Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 8, 2017
Too Soon
Category: Current Events … Serious

Over the last couple of days, I've been thinking a lot about the Right's aversion to gun control efforts and the insistence that it's "too soon" to discuss those efforts in the wake of tragedies. Intuitively, that latter response seems especially baffling to me. In the days following a hideous car accident -- one that likely resulted from some problem with an automobile's construction or design -- we wouldn't insist that it was too soon for the manufacturer to begin looking into the problem and consider issuing a recall. So why, when guns are involved in tragedies that take the lives of too many Americans, are we so hesitant to discuss policies that might prevent those tragedies from happening in the future? Why is it too soon to talk about saving lives?

And as I think about it, I think it partly comes down to an issue of trust. The Right might sincerely disbelieve the premise that gun control measures will actually help, but more significantly they believe that liberals also don't believe gun control measures will have any positive impact. Instead, the Right maintains that this is a Right/Left culture-war issue. Liberals simply want to take their guns because liberals hate guns in principle, and fuck those liberals and everything they stand for. This isn't actually about saving lives or preventing tragedies; it's about trying to screw over one's political enemies. Those libtards are just taking advantage of bad press and dead kids (for shame!) to push their anti-gun and anti-conservative and big-government agenda. And that's all well and good, libs, but we should at least call a temporary truce to mourn the dead. The Right's not saying it's too soon to advance potentially helpful policies (note how quickly Trump tweets about restricting immigration and railroading/executing suspects following incidents where he believes "radical Islamic terror" is to blame); they're saying that it's too soon for that antagonistic back-and-forth that now characterizes our politics.

Admittedly, I don't especially identify with the Left or specific progressive movements, but when I support gun control measures it's not because I want to stick it to conservatrolls and Rethuglicans and Trump's deplorables -- it's because I'm fucking sick of reading about gun massacres that might have been prevented if it had been more difficult for the perpetrators to acquire their weapons of war. No, I don't think gun control measures would stop every single one of these crimes, but I think they might help. And if Republicans are absolutely convinced gun control measures won't help save lives in these and other instances, they should a) come up with a much stronger argument to that effect and b) offer solutions of their own.

To be fair, Republicans do often offer an alternative interpretation of events: they suggest that mental health, not guns, are the problem in these cases. But they don't entirely appear committed to that rationale, since they don't appear to offer any constructive plans for how to address the issue. Trump blames the Sutherland Springs massacre on mental health problems, but that assessment -- and any helpful approach in line with it -- would require him to see the perpetrator as a victim himself. Instead, Trump spent the past few days calling Devin Kelley "deranged" and "evil." I don't necessarily blame Trump for that description; Kelley killed a lot of people, so Trump's justified in being angry and lashing out (except I'd hope a president could curb visceral responses and offer more thoughtful commentary). But that view doesn't do anything to encourage people struggling with mental health issues to seek help -- it actually demonizes those people -- nor does it articulate what that help would look like and how it might prevent future tragedies. Republicans don't seem committed to expanding access to mental health treatment at all. (In fact, in their attempts to sabotage Obamacare, the opposite seems true.) The Right isn't focused on helping people: it's focused on us-versus-them.

To the extent that that's all our political discourse amounts to these days, I agree: in the immediate aftermath of tragedies, it's too soon to be scheming about how best to exploit those events to hurt our ideological opponents. But it's always too soon for that shit. What can't happen soon enough, however, are the discussion and drafting of plans to try to help people and save lives and prevent massacres. I wish conservatives were as committed to those outcomes as they are to the Second Amendment.

-posted by Wes | 7:35 pm | Comments (0)
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