On Friday, The Washington Post ran a column asking readers to “look away from the Confederate flag” and look instead at the gun alleged Charleston attacker Dylann Roof held in his hand.
WaPo published a picture of Roof holding a Confederate flag in his left hand and a Glock in his right. The paper then noted that the nation reacted to the Charleston attack by “[debating]…what the old battle flag symbolizes and whether it should be displayed anywhere outside a museum.” They argue that this is misplaced–that the nation should be discussing what new gun controls will be passed.
This same sentiment was expressed by Slate earlier in week, wherein the magazine both praised the attempts to banish the Confederate flag and criticized those attempts as a way side-stepping of the gun control “conversation” Slate wants so bad.
The obscenity of the flag and the murderous racism it represents have dominated a national conversation about the American way of hate and violence for all the right reasons.
The flag has also dominated the conversation for a single wrong reason, which is that most Americans have given up on achieving meaningful gun control in their lifetimes or in their grandchildren’s lifetimes.
Lost on WaPo and Slate is the simple fact that the predominant gun control proposal for the last three years has been expanding background checks to cover every gun sale — both retail and private. Yet Dylann Roof passed a background check to acquire the gun he used in his heinous rampage, so now what?
What gun control measure do they believe we should be considering in light of the fact that background checks have been proven impotent once more?
Ironically, WaPo admits gun control could not stop attacks like Sandy Hook and they admit, implicitly, that it did not stop Roof. Then they quickly point out that this is no reason for “defeatism” among gun control proponents. Rather, gun control should be pursued anyway:
Mr. Roof is not the real face of gun violence in the United States. Gun violence is an everyday problem that has many faces: Abusive husbands who fly off the handle; kids who accidentally shoot their friends — or themselves — while playing with their parents’ weapons; criminals who find it too easy to get illegal guns.
Public policy can’t prevent every gun death. But it can do a lot more than it is now: make it harder for the mentally ill, family abusers or criminals to obtain and keep firearms; crack down on gun trafficking; require proper gun storage; and reconsider laws that seem to encourage people to use guns in situations they consider threatening.
You see what they are doing? With the push for background checks undercut, they just start throwing out other gun control proposals that have absolutely nothing to do with Charleston. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly began doing this same thing after losing big with Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) gun control push in April 2013.
The approach is simple: When gun control fails, it proves we need more gun control.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.