On the heels of this past week’s successive deadly mass shootings, right wing ideologues proselytize that 1). gun control legislation is not an answer to the endemic gun violence which has savaged our nation, and 2). solutions based in gun control legislation serve only to politicize the issue. They could not be more wrong. To suggest legislation is not a critical part of the solution, especially with regard to domestic terrorism, is to willfully ignore a primary contributing factor. Consider for example, that America has the distinction of leading in gun-related homicides because, according to extensive reviews of the research compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, it has vastly more unregulated guns than other developed nation.
Further, advancing a stance that “talking about gun control is an act of politicizing the issue” is a gun advocacy position rooted in classic gaslighting techniques; that is, systematic misdirection and manipulation intended to destabilize and delegitimize. To combat the propaganda, we must first recognize that the term “gun control” serves both as an implied gun rights infringement issue and frames the context away from safety reforms. Secondly, we must acknowledge that gun safety is in fact, perhaps the most politicized issue of our governmental culture. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimated that during the 2016 election, gun rights organizations spent a record $54 million to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress. The National Rifle Association chief among them, uses campaign expenditures and a rating system based on members' voting histories to exert influence over Congressional members to act in their interests.
The most pernicious effect of gun advocacy lobbying can be seen in the six years since the slaughter of children at a Newtown Connecticut elementary school: the number of gun safety laws that have been defeated at the state and federal levels and the proliferation of gun rights laws, for example, Texas passed open carry legislation in 2017. This is despite consistent nonpartisan polling which revels most Americans increasingly favor some form of tightening restrictions on firearms (e.g., NPR/Ipsos poll 10/2017).
There is an immediate action as a beginning remedy to gun violence. The House of Representatives has already passed a Bipartisan Background Checks Act, HR8. The House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force continues to focus on legislation which promotes common sense gun safety measures, such as HR 1585, the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Both bills are awaiting a vote in the Senate, where Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked or undermined the passage of gun safety legislation yet again.
Today, the sad reality is that America is a country broken by rampant and repeated assaults associated with a poorly regulated gun industry. We must demand common sense legislation as a start to stem the mass violence being perpetrated on a national scale, and begin to heal.