Victimhood Does Not Convey Policy Expertise

Being a victim does not make you an expert. Further, being a victim does not make you morally superior. People need to remember this.

CBS Sunday Morning ran an editorial this morning from Shauna Saxton of Odessa, Texas. She “locked eyes” with the murderer in Texas. Fortunately for her and her family, she had the presence of mind to hit the accelerator and get out of there. Nonetheless, she is calling on Congress to take action.

I’m not sure how Mrs. Saxton has become the public face of the tragedy in Odessa and Midland. Neither she nor her family were injured and I’m thankful for that. A Google search on her name and Odessa pulls up many stories about her experience along with multiple interviews. In a sense, she has become the David Hogg of the Odessa tragedy – there but not injured.

Mrs. Saxton gave a tearful commentary intended to tug on your heartstrings. It is aimed at conservatives to make them agree that we need more gun control.

This awful experience has changed me. Things I once believed to be true have now been brought into question. Do private citizens need access to weapons as deadly as an assault rifle? This question and others like it are a hot topic here in Texas, and in other states around the nation. It is a very difficult question. How do we promote public safety whilst protecting the rights of people who choose to bear arms? 

The problem, by necessity, will require compromise from both sides. No one is going to get exactly what they want; life just isn’t that way. (I learned this lesson as a young girl with six brothers.) But we can look for common ground and be willing to give and take.

There are two problems with this argument. First, the ideas being promoted – red flag laws, assault weapons (sic) bans, and mag restrictions – would not have changed a thing in Odessa and Midland or anywhere else. Dangerous people are going to use whatever tool is at their disposal. Red flag laws remove the weapon but not the dangerous person.

In this case, the murderer reportedly obtained his firearm from an illegal manufacturer making any sort of universal background check irrelevant.

The second problem with her argument is that the only side giving up anything will be gun owners. The gun prohibitionists will be getting something. The only compromise they make is not to take everything now.

Mrs. Saxton concludes:

As Congress reconvenes, I call on all its members to be men and women of action. I implore our leaders to recognize this growing danger for what it is, and act upon it. If we continue to do nothing, these tragedies will repeat themselves, and more innocent lives will be lost.

To the leaders of this great country, I say, take up the mantle of the responsibility you have been given. Be courageous. Stand for those who you represent. We pray daily for you that you will do the right thing, and that you will be honorable in your work, indeed, that you will find a solution by which all Americans can benefit.

We must take action. We must do something. Doing nothing is not an option.

Doing nothing is always an option. As a former student of public policy at the graduate level, doing nothing is always on the table. Indeed, doing nothing is often the best option. “Doing something” in response to a tragic event leads to bad and ineffective policies.

I’m afraid that in the current political climate politicians will agree with Mrs. Saxton and think they have “to do something”. It won’t save anyone but “they did something”.

UPDATE: The video of Mrs. Saxton’s commentary has been removed from both YouTube and from the CBS News website. You get this message when you click on the link to it above: “The page may have been removed, had its name changed, or is just temporarily unavailable.” Interesting.

6 thoughts on “Victimhood Does Not Convey Policy Expertise”

  1. Did her six brothers protect their sister? Would they do anything to protect her from harm? Would they want every advantage to defend her from harm?

    Would they want her to have every right and every freedom to live a life of her making, and to defend herself and her loved ones from those who seek to deprive her of that life and those freedoms?

    That’s all we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

    Why does she want us to compromise our rights and our freedoms? A madman wanted to strip her of her right to life and self-determination. Now she wants to compromise those same rights from other innocent citizens.

  2. The concept of compromise has become, over my lifetime a travesty, where one side (usually conservatives) gives up everything they believe in and the other (usually progressives) gains a part of what they believe in. I am trying to think of a major policy issue where the left has lost something they cared about while conservatives gained back a part of what they believed. I’m sure the examples exist but none leap to mind. Firearms, abortion, gay marriage, the welfare state, free speech? Compromise only works if two parties each have something the other wants and can reach an acceptable middle ground, but on core beliefs, there can be none.

    1. Firearms at the state level are the only policy area where we’ve gained a great deal in today’s non-slave states. Starting in 1987 a highly publicized wave of shall issue concealed carry laws swept the nation, now covering 42 states and ~72% of the population. See also Constitutional Carry, now covering 15 states, with Oklahoma to join in November. (BTW, this history account makes credible claims that 9 states already had when Florida acted. Vermont of course, which never restricted it, and Washington state, and I’d previously heard claims about Indiana.)

      And to my knowledge none of these laws have been rolled back, although the gun grabbers have tried, for example in Colorado to ban concealed carry on public college campuses, the Left was enraged that this was enforced on their U of Colorado Boulder campus.

  3. There’s a saying in the computer security world that it’s easier not to do something stupid than do something perfect.

    As you know, the brutal truth is that there is no law that can prevent what happened. Because of that, any law will be stupid and counterproductive. The most likely thing to help is the opposite of what she wants, which is More Good Guys with Guns Everywhere. Since 94% of mass shootings happen in gun free zones (John Lott’s CPRC), the most effective prevention would be to legislate no more gun free zones. Bet she won’t accept that.

    As heresolong alludes to, she’s not giving up anything so compromise isn’t the right word. She’s trying to take away other peoples’ rights and all she’s even potentially giving up is not getting everything she might want. I don’t know what her platform is and honestly don’t care enough to look it up. She might want to only ban scary looking black guns, but she might want to ban everything semiautomatic down to 10/22s and 22/45 pistols. Neither one is reasonable or going to work so neither one is acceptable.

    My point is that nobody likes being blamed for things they didn’t do, and that goes for the 99.9999% of gun owners who go about their day doing nothing wrong.

  4. Was she actually there?

    Sorry to say, there have been more than a few fakers looking for attention making the teevee circuit. Networks wont sacrifice the teary eyed ratings by fact checking anything.

    I mean, who would actually make up a story about being a doctor and treating Pulse night club victims? And them run for Congress?

    People who are ideologically driven who truly belive people are dying and can be saved with gun control will pretty much stoop to anything, including a lie to help the cause. Of course, other people like McCarthy “Just want to be someone in the community” and are looking for attention – In an ironic way, same as the mass shooters.

    Point is, dont take it as given Saxtons story is true.

  5. Let’s see how any of you would respond when facing a deranged shooter with an assault weapon in your face. And with your loved ones in the car. It’s easy to judge and be the “Monday morning quarterback” when you haven’t been there.
    Personal experience should be part of the discussion in policymaking. Survivors also speak for the dead who have no voice.

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