Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Action, In-Action and Why I'm always yelling at my TV

[I wrote this post last week and saved it as a draft. Over the weekend, we had yet another mass shooting, and I think the message applies now more than ever]

Between the terror attack in New York, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas, it's pretty clear how each side reacts to these events.

Consider a mass shooting. The left is dumbfounded: how can you possibly not take action? The right offers sympathy and reflects on the nature of living in a free society where bad things happen.

The left is even more dumbfounded. DO SOMETHING. Ban assault weapons. Make owning more than two guns illegal. Heck, just get rid of all guns; I'll turn in my dad's old hunting rifle first.

The right warns that the gun control initiatives the left is suggesting range between ineffective and will make the problem far worse.

The left finds this ludicrous. What harm could come from taking a few guns off the street? To which the right replies, are you kidding me? A gun saved my girlfriend's life. Guns are an important part of our history and the fabric of the United States.

Now consider a terrorist attack. The right is dumbfounded. how can you possibly not take action? The left offers sympathy and reflects on the nature of living in a free society where bad things happen.

The right is even more dumbfounded. DO SOMETHING. End the Diversity Visa Program. Build a wall on our Southern border. Heck, pause all immigration; I'll be the one to tell my dad that his brother-in-law isn't going to be allowed in to the United States.

The left warns that the immigration initiatives the right is suggesting range between ineffective and will make the problem far worse.

The right finds this ludicrous. What harm could possibly come from keeping a few immigrants out of the country? To which the left left replies, are you kidding me? My girlfriend is an immigrant, and her work on the opioid epidemic has saved countless lives. Immigration is an important part of our history and the fabric of the United States.

In short, one side wants action, even if it's imperfect. The other side is sure the imperfect action will do far more harm than good.

Luckily, I know the answer: it's smart, incremental, progress. Look at the scourge of Drunk Driving.

When a family member loses a child to a drunk driver, we don't approach them and say: you've got our thoughts and prayers, but you know, that's just a side effect of living in a free and open society. Alternatively, we don't call for an end to drinking or driving.

Instead, we attack the problem at all angles: legally, technologically and socially. We give stronger jail sentences to drunk drivers and set up checkpoints. We develop breathalyzers in keychain form, or build them into cars. We inject our TV shows, schools and billboards with a clear message that drunk driving is unacceptable. Are there individuals who have been caught up on these regulations and been impacted unfairly by them? Probably. But, we've managed to save significant numbers of lives and made our society better off for it.

When bad things happen, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, we should demand smart, measured, action. We should demand solutions from experts who have studied the problem, and we should thoroughly understand the limitations of these solutions. Terrorism. Mass shootings. You name it. We can and should strive to always do better.

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