I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with our shifting political reality. Sometimes I feel like the kids from Stranger Things battling the Upside Down when I turn on my tv and listen to the president or any of his staff. The latest bizarro confusion stems from the thoughts and prayers response with no political action for reasonable gun policy in the wake of our nation’s most recent mass shooting. While abroad in South Korea on Tuesday, president Trump was asked about the church shooting in Texas and if his “extreme vetting” for immigration should be applied as a form of gun control. His response was that now was not the time to ask about policy and gun control, and “hundreds more” would have died if stricter gun laws were in place.
OK, PAUSE - I find that particularly weird, given that we JUST had one of the most horrific acts of domestic terrorism in Vegas, so if it’s not time to speak about gun control re: the Texas church shooting, surely it’s time to talk about gun control in the context of the Vegas shooting, or the incident before that, or the one before that…but we don’t.
Quite frankly, at this point EVERYDAY is the right time because we are always too short of a timeframe from the previous mass shooting, and sadly only days away from the next one if we continue to do nothing more than just send thoughts and prayers. Paul Ryan suggests that thoughts and prayers are always the right thing, because “prayer works.” Fine, I’m all about the peaceful comfort of spirituality, and the Lord working in mysterious (non-homicidal) ways, but you know what also works? Bipartisan legislation that is unfettered by political rancor and gamesmanship, when reasonable gun control is necessary to prevent the continued loss of American life! I know this point has already been brought up many times, but it is important to reiterate about policy: after the incident in NYC when 8 people were killed and others injured by an immigrant from Uzbekistan, Trump quickly wanted to change immigration policy, and legislate a solution...but after another mass shooting at the hands of a white American male, in a church, where people were literally supplying their own prayers, he says this is nothing more than a mental health issue, not a gun issue. I’m not one of those doctors who diagnose from afar, but I have to say, there may be some validity to the numerous mental healthcare professionals questioning the president’s fitness to serve, particularly if he neglects to see the need to act on gun control, and oddly also claim this a mental health problem, while sabotaging access to healthcare.
But I digress, as the real confusing kicker is his thought that if we had stricter gun laws, the violence and impact would be worse! How is that even true? This isn’t some counterintuitive phenomenon, gun control minimizes the chance that people gain easy access to deadly weapons to do something like this - it saves lives. Presumably, his argument is that gun control would diminish the number of people with guns, like the good samaritan gunman who was able to injure the attacker, as if a gunfight in the street isn’t problematic. So, basically, its better to have laxity to the regulations so that more people are equipped with guns, to stop an incident from happening. Is that an effective strategy? I have no problem with someone lawfully obtaining a gun and being trained to safely use it and defend him or herself, or to take action in a situation like this, but even that leads to the potential for unforeseen casualty and obvious disparity. Reasonable gun control should not prohibit that “good guy” from having a gun, however, studies also show, that the well-intentioned good samaritan gunman scenario seldom holds up, because one is more likely to be injured by their own firearm, than to become some gun-toting action hero like John Wick. This isn’t some strategy we should depend upon when so many lives are at stake. He also falsely cites Chicago as having the strictest of gun laws with streets riddled with gunfights and illegal firearms, but others have already established that their regulation has been terribly undermined by the loopholes and laxity of gun laws in neighboring states.
So could someone please explain this (il)logic to me? I fear many more of us will come face to face with a mass shooting at some point soon, and this is a phenomenon that is quite unique to the United States, as other countries seem to have placed a priority on trying to make this stop! If you are confused too and seeking some clarity on the issue about how you can help, a good place to start is Everytown.org, or check out the organizations mentioned in this article from the LA Times. I often wonder what the NRA would be like if those seeking reasonable gun control signed up in massive numbers to help redirect what responsible gun policy really is. Here we are one year from the election of Donald Trump and the degree of cognitive dissonance that people digest to ignore the damaging impact of his presidency is dangerous. We have a serious collective national delusion if after shootings of young children in schools, prayerful people in worship at church, and the massive body count that was the Vegas shooting…we still do nothing.