Four years after Giffords shooting, a shocking lesson. That’s the headline above an editorial at azcentral.com. Columnist EJ Montini’s not-so-shocking conclusion: we’re no longer shocked by mass shootings. The producers of this week’s PBS documentary on the NRA placed this same sentiment front and center, voiced by family members bereaved by mass shooters. The clear implication: anyone who isn’t shocked by mass shootings into enacting new gun control laws is a heartless bastard. The NRA’s leader is a heartless bastard. The politicians who do its bidding are heartless bastards. Society is a heartless bastard. Gun owners? Them too. Of course . . .
It’s a trap!
Whether it’s the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, the unfathomable horror of Sandy Hook, the nightmare of the Aurora cinema attack, or the bloodshed in Paris, the antis’ post-shooting playbook never varies. They link a direct appeal to raw emotion – look at this! this is shocking! – with an exhortation to act quickly – something must be done! Now!
From a strategic point-of-view, gun control advocates don’t abhor “gun violence.” They know full well that horrific firearms-related homicide is the key to their political power. As Mr. Montini’s essay affirms, they want people to suffer from shock. Or, as wikipedia.org reminds us, “acute stress disorder.”
Common symptoms that sufferers of acute stress disorder experience are: numbing; detachment; muteness; derealization; depersonalization or dissociative amnesia; continued re-experiencing of the event by such ways as thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks; and avoidance of any stimulation that reminds them of the event. During this time, they must have symptoms of anxiety, and significant impairment in at least one essential area of functioning. Symptoms last for a minimum of 2 days, and a maximum of 4 weeks, and occur within 4 weeks of the event.
Shock prevents people from making cold calculations and rational decisions. This lack of logical thinking is exactly what gun control advocates need to succeed in the wake of a traumatic, firearms-related event. They need people to accept their civilian disarmament agenda – disguised “common sense gun safety” – without question or consideration.
The post-Sandy Hook legislative rush to enact federal “universal background checks,” for example, was a shock-enabled move towards a law that would have done absolutely nothing to stop Adam Lanza from murdering 20 children and six adults. Or prevent future Sandy Hooks. It was an irrational response to the Newtown shooting spree; exploiting America’s collective shock and grief (a longer-lasting effect that also inhibits rational thought).
In contrast, Wayne LaPierre’s declaration that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” was an perfectly logical response to the shocking slaughter. The NRA’s proposals – put an armed guard in every school in America and implement anti-spree killer measures mooted by an expert task force – were entirely rational suggestions. Both were ignored as the battle over nonsensical background checks intensified.
Truth be told, shock wears off. Over time, an individual traumatic event loses emotional impact. The increased frequency of events lessens both the initial response and the recovery time. So it’s no wonder gun control advocates revile Americans’ increasing inability to be shocked by mass shootings. It makes their appeal to emotion less and less potent. Equally, the more mass shootings that occur, the more Americans realize that their government can’t protect them – an idea which completely undermines the antis’ civilian disarmament agenda.
Contrary to the antis’ “gun owners are inherently selfish” meme, the opposite of shock is not heartlessness. It’s clear-headed compassion. A combat medic is no less concerned for his patients when he or she remains lucid, calm and rational in the heat of battle. A gun rights advocate is not a monster for asserting that there’s no way to legislate away homicidal criminals and crazies, or admits that firearms freedom increases the possibility of negligent discharges.
Whether gun owner or not, the human ability to remain emotionally engaged without losing the ability to think rationally in the face of terrible reality is awesome. It should be celebrated, not reviled. It’s one of the key characteristics that allows men and women to triumph against adversity, to protect the freedoms they cherish against those who would destroy them, for whatever reason.