In the aftermath of mass shootings, America leaves itself in tethered, jumbled mayhem, riddled with raw emotion and pure anguish. While we’re all unequivocally bothered, we’re busy castigating each other into political time-out corners. Believe it or not, the grit of our political discourse has very little to do with our disagreements. America survives off of civil discourse, and we’ve luckily managed to do so for the last 241 years. However, once our brute passion for certain policy positions overcomes our ability to civilly exchange policies, we inadequately impute bad motives on those we may ardently disagree with. In doing so, we cannot embark upon mutual ideological acceptance, let alone a healthy body politic rooted in decency. In search of a solution, we can effectively practice our First Amendment rights to engage in purposeful political discourse while realizing our disagreements don’t have the power to bar opposing views. As we’re all a part of the this crucial, long-awaited solution, the question of sympathy should be thwacked out of discussion. As it is easy to wield out wild, baseless misconceptions, it is a lazy, unmitigated approach that immediately terminates our unity. Most folks on the left have resorted to such sycophantic outbursts: Gun control now! Stop praying and do something! Stop pretending, if you really cared you would do something! The blood is on your hands! When conservatives give their sensible take on the matter–Stripping away rights from millions of law-abiding gun owners isn’t the answer–the left rebuttals this talking point by butchering their own. Questioning or doubting one’s sincerity isn’t a refutation. If one does so, maybe they ought to question their own.
By now, the gun control slogan is hallowed out for this exact reason. None of us are precisely clear on what gun control actually means to the left. Their answer lies in the dust, as they’re apprehensive in revealing their specific measures that may run counter to American principles. When it comes to crafting policies, American gun reform must be carefully calculated as it must uphold the original intent of our Second Amendment right. In spite of logic, the burlesque bluffing continues as some suggest that it’s time for America to adopt Australian gun laws. As much as this broad scoped sentiment has resurfaced now, implementing Australian gun laws has long been a popular Democratic goal. Jog your memory back to former President Barack Obama’s eulogy in response to the Umpqua Community College mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon:
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allie of ours–Great Britain, Australia.”
At the surface, the idea may appear miraculously brilliant to most on the left, but implementing Australian policy isn’t as easy as one may think:
- Australia fought against mass shootings. Statistics show America’s gun violence is far more complex and problematic–not in mass shootings, but in widely sporadic gun violence.
While Australia enacted stricter gun laws in response to mass shootings, the causation of American gun violence poses opposite of Australia. Mass shootings are a scaling issue in the United States, yet statistics on mass shootings remain significantly lower compared to unintentional or undetermined causes, legal intervention, suicides, and homicides. As the Guardian points out, 4 percent of gun-related deaths result from unintentional or undetermined causes, legal intervention, and undetermined causes; almost two-thirds of deaths are suicide-related, and about 11,000 gun homicides occur each year, leaving mass shootings in the United States to account for a small sliver of our alarming gun violence issue. How we decide to measure mass shootings is significantly imperative for the data. Mother Jones, a mostly left-winged news site, as is the Guardian, has sorted specific criteria for a shooting to be categorized as a public mass shooting:
- The perpetrator took at least four lives
- The shooting was carried out by a lone-shooter
- The shooting was public
- Perpetrators who died or were wounded were not included in the victim toll.
- The data also includes “spree killings”–killings that have occurred at more than one location within a short period of time while also fitting the above criteria
With this said, I’m not suggesting we not care about mass shootings and those who’ve had their lives cut short. However, to narrow our focus on gun reform only when attention-grabbing mass shootings occur, we detach ourselves from reality since American gun violence heavily weighs on other instances. We shouldn’t blow these unfortunate events out of proportion and suddenly ask loaded questions of each other. America’s solution to gun violence should attempt to cover all of these instances, not just in response to mass shootings. If the media is only willing to give an uproar on gun violence during mass shootings, perhaps they ought to shine attention on other instances of gun-related deaths–as we all should.
- Within our complex gun violence epidemic, America suffers vast racial disparity when it comes to the issue.
If America wants to curb gun violence, perhaps this factor should be included. As this factor is conveniently left out our national gun debate, (because it may be deemed as “racist” to mention so) the rate of gun violence is highly correlative to certain communities. Much of America’s gun violence is concentrated in impoverished neighborhoods with rocketing unemployment rates, struggling school systems, and mistrust between the community and its local law enforcement. Everytown, a gun safety support fund, and other outlets, have mentioned this statistic. African Americans make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, but are victims of more than half of all gun homicides. We can conclusively suggest that rates of gun violence hold a strong linkage to certain cultures in certain areas of the country.
