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Con­ser­v­a­tives and pro­gres­sives are using the Las Vegas shooting to politicize the gun control debate. And that’s a good thing.

While people on both ends of the political spectrum debate how to prevent mass shootings in the future, some have claimed the con­ver­sa­tions are unnec­essary politi­ciza­tions of the tragedy.

Most who decry politi­cization view it as an unjust exploitation of a tragedy’s victims to further a political ide­ology.

Pro-second amendment politi­cians and pundits have accused their coun­ter­parts because of their calls for stricter gun laws, their defamation of the National Rifle Asso­ci­ation, and their emo­tional appeals to the fam­ilies and children who have been affected by gun vio­lence.

Those accused of politi­cization are por­trayed as self-cen­tered and heartless. People claim the “politi­cizers” only have policy pro­posals because they want to take away the rights of ordinary cit­izens who will never commit acts of gun vio­lence.

Former Sec­retary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Eliz­abeth Warren, D-Mass­a­chu­setts, came under proverbial fire from the right after tweeting out calls for stricter gun reg­u­la­tions and casting blame on the NRA.

“Thoughts & prayers are NOT enough. Not when more moms & dads will bury kids this week, & more sons & daughters will grow up without parents,” Warren tweeted the morning after the mas­sacre. “Tragedies like Las Vegas have hap­pened too many times. We need to have the con­ver­sation about how to stop gun vio­lence. We need it NOW.”

Though I often dis­agree polit­i­cally with Warren, I’m not cynical enough to doubt that she was gen­uinely dis­turbed by the shooting in Las Vegas. No, pro­gres­sives aren’t calling for gun control mea­sures because they despise the American founding and the phi­losophy of natural rights.

And who gets to dictate a set period of mourning before dis­cus­sions about gun vio­lence may resume? We can simul­ta­ne­ously grieve with those in agony while ensuring that others don’t have to go through what too many have already expe­ri­enced.

The best way to grieve with and respect those who are mourning is by nego­ti­ating solu­tions that will prevent senseless acts of gun vio­lence in the future.

This is not an argument for or against gun restric­tions. It is an argument for the impor­tance of this debate.

This debate is urgent. Gun lob­byists shouldn’t auto­mat­i­cally dismiss the debate as imprac­tical or uncon­sti­tu­tional.  

Because what is the goal of debate? Action. Well-meaning Amer­icans on both sides of the political spectrum don’t ever want to see a madman firing an auto­matic weapon into a crowd of tens of thou­sands.

Warren is right. It’s not enough to just send thoughts and prayers to Las Vegas. It’s also not enough to just engage in debate. But if ide­o­logues shut down the debate before it begins, change can never happen.

In 2012, Pres­ident Obama took heat from his oppo­nents because of his emo­tional press briefing after the hor­rific mas­sacre at Sandy Hook Ele­mentary School in Newtown, Con­necticut. Fox News host Andrea Tan­taros, Fox radio com­men­tator Todd Starnes, and con­ser­v­ative columnist Ben Shapiro were among those who mocked Obama’s tearful response to the carnage. He only wept, they said, because he wanted to win hearts over to his political ide­ology.

But after the mas­sacre of innocent children, what other way should the pres­ident of the United States respond? A Pres­ident, espe­cially one with young children, has every right to express grief for his coun­trymen.

Even since the tragedy in Las Vegas, more Amer­icans have died because of gun vio­lence. There is no time to wait. Disdain for politi­cization must not be jus­ti­fi­cation for inaction.

S. Nathaniel Grime is a sophomore studying Rhetoric and Public Address.

  • Night Bear

    Yes, the dis­cussion is important. Yes, there needs to be action.

    A good start would be Con­gress passing “The Shush Act”: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1505

    As well as National Reci­procity: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/38

    Both of these bills go a long way towards restoring our Right to Self-Defense.

  • Bret Rijke

    Problem is, they are (the pro-gun control cabal) clam­oring for a restriction of a natural right which exists above gov­ernment. So to that end, there is never a proper time to con­sider com­promise with those who seek to take from you what nature has granted.
    Period.

  • Maj Timothy S. Cooke, USAR ret

    Action for the sake of action is counter-pro­ductive. Only pre­cisely directed action will fix ANY problem. Now, instead of a generic appeal to our emo­tions, how about doing a com­pre­hensive analysis of current gun control laws, starting with the Gun Control Act of 1964, cross-ref­er­enced with ana­lyzing trends in gun related assaults and murders, then sug­gesting new reg­u­la­tions (including rolling back any obsolete or inef­fective laws) that will prevent shootings similar to recent tragedies (Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Columbine, Aurora, etc). Without that analysis and pre­cisely directed action you’re just another emo­tional voice cre­ating noise that accom­plishes NOTHING