Commentary: What isn’t being said about Florida and gun control

There is never a good moment to discuss the Second Amendment and gun control after a shooting incident, especially when that crime has taken lives. Like all Americans, I mourn the loss of innocents to the actions of a mad man on a mission of evil. It is because of that loss, and the utter loathing of acts of evil, that I will never utter the name of the sick individual who committed this crime in Jacksonville, FL, in any commentary or reporting. Even in 2018, there is such a thing as infamy and it deserves no glorification.

Still, there is a bigger issue that must be discussed. Rationally, without the emotional hype that has now become common after well-publicized events like this one. Because while I would prefer to wait, major news media outlets are filling the airwaves and internet with finger pointing and blame and fear. But it is my opinion, that we need to strip those things away to address, if we can, the core reasons behind such incidents.

The first and most important question we need to ask is, ‘Why did this happen?’ It’s a question that is the core to this consistent type of crime. Yet all too often it is lost in the far more provocative and politically partisan question of ‘How did it happen.’ Honestly, the second question, while far more popular for gaining eyeballs, clicks and marketshare, is the least important thing we can know. Even more commonly, the second question of how is often merged with ‘How do we stop this’. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is one example of the second question,

“Too many lives are being snuffed out far too soon in everyday places like our high school football games, movie theaters, shopping malls, and public schools. As long as we let this absurd status quo continue, in which the gun lobby controls our elected officials, this bloodshed will continue. I will lift the victims’ families up in prayer tonight, and as our next Governor, I will do everything in my power to finally pass the common sense gun safety laws we so badly need in the Sunshine State.”

Given, Mayor Gillum is emotional. Comments like this are most common when politicians are emotional. It’s that very emotional impetus that drives the affected region to pass quick-fix legislation. In other regions and States, opportunist politicians jump on the emotional bandwagon, rushing to pass their own legislations to “fix” the problem and capitalize with voters as being a politician with a solution. Thus you had the NY SAFE Act in reaction to the Sandy Hook Shooting. Or the wave of Red Flag legislation following the Parkland shooting earlier this year.

But the problem in this rush to “do something” is that nothing is really being done. Definitions of firearms have been changed to be as broad and all encompassing as possible. Various types of firearms, ammunition, and magazines have been made illegal. Pro-2nd Amendment organizations have been demonized. Some companies have restricted or banned entirely the sale of firearms. Most recently a swath of Red Flag Legislation have been sweeping the nation – with Florida adding its version in March and Maryland adding to the rush in April.

With all of these efforts, in all of the force of Government and partisan politics put upon legal gun owners, the evil persists. There have been mass murders with cars in 2015 and 2017 among others. There have been bombs, used and attempted. Which says nothing of the violence of gangs – like the multiple shooting incident in Jacksonville, under high security, just 2 days before the most recent incident that has gained national attention.

In fact, for all the quick-fixes and assurances of ‘doing something’, the result has been (as of October 2017),

“Factually, increases in the number of gun restriction legislations have done nothing to improve the safety of residents of States with the most extreme laws. Equally, murders by means other than firearms has been unaffected and untargeted by those claiming to seek the safety of the public.”

Even the Red Flag legislation of Florida and Maryland, which in Florida alone has already affected 450+ citizens, is proven useless. Because as FiveThirtyEight.com noted in their review of 33,000 gun-related deaths,

“The causes vary, and situations affect different groups of people in different ways. Most of all, mass shootings are separate of all other forms of gun violence. If we focus on mass shootings as a means of understanding how to reduce the number of people killed by guns in this country, we’re likely to implement laws that don’t do what we want them to do — and miss opportunities to make changes that really work. Gun violence isn’t one problem, it’s many. And it probably won’t have a single solution, either.”

The repugnant shooter in Jacksonville apparently was motivated because he lost a game. How he lost the game, whatever game it may be, is not important. How he got the firearm, ultimately, is not important. The question that needs to be answered is WHY did a person playing a game decide that the best way to react to a loss was to kill innocent people. Because even if we focus on how this vile individual got a firearm, and deny every American the ability to legally have that same firearm or use that same process, we are still left with the reality that we don’t know why. Without understanding the why, then a different firearm, or a bomb, or a car, or a sword, or whatever will be used. Without understanding the why, it will still exist and still be a factor.

In the highly emotional rush to “do something” and to say something that will give a false sense of security to the masses – generally in hopes of either a partisan gain or votes in an election – the opportunity to calmly review and identify the true core cause is lost. For decades the emotional rush, and the political need to assign blame, have dominated gun control policy. There is no reason to believe that the latest fad of Red Flag legislation, or whatever gun control quick-fix that follows it, will be any more effective than anything prior.

Perhaps we need to try a new approach. No blame, no punishment of Americans enacting their Rights, no campaign slogans used as rally cries. Let’s mourn the loss of innocents. Let’s take the time to find out the why. Then, let’s address the why – with a clear and rational intent to stop it, short-term and long-term. It won’t garner votes, it won’t win ratings battles. But it might, finally, start to whittle away at a problem that has cost lives for decades.

Michael Vass Vasquez, November 2015Sincerely

Michael “Vass” Vasquez

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