guns

Mass Shootings, Empathy and Hypocrisy

Antique toy gun sits on an old weathered fabric background

There’s a certain ideology (you know the kind) that demands “empathy for me but not for thee.” It’s the politician with an LGBT kid who supports gay marriage but tramples on services for LGBT homeless teens, the “moderate” public official who is ostensibly pro-choice but rejects food stamps and government assistance for poor mothers, and the politician who ignores gun violence as it ravages group after group across the country, affecting everyone—and then decries it when it affects them.

Today there was a shooting at a congressional baseball game, where GOP members were playing. Further threats have affected Democrats in the House. The political atmosphere today is one of recrimination, distress and fear: toxic.

It’s a total travesty—such violence is always unjustified—and I’m relieved, from the bottom of my heart, that no one attending the game was killed. I wish a speedy recovery to all who were wounded.

If the shooter shared any of my personal ideologies, I personally disavow him with my entire being, and I know other progressives do, too.

But I join with so many exasperated American mothers today in saying, “Where were so many of our politicians when children were gunned down?” Where were they after Gabby Giffords? Sandy Hook? The rising death toll in Chicago, including so many innocent youngsters? The many people killed by toddlers who accidentally find guns in the house?

Where were the ashen faces, the shaken-up politicos in the halls of power, when it was us, their constituents, who were suffering and scared and traumatized and grieving because of gun violence? It reminds me of that poem we Jews like to recite… “First they came for…”  by Martin Niemöller. Mass shootings in America have targeted gay clubs, workplaces, schools, and street corners. There was another one today, at a USPS office. Mothers have led the charge for change, and they have been ignored. Feminist activists have noted that the shooter appears to have had a history of domestic violence, a common pattern found both in terrorism cases and mass shootings, but funding for DV is constantly under threat.

Time after time, many in congress who are supposed to represent our interests have done nothing. You may accuse me of politicizing this issue, but it was politicized a long, long time ago. Pundits even mocked President Obama for his tears after Sandy Hook, and Republicans did nothing in response the sit-in staged by Democrats over gun violence. Instead of changing things, GOP politicians have recently allowed laxer and laxer gun laws—guns have been welcomed into national parks, on campuses, and worse. Recently, the GOP has tried to protect gun silencers. That’s right, gun silencers.

No one should have to be scared for their safety while playing baseball. I can’t imagine the trauma those people experienced today, and I shudder to think about it.

But it’s worth asking, if these grown men were terrified with the Capitol police there to help them, imagine being a schoolchild today crouching in silence during an active shooter drill— or worse, the real thing.  Imagine that fear, House Speaker Paul Ryan—I’m talking to you—when you look back on your recent actions.

You have our empathy, Congresspeople. You really do.

Now we want yours.

 

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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