Turning tragedy into travesty, the gun control debate

The School shooting in Newtown, Conn. may have occurred over a month ago, but pundits from both ends of the political spectrum continue to use the tragedy as ammunition for gun control bickering.

It may be important to analyze our gun laws, especially in the wake of a massacre that wouldn’t have been possible without guns. However, that does not excuse the many Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, who have turned the Sandy Hook shootings into a gun-rights shouting match.

Within days of the incident, political figures and interests groups began to jump at the chance to politicize the tragedy. On Dec. 21, only one week after the tragedy, Wayne Lapierre, executive vice president for the National Rifle Association, delivered a statement criticizing gun control.

“Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Lapierres’s point, though somewhat compelling, was delivered with all the subtlety and sensitivity of a five-ton Mack truck.
Throughout his official statement, the NRA spokesman frequently blamed gun violence on everything from violent slasher films like “American Psycho” to video games like “Grand Theft Auto”and called for greater gun ownership and armed guards in schools to curb the violence.

I sincerely hope that Lapierre doesn’t shoot any of his guns half as haphazardly as he shoots his mouth off, or else we’re all in trouble.

While Lapierre would be identified by many as a conservative, interest groups on the left have also abused the Sandy Hook tragedy for political gain.

On Jan. 16, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a collection of 48 organizations that hope to curb gun violence, created a political ad attacking representative John Barrow, a Democratic Georgia congressman. The video was composed of edited material from one of Barrow’s campaign ads and combined recut samples of Barrow speaking about his support of gun-ownership and the NRA overlapped with videos and soundbites from the news coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Politicizing a tragedy- reducing it to nothing more than a political argument- is deplorable at best, especially when it is done so publicly, with so little discretion.

I don’t believe there is a single parent in Newtown tonight that feels any better from witnessing the lives of their children being used for political arguments on the internet, the radio and the TV, at least once every day. But just as I know that when I turn on the TV tonight, at some point I’ll be watching a talking-head rant about gun control and referencing Sandy Hook, I know that many of the parents in Newtown will watch and be reminded of the very same thing.

It’s important that we analyze each of the many, many factors that led to the Sandy Hook shooting, but it’s also important we don’t drag the victims of that day and their families and everyone who lives in Newtown into a political argument they’d have nothing to do with, otherwise. These people need to heal.