplaying the Republican victory.

Unfortunately, this kind of damage-control doesn’t really fly, just because of the wide margins Republicans saw their leads take. While some races, like the one between Udall and Gardner in Colorado were fairly close, a startling number of races across the nations saw Republicans leading by as much as THIRTY PERCENT, which is absolutely ridiculous by political standards.

This was not a case of Republicans winning over barely enough moderates to nudge out their Democrat opponents. This was a case of a huge number of people expressing extreme dissatisfaction with Democratic methods. While they may be laughing off this “minor setback” in public, Democratic leaders should be very concerned by these numbers privately, especially since some of these crushing victories were won in swing states.

9: This is not a victory for Republican leadership

Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a grand comeback of the “Good Ol’ Boys” who have been driving the Republican Party into the ground for the past two decades. John McCain didn’t do this. Boehner didn’t do this.

Mitch McConnell, the man whose jawline is vaguely reminiscent of a sun-deprived turkey, certainly didn’t do this.

This surge came almost entirely on the backs of Tea-Partiers and “Conservitarians;” groups reviled by the Republican Old Guard.
Check the numbers. Nearly every candidate who took a seat in a dramatic way was running on a conservative or as aTea Party member.

Meet Dave Brat, the man who is despised by both Republican AND Democratic leadership, the man who slayed a political giant, the man who defeated the poster-boy of thoughtful liberalism, and the man who is the face of the new wave of Republican lawmakers.

This man defeated the sitting Republican majority leader in a primary everyone thought was unwinnable. He then went on to defeat co-worker and fellow academic Jack Trammel this past Tuesday, in another race everyone, ESPECIALLY Republicans said he couldn’t win. And he didn’t just win. He blew Trammel out of the water with a lead of almost thirty percent.

Brat is smart, articulate, aggressive, and promises to rock the both. And the people love him for it.

There is a growing trend here.
People aren’t just unhappy with Democrats. They’re unhappy with Republicans too. They’re tired of the games, the meandering, the deadlock, and the inability to do things.

They’re tired of Statler and Waldorf running the country.

They might be terrifying, but Tea Party candidates are new, unusual, and promising to get stuff done.

And they’re getting elected.

Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter!