If you’ve ever worked in politics then you understand the importance of world events and their impact on legislative agendas. And...as much as I detest writing this, I am compelled to do so because the average American has no clue as to what’s going on in the legislature nor the rationale behind certain policies until either:
1. It’s heavily reported in the news;
2. It's personally affected them or their immediate family; or
3. It's too late because legislation has already been passed.
And politicians, the good ones at least, know this. Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation argues that when an individual hears a policy that matches their feelings, politics start to take (or change) shape.
Personal experience and emotion can also turn into a political movement through what Westen calls "a cohort effect" - a similar effect to what makes unemployment numbers so important for voters. The Great Depression, he points out, shaped the role of government for an entire generation of Americans.
This type of philosophy and truth is exactly why Second Amendment Radicals say that now is an inappropriate time to discuss gun control. With that, I’d have to partly agree. We are witnessing yet another mass shooting (50+ dead and 500+ injured); this shooting was not from a terrorist group or “very bad" immigrants as President Trump would put it, but from a fellow American with wide access to military-type guns. No, the time is not now. The time to talk about gun control was before all those people in Las Vegas were murdered, before the mass shooting in Orlando, before the one in Blacksburg, before Newtown, Killeen, San Ysidro, San Bernardino, Edmond, Fort Hood, Binghamton, Aurora and so many other preventable disasters. All ending in one-sided "discussions" about gun control.
But undoubtedly, none of those discussions were meaningful, because guess what? Right now, as I type, Congress is currently trying to pass new gun control legislation. It’s not legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban, nor is it legislation to close the loopholes in current law that allow any unhinged person to buy guns without background checks on the internet or at a gun show. No, It’s legislation that would make it easy for felons and domestic abusers to buy gun silencers without a background check. Could you imagine a mass shooting such as the one in Las Vegas if the murderer had silencers?
So this time, let’s have a conversation, a meaningful one. Let's not have one in which the NRA hands over a check to our representatives and tells them to keep quiet on an issue that is ruining our country mass shooting after mass shooting. Let this be the platform to effect change. Let the people have a bigger voice than the NRA. Create a "cohort effect" to lay down some fair gun control policies by using this unfortunate shooting as a vehicle for change.
Please, let's not wait on another shooting in America to determine when's the right time. The time is NOW.