John O'Connor
John O’Connor

On Tuesday, a young gunman massacred 21 people in a Texas elementary school, including 19 children.

Clearly, this mass slaughter is a tragedy. But it’s the kind of thing that happens with alarming frequency. Barely a week earlier, 10 people were shot to death in a Buffalo, NY, grocery store. In fact, there already have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States in 2022 so far, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

In the wake of the most recent shootings, news outlets and others are demanding “reasonable” gun control measures. As if there were some kind of consensus on what “reasonable” means. Frankly, there’s not.

That’s true when it comes to discussions about whether guns should be more regulated. But it applies to other areas as well, including long-term care reform.

There is a growing movement by some in Washington to make operators more regulated. Some states have moved beyond the talking points. In New York, for example, lawmakers recently put staffing and spending mandates in place.

Is New York’s legislation reasonable? Its proponents would insist that such measures are long overdue. But that hardly includes LeadingAge New York, a group of 80 nonprofit and public nursing homes. On Monday, the organization sued the state, demanding that the law be rescinded.

“The combination of poor policies, lack of funding and a workforce that is in short supply have resulted in a perfect storm of circumstances that leaves us with no other remedy than to seek the intercession of the courts,” James Clyne Jr., president and CEO of LeadingAge New York, said in a statement.

This back-and-forth reminds me of something an old boss said: Where people stand usually depends on where they sit.

The fact is, differing constituencies have different priorities. What’s reasonable to one side might be fighting words to the other.

That reality helps explain why change in America often results from force rather than consensus.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.