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If We’re Talking “Security”, Shouldn’t We Look at Real (Gun) Safety Measures?

For the last month, the nation has been stuck in a (partial federal) government shutdown caused by President Donald Trump’s escalating demands for a border wall. Trump asserts that “The Wall” is needed for “border security”, but there’s no evidence showing a border wall would improve our national security. Meanwhile, the real security problem at home continues to be ignored by certain politicians in power. If we truly want better “national security”, shouldn’t we at least talk about the guns that kill people instead of “The Wall” that protects no one?

What happened in Florida yesterday?

Sebring, Florida, lies about 90 miles south of Orlando and 100 miles southeast of Tampa. While it’s not without its societal problems, it’s the kind of place that feels more removed from the kinds of big city problems one encounters elsewhere in Florida. But yesterday, Sebring became the latest community to be hit by a mass shooting.

This time, it occurred at a local SunTrust bank branch. Five people were killed, and law enforcement subsequently arrested the suspected shooter. Law enforcement hasn’t yet determined a motive for this shooting, though the suspect’s ex-girlfriend has recently come forward to explain how he’s long been enamored with the idea of inflicting violence upon others.

This may be among the first reported mass shooting incidents of 2019, and there’s a strong likelihood this won’t be the last. Just last June, there were at least 42 reported mass shooting incidents. Though they aren’t the most common form of gun violence, they have become more frequent as military-grade assault weapons and accessories designed to boost firepower have become more readily available in the civilian gun market.

So what are policymakers actually doing about this?

Just before the Sebring Shooting, the annual SHOT Show opened here in Las Vegas. Among the hot new items on display this week are new assault weapons and new accessories designed to boost firepower. Even as a Colorado man was arrested in his attempt to replicate Elliot Rodger’s “incel” driven mass shooting attack on women, and even as the nation just survived a year that was largely defined by nationally reported mass shootings, the SHOT Show thus far has generally been business as usual.

Meanwhile in Washington and Carson City, it remains to be seen if it will be business as usual in terms of gun violence prevention legislation. At the state level, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) has gotten more specific in describing his agenda for gun safety: expanding background checks, banning bump stocks, and investing more in school safety. At the federal level, the new Democratic House majority has already begun advancing a national background checks bill along with legislation to provide $50 million in funding for the CDC to research gun violence.

While there’s a strong chance that the State of Nevada gets stronger gun laws this year, the national outlook is far murkier. After all, the (partial federal) government shutdown rages on, and the Senate just voted on Trump’s “compromise” plan that was neither a real compromise nor a realistic plan to reopen the government. So the manufactured crisis triggered by the White House’s political posturing gets wall-to-wall national media coverage and an endless stream of “border security” themed punditry, while the real security crisis at home continues to get short shrift. Keep this in mind next time we see certain politicians and media pundits wax poetic about “national security”.

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