For Those Concerned About “Politicizing A Tragedy”

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 got 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 peopled wanted 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 that 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 RATE of Drunk Driving deaths. Having locks on our doors don’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.

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 (from Getty Images’ David Becker) 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…

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!!!

A few things: Firstly — Earlier, when I wrote the arguments are “complete garbage,” I wanted to write “aren’t worth a trump” (but I didn’t want all the Trump supporters to stop reading that early). Anyway, I’d really like to see us all try to make “not worth a trump” happen. That would be about the most Obama thing I can think of right now. Secondly — If you value this blog, please consider supporting it. You can do this by BECOMING A PATRON or by LEAVING A TIP ON PAYPAL. I’m getting closer to my first milestone on Patreon. If everyone who read and enjoyed this blog gave a dollar or two a month, I could call this a job… And that would be amazing. Thirdly — You can keep up with me and interact on Facebook and on Twitter. And lastly — Please don’t lose hope in the midst of all this horribleness. Today in Las Vegas, the lines to give blood were around the block. People who couldn’t give blood passed out snacks and drinks for the people who waited for hours in line. There were so many people wanting to give blood that they had to turn people away. There is good in the world… Sometimes you just have to look harder than others. Stay strong, stay loving, and stay hopeful. 

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9 Responses to For Those Concerned About “Politicizing A Tragedy”

  1. Louise says:

    130 people killed at thé Bataclan in Paris by guns despite strict french gun laws.

    • Bj says:

      89 people were murdered at the Bataclan, 139 overall in the attack in Paris, carried out by a well organized group of terrorists based in another country. Some of those deaths were from suicide bombings as well. There have been 273 mass shootings SO FAR this year in the US (defined by three or more people being shot). That’s nearly one a day. That has left more than 1500 injured and more than 300 dead. And that’s ONLY the mass shootings. You’re attempt at equating the two and thereby providing some sort of proof that gun laws obviously don’t work has failed. In fact, your argument is actually quite stupid.

  2. sophomania says:

    I cannot comprehend the reasons for not banning fully and semi automatic weapons. This was done in Australia back in 1996 and (strangely) the world did NOT come to an end. (I heard the gasps of amazement as I wrote that) Guns are still available in Aus – just not the REALLY BAD ones.
    ZERO Mass shootings since that time. i am probably showing my prejudices as, being an Australian, I find the whole gun culture thing ‘odd’. Nice commentary btw.. enjoy your posts.

    • Lester says:

      Bans may work in the land down under, but in America, bans never work. They banned recreational drugs only to give harmless users harsher sentences than rapists or murderers, not to mention the countless drug cartels coming into the country. Trans fat gets banned because it’s “a health risk”, yet people are unaware that there’s just about as much dangerous stuff loaded in the grocery store. Bans just cause more rules to be broken, and banning semi-automatic rifles isn’t going to cause less gun deaths. Focus on the nutjob carrying the gun first.

  3. Jeff Cann says:

    I’m not sure how such an important safety issue became a political issue… oh, wait, never mind, I remember. Ronald Reagan, NRA, etc.Great post Boeskool. I think it’s important to point out the parallels you mention. Gun laws won’t eliminate the problem, but they will lessen the problem. And after time, we’re going to notice the difference (like Australia). It seems like after each mass shooting we “liberal” bloggers all break out the same arguments (hell, I just repost the same essay each time), and the same readers agree and the same political figures squabble. But a national consensus continues to swell towards stronger gun laws. At some point, gun control will become a big enough issue to get people elected. Keep sounding the alarm. The riff and the raff are listening. Eventually, the politicians will too.

  4. You put the gun control arguments very succinctly. I wouldn’t hold my breath for reform though.. uncontrolled gun ownership seems too entrenched in the us

  5. Pingback: Yes, It IS A Mental Health Problem, Mr. President… YOURS. | The Boeskool

  6. Pingback: Five Things The Death of That 5-Year-Old Boy Has Me Thinking About | The Boeskool

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