This Is Exhausting

[Content Note: Guns; violence; emotional auditing.]

Like clockwork, here come the articles that now is not the time for gun reform, in the wake of yet another mass shooting. Care of Nick Gillespie at The Daily Beast: Now Is Not the Time for New Gun Laws. There is a lot I dislike about this piece, but nothing so much as this:
Monday's horrific mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard left 12 victims (plus the shooter) dead and more than a dozen people wounded. It has raised immediate, impassioned, and understandable—if ultimately misguided—calls for increased levels of gun control now.

...Whether it's truly awful drug laws pushed in the wake of high-profile celebrity deaths, national-security measures rushed unread through Congress after the 9/11 attacks, or transformative bailouts to the banking and auto industries essentially cobbled together over a long weekend, laws should be the product of serious and dispassionate deliberation. We feel with our hearts, yes, but we should govern with our minds.
The false dichotomy between "heart" and "mind," used to imply that emotion can never be rational, is always specious garbage. But I have a special sort of contempt for people who use it to emotionally audit responses to violence and trauma. Don't get all emotional about it. Fuck off. Humans are built to have emotional responses to such things.

Many emotional responses (what our "heart feels") are deeply rational (what our "brain does") responses. Anger is a perfectly rational emotional response to a mass shooting. Fear is a perfectly rational emotional response to a mass shooting. Anger and fear can be useful motivators to people pursuing meaningful progress, especially when it is the anger, the fear, of people who know how to sit with both.

I'm not talking about the anger and fear of people who have just walked away from a man with a gun killing their coworkers. No one is asking them to make immediate legislative decisions. I'm talking about the anger and fear or people who don't want mass shootings to keep happening, who don't believe that the solution is MORE GUNS! I'm not talking about visceral emotions, but sustained ones, despite Gillespie's best attempt to conflate the two.

A huge proportion of this country is part of a no-gun culture: A lot of us (and not a few people who identify strongly with the gun culture) have rational, reasoned, considered emotions about gun reform that do not change in the wake of another mass shooting. We sit with them. And we wait. While snide public commentators and gun advocates only acknowledge us to dismiss us on the basis that we could not possibly be rational if we have feelings about mass shootings.

(Meanwhile, the same people who lecture us about not getting all feely about people dying at the end of a gun, are totes cool with the lizard-brain fear that underwrites lashing out at a shooter's religion, or race, or mental health, or fondness for video games.)

It is no coincidence that an unsubtle variation on "don't get all hysterical, ladies" is wielded against people who have emotions about gun violence. The gun culture is juxtaposed against the no-gun culture as Traditional Masculinity vs. Effete Peaceniks, in the very same way emotionless reason is called the purview of men, while reasonless emotion is called the purview of women. The damnable lie that reason without emotion is the only reasoning worth shit is one of the most pernicious myths of the Patriarchy, inextricably tied to the woman- and man-hating presumption that women are emotional and men are reasonable (and thus is reason superior to emotion).

At base, this is the real quality of the "let's not legislate emotionally" argument: "Shut up! You're all a bunch of sissies!"

We know, because study after study has shown it, that more guns do no make us more safe. Ultimately, no one is served by this mess, by this pernicious narrative that emotion and reason are mutually exclusive things; that emotion has no business in legislation.

Except, of course, the men who walk through buildings coolly shooting people.

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