- It would be preposterous and gravely immoral to implement a gun buyback program.
At the capstone of the left euphemistically alluding to their incoherent gun control measures, the Australian gun buyback program has become an instrumental talking point of the left’s solution to lessen gun violence. Getting people to turn in their guns without civil upheaval has to be some sort of magic act. The undercurrent of this solution is that it was mandatory. Let’s not forget we have a Bill of Rights, unlike Australia who doesn’t grant constitutional authority to its citizens to own firearms. A mandatory call by our government to turn in firearms would not only be unconstitutional, or invasive of our government, but would ignite tyranny. Government tyranny is the exact reason why Americans own firearms. Even if our government were to call for a voluntary buyback, such a law could still potentially raise questions of its constitutionality. For such reasons, this proposal comes across as deeply unpopular to American citizens. Amidst political scuffle, we’ll need to embrace a more pragmatic, mitigated approach that aligns with existing law. When political leaders and leftist outlets solicit public discourse to institute these policies, of course there’ll be citizens who’re howling to keep their Second Amendment right. Vox, a left leaning news outlet, reinstates the Australian gun buyback program after every mass shooting. While they’ve recently made some quasi-fair points, such as lackluster authority and enforcement of local and state laws, they simply just say Australian gun control works. As they leave out stark differences between Australian and American law, Vox fails to mention there would be dire consequences if the U.S. dares to implement Australian gun control. Now, considering this on economic terms, a buyback program would be costly. If Australia had far less guns and spent millions, we would have to confiscate many more and probably spend billions.
Furthermore, viewing the impact of the buyback program above doesn’t necessarily reveal that turning in guns to the government is correlative with a reduction in gun-related deaths. Before the buyback program was implemented in 1996, we can see that there was already a steady trajectory of a rise and fall in gun death. From 1980 onward, there seems to also be a sharp, steady decline in gun death alongside the existence of guns. Another point here is only one-third of Australia’s firearms were confiscated by their government under the gun buyback program. Yes, there continued to be a decrease in gun-related deaths after 1996, but it’s inconclusive to suggest the gun buyback program had any effect if most Australians still held onto their firearms. This reveals that the issue with gun-related deaths includes more factors than just guns. One could also argue that implementing gun control doesn’t necessarily benefit one’s safety. Aside from the graph, as of 2016, 39 percent of all murders in Australia were committed with a knife. Compare that percentage to the previous year, which has increased from 25 percent. In Australia, you are also three times more likely to be robbed with a knife than with a firearm. Beyond any doubt, America can go about this same issue differently. It’s possible to preserve our law while finding logical ways to reduce gun violence. Unlike Australia, we don’t need blanket policies that fail to distinguish lawful citizens from criminals or those with criminal intent. To prevent another mass shooter from obtaining a weapon, rather than the next mass shooting, America should focus on its significant problem with mental illness if two-thirds of gun-related deaths result from suicide. Vox later mentions people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims. While that may be true, there may also be a correlation between the few people with a mental illness being the perpetrator and the few instances where gun-related deaths result from public mass shootings, most of which are committed by those who’ve had a severe history in mental illness. I’m not suggesting the mentally ill should bear the burden of being labeled as mass murders, and neither is President Trump. Last February, President Trump passed a bill stating that a judge has to rule a person mentally incompetent before one’s gun is taken away or before one has the ability to legally buy a gun. The mentally ill don’t get to bare the burden of America’s gun violence because due process still exists under our fifth and fourteenth amendments.
Meanwhile, in the rubble of our fragmented gun debate lies politically illiterate solutions. The left has decided to draw their wrath of collective rage upon not only the NRA, but its five million members. Taking swings at the NRA last week wasn’t enough. Forcing everybody to become political statements is cynical to the left’s manipulation in forwarding their moral preening. At the urge of the public left, the smug mainstream media, and progressive sites such as ThinkProgress (who’ve been tracking down NRA partnerships), companies have been coerced to drop the NRA as a corporate partner, thus cutting discounts and amenities to NRA members. What five million law-abiding gun owners have to do with Parkland is beyond comprehensive review. Are we going to forget than an NRA instructor shot down the Sutherland Springs sociopath? This, of course, doesn’t matter. Conservatives are dissidents inside a leftist utopia. So, what they really mean is this: you either stand with us or you don’t, and if you don’t we’ll slander and misrepresent anybody that dares disagree with us. It’s leftist demagoguery driving a wedge within our political discourse, putting people in an irrational position–you either care about children or you’re scum of the earth. Bully tactics only obliterates our capacity to carry out a discussion, ultimately turning people away from any idea of gun control. Recall CNN’s town hall, where Senator Marco Rubio and NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch bravely volunteered to be thrown into the lion’s den. So, what does banning AR-15’s mean? According to the town hall, that means going as far as to ban every sold semi-automatic. The left won’t come out and say it, so Senator Rubio forced the radical left to emerge out of the closet. In response to his point, the audience began to ballyhoo Senator Rubio once he stated the assault weapons ban “would literally ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America.”
