Once again they are making national headlines. In fact, they are making headlines around the world. It doesn’t take long after a tragedy for politicians on both sides of the political spectrum to come out and exploit the situation to promote their political agenda.
It happened only moments after the tragedy in Sandy Hook, only moments after Aurora and San Bernardino, and once again only moments after this most recent tragedy.
Can I take a moment here to interject something?
Do we have to start all this so soon after these tragedies? Can we at least take a moment to remember those who’ve been affected? A moment to acknowledge those who were tragically killed and the families that are still coming to terms with the shock?
Can we even wait 24 hours to start the political posturing?
I remember being at my office in Vancouver, Canada on December 14th, 2012 – a day that I honestly don’t think I will ever forget. I had stopped to get a coffee in the break room when I saw the news of the Sandy Hook shooting on TV. I remember being overcome with emotion while watching the story on the tragedy that had just occurred, and my heart broke!
Having 2 children of my own, one of whom was around the same age as the kids who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, I couldn’t keep back my tears. I couldn’t help but think how I would feel if it had been her school, how it would feel to be one of the confused and worried parents standing outside the police line, hoping against hope that their child was not one of the victims.
They were tears of sadness but also tears of anger; anger that something so terrible could happen to the most innocent among us, that such young children had been specifically targeted by a truly disgusting individual.
I wanted nothing more than to be there, to hold the survivors, to hug and comfort those children who survived and the families of those who hadn’t. I wished (unrealistically, like most of us probably did) that I could have been there to stop this from happening, to save those beautiful children.
What angered me the most, though, was how quickly the usual rhetoric started. It was exactly as Robert Higgs so eloquently stated: “the opportunistic exploitation of a tragedy in the service of a long standing agenda.”
It seemed like only moments after the fact that the gun control advocates came out of the wood work with the knee jerk, detail void, rhetoric on the need for more gun control. Even the response from pro-gun advocates seemed so distasteful to me.
In a time like this, with so much pain being felt across the country and around the world, people needed to come together, to care for those who were affected, to counsel, to help, to support. Instead each side took off on their own crusade. In what I believe was well intentioned zeal, they turned on each other, tearing each other apart to push an agenda, and in doing so, they took the attention away from the families. The focus changed to what divides us rather than what unites.
I’m not writing this to defend guns, and I’m not writing this to dismiss the magnitude of the damage done by these mass shootings. I am writing because there needs to be a real discussion on what can be done to help prevent these situations.
Robert Higgs, a Senior Fellow in political economy at the Cato Institute, wrote about Orlando:
“Every time some homicidal Muslim lunatic lets loose and kills a bunch of people, the predictable response is, from one side, to ban something (guns) and, from the other side, to bomb something (a Middle Eastern country). Both proposals are merely opportunistic exploitation of a tragedy in the service of a longstanding agenda. Neither holds any real promise of achieving a decent, worthwhile objective, in general, and neither holds any real promise of diminishing the frequency of such wacko-perpetrated mayhem, in particular. Sad to say, each such tragedy becomes, for most Americans, only another day’s hike in the long march toward making the world a worse place than it needs to be.”
See, Gun control legislation would not have stopped Adam Lanza from carrying out his attack that day, at least not the kind we hear our politicians promoting. It wouldn’t have stopped the San Bernardino shooting and likely wouldn’t have changed the actions of the shooter in Orlando.
This type of behavior is not exclusive to America either. In Kunming, China, close to 30 people were stabbed to death and another 130 injured when several men went on a knife wielding rampage at a train station.
There was another knife attack that took place at a school in the village of Chenpeng around the same time as the Sandy Hook shootings, which sadly took the lives of 23 children.
Why does this happen?
Believe me, I would like to know more than anyone.
I don’t want to see another person, especially not another child, harmed by depraved people that seem determined to commit these horrible actions, regardless of the access to guns.
Does this mean we should dismiss the concept of gun control arbitrarily? I don’t think so; but let’s take the entire conversation out the hands of the politicians, out of the realm of over simplistic “solutions” and rhetoric, and bring it into the hands of those who can study these cases. Lets put this into the hands of those who can look at the facts, and can give logical and rational thought to the issue based on facts and not emotion or political preference. To those who can objectively study the issue and try to find the necessary solutions to such a complex and nuanced topic.
I would like to see a task force made up of experts from various fields: psychologists and mental health experts, sociologists, historians and experts on terrorism, lawyers, religious scholars and police investigators, people with expertise who, after all the facts have been studied, can help us to come up with some rational solutions to such a complex problem.
We need solutions that we can reconcile with the rights given in the Constitution, with transparency and detail. Solutions which “We the People” can bring into what Dr. OS Guinness calls “the civil public square” and have a real discussion and hopefully see real practical change.
This is a complex issue, a deep issue, and the reason we so quickly rush to “blame guns” is because its an easy answer, a quick and easy “band-aid” that can make us feel like we’ve done something about the issue. However, if we are honest, we would be forced to admit that we have no idea why these things are happening.
So let’s leave the rhetoric where it belongs and start having the kinds of conversations we need to have today, before we see another horrible tragedy like this tear someone’s world apart.
I care because that world could be mine!