During Tuesday night’s CNN debate among Democratic candidates for president, moderator Anderson Cooper said, “Let’s move on to some of the biggest issues right now in the headlines today. We’re going to start with guns.”
This is a monumental difference from both Republican debates that substantially ignored the issue of gun control. The reason for this difference can be found in Anderson’s phrase, “in the headlines today,” because it’s only after brutal mass shootings that the otherwise smoldering issue is stoked to full flame. Having had three shootings at schools within a few days of each other, the headlines are ablaze with tragedies, and the public has again been forced to confront our mixed-message gun laws.
My father was a policeman. My grandfather was a policeman. I grew up with a gun in my house. I collect vintage guns from the Old West. I love Quentin Tarantino films, with their excesses of gun violence and criminal anti-heroes. The story of the heroic but doomed defense of the Alamo chokes me up. I am as much a part of the American gun culture as many other Americans. But even I know that something’s got to change when it comes to guns in America. Because what we’re doing right now, which is a whole lotta nothing, isn’t working. The death toll mounts, our children are slaughtered, and we bicker like a stubborn couple arguing about what color to paint the den.