If you're not part of the solution to the gun violence problem, you're part of the problem

·3 min read

Death. Taxes. Mass shootings. The seeming inevitability of Americans slaughtering each other in schools, grocery stores, movie theaters, churches — anywhere people congregate — is a source of deep anguish, anger, and the return of a circular argument that usually rages for a news cycle and then is replaced by other headlines, until the next tragedy.

Gun control advocates compare gun ownership and firearms-related stats in America versus the rest of the western world: how America's gun ownership rate is eight times greater than Australia’s, and its gun murder rate more than 30 times higher. How states with tighter gun regulations like New Jersey have lower per capita death rates than states like Wyoming and Mississippi, which have relatively weak laws.

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2022, after a gunman shot dead 18 young children at an elementary school in Texas. - US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Americans to stand up against the country's powerful pro-gun lobby after a gunman shot dead 18 young children at an elementary school in Texas.

"When, in God's name, are we going to stand up to the gun lobby," he said in an address from the White House.

"It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act." (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2022, after a gunman shot dead 18 young children at an elementary school in Texas. - US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Americans to stand up against the country's powerful pro-gun lobby after a gunman shot dead 18 young children at an elementary school in Texas. "When, in God's name, are we going to stand up to the gun lobby," he said in an address from the White House. "It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act." (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Gun control opponents call for arming teachers, as Texas attorney general Ken Paxton did after 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in Uvalde — despite two Uvalde police officers and a school resource officer firing at the shooter, but not being able to stop him from entering the school building. Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told Fox News that schools should seal off all their entrances except one, though this would create a problem if a shooter overcame armed guards.

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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) takes to the Senate floor and literally pleas for the legislative body to act. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responds with “You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

And here is where the argument starts going around in circles:

  • “We can pass common-sense gun laws.”

  • “No we can’t because of the Second Amendment.”

(Though even the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said, “The right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”)

But the Constitutional argument is a distraction, and it always leads nowhere.

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The real question is “What’s your solution for stopping the slaughter?” If it’s “We need more mental health resources,” the question becomes “Where’s your bill?” If the answer is “Stop making violent video games,” where’s the bill to do that? Maybe it’s “We need more anger management programs.”

So, legislators, where’s your legislation?

It’s easy to argue that none of these approaches would make a difference, as every other country has citizens who are mentally unwell, like video games and have tempers.

The point is that tried-but-true observation: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And if you’re an elected official and you’re not doing your utmost to protect innocent American lives, your inaction implies that you’re okay OK to live with it, and you’re waiting for the problem to go away on its own.

But it never will. And Americans will remain hostage to mass shootings, as surely as if they were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time themselves.

Cindy Schweich Handler is the editor of Montclair and Wayne Magazines, and a writer for The Record and Northjersey.com. Email: Handler@northjersey.com; Twitter: @CindyHandler

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: America's gun violence problem needs solutions, not circular arguments