No quick shots with gun control
Dec. 14, 2012 will never be forgotten. Like the Columbine shooting or 9/11, every American citizen will remember exactly where they were sitting when they heard about the slaughter of 20 elementary school students and 7 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I was in class, expecting to spend an hour reviewing for a final, but instead, talking to my professor and peers about the tragedy.
Gunman Adam Lanza carried a Bushmaster .223 rifle, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and spent only ten minutes in the elementary school. 6,000 rounds of ammunition loaded in high capacity ammunition clips created a lethal combination.
Ammunition and high capacity clips are sold online and at department stores purchased without background check, volume limits or IDs. I cannot walk into Walmart and buy a CD with vulgar language or Sudafed without showing my ID, but I could walk out with a cart full of ammo unquestioned.
As an NRA card-carrying member, I recognize that gun control is a sensitive issue; I recognize the importance of second amendment rights; I recognize the controversy. But I also recognize the importance of dialogue in a nation where 155 people have been killed in mass shootings in the past year.
Considering the rise of mass shootings in the United States and the importance of second amendment rights it is imperative that we start the conversation regarding gun control to find a well-balanced solution that will save lives.
We avoid controversial conversations following tragedies for two reasons: the emotional nature of these conversations and the fear of political polarization.
First, when a mass shooting takes place, it is high profile and highly emotional. This type of shooting grips the nation. Those in positions of power say now is not the time to exploit these events for political purposes.
However, when the discussion is postponed, pressure comes off of policy makers, the immediacy fades and everyone turns their attention to something else.
The ‘it’s too early’ argument is compelling, but irrational. Firearms are consumer products. If this were some other consumer product — if this were an airplane crash, or some major car crash, or poisoned food — people would say, ‘Okay, let’s look at how we prevent this from happening again.’ It’s only when guns are involved that people say ‘it’s too early.’
Second, we are afraid to approach the topic of gun control as it is a significantly polarizing conversation. Fear of political polarization comes across as an unwillingness to have this conversation in both boardrooms and living rooms.
The threat of an executive order without compromise only harms the conversation. Overwhelming political division surrounding the gun control conversation requires a lasting compromise only possible if we are willing to engage in serious and possibly uncomfortable political dialogue. National tragedies, such as the Sandy Hooks shooting transform the conversation from a theoretical debate to a necessity for action.
Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora shooting remembers hearing gun shots and thinking they were fireworks. Shari Thornberg, an educational assistant at Sandy Hook remembers attributing the noise of gun shots to janitors taking down risers in the gymnasium, but following these events, Americans hear a pop in a crowded theater or a bang from the opposite end of a school building instantly freeze with fear. We must allow this fear to motivate, not stagnate, inspiring conversation.
Please share your opinions. I recognize that many people in the Gustavian community have strong opinions on this topic. I also recognize that engaging in an uncomfortable conversation with a friend, professor or relative may cause uncomortable feelings or even fear. However, I encourage everyone to participate in this national conversation.
I hope that this article helps spur a more local conversation as well. I look forward to response to this article, either by commenting online or writing a letter to the editor. I encourage you to raise the conversation among a group of friends in the cafeteria.
I encourage you to challenge others to think about this difficult issue and challenge yourself to share your beliefs while simultaneously exposing yourself to other beliefs. We cannot afford to allow the topic of gun control to fall off of the front page of national newspapers without finding a solution to avoid future tragedies.