I’ve said time and again that I actually do understand how tragedies can spur many into looking at gun control. In the wake of a dear friend being killed in a mass shooting, I found myself questioning whether I’d been wrong about gun control for all those years. I didn’t question myself for very long because I already knew the answer, I knew that guns weren’t to blame for my friend’s murder. Instead, it was a people issue just like all the others.
However, other people get fired up over tragedies as well.
Jessica Scott and Kate Fletcher of Moms Demand Action Arkansas can both recall the exact moment they went from ordinary mothers to passionate activists for reducing gun violence.
“I got involved when a child here in Little Rock who was roughly the same age as my daughter, about 21/2 at the time, died after finding an unsecured handgun in his father’s nightstand,” says Scott, a professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and state chapter lead. “It really hit me hard how accessible weapons were and the particular danger they posed to children.
“For me, I became a mother in October 2015 and shortly thereafter was the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre,” says Fletcher, state communications lead and a Little Rock corporate lawyer. “I can remember sitting in a rocking chair feeding her in her nursery at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and the horrors of that day hit me. I had always been sad about it, cried about it, but there was something about thinking about those babies while holding my own that just changed me.”
In other words, both women admit that it was an emotional reaction to horrible events.
Again, I get it.
The problem, however, is that emotions don’t create good laws. They never have and they never will. The father in Little Rock lost his child and thousands of other people saw what happened and made the decision to secure their firearms better. There wasn’t a need for a new crusader to decide to go after so-called assault weapons.
Sandy Hook, for all its horrors, wasn’t a failure of gun control in any way. The killer murdered his own mother to obtain a firearm. He’d have killed her to obtain any firearm and yes, he could have still killed just as many of those poor children if he’d had a handgun in the first place.
Yet understanding these points requires reason. It requires people to pause for a moment and use their brains and not their emotions. That’s something you rarely find among the anti-gunners out there. They run on emotion and use emotional arguments.
Of course, they use them because they work.
The problem is, emotion only works for so long. Eventually, most people–not these two women, but most–eventually come to realize that they were being emotional and step away from that. Why else does support for gun control skyrocket after a shooting, but then dips back to normal levels when things settle down?
Time and time again, we’ve seen precisely that, often despite intense media pressure to maintain the anti-gun hysteria.
For anti-gunners pushed by tragedy into their anti-gun jihad, reason almost never comes into play, though. That’s because if it did, a lot of them would stop being anti-gunners in the first place.