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.