With each new mass shooting, people usually split into one of three groups with their talking points: 1) “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” (very closely aligned with the “If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns” crowd); 2) “We need gun regulations that make sense and reduce the number of these mass murders”; and 3) The folks who very adamantly demand “We must not politicize this tragedy.”
Here’s why two of these arguments are complete garbage:
The first two arguments/talking points usually go together. Fifty-nine people just got murdered in Las Vegas. There were over 500 more who were sent to the hospital with bullet wounds and injuries. In Las Vegas, it is perfectly legal to walk around with a machine gun.
A lot of people, after yet another white man “snaps” and decides to murder as many people as possible before killing himself, rightly start pointing out that we could and should change the laws to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. That idea is usually met with talk about guns being “tools” and how if people want to murder someone, they can do it with a hammer. Or a knife. Or a car. “Don’t blame the gun,” they say. These are the folks who buy into the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” narrative where we supposedly “need” everyone to have a gun so we can stop the bad guys who have guns (a concept perfectly parodied in the following video).
These arguments are very easily dealt with and dispensed: A man standing on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel could not have killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 by throwing hammers and knives out of his window. A few might have died, but nowhere near as many. And “nowhere near as many” is a good thing.
And sure, people can use their cars to attack people in crowds, but you know what else people are required to have with cars? Registration and insurance. And again, this won’t prevent some people from driving without registration and insurance, but that doesn’t mean we don’t even try!
Laws regulating how much Sudafed people can buy don’t entirely get rid of meth abuse, addiction, and overdoses, but you know what it does do? It lowers the rate of meth abuse, addiction, and overdoses. Saying that children have to use seat belts doesn’t mean that no more kids will die in car accidents, but it will lower the rate. Drunk driving laws don’t prevent some people from still driving drunk, but they have demonstrably lowered the ratee of drunk-driving deaths. Having locks on our doors doesn’t stop all break-ins, but that doesn’t mean we get rid of locks. And again, “nowhere near as many” is a good thing.
“Humans will always murder, no gun law can change that!” screams a country that outlawed too much toothpaste on a plane.
— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) October 2, 2017
This is the only issue where the inability to completely solve a problem is used as a justification for doing nothing to lessen the impact of the problem. Imagine if experts said, “This medicine will lower your cholesterol and reduce your chance of having a heart attack,” and then people opposed the medicine because they were like, “Some people will still have heart attacks… And there will be people who will forget to take their medication… Anyway, we’re all going to die someday!”
The whole “Guns don’t kill people” argument is easy to tear apart. So what has popped up in its place is this pernicious sentiment of “Now is not the time to talk about it.” Well, when would be a good time to talk about it?! Emotions are part of this issue; people’s families have been torn apart! “You are politicizing a tragedy!” they say. Damn right, I am! This should be a political issue. Sanity has become a “political stance.” It is insane for this not to be a political issue. If a dam breaks, that will probably be followed by a healthy discussion of building codes to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. That’s what politics is for: fixing the problems we have.
And this is the truth: AMERICA HAS A GUN PROBLEM.
I know, I find this picture disturbing as well. But here’s the thing: We SHOULD be disturbed.
And addressing this problem should not wait until next week. It should not wait until next year. It should not wait until the blood has been washed off the ground, and the bullet holes repaired to make it look like nothing ever happened. It needs to happen right now. We’re already forgetting. Our nation has a combination of Trump-induced PTSD and attention-deficit disorder. If I don’t write this blog post in the first day or two, people will either be too saturated with posts, or they will have moved on to some other new issue.
Think about it: Two short days ago, the president of the United States did one of the most horrible, disgusting, UNpresidential, racist things that has ever been done. Do you remember what it was? Can you think of it? As horrified as I was, I had to search my memory to remember. If you’re having trouble remembering, perhaps these tweets will jog your memory:
A billionaire is sitting in his golf club right now attacking dying people for needing his help.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) September 30, 2017
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
Plus, Tom Petty died, too, and that makes me sad because I love Tom Petty. How can we keep straight all the things there are to care about?! And two days from now, the white supremacist, morally corrupt, bag of awfulness this nation has elected as its leader will tweet some horrifying thing which will make the previous horrible thing he tweeted seem quaint by comparison. And we’ll move on. Just like we moved on from Newtown… Just like we moved on from Charleston… Just like we moved on from Orlando… We’ll move on from this.
The time to talk about sensible gun regulations is now. Not two weeks from now. Now. There are practical things we can do to lower the rate of these tragedies, and speaking about that is not somehow “disrespectful” to the people who died. It would be disrespectful to not talk about fixing this problem.
America has a gun problem. And it doesn’t need your “thoughts and prayers.” America needs us to ACT. NOW. Not later. NOW! Not after we’ve been distracted by a new tragedy. NOW!