CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the shooter as Ryan Lanza. In fact, it was his brother, Adam.
Following today’s massacre of at least 27 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, by a man in his twenties identified as Adam Lanza of New Jersey, the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein mounts a necessary prebuttal to the predictable responses from gun-rights advocates (includes facts/data about guns in the United States):
When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”
Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable.
For another useful resource on gun violence with recent data and statistics, see Mother Jones‘ “Guide to Mass Shootings in America.”
Meanwhile, for today’s news, the New York Times is posting updates on its “Lede” blog. President Obama is expected to make a statement right now.