Shortly after every tragedy, a flood of reaction follows, heightened by emotions and fear, and there is a wave of some sort of movement in support of one cause or another. The tragedies that are being splayed across media channels more and more often these days revolve around mass shootings, which lead to more talk of gun control. The latest tragedy flooding the airwaves, the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida—which has also been labeled a terrorist attack, but only when it is convenient—even comes with its own hashtag: #DisarmHate. In reality, most mass shootings and gun control have little to do with each other, and a lot to do with hate.
The Blame Game
After something horrific happens, people want to place blame. The natural inclination is to blame somebody, anybody, for the horror, the tragedy, the sadness, the immense emotion attached to the senseless act. That is understandable, but it needs to be put into perspective. The discussion around “gun control” is a good one, but not when it is used as a means to pacify those who are trying to place blame the loudest, and not significantly deal with a problem.
A violent act is perpetrated by a buildup of something inside the person who commits the act. It could have been building for days, weeks, years. It could stem from anger, hate, sadness, depression, loss, fear, medications, lack of medications, or a combination of any of these or other triggers. A logical question is what effect gun control would have on any of those triggers if a responsible, legal citizen of the United States experienced one or more and just lost it one day, deciding to kill somebody with their legally obtained and owned firearm?
Think about what spurs road rage. You’re in a hurry. You’re late. Some idiot driver cuts you off. You cut in front of somebody else, intentionally or accidentally, because you’re in a hurry, because you’re late. Whose fault is it? Did somebody flip someone else off? Did someone honk? Crash into someone else? Did someone get out of their vehicle and beat the paphooey out of someone else’s vehicle with a baseball bat they had handy? Will this lead to the need for stricter baseball bat control?
Social media, regular media, authority figures, and political parties have a particularly powerful platform from which they can disseminate information—information they want to share, in a way they want to share it. The New York Times reported on this slanting, bias, or skewing of information. Using inciteful language is another tool used with great success. The thing is, these tricks are not new. Everybody learns how to do this in debate class in junior high school. Some are just better at it than others when they become adults.
In a press conference for the #DisarmHate movement and the upcoming vote surrounding the gun control debate (which all four measures were voted down), Senator Tammy Baldwin exercised several examples of this behavior, using terms such as: “worst gun attack in modern U.S. history” and “legally purchased a weapon of war.” These were mixed in with other terms such as “hate crime,” and the fact that violent acts of terror are committed “not only to kill or gravely harm, but to terrorize,” which are accurate statements.
Another large factor is the fact that the real factor is an unknown variable. There is no one single driving force for pushing somebody into committing a violent act. When the focus is on the effect of the unknown cause, or the tool used to commit that effect, there is no one single answer or solution to the actual initial problem.
Hate can spur violence—but does not always. Mental illness can also. Bullying, cyber-bullying, societal pressures, terrorist ideologies—the list goes on and on, but there is no one trigger, so how can there be one answer?
Yes, guns can kill people but so can alcohol, depending on the amount consumed and the choice to keep drinking, along with the arrogance that it “doesn’t affect me” or “I’m fine” when people get behind the wheel under the influence.
Drugs can also kill people, depending on the amount taken, the drug taken, and the choice to use it. Cars can kill people, depending on their speed, and bad decisions of drivers. Words can kill people—think of bullying and cyber-bullying. Baseball bats, stiletto heels, machetes, knives—all these things can kill people.
Do we now try to limit the people who can drive, or write or type? Limit their use of pencils? Their computer keyboards? Their sports equipment? Their choice of footwear? All kitchen utensils? Their voice boxes?
Of course that’s silly. And there is one lie in the above statements: the items do not kill people. They are inanimate objects. They are incapable of committing any act on their own. The one common denominator in ALL of those situations is that people—with the ability to do harm or not to do it, with the ability to make a choice for self-control or against it—are the ones responsible for the act committed.
How would gun control stop a person from getting behind the wheel drunk? Isn’t that a huge problem in our country that should be addressed? Or has that not gotten enough media attention to warrant a #DisarmInebriated movement?
What is “Gun Control” Anyway?
The four measures that were just presented to the U.S. Senate seemed fairly logical on the surface, no matter which “side” you are on. What doesn’t seem logical, however disappointing and predictable it was, is that the Democrats—who proposed the first two measures, and the Republicans—who proposed the last two, voted against each other’s proposals, the BBC reported. These were the proposals.
- Close gun show loopholes so everybody must get a background check to purchase a firearm;
- Allow the Justice Department to deny gun sales to people suspected of terrorism, or who are on the no-fly list (but, they would need to make sure there are no mistakes made like the 8-year-old boy who was mistakenly put on the list);
- There would be a 3-day review if someone on the terror watch list tries to buy a gun;
- Reforming the background check system and mental health records, and allowing an expansion of the ability to investigate and enforce hate crimes laws.
How about we try to #DisarmHate within our own Congress? Start with the ones who are supposed to lead, to be good role models, to perform the will of the people who voted them into those positions in the first place, to make the country better?
How about somebody admit that, although tragic, mass shootings have little to do with guns and gun control—which severely limits legal, responsible individuals and not the criminals—and a lot to do with hate? When the example at one of the highest levels of our country is divisiveness, how else does anybody expect behaviors to emulate? Maybe more gun control is not the answer, but more self-control is. What do you think?
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]