A few weeks ago, a terrible tragedy occurred on the campus of Umpqua Community College down in southern Oregon. A shooter, whose name I don’t care to mention, shot and killed 10 innocent people and wounded nine others, resulting in the worst school shooting in Oregon history.
Immediately following this horrific event, people all across Oregon responded with prayers, support and love for the people affected by this heinous crime. Even the president himself paid a visit to Oregon, spoke with the families who lost loved ones and offered his condolences to the community.
However, as the initial shock of the event began to fade, the debate over gun control began yet again in our country. Gun control seems to be one of those issues that people appear to have no interest in until a tragedy like this occurs, and after a while it gets placed on the backburner.
After this shooting, and given the political climate, many people have been weighing in on the issue, from presidential candidates and state governors to family members on Facebook.
Even during the recent Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’ record with regard to gun control, due to the fact he voted against the Brady Bill in 1993 and supported legislation that would protect gun manufacturers against lawsuits from those affected by gun violence.
It’s no doubt gun control is a polarizing issue, one that can be very emotional, especially if you have been personally affected or lost someone to gun violence.
Despite this fact, when the gun control debate does arise, people seem to stick to age-old arguments, weak platitudes and rhetoric that doesn’t do anything to understand either side or find a logical middle ground.
For example, it seems that the only time conservatives in America care about Switzerland’s existence is when it’s politically beneficial to call upon them as some sort of gun utopia.
However, Switzerland’s gun laws are much stricter than in the United States, and gun possession is partnered with mandatory military service and training. Along with this, in 2007 Switzerland’s Federal Council passed a measure that requires ammunition to be kept in a central arsenal.
Heavy automatic assault rifles, suppressors and open carry are all illegal in Switzerland. At the end of the day, guns are not seen as a mode of self-defense but rather an issue of national security.
What gun proponents don’t bother to mention is Switzerland has a problem with these privately owned guns being used in situations of domestic violence, a fact that has led many in Switzerland to support even further restrictions.
There are hundreds of other bad arguments against control that always seek to compare guns to completely unrelated things. For instance, people who are against gun control often cite prohibition of alcohol as something the government failed to effectively restrict. However, guns are not moonshine, and until people are making .45-caliber pistols in their backyard, the comparison makes no sense.
Another comparison people like to make is with motor vehicles. People argue that if we don’t restrict the use of motor vehicles when someone misuses them, then we shouldn’t do so with guns. The problem with this is that guns are made to do one thing: shoot things with lethal intent. Cars, on the other hand, are used to transport people to school and work and bring victims of mass shootings to hospitals.
If all these arguments are dismissed, most proponents of the Second Amendment will claim that citizens need guns in order to protect from potential government tyranny. As much as the American in me wants to support this idea, it’s completely ridiculous. No amount of Americans wielding rifles and handguns will ever stop the full might of the United States military. After all, they have tanks and jets.
Now I’m not saying military action against a well-armed tyrannical government by a civilian militia isn’t impossible. One has to only look to Libya and Syria for modern examples. However, in these cases, they had outside help. You know, from the United States government.
Recently, I even saw a post on Facebook from an NRA fan page that claimed more people died from falling down than from guns in a year. Whether or not that’s true shouldn’t matter. The fact any amount of people are dying from gun use is a problem.
According to one statistic, verified by PolitiFact, more Americans have died from gun-related violence than have died in all the wars in America’s history. Roughly 32,000 people die in the United State due to gun violence every year, and we average about 30 gun deaths per 100,000 people.
This is almost more than motor vehicle deaths.
Some people even have the audacity to claim that gun violence is a mental health issue. However, this is purely rhetoric used to steer the conversation away from the issue of gun violence.
Even everyone’s favorite socialist Bernie Sanders claimed that gun violence is a mental health issue.
The fact is, according to the American Journal of Public Health, fewer than 5 percent of 120,000 gun-related killings were committed by people who were diagnosed with mental illness.
Clearly this is a gun control issue—one that people like to avoid.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a proponent of completely restricting private ownership of guns. I think any of this prevailing all-or-nothing approach is inherently wrong and fails to see the bigger picture. The fact of the matter is, a large portion of citizens who own guns do so carefully and have no intention of shooting up a school. However, it seems it’s nearly impossible to advocate for a person’s right to own a semi-automatic rifle that is kept in a well-locked safe while simultaneously supporting a massive overhaul on gun control laws, especially of handguns.
At this point, federal action is the most important step to creating a safer country. As much as the federalist in me wants to think this could be left to the states, if even one state had lax gun control laws it would completely undermine any attempt another state could make.
So, to supporters of the Second Amendment, please stop deflecting the greater issue at hand and please fight a battle that is worth winning.