Another day, another horrific shooting in America.
But no, these and all the other gun stories today will get overshadowed by the events in Virginia, which unfolded on live TV while viewers were taking their first sips of coffee.
Why is gun control so hard? Why, after every shooting, does nothing ever change? Despite the fact that large majorities of gun owners — not just people but the gun owners themselves — support basic gun control measures like waiting periods and universal background checks, it doesn’t happen.
Why? Why is it always “too soon” to call for gun control after a tragedy, but nobody waited a beat to call for arming military recruiters after the Chattanooga shooting? Or arming teachers after Sandy Hook? In fact, action has been swiftly taken in several states to arm National Guard recruiters, even though everyone fails to mention that at least one of the “good guys” at the Chattanooga military base actually was armed. Apparently it didn’t do a damn bit of good, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good talking point, shall we? We even have a Knoxville Republican wanting to give Guardsmen immunity if they use their guns and injure someone.
After every shooting we’ve loosened gun laws, instead of tightening them. And yet we have more shootings. So, that’s not working, obviously. Why can’t we try something new? Why doesn’t anything change? Here are some of my ideas:
• White people largely associate gun violence with “those” neighborhoods in “that” part of town, ergo it doesn’t affect them, it’s a problem for the Blahs. Even though this is factually untrue, that’s the general consensus, as portrayed in the media. So, “not my problem.”
• Coverage of mass shootings is sanitized. I understand there’s a delicate balance here, but throughout our history, pictures have done what words cannot. For example, it took this to change peoples’ attitudes about the Vietnam War and student-led protests:
The video of today’s shooting went out across the internet, and was auto-played on every network and cable news homepage. While not bloody, it was shocking. It may shock people out of their complacency.
• We don’t know how to talk about a policy response to shooting tragedies. It’s always too soon to talk about gun control, but with an average of one mass shooting a day, the time will never be right. Conservatives like to claim the moral high ground with shaming headlines like this one:
No one wants to politicize a tragedy but no one also ever points out that calling for arming teachers, National Guard recruiters, airplane pilots, etc. is doing just that. If the other side can do it, so can we. It’s not exploitation, it’s called taking action to prevent the next tragedy, idiots.
• Rural areas dominate our representation in Congress and state houses. Guns are a different thing in rural areas than in urban areas. Yet gun legislation pretends this is not the case. For example, Tennessee’s rural-dominated state legislature has opened a huge can of worms for metropolitan areas (and state economic drivers) Nashville and Memphis. Ditto our Congress, which sees guns as some kind of RuralMurrica cultural touchstone, not the black market highway to urban gun crime that it is.
• History. If shooting 8-year-olds in their school, and a member of Congress meeting her constituents, wasn’t awful enough to get action, nothing will be. That’s an oft-repeated talking point but it’s also bullshit. Nobody thought the Confederate Flag would ever come down from the South Carolina state capitol, either. Change happens if you want it.
• Laziness. We’re a country of 300 million people. That theater shooting in such-and-such city was awful but hey, I didn’t know any of those people. I’ll write my Congress Critter later. But first, hey let’s watch The Bachelor!