Skip to main content

Gun control is not the answer

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Wed September 18, 2013
A woman who said she works at the Washington Navy Yard looks at a memorial to the shooting victims on Wednesday, September 18. Authorities said 12 people -- plus the gunman -- were killed in the shooting on Monday, September 16. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/gallery/navy-yard-shooting/index.html'>View photos from the scene of the rampage.</a> A woman who said she works at the Washington Navy Yard looks at a memorial to the shooting victims on Wednesday, September 18. Authorities said 12 people -- plus the gunman -- were killed in the shooting on Monday, September 16. View photos from the scene of the rampage.
HIDE CAPTION
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
Nation mourns Navy Yard shooting victims
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: We're hearing more knee-jerk rhetoric about gun-control measures
  • He says there's not enough information about Navy Yard shootings to figure out solutions
  • More gun-control measures are unrealistic and won't prevent the carnage, he says
  • Granderson: Many different factors lead to gun violence

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor who writes a weekly column for CNN.com. The former Hechinger Institute fellow has had his commentary recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is also a senior writer for ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- Another day, another mass shooting in America.

More blood, more tears, more knee-jerk rhetoric about finding a solution for a bunch of different problems.

Those who knew Aaron Alexis -- the shooter who killed 12 and injured eight more at the Washington Navy Yard this week -- said he was a quiet, shy man.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

At one point he was studying Buddhism and meditated often.

A little more digging, and we find he had several gun-related arrests and a pattern of misconduct in the Navy, but he was honorably discharged.

Pieces of a puzzle we may never fully put together.

But the fact that there is still so much we don't know about Alexis -- or the motive behind the shootings -- won't detour gun-control advocates from lumping his story in with that of Adam Lanza, the man police say is responsible for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with the victims from gang- and drug-related shootings.

This is why after the tears have dried and the blood washes away, little, if anything, will change.

America's battle over guns
Remembering the victims
Victim's friend: He was a great man

And because gun-control advocates so often try to cobble together every distinct narrative involving guns into a one-size-fits-all conversation, they are as much to blame for this merry-go-round as the gun lobbyists against whom they fight.

Gun shops are illegal in Chicago.

Opinion: What could have prevented carnage?

The city has bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And yet each week people continue to die in the streets from gunshot wounds.

This conundrum is just one example why making note that more Americans have died from gun violence here at home since Newtown than in the nine years fighting a war in Iraq is the kind of factoid that grabs our attention but undermines the true goal: curtailing the violence.

Not all deaths involving guns are the same -- therefore trying to address each incident from the same point of view is futile. Until we learn more about Alexis -- the events leading up to the shootings and the motive -- the tragedy in Washington should not be used as catalyst for a conversation about gun control.

Instead, we should mourn and wait for more information.

Far too often assumptions surrounding the details of tragedies such as the one in Washington are made, and well-intentioned stances fall apart when additional facts come to light.

The guns James Holmes was charged with using in Aurora were purchased legally. Beyond the presence of a gun, the crimes committed in the movie theater are not at all similar to what happens in the streets of our large cities. And each time a politician or gun-control advocate tries to use these two very different examples interchangeably, the entire conversation and argument are compromised.

This happened after Newtown.

It happened after Aurora.

And it will keep continue to happen until the advocates accept that ridding the country of guns is a hopeless -- and unconstitutional mission -- and that the real goal should be addressing the factors that lead to the various forms of gun violence: factors such as poverty, mental health and failing schools.

Last month the nation breathed a sigh of relief after Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper in an elementary school in suburban Atlanta, prevented a man with an AK-47-type weapon and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition from hurting anyone.

It was not the time to talk generally about gun violence in this country. It was the time to discuss specifics such as cuts to mental health and its impact on services, given that the suspect, 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, has a long history of mental disorders. Hill's storyline is similar to that of Lanza, and there are questions whether Holmes, the admitted shooter in the Aurora movie theater, is insane.

The folks spraying our cities with bullets are not NRA members or even legal gun owners.
LZ Granderson

Public debates with Wayne LaPierre and attacks on the National Rifle Association have proven to be an ineffective way to prevent gun violence. In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard killings, perhaps a new strategy, one that doesn't involve playing on the nation's emotions or challenging the relevance of the Second Amendment, should be employed. That's not saying the NRA has won -- in fact, I think LaPierre should step down because each time he opens his mouth, he steps in it -- but at the end of the day the organization is more of an agitator than the enemy.

There is no one enemy.

Thus there is no one solution.

Because like it or not, the folks spraying our cities with bullets are not NRA members or legal gun owners. And despite the tendency to tie it all together, they have nothing to do with the Adam Lanzas of the world.

And it's too early to know how Alexis fits in the conversation.

According to a count by USA Today, more than 900 people have been killed in mass shootings since 2006. The thousands of other victims of gun violence over the past seven years died from many different circumstances, requiring different conversations.

This is why gun-control advocates need to abandon the routine of using mass shootings to turn law-abiding citizens into social pariahs and instead focus on something that could work.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT