By Eddie Uong | Brown University
Let’s examine one of the Republican responses to the democratic call for gun control following a shooting. Republicans always say democrats are politicizing a tragedy for their own benefit. Well, let’s think about this in a different way, outside of gun control. Just in 2015, the law surrounding buildings in California changed so no buildings can be built on top of fault lines and hundreds of buildings made of wood and steel would undergo construction to make them safer in the case of an earthquake. These changes came about because earthquake after earthquake destroyed buildings on top of fault lines and wood buildings. The state legislature decided it would be safer to change the law. When lawmakers came out and said they wanted to change the structural codes of the buildings, there was no outcry that lawmakers were politicizing tragedies. No one was saying lawmakers we using the earthquake to reach a political goal. What happened was there was a problem which was happening over and over again and could be prevented. So the lawmakers in California looked at the problem and addressed it.
Another good point I came across from watching the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Flash back to the Orlando shooting, or San Bernardino. The immediate response from the right, the very next day, was an outcry for immigration reform. The day after a tragedy the Republicans are calling out for stricter immigration laws and illegal immigrants to be thrown out of the country. The only difference between the democrat’s response and the republicans is that the democrats hold their message when the perpetrator of the violence isn’t brown, and the democrats use logic (does it make much sense to say stricter immigration laws would’ve stopped a shooter who was born and raised in the US?). There is no talk about republicans politicizing issues because democrats are willing to talk about issues in the aftermath of tragedy and are not willing to stoop low enough as republicans to attack their morality because of the policy they are trying to implement, especially in a time of national mourning.
It is not politicizing to see a tragedy, a preventable one, and to be outraged and want to look for a solution to the problem, as quick as possible. It is normal, it is, in fact, what should happen. It is lawmakers job to see a tragedy like what we just witnessed in Las Vegas and think how could this have been prevented? Really, the only reason to not try to think of solutions, to not discuss paths to change, would be political. So Republicans have no right to blame democrats for being human, being outraged, and wanting to act on their emotions in a positive direction by trying to pass and push for gun control laws after a mass shooting. Maybe they should look at the reasons they don’t want to look at solutions and who really has a political agenda.
Now we should examine the other Republican argument on gun control, the Second Amendment. First, the bills that the Democrats are bringing forward are popular. According to a CNN poll, 92 percent of Americans approve of more thorough background checks and 85 percent support legislation preventing those on the terrorist watchlist from buying guns. So why are these bills not passing? Are they really violating the Second Amendment if over 80 percent of people support both bills? Second, the right talks all the time about America first. About making America a world leader again. If Republicans are serious about this sentiment, they would be the first in line to pass gun control legislation. If they wanted to make America a world leader, first America must be safe. The world can’t look at America as the backwards country that still has shootings every day, as the developed country with the highest gun violence rate in the world. That is not world leadership. America should look outside to the other developed countries if it wants to curb this violent trend. Japan, for example, has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Yet with their strict gun laws, Japan is also among the lowest homicide rates from guns in the world. Think about this for a second: according to The Guardian, there are more people killed from guns in the United States in a day than there are in Japan in a year. A year. If Republicans want to argue some countries with the lowest gun violence or gun homicide rates in the world have some of the highest per capita gun rates, countries like Germany. This is true. Germany has somewhere around the 15th most guns per capita of any country in the world, and yet has one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe. But the other thing that Germany has is strict regulations on obtaining guns. Germany has some of the strictest regulatory laws in the world regarding guns. Police can even spot check gun owners now without warning. Regulation of guns does not mean we have to get rid of guns altogether.
I know that this might all seem fruitless. As I said in the beginning, this all seems like a cycle that ends with nothing being done. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But you know what? Call me insane. Because every time this happens, every time there is another Las Vegas, or Newtown, or San Bernadina, the wound is open again, and I won’t stop speaking out and demanding change. Demanding something be done. So please. Call me insane.
 Rong-Gong Lin III and Rosanna Xia, “Los Angeles Tightens Regulations on New Building near Quake Faults,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-la-fault-quakes-20150718-story.html. Amber Phillips, “The Senate Voted on 4 Popular Gun Control Proposals Monday. Here’s Why None of Them Passed.,” The Washington Post, June 20, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/20/the-senate-will-vote-on-4-gun-control-proposals-monday-heres-everything-you-need-to-know/?utm_term=.48b43496f75d. Juliette Jowit et al., “Four Countries with Gun Control - and What America Couold Learn from Them,” The Guardian (blog), March 14, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/15/so-america-this-is-how-you-do-gun-control.