This headline probably already generated a half-dozen ideas in your mind, with one or two standing out from the rest. If you started a list, you could probably come up with a full dozen or more things about the Las Vegas mass shooting that are troubling.
Perhaps you’re one of those who thinks the United States of America need stricter gun laws. I don’t count myself among that number, but I understand how a circumstance like this might heighten your emotional sense of the need for more government oversight. “Someone needs to prevent this from happening,” you might say, “and it’s the government’s job.”
I find this to be a deeply dissatisfying perspective, in part because I believe in the rights the 2nd Amendment recognizes, but even more so because of something much more practical: the prevention of overlords having all the weapons. History is replete with examples of governments disarming their citizens and then ruling them with caprice and cruelty. I don’t like the notion of removing weapons from the populace, leaving us vulnerable to over-reaching politicians and bureaucrats.
But heightened calls for increased gun laws are not what primarily concern me. Here are some things that do concern me:
- Declarations that it’s okay for these people to have died because most of them were (supposedly likely) Trump supporters.
- The thorough lack of understanding publicly of what motivated the shooter.
- The fact that the shooter was American and without any of the typically perceived reasons for anger with Americans generally (the second half here is closely linked with #2).
- The speed with which news agencies try to declare what they think they know—so they can be the first to tell—only to spread misunderstanding instead, because of their lack of discernible facts.
- The sheer number of dead and wounded.
I list #5 last, not because it is least important, but because it is most important. For me, the most troubling thing about the shooting is the people physically suffering and their loved ones emotionally suffering—and the political hay being made by politicians and pundits on all sides. People are dead. No new law will bring them back, and rushing into new law—even if a needed law—will never produce carefully-crafted law.
I understand clearly why politicians and pundits are pushing a move toward new gun law. They know what they are doing; they know that people are hurting emotionally now and they want to take advantage of those emotions. They hope to manipulate people when they are vulnerable. This is the behavior of tyrants—and their sycophants. And these are the people who claim to be most upset by what they want us to believe is tyrannical behavior by our current President.
If you are listening to the news agencies and you hear anyone trying to tug at your heartstrings to push for any political agenda, just turn them off and read a good book—preferably something thoughtful yet light-hearted like Pride and Prejudice or Ivanhoe or Much Ado about Nothing or anything by P. G. Wodehouse. Go about your life and interact with the people you love. Talk to them about this tragedy, and when you do, feel free to engage them in meaningful conversation about gun rights and gun laws. But leave the politicians and pundits out of the conversation for now. There’s nothing they can add immediately that will be worthwhile.