Why telling people not to talk politics after a mass shooting is the wrong message

"Can't we just have a period of morning for the people who died?"

"Let's take some time to grieve. Why does everyone have to talk politics?"

"It makes me sad that people are using a tragedy to promote a political agenda."



Over the past few days, in the wake of Orlando, I have seen many people posting variations on a theme. And the underlying message is the same - it's a call for people to refrain from talking about gun control in the wake of a mass shooting. It's a subtle shaming of the people who are calling for a conversation around yet national safety, implicating them for bringing politics into the discussion, and also implying that this discussion is disrepectful to the grieving process.

Excuse me while I call bullshit on this.

First of all, I reject the notion that a conversation about gun control should be political in the first place. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a country where questions about guns are incredibly polarized. This should not be the case. Our political inclinations should not inform the way we view humanity and human safety. Our allegiance to a particular political party should not compel us or hinder us from looking at best practice in terms of gun availability to the general public. It should be our concern for human safety that informs how we think on these issues, not our political persuasion. As such, I do not believe that gun safety is a political conversation. Anymore then I believe that seatbelt safety or drunk driving laws are a political conversation.

Second, I think it he's a natural human impulse to look at harm reduction in the face of a tragedy. If there was a forest fire that killed 50 people, we would not seek to take a break to mourn before we put out the forest fire to reduce the taking up more lives. We would mourn and we would spring into action to put out the fire. If a hazardous crosswalk caused the death of 50 pedestrians, we would not yell at each other to take a break to mourn before we fixed the hazard. And I assure you that if one of my family members died at the hands of a semi-automatic weapon, I would not need strangers to take a moment to mourn. I would want your sorrow and empathy to compel you to action. It’s what survivors are asking us to do, too.  

We need to talk about gun control in this country, instead of trying to silence each other as if it's not the logical response to such a tragedy.  There is compelling evidence that gun control reduces gun deaths. We can learn from other countries where this isn't an epidemic.

We need to talk about mental health. And we need to talk about gun control.

Most mass shooters have purchased both their guns and their firearms legally. In most cases, assault rifles have been used to carry out mass shootings. It makes sense: that’s what these guns were created for.  I have to ask, then, why is such a weapon available to the general public?  Guns should be used for hunting or for self-defense. I don’t think our forefathers had any concept that their words would be used to invoke a person’s right to own a machine that allows them to kill dozens of people in a few seconds. There are many compelling arguments to banning assault weapons, and I think it’s time for us to assess, as a nation, why we are allowing such guns to be legally sold in our country.  I would agree that a madmen hell-bent on killing a lot of people is going to find a way. But we can make it harder for them but not having these guns available.

So yes, I will keep talking about gun control in the wake of a mass shooting. Every time. Until something changes.



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