Republicans, defenders of the Second Amendment and gun rights advocates across the country: It isn’t like I don’t understand your point. It makes sense.
Why should you give up your right to be a responsible gun owner and protect your family just because there are evil people in the world?
I believe in personal liberty — I think that’s what makes America great and unique. I get that Americans have been the cowboys and frontier adventurers for our entire history, we’ve been gunslingers for centuries, and tradition can be a wonderful and important thing.
I hope that in turn, you can understand the reaction after numerous shootings to not want guns — or at least the proliferation of guns — in our country. That being said, this debate isn’t about one side wanting to strip another of their liberty, or one side being callous in the face of tragedy.
It’s important to see one another as peers, and understand that everyone is on the same page as far as outcomes desired. Nobody wants more shootings.
The most libertarian, multiple-gun-owning, Second Amendment lover shares the same disdain for murder as the leftist gun control advocate. To use ad hominem arguments in a debate like this is an emotional reaction that serves nobody and paints both sides as people they aren’t.
All of this understood, hear me out.
I want gun control. Not because I care about the lives of the victims more than you, but because I believe that it is the most effective way to stop the shootings. I fully support your right to disagree with me. The thing that bothers me, however, is the lack of competing arguments.
Too often, the conservative solution to these shootings isn’t a proactive measure. It’s generally to present arguments against gun control — which perhaps are correct, I fully acknowledge that I can be wrong — but that isn’t the point. If guns aren’t the problem, we need a real proposition for what is.
The most ridiculous thing people say after one of the regularly scheduled mass shootings is that we shouldn’t talk policy. That is just asinine. When a house burns down, it’s not inappropriate to discuss fire safety measures. We do that so that people don’t die, one after another, week by week, in a country that doesn’t seem to care enough to fix the problem.
Some on the right mention mental health as the true issue behind these attacks. That’s a great start at attempting to identify the root cause, but it is rare to see any legislation introduced to try and address this issue. In fact, President Donald Trump recently made it easier for people with mental illnesses to get weapons.
The argument for the legislation is that the law it repealed was unfairly classifying the mentally ill without due process. Again, we see that personal liberty is often unavoidably in the line of fire of effective legislation. I think there may have to be a point where we decide, as a country built on individualism, that we must sacrifice individual liberties and advance with some collectivist ideals in order to stop the terror.
When I watch the coverage of mass shootings that seem to be almost weekly events on TV, I can’t help myself but wonder: At what point should these just be reported like a car accident, or a drug overdose? They’re becoming so routine it almost seems like faux outrage. Is everyone really so “shocked” by this? You shouldn’t be — we’ve had plenty of practice.
Let’s make the gun-control debate about logic and pragmatism. We are all just looking to solve a problem and the debate should be about what solves it most effectively. If you don’t want gun control, come to the table with a competing idea.
Will Stern ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism.