On Saturday, the United States witnessed another public mass shooting event. Exactly four weeks after the attack in El Paso, this shooting was Texas’ second in the month of August. When police stopped a car between the cities of Odessa and Midland, the gunman reportedly began firing at random, killing at least seven people and wounding over 20, including a 17-month-old girl.
As we have become accustomed to 24/7 coverage of mass shooting events, the behavior of politicians in the immediate aftermath has also become routine. Instead of coming together and mourning such tragic events as a united country, and then waiting for factual evidence to be collected and analyzed before addressing potential policy changes, there is a growing class of cynical politicians who aim to weaponize mass shootings in order to further their overarching objectives.
Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who is struggling to gain traction in the Democratic 2020 primary race, is one such politician. To demonstrate the depth of the emotion he shares with those mourning, he dropped the infamous “F-bomb” on two occasions while discussing the shooting.
In truth, Beto O’Rourke’s use of expletives is not indicative of the validity of his positions on gun control. In the same way as comedians, politicians resort to crowd-pleasing language as a proxy for substantive content or arguments. For Beto, he is purposefully ignoring the importance of evidence in favor of his deeper goal, which is the effective destruction of the Second Amendment.
Speaking to MSNBC, O’Rourke made his intentions clear. “Americans who own AR-15s, AK-47s, will have to sell them to the government.” Commonly known as a “buy back” scheme, Beto O’Rourke is openly calling for legally-owned so-called “assault rifles” to be “bought back” by the government, presumably by force if the population refuses to comply. The key to O’Rourke’s argument is not rooted in careful analysis of statistical evidence. Instead, he depends on an understandably-emotional population being distracted in the aftermath of terrible events from the growing power of government. By dropping the “F-bomb”, he hopes to fan the flames of emotion in order to hide the two clear problems with his proposals.
The first is that there is both little evidence that gun buyback programs cause a reduction in mass shooting events and (while tragic) the number of mass shootings in 2019 is a minute proportion of all gun-related deaths. Looking at the facts, it is clear that a gun buyback program would have little effect in the battle against gun violence, and so O’Rourke must rely on emotion to obfuscate this reality.
The second issue is the clear fact that the Second Amendment, which guarantees the Right to bear arms, was written to allow all citizens to protect themselves and their families against tyranny. The very notion of the government forcibly removing firearms from law-abiding citizens - thereby destroying a Constitutional Right under the guise of “ensuring their protection” - should terrify those who are concerned about the threat of tyrannical governments. Again, under the veil of reactionary emotion, politicians who seek power are attempting to undermine the last roadblock standing in their way.
As opportunistic politicians such as Beto O’Rourke stand on the graves of tragedy and applaud the notion of unleashing governmental control to destroy individual liberty, they are attempting to usher in such a tyranny. Tyranny which the Second Amendment was written to defend against.
We should mourn the tragic deaths in Texas together, but we must remain vigilant of those who hope to use our tears in their ultimate pursuit of power.