I didn’t want to do this post. I really, really didn’t want to write this post. Because it’s sad, because I didn’t want to write another post on mass shootings, because it was somebody else’s turn. But after reading Riley’s beautiful post on the most recent shooting (for posterity, this one is the current most-deadly mass-shooting in U.S. history which took place in an Orlando nightclub. It’s astonishing how hard it is to figure out which shooting if you’re reading articles some time after the fact), I had a pretty shitty thought: raise your hand if you’re a Pajiba writer who’s covered a mass shooting? If the answer is more than “none,” then that’s too many goddamn writers for a fucking pop culture website.
That thought made me angry. Not as righteously angry as Samantha Bee, but still pretty angry.
And like Samantha Bee, yes, I’m trying to take your guns away. Not all of the guns and not from everyone, but there’s an inherent flaw to the argument that seemingly few people are noticing. Allow this reenactment of a comment section on an entirely different mass shooting highlight it for you:
Gun Control Advocate: This shooting was a tragedy. We need to have background checks, and close the gun show loopholes.
Gun Rights Advocate: In this case, there was a background check, and the guns were legally purchased through a licensed gun dealer. All of the laws were followed, and everything was done right.
GCA: Then we need stricter laws on how much ammo you can buy, and federal trafficking gun laws. We always need to empower the CDC to track gun violence as a public health issue.
GRA: People use a lot of ammo when they’re shooting for fun, and we don’t want to give the government the ability to track gun owners. It’s a Constitutional Right to own arms.
And so on and so on. But did you catch the biggest mistake? I’ll give you a hint. It sounds like “everything was done right.” Because are you kidding me? Is your position that this is the best we can do? Is this an example of the system doing its job? Is this the way things are supposed to work?
The truth is people who want gun control laws tightened haven’t been working nearly hard enough (seriously contact your congressperson right now), and we really haven’t been working smart enough. We’ve been approaching the gun debate as though we’re on even ground, and we aren’t. And I fortunately don’t mean because the NRA owns your congressperson. I mean because we don’t have to prove a goddamn thing.
Right now the country has a problem: we have a horrifically high number of people dying from gun violence every year. So, people who want to own guns? You fix it. You want to keep your guns and not have to register them with anyone and not have a single governmental body keep track of all of the gun injuries each year? Fine, then fix your problem.
This isn’t really a debate on the Second Amendment, which gun control laws are most effective, and how relevant a person’s mental health is on their likelihood to commit a mass shooting (spoiler, it’s not). It’s a debate on if people on a societal level can be responsible, safe gun owners. The answer right now is clearly no. The argument we should be having isn’t “how do we fix this broken system?” It’s “why do you deserve to have a gun?” Yes, I know Second Amendment and unalienable rights and whatnot. My right to go out in public and remain alive trumps your right to own a bunch of deadly weapons. It’s not my job to prove that’s true, it’s their job to prove we can manage to do both.
Your move, NRA.