Within the frenzy of anti-gun fanatics are politicians who’re determined to ban firearms at all costs. Democratic Representative, David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, has introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. With more than 150 Democrats supporting the bill, the bill prohibits the “sale, transfer, production, and importation” of semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can hold a detachable magazine, as well as semi-automatic rifles with a magazine that can hold more than ten rounds. Additionally, the legislation bans the sale, transfer, production, and importation of semi-automatic shotguns with features such as a pistol grip or detachable stock, and ammunition feeding devices that are capable of holding more than ten rounds. The bill goes on to name 205 specific firearms that are prohibited, including the AK-47 and AR-15. How the government would detect the transfer of such firearms would be incredibly difficult with millions of Americans owning semi-automatic rifles. As Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire mentions, there are seven million semi-automatic rifles in circulation besides the AR-15. The effectiveness of this legislation would also draw a serious question to ban the millions of other semi-automatic rifles. Moreover, since many firearms share the same features as the AR-15, I can’t wait to see what measures of gun control our government will be willing to take in response to handguns, which account for nearly all of America’s gun-related deaths. If the government really wants to control the decline of gun-related death, they should rid handguns, but they won’t go there. Instead, they’ll reveal interlaced policies that ostensibly mirror what a buyback program would look like. And everybody is bewildered why Americans don’t want the kind of gun control the left is proposing or why people are fleeing to join the NRA in record numbers? There’s a taboo against the Second Amendment inside some areas within left. There are people who disrespect our liberty, wholeheartedly believing that if we need to do away with guns, so be it. Additionally, there’s a reason why the left has coined the term gun control and not gun reform. The government doesn’t exist to control its people through codified, collective consequences; the government exists to justly assess issues by punishing those who are unjust. It’s also unjust to collectively punish anti-gun control advocates by weeding them out of discussion. Once a sputter of pro-gun sentiment fills the air, the conservative gut churns, disoriented in muddled trepidation of the left’s disenfranchisement of alternative viewpoints.Those on the left need to assess their priorities and realize guns aren’t the sole reason for these tragedies. Clearly, our government and local law enforcement bare part of the responsibility and had legal authority to prevent the shooting from taking place, according to recent reports. Before we misdirect attention on reported facts and before people want to start labeling conservatives as those who “don’t care about children” in a predatory fashion, people ought to listen to different perspectives that they may find themselves in agreement with.
In summation, it’s been a little while since Parkland, and unity still has yet to be sought. As we inch ourselves towards a solution, we must jettison our guzzling dogma that’s now the core of our social ills. We cannot continue this discussion if we choose to invest our time in fomenting our empathy over logic and reason. Instead, we can lift ourselves from the overt toxicity to congregate and be consistent in working around our existing laws embedded in our constitutional republic–this means upholding our Second Amendment. This doesn’t mean conservatives love our guns over children losing their lives. We’ve been hearing that exact line from most on the left and it’s an irreverent statement meant to calibrate fear into public discourse. We don’t love guns, we love our right. If we could live in a world where we didn’t have to defend ourselves, we’d love to live in that utopia as much as we love having our rights now. We must preserve every right, and facilitating an Australian gun buyback program would usurp our rights. Imagine living in a country where your government doesn’t trust you to defend yourself; a government that controls you and doesn’t trust you for the sins of a few. Yet, the government ironically trust you to keep them in power. One question we need to be asking here is this: Why would we reverse and erase America’s efforts in preserving these basic fundamental rights for the past 241 years? This idea that we must turn in our firearms to the government and we can have faith in our government to protect us at all times is contradictory and a misread of our government’s duties. For all the talk of how our thoughts and prayers don’t matter, maybe the left should question why they have such strong, insurmountable faith in our government. Nobody is suggesting thoughts and prayers heals the world of its evils. With that said, nobody should be suggesting the same about our government.
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