What Doesn’t Work to Stop the Shootings

The death toll has continued to rise over the last few hours, but here is the latest from Las Vegas:

As Martin just wrote, the same people are saying the same things we hear every time one of these mass shootings occurs. There is always a chorus that starts by saying that now is not the time to talk about solutions. Instead, they say it’s time for “thoughts and prayers.” Anyone who wants to go beyond that is vilified.

Just as athletes protesting against police violence and injustice are said to be defaming the flag and the military, people who care enough about the victims of these tragedies to want to actually do something to stop them are apparently “godless.”

The trouble is, once interest dies down, these same people never want to engage in discussing solutions. Since we repeat the same loop every time something like this happens, let’s take a look at what we tend to hear from the side that opposes any form of common sense gun safety measures.

The most ridiculous came from the current president, who seemed to think that either his election or his declaration at the inauguration would simply put an end to it all.

Obviously that didn’t work.

The NRA’s solution has always been that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In this case, Stephen Paddock was shooting from the 32nd floor of his hotel room at people on the ground attending a music festival. Even if they’d had guns to shoot back, it wouldn’t have stopped a damn thing.

That also doesn’t take into account the fact that the United States, with 4.4 percent of the world’s population, is the country with 42 percent of civilian-owned guns. According to the NRA, this should be the safest country in the world. And yet, we have six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany.

The other trouble with the NRA’s approach is that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys until it’s too late. But that doesn’t stop people like Gov. Matt Bevin from making posthumous remarks like this:

I haven’t heard anyone suggest that we should try to “regulate evil.” But that is an interesting statement coming from the party that has recently reclaimed the mantle of “law and order.” The entire criminal justice system is based on the idea of regulating behavior. A statement like that one from Bevin makes you wonder if we should simply do away with statutes that outlaw murder and theft, since they could also be construed as an attempt to regulate evil.

Speaking of evil, here is something we hear every time a tragedy like this happens:

This particular tragedy sends a powerful message about that. Apparently within the scope of about 15 minutes, a 64 year old retiree murdered 58 people and wounded another 515. Absent an automatic (or semiautomatic) weapon, how else could a “stupid f*ck” do that? Any other weapon that could have caused that kind of damage in that amount of time by that particular person is already illegal. But Stephen Paddock was in possession of at least 10 guns. That is the nexus we must address.

The reality is that none of these are solutions. The people who are suggesting them simply want to maintain the status quo—where 58 people lose their lives in a matter of 15 minutes because a madman has a gun. It is way past time to change the status quo.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .