The senseless shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has left Americans with many questions. The biggest of which is how can we prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. Despite this shared goal, the resulting discussions have exposed just how deep the divide is when it comes to mass shootings. For instance, while the President spoke about improving gun control, many gun advocates lamented the politicization of this tragedy. Instead they wanted to talk about how this might be the work of Islamist terrorist or how it could be an example ofChristians persecution. How dare the President politicize this shooting?!
Of course the hypocrisy doesn't end there. While being outraged by the president's belief that guns are somehow tied to the high level of gun violence in America, gun advocates were quick to trot out their standard list of memes which include, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," and, "Nearly all mass murders occur in gun free zones."
Unfortunately, none of these diversionary tactics actually does anything to stop gun violence; so in order to pretend that they are serious about addressing the extraordinary number of mass shootings in the U.S., gun advocates have turned their attention to the crisis in mental health.
Oddly, their concern for mental health only really extends to American mass shooters. If a Muslim kills people, gun advocates are some of the first people to condemn Islam because, while guns don't kill people, apparently Islam does. If an African-American kills people, they are quick to insinuate that black people are inherently more violent, using terms like "black on black crime" and "thugs."
If a cop unjustifiably kills people, gun advocates see it as a very black and white issue where the cops were just doing their job, yet as many as 1 in 8 police officers suffer from PTSD, while every year around 150 cops commit suicide.
Their concern over mental health is justified; however, the application of their concern seems very self-serving. The U.S. is hardly unique when it comes to metal health issues, yet statistics show that in an analysis of mass murders in 13 nations, the U.S. accounts for 133 of the 166 mass shootings that have occurred since the turn of the century despite having 1/6th as many people as the other 12 nations in the study.
The problem is, that for far too many gun advocates there is no difference between government programs aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and a full repeal of the second amendment. In fact, this NRA sponsored fear mongering of portraying any new gun laws as an excuse to confiscate "some or all guns" seems to have been part of the reason why the Oregon shooter had easy access to such an extensive arsenal given that his mother told colleagues she "wanted to get all the guns she could before someone outlawed them."
So rather than discuss laws to close any of the loopholes that allow criminals or the mentally ill to obtain guns such as limits to straw purchases, regulations to track gun inventories, or expanding background checks to private sales, gun advocates pretend that all gun control measures fail.
They'll point to Chicago as proof that gun control doesn't work, but ignore data that show states and countries with stricter gun controls have less gun related deaths. They'll claim gun regulations some support in America are akin to the gun control of Nazi Germany, but avoid talking about the astounding low rates of gun deaths in Japan which has arguably some of the strictest gun control in the world. In response to countries with successful gun control, they'll assert that you can't compare the U.S. to other countries; yet, in the same breath they'll hold up Switzerland as an example of how increased gun ownership leads to lower death rates. They'll make this case in spite of the fact that Swiss gun laws contain a number of restrictions that gun advocates in the U.S. oppose.
The problem is, that while Americans continue to talk about preventing mass shootings and gun deaths, the solution coming from gun advocates is to do nothing. Despite the fact that the U.S. has more guns per capita than any other country, by a wide margin, the NRA continues to insist that more guns equal less violence.
The NRA has thrown its support behind legislation that is supposed to improve the reporting of mental health issues; however, analysis of the bill's language shows that it actually makes it easier for unstable individuals to purchase a gun.
But by far the biggest indication of how serious groups like the NRA are about preventing gun violence is their stance that video games and television are to blame. Outside of the fact that evidence doesn't support this claim, if video games and television have this sort of corrosive power, then the NRA should take a quick look at the sort of things gun advocates are telling their children. Because if this is your idea of a rational response to gun laws, then perhaps you are not mentally fit to own a gun.