In addressing mass shootings, there's more than one option

In addressing mass shootings, there's more than one option
AP Photo/Marco Garcia

Mass shootings are presented like a biblical plague upon our land, something handed down from God to punish us for our sins.

Now, I’ll agree they’re a problem, though I think it’s not quite that bad.

Still, we should figure out a way to address them. Unfortunately, we can’t.

You see, we can’t because there are too many people who think the only possible solution is gun control.

Another holiday season dawns, a time of cheer for many of us, as the pandemic that took so many lives has eased and reopened the door to our daily routines.

But for many there’s little cheer this winter. The fever of gunfire, which eased as COVID cleared the streets in 2020, is back upon us, a routine of another kind. November brought mass murders at a bar in Colorado, a college student residence in Idaho and a Walmart Supercenter in Virginia. Instead of the season ushering in holiday cheer, many of us can only mourn.

Our gun culture is killing more and more of us.

By now the arguments have been laid out and so often laid to rest like bodies in coffins. Some argue for constitutional rights, some counter for common sense. What can’t be denied is that while we fail to reach consensus, sadness piles up, as we lose neighbors, school children, friends and family members.

The implication here, of course, is that everyone actually thinks gun control works, we just won’t go along with it because we’d rather maintain our rights than save lives.

However, the problem here is that this is a false dichotomy.

Yes, many of us talk about our right to keep and bear arms and vehemently defend that right, as we should. Even if gun control were the only solution possible for the problem of mass shootings, it’s a matter of the cure ultimately being worse than the disease it seeks to solve.

If that were so, then yes, we might stop the handful of actual mass shootings that transpire every year, but we might lose many more lives than we saved because those restrictions disarmed law-abiding souls who couldn’t defend themselves.

Further, this idea that it’s either rights or saving lives assumes there’s absolutely no other option for dealing with mass shootings other than gun control.

Would it make sense to at least try and find the most minimally invasive way to address the problem as opposed to finding the most restrictive rules you can imagine? Especially since there’s not really any evidence that such restrictions would actually address the issue.

But that’s where we’re at, and we shouldn’t be.

There is no binary solution. There is no, “It’s either gun control or dead kids.” The truth is that even with gun control, you’ll still have horrible outcomes–in fact, I argue you’ll see more of them.

I’m not going to allow people to present this argument as if it’s the simple truth. It’s not.

We reject not just an infringement on our rights but also the inference that we somehow actually think gun control works. It doesn’t and we know it.