shooting

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.

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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:

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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.)

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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!

Why We Need to Stop Co-Opting Tragedy:

Whenever something terrible happens in this country, it’s immediately sensationalized by the media and co-opted by literally anyone with a political agenda… and quite frankly this has to stop.

It’s been a little over a week since the shooting in Santa Barbara, California, and in that short time, I have seen news outlets give endless, relentless coverage and commentary on the issue. I have seen a misleading hashtag engulf twitter as a certain wave of feminism has accused “male culture,” and men in general by association, of being directly responsible for this event; saying the event is proof that they were right all along. I have seen gun control activists come crawling out of the woodwork, like they always do, declaring “This is what’s wrong with America! If we could just ban guns, none of this would ever happen!” I have seen people lambasting violent video games and movies, declaring that THEY are the ones responsible, and that action is needed NOW to stop such terrible material from disseminating into the public! I have even seen certain “Men’s Rights Activists,” or MRA’s, trying to mitigate, defend, or even JUSTIFY that sociopath’s deadly rampage.

Basically, I have seen each and every person, group, and organization with an agenda hop onto this terrible event, and use it to shamelessly promote their own respective causes.

And that sickens me.

Shootings and murders should not automatically kick up a dust-cloud of people trying to use it as a reason to advance their own tangentially-related politics, but we live in an age where Rahm Emanuel’s saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste” has come to typify and define the mentality of both mass media moguls and political activists.

So let’s work back-to-front, arguing why groups like those listed above need to stop exploiting UCSB’s tragedy for personal, political, or moral gain.

 

First and foremost: There IS no way to mitigate, defend, or justify the shooter’s actions. So STOP TRYING.

This goes beyond the shady forum-boards and online comment sections where you assume this kind of bizarre talk goes on; something that both surprises and annoys me. There is a small, but present number of people, both MRA’s and otherwise, who actually sympathized with the killer!
That is just wrong, pure and simple. I don’t how lonely or rejected someone feels. Going on a rampage and killing six men and women is not understandable, and DEFINITELY not worthy of sympathy.

The fact that people tweet things like this show they have no grasp of the gravity of the situation:
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I feel like this shouldn’t even have to be SAID, but apparently it does: The only person this deranged, confused, and ultimately lethal young man has to blame is himself. He wasn’t FORCED there by rejection, he carefully premeditated it of his own accord. Women should not and can NOT be even remotely pointed at as an underlying cause.
I’m saying this as a white, male, conservative Christian: NO ONE IS EVER OBLIGATED TO DATE OR SLEEP WITH ANYONE ELSE.
You’re not obligated to “bite the bullet” and take one for the team. You’re not obligated just because someone spent money on you or took you somewhere. You’re not obligated just because someone is sad and lonely and accusing you of being a terrible person if you don’t. YOU’RE NOT OBLIGATED.
And if you’re one of those people that thinks you have a right to someone else for any of those reasons and more… you’re human trash.

 

Second: Violence in video games and on television is not, and has NEVER been the problem. So stop confusing things.

I’m not even going to dignify this with more than a paragraph: If you honestly think that violent video games and TV shows are causing the spike in mass murders, then you just need to be quiet. Period. Every time a shooting happens, somebody blames TV and video games… but there is literally ZERO data to support this, so stop throwing a red-herring into the discussion when there are much more relevant causes to be debated. You’re not helping anyone. Go home.

(For the record, even as video games and TV get steadily more violent and explicit, overall gun violence has gone down, suggesting that maybe, just MAYBE they don’t have anything to do with the crime rates.)

 

Third: Blanket Gun Control is still hotly debated, and capitalizing on the death of children and trauma imposed on families just to push your anti-gun agenda is messed up.

Those links listed in the second point apply to this point too: There is NO CONCLUSIVE PROOF that gun availability has anything to do with mass murders. Americans own and use more guns and more kinds of guns than ever before in our history and yet, again… violent gun crimes are actually going DOWN.

You also have the undeniable fact that several of these recent shootings have occurred in states with notoriously strict gun regulations.
I’m not saying that more guns prevent gun crimes or that gun regulations encourages more gun crimes. I’m just saying that the odds are pretty good that gun control is not the “magic bullet” solution to the problem of violent rampages. Keep in mind that the worst school killing in history occurred in the 1920s and DIDN’T EVEN INVOLVE GUNS.

Also keep in mind that the Santa Barbara shooter used a knife and a car to kill half of his victims.

Automatically screaming “GUN CONTROL” whenever something like this happens is not helpful, is not a solution, and only helps to politicize agonizing tragedy in the most impersonal way.

 

Fourth: STOP using a single lunatic’s twisted rampage against one sex as an excuse to demonize the other one.

#YesAllWomen. The hashtag that engulfed twitter in the wake of this shooting, as people held the event up as undeniable proof that, in this patriarchal and women-objectifying society of ours, women are in danger from men everywhere, all the time.

