I've been thinking a lot about the San Bernardino shooting and I've been discussing gun violence issues with friends that are both pro- and anti- gun control.
Last night I came up with a thought experiment that has been heavy on my mind: Imagine that there was almost no history of gun violence in America. Pretend that there had never been a mass shooting in this country, and that domestic gun violence and accidental shootings were something that happened once a decade, not multiple times each day. In this fictional America there isn’t a problem of gang shootings, the most recent Presidential assassination was Lincoln, and no bank or gas station was ever robbed at gunpoint.
Try to picture that scenario, then visualize the reaction to the San Bernardino shooting. The entire nation would collectively flip out. It would be the biggest news story of the year. There would be televised congressional hearings. We would stay home from work to watch the proceedings. We would all want to know where, when, and how the perpetrators got the guns and ammunition that they used.
It would be Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the Teapot Dome scandal all rolled into one. There would be marches on Washington. Someone would suggest that President Obama should be impeached since the tragedy happened on his watch. We would demand that mechanisms be put in place to make sure that nothing like the San Bernardino massacre could ever happen again. A modern day Upton Sinclair would write a modern day “The Jungle”. Within six months, bookstore shelves would be filled with volumes on the subject. There would be three major motion pictures dramatizing the event.
Now come back to the real world. We hear about San Bernardino and say, "oh crap, another one." We create a hashtag. The NRA has a $10 off sale on membership. We go on with our lives.
I put it to you that #SanBernardino isn’t the right hashtag. The right hashtag is #WhatIsOurFuckingProblem.