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The President and Political Realities

Political Realities

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
- President Trump

With that statement yesterday, President Trump indicated something we’ve not heard expressed from a politician speaking following senseless acts of violence: common sense.

Mr. Trump says he’s dedicated to addressing the causes of this violence, not symptoms.

That’s not music to the ears of those who believe more laws are the answer to every question.

Heck, it’s not even music to the ears of those of us who have heard promises of substantive action only to see politicians stick a finger into the proverbial wind and change direction to suddenly support “common sense” regulations. Those pile more rules on people who have never intentionally run a stop sign, much less committed mass shootings.

But…within minutes of Mr. Trump’s speech, Democratic Senator (and presidential candidate) Cory Booker tweeted his “demand” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bring the Senate back to consider ‘legislation to protect Americans from gun violence. Enough. We need to end this carnage now.”

That call to action provoked me to my seldom-used Twitter account to respectfully ask him one simple question: “@CoryBooker you’re calling for the Senate to come back to ‘do something’ about gun violence. What are you going to do if that ‘something’ forces you to acknowledge the problem of addressing mental illness rather than writing more ‘eyewash’ gun laws?”

Still waiting for his considered response. Not holding my breath in anticipation.

President Trump’s call for action put a kink in the now familiar practice of politicizing tragedy. He called for action and said - unequivocally- he would support action “if it would do something.”

“Do something” is markedly different from the usual response. His remarks were those of a man who realizes now isn’t the time for knee-jerks. He encouraged open and honest fact-finding about what’s driving some people crazy.

For those who believe the tool is self-guided (and inherently evil), that might be a bridge too-far. Acknowlegement that that both insanity and evil exist begs the question of what to do about them.

Neither evil nor insanity can be forged, cast or molded into guns, they’re only found inside people. People trying to convince you otherwise via eyewash legislation, “safe zones” or other foolishness are using politician’s equivalent of a magician’s magic -misdirection.

Blaming the tool is the easy answer.

If President Trump sticks to a promise to get to the root causes of violence, he’s likely going to find it really is possible to make his opposition even more angry and irrational.

To find answers, Mr. Trump, Congress, and the rest of the American people are going to be forced to recognize that you can neither mandate, medicate, or wish away evil.

Ditto mental illness.

You have to get to root causes. And here’s the rally hard part…then you have to address them.

Does that mean gun owners won’t feel the heat? Absolutely not.

There are still those who are so politically motivated that they’ll deny and defy anything with the potential to deter their political ambitions. For them, guns have to be the problem. Anything else demands personal responsibility.

But we’re far past the point of banning, denying or obfuscating. It’s time to identify causes, then demand action.

Otherwise, we -“the usual suspects”- will get pilloried -again.

It’s time for gun owners to demand action on the real causes of violence.

Real. Demonstrable. Action.

Not candlelight vigils. Not longer mandated waiting periods, magazine capacity limitations or bans on -anything.

And certainly no more crappy, useless “feelings based” legislation.

Criminals, crazies and terrorists have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that dog won’t hunt.

And don’t for a second tell me it can’t be done. It can- if we get to root problems.

First, we need to address the fact that crazies love crowds. Especially defenseless ones. And we need to make certain there’s never another defenseless crowd in this country.

The Columbus, Ohio, PD obviously realized that.

They had a plan to deal with an active shooter. The police followed their plan, ending the shooting - and the shooter- in very short older.

Watching a security camera video (https://www.foxnews.com/us/dayton-shooting-surveillance-video-gunfire-police-response) it was obvious that the police officers were well-trained.

They were shooting, moving and communicating as they pressured and engaged a whack-job who’d planned to the point he was wearing body armor and carrying lots of ammunition.

None of that, fortunately, did him any good. Within seconds- not minutes - the Dayton officers engaged and neutralized him.

They didn’t hesitate, they ran to the sound of gunfire. They had a plan, acted, and undoubtedly saved lives. They put themselves in harm’s way - without regard for themselves.

We should all take a lesson from them and think about the common good.

But recognize this: addressing core problems won’t be easy- for any of us.

But we no longer have a choice.

Gun owners demanding real answers can make a difference.

Personally, I’m tired of being accused of being part of the problem. And especially tired of other gun owners bellyaching about proposed legislation, then expecting someone else to do the fighting for them. It’s our fight. It’s not their fight.

It’s time to take senseless violence personally, then get involved in identifying and addressing the causes.

Not the symptoms. The causes.

—Jim Shepherd



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