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Musings: Is it "heartless" to discuss gun control after shootings?

By Jane Hagl & Lauren AguirreJune 15, 2017

Congress shooting
Unidentified Republican congressional members leave the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park where a shooting took place on June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and multiple congressional aides were shot by a gunman during a Republican baseball practice. Getty Images

L: This week, Congress members faced another shooting, but this time they were the targets. The attack injured five people, but the suspected shooter died from injuries after a shootout with police. And, as always happens after a shooting in America, there is now discussion of whether or not gun control policies should be brought up in Congress. Some argue that it should prevent another shooting. Others argue it’s rude or even heartless to politicize an issue when there are real people affected.

J: There are valid points to both sides but, a safety concern is most apparent after a safety disaster. People don’t fix or talk about issues until it becomes a severe threat.

L: At least on the national level. It’s probably much easier to effect change on a local and state level for almost any issue — just because their constituencies are much smaller. Republicans have been pretty effective at getting their pet legislation through state capitals. And it seems the more we discuss gun control at a national level, the less actually happens.

J: That’s because it becomes less of a problem that needs to be fixed and more of an issue to take sides on. Plus once things get political, people will stand with a person or a party regardless of what they believe. The rhetoric used by lobby groups and politicians don’t help.

L: Politicization can get really really self-serving. Lawmakers will view bills as political capital, rather than as actual possible laws that will affect people. However, Congress can’t really draft or pass anything without discussion. That’s just how a large governing body works. So if you want something to get done, you kind of have to let the issue be politicized. I think a problem here is that gun control is such a hot-button issue for a lot of people. 

 

Amplifying the outer edges makes the middle disappear. It’s irresponsible, but that’s been said over and over and over again.

J: But is it really? You have your gun activists and your gun control activists who are the loudest in the room. The average person doesn’t think about gun control until after a shooting.

L: You’re right. There are several polls that demonstrate that most of the American public is for some kind of gun control measures. And when I say most, I meant well over 50 percent. The activities on either side of this issue definitely overpower any nuanced discussion. Maybe the problem with politicization is more of an issue of communication and news coverage than an actual debate in Congress.

J: Somehow it all comes back to communication and media coverage. Amplifying the outer edges makes the middle disappear. It’s irresponsible, but that’s been said over and over and over again.

L: It’s also what gets clicks and views so that’s why it happens. What frustrates me generally is that in a system like ours, you need debate and discussion to get anywhere. But so many people view those things as bad and unproductive. Yes, there is unproductive arguments. If people are talking at each other and not compromising, nothing is really going to happen. However, just because that’s the state of discourse right now, doesn’t mean discussion, in general, is a terrible thing. I just wish there was more space for nuanced and thoughtful discussion in our current political climate.

J: There is—face-to-face conversations. Eventually, the right people will be in front of each other and that can spark change.