Speaking Out Against Gun Violence Right Now Isn’t “Too Political.” For Most, It’s All We Have

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In the wake of a tragedy like Sunday’s Las Vegas shooting–the most deadly mass shooting in American history and the 273rd mass shooting in the U.S. this year–it’s hard to have any idea of what to do. How do you not feel helpless when facing this level of horror? When we’re overwhelmed with anger and despair, we want to know what we can do, both to help those in need now, and to prevent this sort of tragedy in the future. And for many of us, it seems obvious and natural to utilize what we are so often told is our greatest tool: our vote and our voice.

Yet, there are always those ready to tell us this isn’t the time to speak out.

The hypocrisy here is so lazy it almost hurts to even mention it. I’m tired of anyone who thinks they are the arbiter of what is and isn’t an appropriate response to tragedy, especially when they perpetually move the goalposts to suit their own, yes, political agenda.

And of course, there’s the issue of selective propriety, always drawn along the same predictable lines.

https://twitter.com/kumailn/status/914926155278553089

It also feels like the demand that we don’t talk about the “politics” (read: laws) of guns is used as a shield by those who want to retain control over the conversation and its practical effects. As Dan mentioned yesterday, Republicans are currently pushing multiple pieces of legislation aimed at loosening gun control. In fact, a hearing on the legislation to ease regulations on silencers was postponed following the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice earlier this year. Now that that hearing’s back on track, who does it benefit to quash the conversation around gun safety regulations?

Even more troubling, though, than the hypocritical application of the “too early for politics” argument, is the argument that “politics” isn’t an entirely appropriate reaction, now and always. As Americans, we’re often told that’s the one weapon we have. We have votes and voices and when we want to change our country, and we are told to use them. Yet when we do, it’s “not the time”?

Please don’t believe anyone that tells you vocalizing a desire to change gun laws is an inappropriate response to the current laws, especially when those very laws allow someone to murder and injure more than 500 people in one go. If now is not the time to demand a conversation with your elected representatives, when is?

No one is using death to advance their politics. We are trying to use politics to prevent deaths.

And please, tell me when exactly is the appropriate time to talk about these things?

https://twitter.com/keithcalder/status/914885048150536192

Then, of course, there are the people saying there’s no use discussing these things, since criminals will still commit crimes anyway. So I suppose we should just go ahead and stop outlawing literally anything, because, you know, thieves gon’ thieve, murderers gon’ murder and apparently it’s an Old West free-for-all out here.

And what about those who maintain that gun control laws actually make us less safe, despite all evidence to the contrary? And it is a LOT of evidence.

When your argument is based on anecdotes, maybe try not to rest on a totally idiotic fallacy.

https://twitter.com/timothycsimons/status/914959343568613376

But seriously, all facts support the notion that stricter gun laws lead to a safer populace. So who convinced us that even facts are political? They tell us, “Don’t bring up the fact that states with more guns have more gun deaths, or that gun loopholes are behind much of the misinformation behind the arguments against gun control!” To do so has been deemed “political” and therefore insensitive and uncouth.

How did that get established as an acceptable narrative in this conversation of how to keep us safe?

https://twitter.com/Nelba_MG/status/914811069650137089

https://twitter.com/Nelba_MG/status/914813601675964417

The argument that we’re not allowed to talk about these things after a tragedy should not carry any weight, but this is a rigged game, and a corrupt conversation.

For those of us who choose not to use actual guns in talking about gun violence, our political voices are our #1 weapon, maybe our only weapon. How else can we change things if not through these established democratic systems, and if not now–if not after Sandy Hook, Orlando, Columbine, Jesus how long does this list have to be?–when is the time to make anyone listen?

If we keep letting these same people declare the answer, we’re not going to get one that matters.

(featured image: Twitter)

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Author
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.