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, Wed October 1, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
updated 8:15 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
updated 7:12 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT