National Public Radio recently ran a story with one, very sobering statistic: 462.
That, according to the story, is the number of people killed so far this year in mass shootings across 47 different states. These were not single shootings, mind you — just mass shootings. And the injury toll from these mass shootings: 1,314.
One-thousand, three-hundred and fourteen. My god. Can you imagine? America is starting to feel like a war zone — only the enemy is us.
Sadly for the NRA, the Second Amendment just doesn’t hold up as an argument anymore. It was written at a time when citizens had access to muzzle-loaded muskets that could fire four times a minute at most. We in the 21st Century are dealing with guns that fire four to nine times a second. I love and value the United States Constitution, but I do not believe the Founding Fathers expected it to be corrupted to the detriment of public safety; and that’s precisely whats’s happening.
Having said that, I’m up for the gun control debate. I’m willing to hash out the details — or, rather, support our legislature as they hash out the details — which will, undoubtedly, require a lot of hashing out. But, first, let’s agree to clear away some of the red herrings, shall we? Here are three of the most bothersome coming from gun advocates at the moment.
1. “Why didn’t you speak out after the Paris attacks?”
First of all, this is not a question; it’s an assumption meant to provoke defensiveness. And it’s false. People did speak out on gun control after the Paris attacks. Just like they spoke out about gun control after Columbine and Sandy Hook and Newtown and Charleston and Aurora and Jonesboro and the hundreds of other mass shootings that have occurred over the past 25 years in our country. That it’s getting more play right now is not a failure of the past but a reflection that more people are starting to make it a priority. Now can we please stop talking about why people are talking about gun control and start talking about gun control?
2. “Banning specific types of guns is unrealistic.”
Banning specific types of guns is challenging — for any number of different reasons — but it’s entirely realistic. The only reason people throw this into debates is because they don’t want it to happen — and they think that saying it could never happen will make people look elsewhere for solutions. Once upon a time, as you may recall, a great many Americans called ending slavery unrealistic. How could we possible outlaw slavery when economic survival was so obviously dependent on slave labor? But no. It wasn’t unrealistic. It was just hard — really hard. So hard, in fact, that we are still fighting the residual effects of slavery today. But difficult does not equal unrealistic. And difficult does not equal bad. And difficult does not equal wrong. Banning guns will be difficult; it will also be good and right.
2. “Stop prayer-shaming!”
“Prayer-shaming” has a nice, martyristic ring to it, no? And who doesn’t love a martyr? Problem is, it’s not actually a thing. “Slut-shaming” is a thing. “Fat-shaming” is a thing. “Prayer-shaming” is invented by gun-control foes as a bright-red herring. Look at this debate in context. A bunch of legislators who have actual power to effect actual change in this country took to the media to say their “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims. Then a bunch of gun-control proponents took to the media to call shenanigans: Thoughts and prayers, they said, are wonderful when you have nothing else to offer; but when there is action to be taken, thoughts and prayers turn into tired tropes. Now, were the shenanigan-callers nice about it? Not always. But that doesn’t mean the Left is engaging in some “prayer-shaming” campaign. If anything, we on the Left are shaming inaction; we are shaming hypocrisy; we are shaming the idea of empty compassion. But the vast majority of us aren’t shaming prayer. Wishing that good things happen to nice people is something that we all have in common. We may disagree about the practical utility of thoughts and prayers, but trying to shame them would be a little like trying to shame goodness itself.
Don’t worry, prayer is alive and well in America.
And so are thoughts. (Although I’m starting to feel less certain about that.)