Yankton Daily Press (S.D.) and Dakotan, Yankton, July 27
So, just when is the right time?
Unfortunately, it’s the same-old, same-old when it comes to gun violence in America. Another day, another dark chapter in the ongoing narrative and another excuse not to talk about it.
This time, the latest entry in this tale comes from Louisiana, where last Thursday, a man got up in a movie theater, pulled out a gun and methodically began firing at the crowd. Two people were killed and nine others were injured before the gunman, identified by police as John Russel Houser, took his own life.
You know the story, because we’ve been down this road too often, and we have buried too many in the process. The numbers vary and the dates change, but the theme goes on and on.
What followed in its wake was politically predictable: When asked about gun control policies and how a man who, it is reported, had mental issues somehow was able to acquire a gun, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that this wasn’t the time to talk about such issues. Families are grieving, he said, thus this wasn’t the proper moment to engage in such a discussion.
“There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics,” he said, “and I’m sure that folks will want to score political points of this tragedy, as they’ve tried to do on previous tragedies.”
This comes from a governor who is currently running for president and will no doubt herald his staunch Second Amendment support as a selling point.
We’ve heard this too many times after too many similar tragedies. It was a persistent mantra in the wake of the Newtown massacre in Connecticut almost three years ago, because, amid all those dead children, the last thing pro-gun lawmakers wanted to talk about was gun control.
And so Jindal echoed a familiar response, shoving the issue off until the issue fades from the public radar while other headlines lure our attentions — until the next shooting.
So, when do we take talk about this?
When is the appropriate time to talk about the next people to die? And there will be more victims, without question.
What these politicians are really saying, it seems, is that there is never a time to talk about it, as far as they are concerned. Meanwhile, people keep dying. According to the FBI, “active shooter” events — defined as an incident in which “an individual (is) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area” have jumped from 6.4 incidents per year between 2000-2007 to 16.4 incidents a year since.
It’s also no secret that gun control issues in general are not widely popular in the U.S. That’s understandable, given how the issue is portrayed in such absolute, freedom-or-tyranny terms. But given the issues standing in the polls, why not talk about it? Why not discuss it?
After all, there is a problem, as the FBI stats indicate. And the deaths pile up.
So, when do we decide to deal with this?
When do we decide to find some solutions?
Why do we wait for politicians, determined to wait in silence for the controversy to fade away?
What can be done?
By pushing off the debate and announcing that “now is not the time” for such discussions, we’ve come up with the answer to every one of those questions.