Northwest Missourian Opinion

The hearts of the nation collectively sink and the Twitter fingers fire up after the breaking news of another mass shooting hits. Social media becomes a maelstrom of thoughts and prayers, and hate and malice for a few days. Then it slows down until the next tragedy occurs.

Mass shootings are heartbreaking, but frequent occurrences in this country that have become central to the gun control debate, especially for Democrats. Yet, after the 260 plus mass shootings that have occurred this year, Democrats are no closer to the legislation they want. 

This can be chalked up to petty politics or the National Rifle Association, and while those may be factors, the simple fact is that the left is approaching the gun control debate wrong.

 The entire debate has been pigeonholed around mass shootings.

Elizabeth Warren, hopeful for the democratic nomination, posted her expanded gun plan after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Warren opens with a list of shootings from Columbine to El Paso, Texas. While Warren later uses statistics related to gun deaths as a whole in the country, it’s clear where her focus lies on this issue.

By putting mass shootings in the forefront instead of acknowledging the whole issue, the debate breaks down to people screaming about whether good people with guns will stop future shootings. 

In 2017 there were 39,773 deaths from firearms.

Suicides accounted for 60% of all gun deaths in 2017. Suicide is a massive issue in America, and it is clearly not going to be argued that increasing the amount of firearms will assist this public health crisis. 

Missouri in particular is in a crisis with the suicide rate being higher than the national average and the rest of the world. 

For the nation as a whole, women are 21 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the U.S. than in other high income countries. 

Mass shootings are often characterized as a problem the rest of the world doesn’t have, yet suicide and homicides are not mentioned in those hot button quotes.

Shortly after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, in August, Trump gave his opinion on the reason for these shootings.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said.

Trump is illuminating the stance of many on the right with this statement: mental illness causes mass shootings, not guns. The left have been mostly staunch in their insistence that guns are the problem. 

Both sides can be right at the same time; mental illness, hatred and access to firearms can both be causes for mass shootings and other violent crimes involving firearms. 

As shown by the number of suicides in America a year, mental health is an important issue in this country, for some unknown reason Democrats can’t argue that both gun regulations should be increased and mental illness should be researched in connection with gun violence.

Democrats are stuck in the mud. 

By pigeonholing the issue, the left has been narrowing the scope of the debate and making it harder for themselves. The strategy to win over the American public and those in Congress to support their gun control plans has clearly not worked yet. 

If they don’t change their strategy, expect more of the same in the future. 

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