This is just one of many reasons why it’s a bad idea to try to politicize tragedies. Both sides of the gun control debate embarrassed themselves in the immediate wake of this weekend’s shooting by a pro gamer at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. As usual, those on the left couldn’t wait until they knew anything at all about the shooter, his motives or how he got his gun before they started blaming the shooting on lack of gun control laws in Florida. It was soon reported that the killer bought his gun in his home state of Maryland, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the US. Despite having a history of hospitalization for mental illness, including a doctor’s warning that he might lash out in anger and pose a threat to his mother, he somehow managed to pass every background check and other hurdles.
Meanwhile, some media outlets on the right responded too quickly by repeating an online claim that the shooter had been a Reddit user who was a known anti-Trump “resister.” That turned out to be a case of mistaken identity and had to be retracted. It was another example of the kind of lazy journalism we see more often on left-leaning sites, an attitude summed up so well by humorist James Thurber as “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”
As to which side embarrassed itself more, I’ll let the tiebreaker be the way some anti-gun leftists savaged Ivanka Trump for tweeting, “As we await further details, our hearts are with Jacksonville and all those affected by today’s tragic mass shooting.” Yeah, where does she get off, going around expressing compassion like a human being?!
When tragedies strike, some people leap to use the crisis to advance their own agenda, and they lash out at those who respond by expressing sympathy and offering prayers. They think that means they’re doing nothing. But they’re actually doing the best thing anyone can do until we know enough about what happened to decide what, if anything, needs to be done or can be done. What we don’t need is a lot of people yelling, “Do something, even if it’s wrong!” We already have more than enough people doing wrong things without thinking about the consequences.