So we’ve had another mass shooting, and I’ve decided, rather selfishly, to use it as a means of breaking this multi-month slump in posting due in no small part to the circus routine of our jowly orange overlord. This isn’t going to be a eulogy for the dead, however, nor will it be a call to action, or a call for contemplation.
Honestly I just get tired of seeing the same damned talking points every time we have a mass shooting, and I’m going to ride that wave of irritation as far as it will take me.
“Call him a terrorist! (insert name here) IS A TERRORIST! YOU JUST WON’T CALL HIM THAT BECAUSE HE’S WHITE!!”
This particular line rings out from the left every single time there’s a mass shooting where the shooter happens to be white, particularly if the shooter also happens to be a conservative. Then they get to add “radical right-wing” to their chorus.
The thing is, words have meanings, though admittedly since this cry comes from the left it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re willing to play fast and loose with definitions when it suits them. After all, they’ve spent 30 years trying to change the definition of “racism”, and have pretty much expanded the term “Nazi” to “anyone I disagree with”.
Terrorism is, in simplest terms, violence committed for political ends. If the shooter is some nutjob who got pissed off at Vegas and has decided to take as many people with him as humanly possible on his express train to hell, while he may be a monster, he’s not a terrorist. He has no political aim; he just wants to kill people.
Dylan Roof? Terrorist.
Charles Whitman? Not a terrorist.
“Don’t politicize this tragedy! Now is not the time to be talking about gun control!!”
Of course it is. Don’t be stupid. “Strike while the iron is hot” is a phrase that exists for a reason; you don’t tell the blacksmith “No, I think you need to wait for the situation to cool down some before you hit that iron.”
Be civilized about it, don’t milk the tragedy, and for the love of god don’t inflict further trauma on the victims or their families, but other than that, by all means, politicize away. This particular talking point is more often dredged up by the right, and they use it about as hypocritically as you can imagine, since they’re perfectly willing to politicize the hell out of anything that they want banned or otherwise restricted, at the earliest possible opportunity after a tragedy.
Waiting for public opinion to cool off is politically stupid. Getting some distance between us and the tragedy just means people simply don’t care as much, and it’s harder to motivate them or get them to commit to any sort of action. And once they’ve committed, most people will accept that responsibility and stay involved, to at least some extent, even if their emotions aren’t propelling them any more.
“Imagine what (insert shooter x) could have accomplished with a silencer! And the NRA/GOP want to remove laws restricting their sale!”
This talking point is almost exclusively used by a single group I’ll just refer to as “woefully ignorant”.
Silencers are not magic. They don’t “silence” anything, which is probably why their not really called “silencers”, they’re called suppressors. They reduce the report of a weapon, to be certain, but that doesn’t mean that the shooter could have been the arbiter of undetectable death from his shooting perch.
The people on the ground would still have heard the shots. Quieter, yes, but not silent.
“But subsonic ammo!” you cry, since you read about that somewhere and you’re pretty sure it will let a criminal murder with impunity.
Yeah, no. First off, subsonic ammo tends to be relatively ineffective at the whole “murder” part of the equation. Mass times velocity squared, people. A suppressed .22lr pistol firing subsonic ammo would indeed probably be quiet enough to commit murder undetected within the average city. If you get right up next to the target and shoot them very carefully.
AKA, the situation where a knife will do the job just about as well, and is considerably easier to obtain and conceal. The fact of the matter is that subsonic ammo won’t even cycle a large percentage of semiautomatic weapons unless they’re specially modified to allow it.
And speaking of woefully ignorant…
“We need to ban machine guns! No civilian has a need for that kind of firepower!”
True, the NFA isn’t exactly a ban, but I honestly can’t recall any instances of an NFA-registered firearm being used by its proper owner to commit a crime, aside from one instance where the owner happened to be a police officer, who would have access to such weapons even without having to jump through the myriad hoops of NFA regulations.
Now, if you’re of the opinion that we need to ban semi-automatic weapons, which are not “machine guns” or “assault rifles”, that’s a valid position for you to hold. It will almost certainly require a Constitutional amendment for it to be legal, but by all means, campaign away. That’s the glory of living in a democracy, we have the power to change the laws if you can get enough people on board with your opinion.
It’s also the Achilles Heel of democracy, of course, (something something generous gifts, something something public purse) but that’s a post for another day.
“Gun control doesn’t work! Look at Chicago! There’s nothing you can do on the gun control side that will prevent tragedies like this, so you have to focus on mental health!”
First off, it’s too soon to say that. I don’t mean “too soon to be discussing this due to the overwhelming tragedy that just took place”, because I’m perfectly willing to admit that the “overwhelming tragedy” is less of a blip on my mind than me accidentally killing a squirrel with my car. It bothers me in an abstract faction, and I recognize that it is indeed a tragedy, and if happened to me it would certainly be overwhelming, but it didn’t happen to me, so that line is bullshit designed to deflect, and I have very limited patience for bullshit.
No, I mean too soon as in we have no idea how the shooter acquired his weapons, or whether any reasonable gun control measures would have stopped him.
It’s too soon because we’re operating on a very limited amount of data.
That having been said, eventually, it will not be too soon, and we’ll have all the data we need.
As a general rule, as I think I’ve discussed before, most reasonable gun control laws won’t stop events like this from occurring. In part for one of the reasons that gun control doesn’t work in Chicago (criminals don’t care about laws), and mostly because prior to the event, most mass shooters aren’t exactly someone you can pick out of crowd that easily.
Also, for the record, “gun control doesn’t work in Chicago” is a fucking asinine thing to say when it’s surrounded by places that don’t have gun control. Gee, would-be criminals have to make straw purchases or head out of town a ways to buy a gun. Such barriers we have enacted, look upon them ye murderers and despair.
The point here is that yes, gun control can prevent some tragedies. Not many, but a few. Yes, the shooter can acquire his weapon(s) illegally, but the more times an individual is exposed to risk, the more likely it is that they’ll be caught before they do something awful.
As for mental health, yes, we do need to put more effort into destigmatizing mental illness, and that would almost certainly yield significantly more results than any gun control legislation that could be passed without a Constitutional amendment.
But that’s also something we need to work on at a societal level, not just a legislative one. In fact, the social aspect is undeniably more important, really, than the legal one. If people are willing to seek help when they need it without fear of the stigma of mental illness, then we’ll be much closer to a world where this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
And if you try to create a database of mentally ill people who aren’t allowed to buy guns, I will fucking guarantee that you wind up driving damn near every single individual who might commit some act like this into not seeking the help they need. Because just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not after you, and as a person who deals with mental illness, the thought of being put into some sort of registry makes my skin crawl, because I know the myriad ways that such a thing could be used against me, and everyone like me.
I’m sure I could go trawl Twitter for a while and find some new instances of tired lines people trot out for every tragedy that get me all riled up, but I think I’ve vented enough for one day.