Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Politicizing a tragedy?

Basically as soon as stories of the CT school shooting came out, people started talking about gun control. And other people started talking about how it's too soon to talk about gun control, that we should first mourn the victims, and it's wrong to use such a terrible tragedy to advance a political agenda. I disagree.
Aside: Let me preface this by saying that I am pro-gun ownership. I've owned a handgun for over 10 years. I've already mentioned I think it'd be better if school teachers could carry concealed weapons (provided sufficient training first).
However, I am not necessarily anti-"gun control." I think many people hear "gun control" and think "take away all private ownership of guns." Most people are against that. But when you ask people about specific gun control policies (e.g. requiring background checks, disallowing felons or mentally ill people to own guns, etc.), there's a lot more support. It really depends on the policy and how it's implemented, but I think it's reasonable to expect some restrictions on such a grave responsibility. We have restrictions on who can drive, drink, or even vote. I'm okay with certain restrictions on who can own guns, too.
Anyway, everyone has different ways of coping with grief and tragedy. For some people, trying to figure out how to prevent similar tragedies in the future is a way of coping. And many people who want stricter gun control are doing just that--trying to figure out how to prevent future tragedies. Now, I don't typically agree with them that the policies they advocate would actually help, but I believe they believe the policies would help, and that they are just searching for solutions.

Additionally, I don't really see why advancing a political agenda is necessarily an inappropriate thing to do anyway. For a lot of people, their political agendas reflect their morality and their ideals and the ways they think we can best improve our communities and our country. A lot of people advance political agendas because they care and, again, because they hope it will help prevent future problems. I may not agree with their theories about what will help, but I can still recognize their intentions.

I was thinking about this in comparison to the abortion debate. On the horrible occasion when stories of abortion-related infanticide come about, pro-lifers are very likely to suggest the defense of abortion makes infanticide seem more of a moral gray area; the same pro-lifers will renew their calls for abortion restrictions. People could just as easily tell pro-lifers to first mourn the victims, and stop trying to advance a political agenda.

I don't know. Seems like the difference between coldly advancing a political agenda and sincerely calling for solutions is whether or not people agree with the policies you're advocating.


  1. My liberal family was going on about how disrespectful gun rights advocates are, for immediately jumping up and talking about gun control. Then we turned on CNN, where the reporter was calling for bans on assault rifles and asking every guest on his show (even guest psychologists) to also support gun control.

    But the reporter said "It would be disrespectful not to talk about gun control", which is sort of your point, too. Some people respond to evil by seeking to prevent it in the future.

    I guess it could go too far, though. Like "If Japan's whaling industry wasn't allowed to butcher the world's whale population, this sort of atrocity would not happen."

    1. By "too far" you mean that people start attacking causes very far removed from the effect?