It has been a few weeks since the Republican lawmakers were shot at James Hodgkinson at their baseball practice on June 14, 2017. I have pretty much kept my mouth shut because I wanted most of the details to come out about the events, the people and the reaction to the event. So this is my delayed take on the event in question. There are three major points I will make in this article. First, the who is the blame. Second, how it could have been avoided. Third, and how we should respond to the event.
Someone has to be blamed for this terrible event, and yes it is terrible regardless of your politics. Let’s clear this up right now. The person to blame for this event is James Hodgkinson. He planned the attack with foresight with malice in his heart. He scouted the location and bought the gun. No one can or should be blamed for this act but him. Not politicians, comedians, gun laws, plays, or tweets. These things could very well have incited him to such an act but he is the only person responsible for carrying out the attack, therefore, he is the only one who is guilty. Do you agree? If not let me know in the comments.
Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, so we must look at this event to see if there is anything we as a society can do, moving forward to prevent these attacks from happening again. The first place most liberals went to of how we can stop an attack like this in the future is their usual talking points when dealing with gun crime: lax gun control laws. Hours after the event Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is quoted as saying:
I have long advocated — this is not what today is about — but there are too many guns on the streets… I have long talked about this — background checks and shutting down gun show loopholes. And that’s not for today’s discussion, but it’s not just about politicians. We worry about this every day for all of our citizens (Lee, n.p., 2017)
The article says also that the push for stricter gun control laws was tweeted by numerous Democrats throughout the day. The big problem for this narrative? The guns purchased by James Hodgkinson, the person to blame for this event, purchased them legally in Illinois (The Advocate, n.p. 2017, Hawkins, n.p. 2017). So what changes to the gun laws would you make to prevent this obviously deranged and violent man from getting a gun to stop this shooting in the first place? What is your solution to the problem to avoid this in the first place?
This was the solution to many of the most recent shootings in our memory. But background checks and waiting periods did not stop the shooters in San Bernardino, The Pulse nightclub, Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut and so many other places (Cauterucci and Weber, n.p., 2015, Hawkins, n.p., 2017). Background checks only stop people who have ALREADY committed crimes. So again what would you have done to prevent this attack from happening in the first place? What laws would have stopped this man from doing what his twisted heart desired?
Lastly, we need to consider how we as a citizenry should respond to this event. The first is something people on both sides of the aisle need to do: stop inciting violence with your rhetoric and demonstrations. Both sides have been guilty of this in the past and this event led to a change of heart of one of those on the right. Ted Nugent has admitted that his rhetoric towards Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama and it all needs to be toned down by people on both sides (Wong, n.p., 2017). Now I understand as a country that values and emphasizes our freedom of speech, no one is required to do anything about this. Kathy Griffin is allowed to raise a bloodied dummy head that looks like Donald Trump, plays can be staged in a modern setting with Trump as the title character, and effigies of our politicians can be hanged in public protest. But we really need to go back and look at the Golden Rule. If someone did this to protest our side of a public policy debate, how would we react? Would we someone else to treat us like this? The answer is usually a solid, no. In response then everyone needs to tone down their own rhetoric for the sake of being members of a civil society, regardless of our right to free speech.
What have we learned from this horrible event? First, the only person who should be blamed for this event is the many responsible for committing the act, James Hodgkinson. Secondly, that changing gun law would not have averted this event, because the person guilty followed prescribed gun laws. Lastly, we all need to be more civil in our discourse with each other and people we disagree with, avoiding violent rhetoric to make it look like that is an acceptable way of dealing with people we don’t agree with. We need to expect this from each other and call each other out when we see these types of behavior: incorrectly placing blame and the use of inappropriate and rude rhetoric. Also, we need to expect this behavior of our elected representatives and hold their feet to the fire when they fail to meet those expectations.
Thanks for reading! Questions, comments, concerns? Class dismissed!
Cauterucci, Christina, and Greta Weber. “How Mass Shooters Get Their Guns: The Shocking Ease With Which 11 Killers Acquired Their Weapons.” Slate Magazine. Slate, 02 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 June 2017.