Orlando: A Quick Reflection

In the light of the tragic shooting in Orlando, I’ve seen dozens of articles ranging from Sandy Hook comparisons to growing Islamaphobia in the United States. This incident has sparked national discussions of homophobia and racism, discussions which would not occurred prior to the shooting.

Yet I also see a pattern of individuals accusing advocates of “pushing their own political agenda” in the middle of a tragedy and “politicizing” death (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ben-carson-blasts-obama-politicizing-oregon-shooting-article-1.2387093). The mainstream media seems to define discussions regarding racism and sexism as “politically incorrect”, but somehow discussion of a firearm is exploiting someone’s death.

In my view this is a mischaracterization, and I’ll try to explain from a public health lens. If a malaria outbreak occurs, and people urge the legislature to fund vaccines, how does this become a political agenda? If traffic lights stop functioning at an intersection and a child is killed as a result, how does insisting the lights get repaired be of political interest rather than a desire for no one else to die? Since when did caring for the wellbeing of individuals become political?

Or better yet, since when did prevention, which has been proven repeatedly as cost-effective and exemplary, become a political agenda when the subject shifted to gun violence?

One of the leading criticisms aimed at the left is the PC culture and how political views become a matter of good and evil. While I can agree with this argument to an extent, it cannot be applied when lives are at stake. Even Ronald Reagan, hailed by Republicans as an exemplary leader of the free world made a similar argument in an op-ed for the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/29/opinion/why-i-m-for-the-brady-bill.html). The bottom line is this though: we can talk and agree that we need to have civil conversation, respect each other’s views, and spend hours debating the Second Amendment and what steps need to be taken. But that’s not going to stop someone from buying a gun and shooting people.

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