The National Rifle Association’s key talking point rolled out as predictably as the sad reality that another mass shooting will happen soon in a U.S. school.
“This is not the time to discuss gun control.”
Let’s add just one word to the key talking point: This is not the ONLY time to discuss gun control.
In fact, it’s EXACTLY the time.
The add-on to the “Now is not the time …” argument usually goes something like this: “The dead aren’t even cold yet, and you want to turn it into an argument for gun control. Shame on you.”
This illogical and dispassionate reasoning has been repeated across social media and echoed through the halls of the U.S. Congress since the Feb. 14 slaying of 17 people at a Florida high school. The Speaker of the House provided a representative sound bite in a news conference the next day.
“This is not the time to jump to some conclusion not knowing the full facts,” he said. “This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings.”
It’s not exactly clear which blessings he was talking about. It’s a good bet a lot of parents, siblings, spouses, grandparents and friends haven’t been feeling especially blessed since last Wednesday.
As for the dead children in Parkland, Fla., they’re not counting or feeling anything anymore.
Would the people who use the “Now is not the time …” argument change their tunes if it was their husband, father, son, daughter, sister or brother lying on the school’s hallway floor? Would it change their minds about gun control? Or anything else?
Because one thing’s clear — something has to change.
Purveyors of the “Now is not the time …” argument often follow it up with, “Besides, mass shootings have nothing to do with guns. The real issue is mental health.”
Mental health is an issue in this country, certainly. It undoubtedly contributes to many problems, including gun violence.
So, let’s talk about mental health. Let’s talk about availability, affordability and access to mental health care. Let’s talk about reasonable, effective gun control legislation, as well.
In fact, let’s talk about every issue that qualified experts identify as contributing to mass shootings in the United States. They should all be on the table.
More importantly, let’s finally do something.
As the dead are mourned in Florida, the real questions are these: If we shouldn’t talk about these issues now, then when? If we don’t go beyond talk to take action now, then when? If we don’t stop the killing of our children, who will?
Because it’s shame on us all if we don’t.
We call our country great, and in so many ways, it is. But we won’t be able to say so for long if we stand by as our children are slaughtered in their schools.
Stop. Really think about that.
Our children. Slaughtered. In their schools.
Now is not the ONLY time. Now is EXACTLY the time.
* Meanwhile, I’ll be using the hashtag #NRANoWay wherever and whenever I can and withholding my vote from any politician who belongs to or takes money from the NRA. Please join me.