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Port: Your rage isn't going to solve the mass shooting problem

The politics of American popular culture are a lot more monolithic than the politics of Americans.

People react after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde
Stephanie and Michael Chavez of San Antonio pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School, the site of a mass shooting, in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022.
Nuri Vallbona / Reuters
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MINOT, N.D. — There are moments when the ideological imbalance in our nation's most powerful institutions becomes more than just an idea but a palpable, inescapable reality.

The news media. Academia. The entertainment world, including sports. These are epicenters of progressive dogmas, and while they pretend not to be at times, tragedies such as the shooting in Uvalde reveal the truth.

This week, as we all mourned the deaths in Texas, we were treated to an endless stream of jeremiads and harangues aimed at those skeptical of gun control as the answer to these tragedies. From basketball coaches to sports commentators to Twitter celebrities to Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke's carefully choreographed temper tantrum at a news conference , it's been revealing.

The politics of American popular culture are a lot more monolithic than the politics of Americans.

The popular narrative on the gun control debate is that gun industry lobbyists and craven Republican politicians have been roadblocking the sort of "common sense" gun control most Americans want.

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It makes me think of that infamous ( and not entirely accurate ) quote attributed to New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael who expressed dismay about President Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972, saying she didn't know anyone who voted for him.

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That sort of detachment from reality is what can happen when our cultural institutions stop reflecting the diversity of our culture.

I wonder what would happen if our friends on the left, the celebrities and the pundits and the politicians, stopped using every new tragedy as an opportunity to accuse right-of-center, gun-loving Americans of being child murderers?

Maybe it feels good to carry on that way. Maybe it's cathartic. But we live in a democratic society, where policy can only be passed through consensus, so it's also counterproductive.

How do you build consensus with people you're simultaneously insulting? Pro-gun groups, and pro-gun politicians, have power because they represent millions and millions of gun-loving Americans.

Those are the people who must be convinced.

Maybe if we started with the presumption that nobody wants dead children, that we all have an interest in a safe society, and sought to find common ground on gun policies that might actually work?

That might not be conducive to getting retweets and campaign donations, but those things shouldn't be our goals.

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Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., says he's open to discussing a national red flag law , as long as it protects due process rights.

We could also talk about how to better enforce gun laws we already have on the books. In 2017, Devin Kelley murdered 26 people in a church in Texas using four guns that, had federal gun laws actually been enforced, he wouldn't have been able to buy .

Contrary to popular belief, we have entire encyclopedias of state and federal gun laws on the books. There is a robust debate to be had about why they're not working.

But the only way we get to that debate is if we talk to one another in good faith.

Failing that, we're going to be stuck with more of the same.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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