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.
Let’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:
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 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!