Just like that, the death of six people is now callously demoted to being merely a “symptom” of systemic social issues, just so certain parties could use it as their most effective soap-box yet. White male privilege is run amok, men are to blame, and they’ve all been taught to be sexist, murderous rape machines.

Honestly, I think this hashtag trivialized sexual harassment and violence in the worst way and is just aggravating the bizarre gender war that a small but very vocal group of specific “feminists” seem to want.

Gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence is a serious problem, one that I, and many others, take very seriously. With all due respect, using this hashtag to put one person’s experience with a wolf-whistle on par with someone else’s rape and attempted murder should be offensive not just to me, but to everyone.

Stereo-typing an entire gender based on the acts of a select few is also incredibly offensive. As one sarcastic tweet quoted by  Nooga put it:

“Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. Ten percent of them are poisoned. ‘Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison.’ #YesAllWomen.”

This is ridiculous. Imagine the outrage if someone tried to publicly demonize all women everywhere based on the actions of just a couple. Even though over 40% of domestic violence victims are men, even though women are more likely to stalk and harm ex lovers than men are, even though male victims of sexual abuse or harassment are often laughed right out of courtrooms and police stations… it’s women who have EXCLUSIVE right to demonize the other gender; accusing them of being socially programmed to hurt and destroy.

No. NOT all women have to afraid of men, nor men afraid of all women, especially when there is plenty of violence and discrimination to be served both ways. We need to STOP dividing people on this issue and STOP fanning the flames of a gender-war. Opposition to sexual abuse and discrimination is something that EVERYONE needs to get behind, rather than pointing fingers and shouting angrily about how terrible those brutish men are or how terrible those shrill feminists are.

This is not a women’s issue. This is not a men’s issue. This is a HUMAN issue, and it’s time we started treating it like one, instead of exploiting a terrible tragedy to have one group smugly pat itself on the back.

 

FINALLY: STOP SENSATIONALIZING TRAGEDY TO BOOST YOUR VIEWERSHIP. PAIN IS NOT A COMMODITY.

THIS, this right here is the biggest problem with events like these: Media exploitation. And this picture from the UCSB campus says it better than I ever could:

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No sooner does something terrible happen than do the news crews descend like flies on the literal carrion aftermath. The more controversial, terrible, and horrific, the better. Broadcasting each and ever single detail followed by hours of talking heads picking apart the events trying to fan the disgusting feeding frenzy of news outlets.

The killers name, his work, his rants, and his image are blasted across the airwaves and cyberspace, throwing them into the public eye, and getting them all the attention they wanted but never got before. It’s a tired trope, but it holds true: With their endless coverage, dissection, and glorification of mass murders or dramatic murder suicides, we are giving sociopaths like the Santa Barbara killer exactly what they wanted, and sending a subtle but dangerous message to everyone else:

Are you lonely? Are you unappreciated? Are you not getting the girls or attention or compliments you wanted? Then go kill some people. We’ll talk about you for weeks. You’ll go down in history. No one will ever forget you. People will finally acknowledge your worth and physical appearance.

Think I’m joking? Just LOOK at the news coverage we’ve given to this killer, and every other one like him. Then look at this article’s compilation of tweets where everyone fawns over the great loss… of such a cute-looking psychopath. These are just two of them:

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THAT’S what we’ve focused on ladies and gentlemen. We’ve rewarded the man who killed six people and injured several more by giving him EXACTLY what he wanted: Glory, praise, and a twisted attraction to his appearance. His video rantings are are widely viewed online, his person is the talk of the nation, he’s the flashpoint for several massive social movements, and his face is finally getting the recognition he wanted on twitter.

Our news media has glorified the killer while hounding and traumatizing the families of the victims.

And we’re proud of ourselves because of all the social dialogue it’s spawned.

Even in the process of saying why we shouldn’t be exploiting this tragedy, I’ve spent more time talking about him than I ever wanted to, but I’ve still refused to use his name, and anyone else discussing the matter should do at least that. I don’t care who you are, but when you go on a petty, solo-rampage and snuff out the lives of classmates, friends, or just people on the street, you don’t deserve to be remembered.

 

In closing: Stop using events like these to further political or social agendas. Stop exulting and elevating these murderers to celebrity status. Just. Stop.

Instead, trying spending time with your family. Teach your kids to have respect for people; ALL people. Teach your boys to be proper men, who will protect women and respect them as fully realized individuals, rather than over-grown children who see them as objects for personal satisfaction. Teach your girls to be confident and assertive; to be women who WON’T be victimized by sexual discrimination head-on, while recognizing that not ALL men are evil.

Actually BE the change you want to see. Don’t just throw up a hashtag on twitter and demand the “other side” fix all the problems.

 

 

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