While the progressive response to gun violence has usually been to push for stricter gun control, the Republican reaction has been to lay the blame anywhere but on the easy availability of guns. In essence, we are expected to tone down our rhetoric and walk on eggshells lest we piss off our gun-toting fellow Americans or tempt them into using their weapon to obtain “justice.”
It has been just over a year since the deadly mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where nearly 50 mostly black and brown queer Americans were gunned down. Because the shooter happened to be a brown-skinned Muslim man, that incident was dubbed “the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11,” even though there was no evidence of actual collusion between the shooter, Omar Mateen, and outside political organizations. Apparently the only requirements for labeling an incident “terrorist” are the skin color and/or religious background of the shooter. In the wake of that mass shooting, Republicans ardently professed their “thoughts and prayers,” but thanks in large part to their unwavering allegiance to the NRA, they remained silent on the shooter’s ability to easily and legally obtain an AR-15 assault rifle.
When coordinated attacks took place on London Bridge and Borough Market in the U.K. recently, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the incidents, saying, “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!” In addition to insulting the victims with his offhand remarks, Trump failed to recognize that if guns were as easily available in the U.K. as they are in the U.S., the perpetrators would have likely used them to far deadlier effect than they did with a van and knives. It is likely that strict gun control laws in the U.K. greatly reduced the potential death toll. (The issue of how the West’s foreign policy provokes such actions in the first place is another matter entirely, one that politicians of almost all stripes tend to avoid.)