It’s impossible not to politicize tragedy

Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Fifty-eight people were killed on Oct. 1 at The Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas after a gunman opened fire on concert-goers.

If mass shooting trends continue, as they have for decades, the body count will only increase throughout the year. But despite the perpetrator of the shooting having over 23 firearms in his possession during the massacre, in a state with comparatively lax gun restrictions to other parts of the U.S., the overwhelming likelihood is that nothing about our gun control system will change.

The victims will die without justice.

To conservative lobbyists, speaking out about mass shootings is “politicizing a tragedy.” But regardless of whatever good intentions lawmakers purport, ulterior motives behind such statements are clear to see. Claiming that criticizing the sociopolitical factors directly involved in mass shootings are somehow heartless and overly “political” absolves the key-holders to such policies  of all responsibility. It’s gaslighting, and it reduces what should be a serious conversation about America’s chronic gun control issue to an ad-hominem debate about the sincerity of protester’s motives.

Lawmakers that do nothing in the face of gun violence have blood on their hands. No matter how many times certain conservative pundits would like to deny it, the fact remains that gun violence is fundamentally a political issue. When American shooters – mentally ill or otherwise – directly benefit from the lack of legislative action to address mass shootings, it is willful ignorance to pretend that these tragedies can be divorced from politics.

Furthermore, if addressing gun violence after a mass shooting is improper, when will it be the right time to speak out?

Looking in the other direction will not muffle the sound of gunshots. And although it may be an ugly, uncomfortable conversation, it is the job of politicians to advocate political solutions to political issues. Representatives shouldn’t get to take a break from their duties just because the issues are complicated.

It is one thing to reach an impasse due to ideological differences. Although a survey from Politico and Morning Consult said that 64 percent of voters support stricter gun legislation, it would be folly to assume that such a pervasive issue has only a singular solution. That said, the complaint that talking about the epidemic is “politicizing a tragedy” can be dismissed. It’s missing the point entirely – this shooting was exacerbated by our political climate, and did not, as critics suggest, happen in spite of it.

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