There are lots of lessons to be learned from Alec Baldwin’s discharge of a firearm on the New Mexico set of the movie “Rust” last week, but “we need more gun control laws” isn’t one of them. A refresher course on actual gun handling and the four rules of gun safety? Absolutely. A reminder to check your firearm to make sure it isn’t loaded, even if someone hands it to you and tells you it’s not? I’m on board with that. But trying to tie in the negligence on display in Santa Fe that led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding of director Joel Souza to a demand for new gun laws is simply pathetic, and The Week columnist Joel Mathis should be embarrassed by his attempt to promote his anti-gun ideology by tying it to Hutchins’ death.
On Friday, producers of the ABC show The Rookie announced the series will no longer use live guns on set, instead opting to add in muzzle flashes and other special effects using CGI. “The safety of our cast and crew is too important,” showrunner Alexi Hawley wrote. “Any risk is too much risk.” Other TV and movie productions may follow suit. “There’s no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore,” Craig Zobel, the director of Mare of Easttown, wrote on Twitter. “Should just be fully outlawed. There’s computers now.”
A single, apparently accidental death has caused the entertainment industry to rethink its firearms practices — to question its priorities and rules, the way it does business. Things are already starting to change.
If only we could do the same for the many Americans who die of gun violence every day, on the streets and in their own homes.
If only we could replace the guns we own for self-defense with special effects and CGI? Yeah, count me out.
Mathis may believe that negligence on the part of Rust‘s crew members should lead to more Americans choosing (or being forced) to give up their guns, but let’s be honest here: the columnist was in favor of more gun control long before Baldwin accidentally shot and killed Hutchins. Mathis makes his ideology clear a little further down in his column.
AnAxios/Ipsos poll released over the weekend indicates that Americans are split on the crime issue, as they are so many other topics. Republicans mostly blame Democrats and police defunding for the rise in crime; Democrats blame rising gun sales and loose gun laws. I suspect Democrats have the better argument: Very few police departments have been truly defunded, and where defunding of any sort happened it has often been reversed. But there really are a tremendous number of guns in America, and more new firearms are added to the tally every day.
He suspects Democrats have the better argument? What about the study that found the rise in violent crime last year was not linked to increased gun sales? Or the study that found Massachusetts’ gun control laws didn’t reduce violent crime, but may have been responsible for an increase in robberies? Or how about the simple fact that, until last year, we’d seen more than two decades of declining crime rates while millions of firearms were sold each and every year?
Maybe it’s impossible to do anything about this crisis. Maybe the filibuster or the Supreme Court will keep us from ever doing something effective to reduce the glut of unnecessary, violent gun deaths that afflict this country. And maybe we’ll go on normalizing those deaths, because to truly feel their weight and the burden of our collective inaction is too much to bear.
Or maybe, just maybe, criminalizing the right to keep and bear arms isn’t the right way to address violent crime. And spare me the nonsense about our “collective inaction.” There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are intimately involved in efforts to reduce violent crime; from police officers and prosecutors to community activists and involved parents. Mathis apparently believes that none of that matters unless those efforts are explicitly directed at preventing lawful gun ownership.
It’s not impossible to address violent crime. In fact, it doesn’t even require a vote by the Senate or a Supreme Court decision. It only takes public officials with enough steel in their spine to focus on the few individuals in any given community who are driving the violence. By all means give them the opportunity for redemption whenever possible; help them turn their lives around before they lose their own or take another. But if these individuals refuse the help that’s offered, swift and certain prosecution and consequences must follow.
Want to do something effective? There you go. For some reason, though, I don’t expect Mathis to get on board with that idea. He’d rather wring his hands and bemoan the “lack” of gun control laws… not to mention our Second Amendment rights.