Opinion Opinion

It's always too soon to talk about gun control: Robyn Urback

We mustn't lose sight of what's really important: the freedom for Americans to own caches of deadly weapons

Robyn Urback - for CBC News

October 04, 2017

So far, mourning and prayer have proven unsuccessful in quelling the scourge of gun violence in the U.S.

It's not the time to talk about gun control in the U.S. It is too soon. We must wait a reasonable amount of time after the last mass shooting, but not too much time as to run into the next mass shooting.

They occur roughly every 24 hours, so in that sense, the moment has already passed. But then again, there never really was an appropriate moment. It was too soon, and not soon enough. Everyone with me? OK, good. 

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It was unfortunate to see so many people hop on their political hobby horses just a few hours after we learned about Sunday night's horrific shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in U.S. history. But it was not the time for political debate, as White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders reminded reporters Monday, calling it "premature" to discuss policy.

Rather, it was "time to unite as a country," she said; for mourning and prayers and other intangibles, which, so far, have been unsuccessful in quelling the scourge of gun violence in the U.S. But maybe if we mourn deeper and pray louder, it will start to turn around.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was 'premature' to discuss gun policy in the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

In any case, lawmakers cannot allow this tragedy, which was the 273rd of its kind in 275 days, to make Americans lose sight of what is important here: that is, the freedom to amass a stockpile of weapons, ammunition and modifiers that can enable a single person to wound hundreds and kill dozens in a matter of minutes. 

Take that freedom away, and the U.S. suddenly devolves into Japan, or Australia, or some other quasi-socialist country where people aren't gunned down in movie theatres, high schools, on live TV, in nightclubs and in kindergarten classrooms. What would be left of America then? You might as well take away apple pie, Sunday afternoon football (I mean the good kind of football, back before those whiners started kneeling during the national anthem) and the right to skin a deer on the side of the interstate. Like a man.

Liberals forever rattle on about gun control, pushing radical ideas such as prohibiting mentally unstable people from purchasing firearms, or requiring guns to be safely stored so that toddlers stop shooting themselves and others, or banning people from carrying guns into daycares and airports. That is nonsense. Americans need more guns, not fewer. 

Indeed, the obvious solution to a man with an arsenal of weapons shooting down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is a sea of 22,000 equally armed concertgoers below, panicked and shooting wildly in the direction of the 43-storey hotel. Perhaps that would have saved some lives. Sadly, we will never know. 

Drapes billow out of broken windows at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Authorities says the gunman used a hammer-like tool to break them before shooting at the concertgoers below. (John Locher/Associated Press)

The important thing to remember here is that after trying very little, lawmakers are all out of ideas. Gun control has not worked in places like New York and Illinois — Chicago, specifically, which long had a ban on the sale of handguns within city limits. Perhaps it's because a patchwork of state-by-state gun laws doesn't work when weapons can very easily be moved across state lines.

Perhaps it's also because any meaningful attempt at reform on a national scale is immediately thwarted by the enormously powerful gun lobby. 

If legislators make it harder to buy guns, people will just buy guns illegally. If they try to staunch the spread of illegal firearms with tougher penalties for possession, a national database of firearm transactions, reinstating a federal assault weapons ban, by testing out a national buy-back program akin to that of Australia or any combination thereof, well, either it won't work — and the U.S. will be in the same place it is now — or it will work, and the country will become one of those pathetic gun-less nations where people keep bear spray on the dashboards of their hybrid cars. No, that will not do. 

Click to show more
Warning: Disturbing content | Las Vegas shooting as seen through social media posts at the ground level.  2:44

Either way, people need to stop this distasteful tendency to talk policy in the wake of every mass shooting. It is offensive. Sure, the status quo isn't exactly working, but unless Americans can be absolutely guaranteed that more restrictive measures would have the desired effect, there's no point in really trying anything at all, right? 

The respectful thing to do here is to mourn for the victims and their families, and then preserve everything exactly as it is, so that it may happen again. That's what freedom feels like, friends. Let the Swiss keep their bear spray.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robyn Urback
Columnist

Robyn Urback is an opinion columnist with CBC News and a producer with the CBC's Opinion section. She previously worked as a columnist and editorial board member at the National Post. Follow her on Twitter at:

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