Skip to main content

Gun control is not the answer

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
September 18, 2013 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
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
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT)
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
April 13, 2014 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
April 12, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT