Politicizing Mass Shootings — When we can talk about Gun Control

On October 1st, 2017, a gunman rained bullets from a hotel room in Las Vegas, killing 59 and injuring 546. It was the deadliest mass shooting in US’s recent history.

After every mass shooting, the narrative has become familiar, almost scripted. Politicians on both aisles pray for the victims and their families, while Democrats using this chance to draw attention to gun control, and Republicans denouncing Democrats for “politicizing a tragedy”

Let’s take that politicization argument at face value and say that it’s not okay to talk about gun control immediately following a mass shooting. When is it okay to talk about it then? Let’s say the following two criteria are used to determine whether it’s okay to talk about gun control or not:

  1. No mass shooting on that date (4 or more shot or killed, not including the shooter)
  2. At least 3 days have passed since the previous mass shooting

Here’s what I came up with using 2017 mass shooting data from the US:

Let’s start with some inferences:

  1. Under this criteria, you get at most 2 consecutive days to talk about gun control and gun issues before another shooting takes place.
  2. You can’t talk about gun control in January, June, August, September, and October.
  3. Overall, we have 15 days when it’s okay to talk about gun control — just over 2 weeks.

3 days, though an arbitrary number, isn’t too far off from the truth, given that dozens of opinion pieces were published on October 4th (3 days after the Las Vegas shooting) bashing Democrats for politicizing the tragedy.

So, maybe it’s not about wanting to prevent a tragedy from being politicized. Maybe it’s about not wanting to talk about gun control, and critically examining the Second Amendment to adopt policies to prevent such shootings from happening again.