There are a few issues that are politicized beyond the point where reasoned debate can be had. Abortion is one. Healthcare is another. And gun control is probably the most unreasonably politicized issue.
Today the New York Times is running its first front-page editorial in 95 years, “End the Gun Epidemic in America.” An excerpt gets to the gist:
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
Powerful stuff, but the response from those in power will be what you expect: dismiss this as the liberal media agenda, say a prayer, condemn terrorism, move on to the next fundraising event.
The response from the Right has become unnervingly predictable. Most take the less extreme view that we can’t prevent every shooting no matter what we do, so we should do nothing. Some trumpet the more extreme view that any steps taken to regulate gun acquisition or ownership violate the Second Amendment. The first view is worthless, it essentially says that if you can’t do everything you shouldn’t do anything; that’s stupid and disingenuous, it’s pure politician’s claptrap. The second view requires a reading of the Second Amendment that is accepted by virtually no Supreme Court Justice, federal judge, or legal scholar of any political stripe (that is, the reading that the Second Amendment does not permit any regulation of any firearms). Despite the fact that this view is on the fringe of the fringe in serious legal circles it’s the view espoused by the NRA (and virtually no one else), which tells you something about the politicians who espouse it.
I hate to be a cynic about any issue, but on this issue I am. The fact is clear – we will do nothing of substance about gun violence in this Country. Why? Because people who give lot’s of money to politicians want it that way, of course. Why else?
The NRA has deep pockets and firm political connections, so we will do nothing. Literally, not a thing. Unless you count praying and holding moments of silence, in which case we’ll do something (lots of it). Which gets me to another point: can we please stop with the moment of silence as a way to honor victims of gun violence?
I, for one, can assure you that if I am shot to death by some troglodyte with an angry streak or some terrorist religious radical I will not be satisfied by a moment of silence in my honor. Indeed, I will not be honored by it at all. I will want a moment of outraged screaming. I will want those who cared for me to shout at the top of their lungs at anyone within listening distance, to demand answers on why nothing has been done to address this problem. Our continued silence is an insult to those who have been murdered. More silence gets us nowhere.