On the day of the shooting, we had people like Gerald Nadler going on CNN and calling his opponents “enablers of mass murder.” My Facebook and Twitter feeds were rampant with hate-filled attacks against those who are skeptical of gun regulation, while the NRA—in response to this rhetoric (and in light of a mass attack on children in China on the same day)—sarcastically and inappropriately suggested we should regulate knives as well.
Employing this kind of rhetorical violence in response to Newtown is not only ironic, it is totally counter-productive. If those who want change our gun policies (and I include myself in that group) actually want to get something done, the worst thing we can do is to turn this into just another battle between the binary groups of “pro-gun” and “anti-gun.” This is a moment which, if we can all settle down, should be used to dive into the complexity of the relationship between gun regulation and killings and try to come up with solutions that are not based on anger or sentimentality, but instead on data and rational argument.
We absolutely need to dial down the rhetoric, however righteous our anger. This moment is too important for us to simply slip back into the mode of discourse which has produced our current political deadlock.