When will it not be too soon?

In light of today’s mass-shooting at a Sikh gurdwara and the mass-shooting of movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado, a couple weeks ago, I’m wondering when it might be time to have a constructive national discussion about weapons – and guns more specifically – and the role they play in society. I’ve been on the fence about gun control for the last couple years… and I recognize how screwed up it is how it has taken a second mass-shooting to get even liberal me to take a step back and say, “Hey, we need to be talking about this.” Details are still sketchy about what happened in Wisconsin today, we don’t know motives, legality of the weapon, etc. However, all those issues notwithstanding, a frank look needs to be taken at why these events happened and what steps could have been taken to keep them from happening.

It may well be that it is tied in with some nativist discontent, lashing out at people who do not appear American. It may be the weapon was procured legally and by an otherwise sane-seeming person. Or this could have been someone on a binge that went insane. Right now, we don’t know. But whatever the cause is, we need to be talking about it. Talking about it does not politicize it – politics is inherent when anything happens in the public sphere. Politicize this, politicize that… it doesn’t matter. If it’s done in public and subject to discussion, it’s political. We cannot let these people’s deaths have been in vain because we simply want to avoid having The Talk and sweeping our Issues underneath the national rug.

After the shooting in Aurora, an acquaintance of mine posted something on Facebook. It stated that it’s pointless to control guns, because rocks can be used as weapons, and we’re simply not going to implement rock control. True – we’re not going to implement rock control. But look at this rationally: it is much easier to fire a gun and kill/maim someone than it is to bludgeon someone to death with a rock. My position on gun control revolves not around the violence itself, but the ease with which (catastrophic) violence done with a gun. Imagine the headline: mass rock bludgeoning at church, 7 dead. That’s never going to happen. Ever. That’s simply not possible unless everyone’s been previously incapacitated.

So it’s time we talk and not belittle the opinions that others have with equally problematic opinions. This isn’t going to be an easy Talk, America, but we need to do it.

Let’s talk, America. Let’s have something rational. Take a step back, breathe, and look at what has happened – now twice in less than a month. If we don’t do that, then what’s the point of having an open society when everyone wants to avoid talking about difficult Issues? The Talk is important. We need to have it or else we will get stuck in the same rhythms that caused the Virginia Tech shootings, the Aurora shootings, and today’s.

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