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October 3 2017

Politicizing Shootings Tears Us Apart

by Charlotte Hays

Americans got up Monday morning to the almost unbearable news that the worst mass killing in U.S. history had taken place the previous night in Las Vegas.

The death toll stands at 59 and the lives of 520 who were injured in the shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas will find their lives irrevocably changed. Here are portraits of some of those who died in the shooting that the president described as "true evil."

We can look for solace in the outpouring of generosity in the wake of the shooting; many have made financial contributions or stood in line for hours to donate blood.

Unfortunately, along with the generosity and other forms of support, there is always a rush to politicize a shooting, especially with regard to guns.

Such issues as guns, mental illness and societal break-down aren't going away. We need the discipline to hold off on them for a brief period of grief.

David Harsanyi of The Federalist has a must-read piece showing why instant politicization of shootings ends up making it harder for us to come together and talk about the possible issues raised .

Harsanyi writes:

Some reports say his criminal record amounted to no more than minor traffic infractions, and other reports say he was “known” to the local police. Some people have jumped to conclusions regarding “terrorism,” though, as of this writing, there is no evidence of any political motive. Sooner or later we’re going to know everything about the man.

Maybe Paddock evaded or abused some gun law. Maybe it can be tightened. But those who reflexively call for more restrictive gun laws without even knowing how or why Paddock got his hands on guns — or what kind of firearms he used — give themselves away. Those who conflate automatic and semi-automatic guns also give themselves away.

Those in the press who mislead the public on all these issues give themselves away, as well. They are interested not merely in stopping mass shootings, but limiting gun ownership. This kind of reaction hardens the resolve of Second Amendment advocates and creates an environment that makes any realistic options moot. Rather than specifically pointing to areas of achievable compromise, the reaction of most gun-control advocates seems to be a declaration of partisan war.

“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA,” tweeted Hillary Clinton (emphasis mine), “and work together to try to stop this from happening again.” This an example of someone — and there increasingly more like her — who can’t distinguish ideology from general decency. The NRA is a strawman for countless political activists who are too cowardly to condemn the 55-plus million Americans who own firearms and the millions of others who support their right to do so.

. . .

This kind of ideological stridency and partisanship  feeds into the distrust gun owners have towards politicians. For many of them, gun laws feel a lot like incremental steps to undermine access. It’s difficult to disagree with this perception when you read and listen to the rhetoric of most liberal gun-control groups. The only thing this kind of partisanship creates is a spike in legal ownership. That is fine by me, but probably not what the sincere gun-control advocate was hoping to accomplish.

Is it so imperative that political hay be made out of even a tragedy of this magnitude that a week is too long to wait?

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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