Nuanced approach needed to mitigate gun violence
By Joe Skoog ’13
Should we be comfortable around guns?
As the debate rages on regarding regulations and laws prohibiting or allowing firearm ownership, we see that many misconceptions have been filtered into the discussion.
In an article from the Wall Street Journal, a pro-gun activist wrote about the recent picture of President Barack Obama holding a gun.
He wrote: “Could there be a better illustration of the cultural divide over firearms than the White House photograph of our skeet-shooting president? Clay pigeons are launched into the air, but the president’s smoking shotgun is level with the ground. This is not a man who is comfortable around guns. And that goes a long way toward explaining his gun-control agenda.”
This may seem like a reasonable statement. President Obama doesn’t have experience with firearms, but what is good about being comfortable around a device that can cause great harm?
Being complacent with potentially harmful instruments and the things they can do makes us powerless. The idea that attempts to curb violence created by guns are simply “misinformed” makes no sense in this context.
If gun control is simply not the answer to helping stop violence, then why does the discussion end there?
We need to prioritize policies that help end gang violence instead of simply chalking up the slow violence that occurs every day to an amorphous series of unstoppable forces.
People die from gunshots every day, and most of the time it never makes the headlines.
While the many massacres that have occurred are poignant reminders of the violence guns can cause, we should look at these every day acts of violence that guns have a direct hand in. While these may not be as “flashy” as the other high profile stories, it helps put a face on an issue that is not just about schools or workplaces, but is about people.
Our fascination with large scale events such as school shootings can sometimes mask the very insidious ways that violence takes place. This is not to say that these mass shootings are not horrible acts, but instead, we need to include slow violence into our calculus when discussing firearm ownership and the laws surrounding them.
Rob Nixon, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, wrote about the way that large scale events can sometimes cloud our judgments. He proposed the need to rethink how violence occurs.
“Such a rethinking requires that we complicate conventional assumptions about violence as a highly visible act that is newsworthy because it is event focused, time bound and body bound.”
Instead of focusing on just gun control, we should strive toward bettering the lives of the many, so that the use of guns is not seen as a viable option to those who struggle.
This does not entail being “comfortable” with things. We should be uncomfortable, we should dare to make new choices, for that is the only way true change may occur.
Condemn criminals, not guns for America’s violence
By Nick May ’14
“People want to place the blame for this (mass shootings) on things like 30 round magazines and semi-automatic rifles. We want to blame something, anything that we can control but what we really want to ban is violence and murder and insanity. We don’t talk about that though because deep in our hearts each of us knows that violence and murder and insanity are built into the human condition and likely always will be” — Bill Whittle, conservative blogger.
I think Whittle is spot on.
Gun control has good intentions but it won’t stop violent crimes from occurring and all it really ends up doing is controlling people and disarming those who use guns to protect themselves, while also helping criminals.
Whittle goes on to cite an FBI official report that states that in 2011 all rifles, including semi-automatic rifles, killed 323 people which made up for 3 percent of all murders in America.
In comparison, hammers and blunt objects killed twice as many people as semi automatic rifles did in the same year.
So say Congress and the president do ban all semi-automatic weapons and magazines over 10 rounds. This will turn millions of normal, peaceful gun owners into felons with the flick of pen.
Where do these people go when they want to sell their AR-15 or any other semi-automatic rifles? They can’t sell them legally, so they will turn to the black market to sell them.
Now criminals will have a large influx of guns that were previously illegal for them to purchase because of their felon status.
At this point, pro-gun control advocates will say that felons are able to attain guns through gun shows that use loopholes that allow them to sell to people without background checks.
If people want to close those loopholes I say go for it, but don’t expect any decrease in gun crime by felons.
In fact, I expect that gun crime and gun ownership by those previously convicted of a crime would go up.
Similar to the failed War on Drugs, when you ban a product that is in high demand, all you end up doing is making criminals rich.
Criminals, especially those involved organized crime, would actually like for guns to be illegal like drugs in America.
It would be just one more market they could tap into.
What baffles me most is how people who are for gun control often are against the War on Drugs but cannot see how banning guns would do the same for guns as the War on Drugs did for drugs.
The true problem is not guns but violence, and violent people have existed since the dawn of man and will exist for the rest of time.
The sad truth is that these people who are doing these crimes are damaged or mentally disturbed. Often, they want infamy and want to have power over people.
This is why so many of these shootings happen at “gun-free zones” because its less likely for a law abiding citizen to have a gun and thwart their attack. They know that if they bring a gun to these zones that they will have the most power.
The other problem is the media.
If you commit a mass shooting it is sure to make the front page across the country’s papers.
The people who commit these shootings know this and love the fact that they will be infamous.
What we need to do is allow citizens to protect themselves or if at a school or place where people are unable to protect themselves, have someone who is armed to protect them.
Also, we need the media to stop giving so much airtime to these criminals so that they don’t live in infamy.