Tuesday, June 7th, 2022
Amid more and more instances of gun violence, especially within schools, its easy for us to knee-jerkingly react with calls for regulation and reinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment. These conversations and debates must be hashed out so that we as a society can move forward. However, for this to occur we have to agree on definitions and work diligently to understand underlying cultural causes rather than only blaming the tools used.
The gun topic is messy, and I hesitate offering my thoughts. No matter where I lay my opinion, there will be bad faith interpretations labeling me one way or another. We have to do our best to ignore some of this unfruitful noise and move forward with conversations that are uncomfortable. The founders enshrined the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights, but now those arms have being used by evil people to mow down elementary school children. This grotesque reality needs to be handled with care. While I might have my opinion pretty set in stone on what gun laws should or shouldn't be, we have to do our best to sit down with everyone and discuss this issue and potential solutions like adults rather than toddlers pointing fingers.
Conservatives who do nothing but post TikToks about how proud they are and taunting the government to "come take our guns and see what happens" aren't adding anything productive to the conversation. Most pundits or influencers traffic in trolling the left and belittling their claims and arguments. Yes, there are videos of public officials making comments about weapons that aren't based in any reality. It is absolutely frustrating and I something can't blame the right for mocking such easy prey. President Biden himself, looking to ban or regulate high caliber rounds, cited 9mm handguns - which is not a high caliber weapon:
"A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body", Biden stated when discussing the difference between a .22 caliber and a 9mm. Which is patently false. A 9mm round will not "blow the lung out of your body". It'll do damage and kill, no question. But this explanation by our President preys on the fears of those who know nothing about guns and makes them think that the number one caliber round used for home defense is essentially a rocket launcher.
Does he and other officials who've made untrue statements about weapons know better? Are they just fear mongering to garner support? Political officials play this game with every issue.
Regardless of Biden or any other political official's misinformed takes on guns, the right has failed to adequately fight back and has bent over backwards to make the National Rifle Association (NRA) happy. Their lobbying efforts haven't just stopped legislation, but they've stifled conversation. Republicans need their funding and if they take meetings with gun control activists to have an honest conversation? They might risk angering the beast.
This is where politics as usual needs to end. If one side and its constituents are so wildly misinformed about a topic, they need to do everything they can to bring the other side into the know and address problems together in a way appropriate for the federal government. Unfortunately we know the partisan divide exists in every issue and neither party can agree on the same data or facts.
After Sandy Hook and Uvalde, the right and left ran to their corners to espouse the same tired talking points. Consistently failing to address any of the root issues behind why our social structure seems to be collapsing, or why so many young people seem to be desperately craving attention. They might mention "mental health", but its used as a buzz word with hollow understanding. Plenty of officials came out after Uvalde saying that this was "enough" and that the Biden Administration MUST take action to prevent assault rifles and high capacity magazines from getting into the wrong hands. I don't think any rational person is against that sentiment, but words matter.
How the left has been defining "assault weapons" usually is meant to encompass military style semi-automatic rifles. Anyone familiar with weapons knows this is hilariously vague. You can purchase a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle that is made to look like a military issued M4 Carbine. 'Assault weapon" seems to imply the "look" of the rifle is more important than its specifications.
Moreover, many on the left point to the AR-15 as the biggest boogey man and truly believe that the "AR" stands for "Assault Rifle". When, in fact, it stands for "ArmaLite Rifle" which is a brand same as Toyota or Microsoft. This basic misconception is the perfect microcosm, showcasing the issue with this conversation.
Another example is this image that has been circulating since the renewed calls for the banning of assault weapons and makes the point pretty clear:
If this is true, either every member of Congress is being purposefully deceptive and are only interested in making the public shush, or every member needs to take a hunter's safety course before even thinking about legislating on guns. They have proven time and time again after each domestic terrorist attack that they have no understanding of weapons and use talking points that point to guns being the problem.
Guns are a tool same as a hammer or axe. The person behind that tool is the potential issue. You might say "Sure, but if we take away guns, someone wouldn't do nearly as much damage as if they had only a hammer or axe". Certainly guns do make killing easier, there is no question there. But is banning their use going to solve the problem at hand? We've banned cocaine and heroin and yet opioid overdoses are the highest ever. Handgun related homicides are rampant nearly every weekend in Chicago, yet no one bats an eye. In addition, according to the Department of Justice nearly 60% of adult firearm related deaths are suicide. Yet we don't hear a word.
These situations aren't as heavily reported because they aren't considered a "mass shooting". They aren't as sensational to cover with the fancy "Breaking News" banner. What's worse? 35 independent shootings resulting in 35 deaths in Chicago's Southside over a weekend? Or one event with a rifle that kills 10 at a movie theater? The event that killed 10 gets more coverage. It always will. This further informs the fact that we are wholeheartedly uninterested in actually, honestly addressing the problems behind gun violence.
That alone should piss us off enough to call Congress and the media on its BS.
This issue is deeper than just passing a law that restricts the 2nd Amendment. Just watch, Abortion and Gun Rights will be the focus in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 general election. After the election? They'll fade away until the next event occurs. Never let a crisis go to waste right?
Any politician or citizen who thinks that shallowly? They need to spend more time deeply thinking and really contemplate why situations like Uvalde are happening. I'm not going to sit here and type "no legislation will ever work" because I think we need all options and perspectives at the table. I have no doubt there are rational ways to mitigate the evil that occurred in the halls of that school. But I don't know the answer. However, I do no that this is a people and cultural problem. Not a gun problem. Our society, for as free and rich as it is compared to other nations is so devoid of compassion and empathy. That is a massive, unaddressed problem. Until we understand that and are willing to sit down with one another and discuss real solutions, our culture will continue to decay.
Hell, if our leaders were to get on TV and get together to discuss things in an eloquent and educated way rather than doing separate press conferences pointing the finger at each other and name calling? That alone would go so far in fixing the social fabric and mending the division surrounding this issue. Ask yourself why they won't do this.
So what should we do? Ban certain types of ammunition and weapons in an attempt to mitigate Sandy Hook and Uvalde? Should we strengthen background checks and implement red flag laws? I have my personal apprehensions in allowing more regulation from Washington D.C., but I think the debate needs to be had with honest facts and figures. Good faith discussion. Understanding that this is a cultural issue stemmed from anger and division perpetuated by Washington, we must look past the unproductive bans being proposed and engage in a real discussion to address the WHY behind Uvalde and Buffalo.
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