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 3:47 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 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.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
updated 5:22 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
updated 12:08 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Sat September 13, 2014
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
updated 6:18 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 1:30 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT