After the 294th mass shooting of 2015 in America, President Obama pointed out the obvious yesterday.
"What's become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. 'We need more guns,' they'll argue. 'Fewer gun-safety laws,'" he said.
While that is true, it is time for those in favor of gun safety laws to recognize that, while heartfelt, their responses have become predictable, too -- press releases that express dismay and astonishment that nothing is being done, maps being distributed that show how many shootings have happened since Sandy Hook, and, of course, pointing out that this whole thing just seems to repeat itself again and again.
People have "become numb" to massacres, President Obama rightly said. But sadly, America has unfortunately become numb to the response, as well. Remorse, outrage and frustration from gun safety law advocates is as norm as the mass shootings themselves and the response from gun-rights groups. I'm as guilty as anyone. I barely batted an eyelash at the stream of links and charts about gun violence on my Facebook feed this morning.
There is a lot of truth in what those in favor of stricter gun laws point out -- they're facing a very well-funded adversary in the NRA. It's a group that can unleash hell on politicians, in terms of ads, direct mail and phone calls. To no small degree, that flood of money -- and electoral threat -- is what has kept politicians from passing any semi-meaningful gun laws since the '90s.
But, that is only part of the story. When Americans largely don't blink at the 944th mass shooting in three years, they're not very likely to be moved by the 944th statement from gun control advocates expressing dismay and a call to action.
So what can be done?
Those in favor of common-sense gun laws should consider flipping the script. Maybe it's time to give a completely unpredictable response, that breaks through the numbness. Most of all, it definitely is time for them to take a page from the Tea Party, to shake politicians on the center-left out of their own doldrums.
What if, instead of the standard press release, the Brady Campaign put out a press release that read, "Brady Campaign On Latest School Shooting: 'Whatever.'" Go on to say that though we feel horrible for those who lost kids, this is just the reality now -- government has made the decision that we all have to live in fear of being shot, no matter what we want. So, you know, whatever. Oh and by the way, condolences, in advance, to the next parents to have their kid shot but, well, whatever.
People will stop twice to read that again. Oddly, many people will be more shocked and disgusted at that press release, than they are by the latest mass shooting. That's the point. It forces us to confront the ugly truth about what our "numbness" really looks like.
Follow it up by the "Do Nothing" campaign -- a tongue-in-cheek effort to convince politicians and government to "Do nothing and stay out of the issue of gun violence."
Run ads with people rolling their eyes, when presented with intercut clips of news and pictures of massacres Close it by targeting Democrats in the Senate and House, telling them to just butt out and do nothing. Offensive? Maybe, but it is intentional. Make people and politicians face the ugly reality of who they are now -- numb to violence and largely unmotivated on the issue anymore.
Have mock award ceremonies, thanking specific Democrats for doing nothing to combat school shootings. A big party with balloons and cake, disgustingly highlighting the dichotomy of people being mowed down in bloodbaths, while business as usual goes on in the halls of power.
Why such harsh tactics aimed at Democrats? Because they can do more and they're not. They, just like everyone else, are now just going through the motions following shootings. It is routine.
It is as routine as, say, it used to be for Republicans to raise the debt ceiling. But the Tea Party went hard after Republicans on that issue, and now we're facing a shutdown every time that's up for a vote.
Why hasn't there been a shutdown over doing something sensible on guns?
Because massacres, and the response from all sides and all parties, has become routine. The sense of urgency is gone. Time to get it back.
It's very easy to blame the other side for corrupt politics that stymie change. But after thousands of mass shootings in the last 15 years with no action, now is as good a time as any for those of us in favor of sensible gun laws to reconsider our place in this situation, too.