The hollow pieties of gun control politics.
In the wake of the horrific movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, last Friday that resulted in the deaths of twelve people, there have been renewed calls for increased gun control in the United States. One such call came from the Baltimore Sun in an editorial titled, “If Colorado shooting can’t prompt a conversation about gun control, what will?” Consider this passage from said editorial:
What we do know more concretely about the incident, however, raises serious questions about whether Colorado or the rest of the country has done enough to prevent such tragedies from taking place. Surely, it is time to have a public conversation about whether the U.S. ought to adopt some reasonable restrictions on the availability of certain types of firearms, high-capacity magazines and ammunition that enabled the Aurora tragedy and similar shootings.
Yes, we’re talking about “gun control” — the two words Congress and the White House dare not speak in an election year.
O.K., let’s have a conversation about gun control. If more gun control is all it takes to prevent tragedies, then Chicago ought to be the safest city in the United States as it has had the strictest municipal gun laws in the country for the past thirty years. Yet slightly more than halfway through 2012, more than 200 people have been killed in Chicago by gunfire. As March turned into April, 40 people were shot in Chicago in the space of 50 hours resulting in four fatalities. This past Memorial Day weekend, 12 people were killed and 45 were wounded by gunfire. During the course of that holiday weekend, there was one 90-minute span in which 13 people were shot. Last month, eight people were killed and 46 people were wounded in a single weekend. Over the weekend, three men were killed while 26 other people were wounded by gunfire. Three of the people who were wounded were 13-year-old boys. And what will be the tally next weekend? What about Labor Day weekend? What will the numbers be at the end of the year?
If the massacre in Colorado deserves a public conversation, then surely so does the ongoing violence in Chicago. Yet liberals aren’t so eager to have a public conversation about the fiefdom run by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. There is little desire to focus attention on President Obama’s old stomping grounds on Chicago’s South Side where their policy prescriptions have not worked. Gun control in Chicago hasn’t stopped people from illegally obtaining firearms nor has it stopped people from using them on one another.
For one thing, it puts liberals (particularly white liberals) in the uncomfortable position of drawing attention to the culture of African-American gang violence driven by the drug trade and the breakdown of the African-American family. It puts them into the position of passing negative judgment. White liberals certainly do not like to hear stories about black children being shot and killed in the crossfire, but they’re not willing to speak uncomfortable truths and risk being called racists. For all their abhorrence of guns, liberals keep silent and accept inner city violence as an immutable fact of life.
But until a few days ago, the idea that anyone would start shooting people in a crowded movie theater was both beyond our experience and our imagination. People go to the movies to escape and relax. Now that such an awful thing has happened there is the natural anxiety that there could be a copycat shooter coming to a theater near you. However remote the possibility, it will be in the back of peoples’ mind when they’re waiting in line to buy their ticket. But this anxiety will abate with the passage of time.
Then it will happen again. It could happen at a school, a restaurant, a grocery store, on a bus or subway or perhaps at a concert or a sporting event. But it will happen and when it does there will again be calls for more gun control. And when there are, there will be people dying on the South Side of Chicago.
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