This is stupid. There is no such thing as ‘politicizing’ tragedy. James Holmes did not materialize in a movie theater in Aurora this morning, free of any relationship to law and authority and the structures of power in this country; nor did he exit those relationships and structures by murdering 12 people and injuring several dozen more. Before he entered the theater, he purchased guns, whether legally or illegally, under a framework of laws and regulations governed and negotiated by politics; in the parking lot outside, he was arrested by a police force whose salaries, equipment, tactics and rights were shaped and determined by politics. Holmes’ ability to seek, or to not seek, mental health care; the government’s ability, or inability, to lock up persons deemed unstable – these are things decided and directed by politics. You cannot ‘politicize’ a tragedy because the tragedy is already political. When you talk about the tragedy you’re already talking about politics.
This is exactly the time to try to do something tangible that would help to avoid horrific massacres like this one and the Columbine and Gabby Giffords shootings and all too many others. This is when we are our most passionate, this is when we are painfully face to face with precisely why we need to act.
No, not hysterical or paranoid, as gun owners have already claimed in my Twitter stream, just a renewed sense of urgency, and hyper-conscious of something that badly needs fixing. Waiting hasn’t helped, ignoring the problem for political reasons or to avoid the wrath of the NRA hasn’t helped, so why not seize the moment?
The usual sequence of events is that a major tragedy hits us hard, we buzz and gasp and cry and scream– all heartfelt– but then we move on all too quickly. Nothing changes. And then another mass murder takes place, and we cry and mourn and express our outrage… and so on.
And then along comes Senator Lautenberg.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) office is saying that he plans to reintroduce legislation that would curtail the ability of a shooter to fire at length without reloading.
“If reports are correct and a high-capacity gun magazine was used to commit these awful murders, Senator Lautenberg will absolutely renew his effort to limit the availability of this dangerous firearm attachment,” Lautenberg’s communications director Caley Gray told The Huffington Post.
“The tragedy is already political.” Now do something about it.