Within moments of the Orlando shooting, politicians had jumped onto the tragedy to try to promote their own ideologies. We’re going to see more thoughts and prayers than we know what to do with in the coming weeks; we’re also going to see a boatload of speeches with promises and vague pledges.
The one thing we probably won’t see: effective gun control.
Donald Trump, the worst person, had a truly loathsome told-you-so reaction. His solution to the problem is to ban Muslim immigrants — even though the shooter was born only a few miles away from where Trump himself was born.
Dreadfully, Ted Cruz said that we need to “abandon political correctness,” as if treating people with respect is more responsible for gun violence than guns are. Marco Rubio said he might use the shooting as justification for running for office again, even though he said he wouldn’t just a few months ago. “It really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country,” Rubio said.
How has Marco been “most useful” so far? By calling gay parents a “social experiment” and gay couples “absurd.” He also says that employers should be able to fire you for being gay, and helped raise money for ex-gay camps. Yes indeed, Marco Rubio is the savior this country needs.
Of course, what we really need are some bills to keep guns out of the hands of people who would do harm with them — which is just about everyone. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. At best, we’ll have a few weak bills that hobble through Congress. Right now there are four proposals, two from Democrats and two from Republicans, and none of them would be terrible effective.
One competing pair would restrict sales to people suspected of terrorism. This should be a no-brainer, but incredibly, the Republicans are afraid that this goes too far — they’re worried that a few false positives would slip through, resulting in a some non-terrorists having difficulty obtaining guns. That doesn’t sound like such a bad price to pay for a world with fewer violent gun deaths, but hey, if the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave me as much money as it gives members of Congress, I might try to push back on legislation too.
Another pair of bills would reform background checks. A Democratic proposal would check more people and penalize states that don’t share gun sale data. A Republican proposal would give rewards to states that share mental health data. Terrific.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Association just overwhelmingly voted to pressure lawmakers to allow them to study gun violence (the Centers for Disease Control has been prohibited from researching the issue since the ’90s.) Predictably, Republicans who’ve received money from the NRA, such as Tom Cole and Michael Burgess, like things just the way they are.
Be careful out there. The end of mass shootings is nowhere near in sight.