Columbine. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. The Pulse nightclub. The aftermath of each mass shooting has become so predictably clicheed. In the midst of heartbreak and revulsion, a majority of Americans call for common-sense solutions to gun violence. Gun-rights advocates fervently argue that guns don’t kill people. Lawmakers send out their thoughts and prayers. Predictably, Republicans stonewall and nothing changes.
About 38 minutes after a gunman had opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing baseball in Virginia, I heard the news. My first thought was “will this finally be the tipping point in the gun-violence debate?” Yes, it’s a horrible thing to ponder while people are still being rushed to hospitals, the fate of their lives as yet unknown. But I suspect many Americans have asked themselves that same question. It’s the proverbial elephant in the room that we must acknowledge.
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
Just after the tragedy, Thomas Friedman remembered in the New York Times the world’s reaction to America’s bombing of Hiroshima, adding
that brings me to the Orlando massacre — to what happens when, on a smaller scale, we refuse to reimagine the social and legal changes we need to manage a world where one loser can now kill so many innocent people. The notion that such a person — any person — should be able to buy a military-style assault rifle is insane. That the Republican Party cannot see the wisdom of common-sense guns laws is just begging for bigger massacres.
With the memory of that massacre and the continued lack of any common-sense gun laws both front and center today, our morning was interrupted by the news of an active shooter in Virginia, who opened fire on Republican lawmakers having their final practice for an upcoming game against Democratic colleagues.
Make no mistake, gun violence is abhorrent in all its forms.
There is no excuse or justification for gun violence. No decent person feels happy that lawmakers and their aides were just shot. No decent person wishes such violence on anyone else. So no, no one should feel “glad” that this tragedy happened today. And yet, one can hope that there is a silver lining and feel glad about that.
You see, living under the ever-present threat of gun violence should not be the price innocent people have to pay for freedom. We’ve had enough violence, and enough stonewalling by Republicans to intercede. So when the violence finally hits home, it is fair to ask whether that will finally make a difference in how they act.
Should we be glad that Republican lawmakers were shot today?
Absolutely not. But we can hope for some good to come out of it, and be glad for that.
Sometimes, it even works, like all the intrusive security measures passengers must go through to board an airplane after 9/11. Yes, it sucks to have to do a strip-tease to get through security, but we are safer for it.
But in the case of gun violence, it is hard to think of any good that has come out of decades of needless deaths and injuries.
A common distinction made among liberals is that conservatives only care about an issue when it effects them personally, while we don’t ever want anyone to needlessly suffer. Just yesterday, the news broke that Kansas will raise its taxes after the epic failure of its “real life” experiment in enacting Conservative tax policy. Republicans’ own research has proven that lowering taxes doesn’t stimulate the economy, it only benefits the rich. But Kansas Republicans refused to acknowledge any of that, and made a train wreck of their state’s economy in the process. Only after feeling the pain themselves did they decide to face facts and act appropriately.
With that backdrop in mind, it almost seems like a given that in beteween the well-wished thoughts and prayers, we can also express our frustration that it is still so easy for this gun violence to continue. And that is what Americans need to do. Maybe, just maybe, this attack will bring the epidemic of gun violence into clear focus for Republicans, and be the catalyst they need to finally enact common-sense gun laws to keep us safe.
Featured image from YouTube.