Political narratives are not reflections of reality, but merely attempts to create a faux reality based on political perspective and bias. Even worse, narratives tend to set the parameters for our political debates that too often endure even after the facts on the ground have changed.
No where is that more true than in the national debate over guns. The narratives on both sides have not changed in decades – even as the facts have.
If you follow the issue, you have Second Amendment groups ginning up fear that Uncle Sam — under Democrat control — is about to seize all the peoples’ weapons. And folks like former Texas Congressman and one-time presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke have threatened as much.
Gun control advocates on the left paint a picture of the 72 million gun-owners (and 132 million people who live in homes with guns) as potential mass shooters. They seemed to suggest that if it were not for the National Rifle Association (NRA), America would be virtually free of gun violence. And it is the Republican party – particularly conservatives – who are the gun lovers stopping any move toward gun control.
The NRA has deservedly lost power thanks largely due to the inept and corrupt leadership of Wayne LaPierre, but their power has never been about money, as the left contends. And NRA support in Congress is not only from Republicans.
The influence of the NRA is at the grassroots – from the millions upon millions of Second Amendment supporters who vote that issue – Republicans, Democrats and independents. The NRA may be a good whipping boy for left-wing fundraising, but the attack on the front office fails to address the real opposition to excessive gun control — voters. That is to whom the members of Congress respond – not the NRA dollars.
The issue of guns is dynamic. It changes over time. A bit more than a century ago, gun ownership and use was virtually unrestricted. If someone stole your horse, you could shoot them. If they broke into your house, you could shoot them. Many disputes were settled with guns. As late as 1968, Mayor Richard J. Daley, of Chicago, issued a shoot to kill order for arsonists – and shoot to maim for looters.
After every mass shooting, there is a call to do “something” in terms of gun control so – as the cliché goes – “it will never happen again.” But it will happen again.
For a long time, the mainstream media focused only on the sensational mass shootings – the Pulse nightclub in Florida, the open-air concert in Las Vegas, the Sandy Hook school, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland and a number of others.
We never heard much about other officially designated mass shootings or all those murders that were not part of an official mass shooting. According to those who keep the records, an official mass shooting is one in which four or more people are injured or killed by gun shots in a single event – not including the shooter or shooters. By that definition, the media had been ignoring thousands of mass shootings for years.
Because the news services had reported only on the sensational shootings, most Americans did not know of the many “mass shootings” that were happening day-after-day. I would report on those numbers occasionally, but I never saw any of the major national journalists give out those numbers.
In the past year or so, the news media has begun to pay attention to the number of official mass shootings, but not with a lot of coverage – mostly just an occasional statistical summary. The change in reporting has given the impression that a Pandemic of shooting has suddenly arisen in recent months. While there has been a serious uptick in shootings of all kinds in the past year, there has always been more than the news outfits reported.
It is worthwhile to speculate why the change – especially why the shootings were not reported in the past.
One reason is that most of them lack sensationalism of the type that drives the media. They tended to be domestic situations, robberies gone bad, gun fights with police or the result of gang warfare. Those were considered local stories by the media cabal in New York City.
But the most significant historic reason is that most of the mass shootings occurred in minority neighborhoods. Not only were these mass shootings ignored, but so were the many other shootings, murders and crimes in general. The plight of those trapped in the segregated ghettos were not considered newsworthy.
For generations, the media culture ignored crime in the inner cities – much as they ignored all the other oppressive conditions of day-to-day life. In cities run by white racist Democrat political machines, the media was part of the top-down racist culture — and was not about to focus on the suffering of poor blacks and Hispanics in those segregated communities. That would have required confronting the folks in City Hall.
Ignoring the inner cities created one of the problems we are living with (or dying from) today – the exponential growth of illegal guns in the hands of the criminal class.
And in conjunction with the large number of guns in the hands of killers and potential killers, we have a lack of criminal enforcement. It is not a coincidence that the recent spike in shootings – deadly and otherwise – is coming at a time when the police are being attacked, disrespected, defunded and the ranks depopulated by record retirements. If you do not enforce the gun laws vigorously, you get more gun crime. Duh!
Virtually every left-wing proposal to stop gun violence in America is focused on limiting the activities of legal gun owners. There is – and has been – insufficient attention given to the millions of illegal guns – or even legal guns in the hands of those who are not allowed to own or carry them. That includes minors, felons and those with mental conditions.
While the left laments that nothing changes after every horrific mass shooting, they do not realize that is largely because THEY do not change after every mass shooting. They make generally empty calls for same gun control legislation under the rubric that “something must be done.”
The thread-bare solutions they propose fail because most of them are impossible to enforce – and even worse, they would not prevent mass shootings. How many times have we seen a mass shooting that would not have been interdicted and prevented by any of the proposed new restrictions?
As long as those on the left see it as a gun problem – rather than a people and culture problem – we will continue to be horrified by both mass shootings and the plague of one-on-one killings. And we can look forward to a continuation of the thousands of shootings – and killings – for the foreseeable future.
So, there ‘tis.