EDITORIAL: Gun Control: What Congress is Doing and Are We Doing Enough?


Kaylee Dillon, Staff Writer

America is constantly going through waves- cycles, even, of grief. Tragedy strikes, we grieve, and then we slowly but surely continue on with life. This is a natural process, and there’s no shame in admitting that we eventually carry on from these staggering events. Still, when time after time, a problem consistently rises in the country, it is time to reflect on our current climate, and the historical context around it, to understand what exactly is eliciting this nightmare-scenario.

It’s no secret that America has had quite the feat with gun control. And like all deeply rooted problems, it isn’t an easy one to think about, nevertheless talk about. However, that might be the deepest flaw with the gun problem, not our current stance on gun control- our inability to discuss America’s affliction with guns in a productive manner.

By being able to create constructive conversation about our current status on guns and what we can do about them is the future is a piece of the puzzle often forgotten. However, this problem doesn’t seem to lie with everyday Americans, but with elected officials. In Congress, the lack of productive conversation hinders the rest of us incapable to do anything about it.

But what exactly is the problem with guns in America? The Second Amendment, which protects a person’s right to bear arms, has been with America since it’s early days. The Second Amendment is contextually adjacent to vital rights like freedom of speech, religion, and press, making it appear to be as important as those rights. Frankly, owning a gun for self-defense is not as crucial to life as being able to speak your mind without threat or punishment. However, America has built a dependency on guns, and feel that guns are something so critical to security, that it feels unnatural to not own one.

This is to be said without shame to people that own guns or support owning firearms, feeling this commitment to guns has been nurtured into our livelihoods for centuries, but at a certain point we must reflect upon the tragedies that have occured in the past two decades to understand how unhealthy the American dedication to guns has become. America owns the most guns in the world- but what make this statistic more profound is how countries with comparatively high rates of gun ownership similar to America, come nowhere near the percentage of mass shootings that America endures.

So what does this excess of guns bring America? An increase of gun-related deaths, not just the tragic, “abnormal” mass-shooting. Suicides, homicides, and accidental deaths experience higher rates in America than other countries because of the availability of guns. Being able to go to a supermarket to purchase a gun destigmatizes the lethality of the weapon. Instead of seeing guns as dangerous and complicated, the marketability of guns makes them feel like a necessity for security, when in reality guns are taking innocent lives on our own home turf.

Mass shootings are something of an epidemic in America- they seem to be happening more and more rapidly, at more lethal rates, and there seems to be no solution to them. We look to our legislators to do something in order to prevent them, but because of our lack of discussion about these horrific events, we passively allow them to happen over and over again. The excessive amount of guns in America has created this pseudo-arms race between people who think they are good, and those that that good people believe to be bad or harmful. Since Americans are afraid of bad people with lots of guns, like the terrorists they see in the media, they take it upon themselves to arm themselves so they don’t need to fear people that might try and hurt them.

We fear extremists from other countries because they challenge our ideals with violence. We fear people that live in America because they have guns like us, and can use them against us. What value does that leave us? To fear everyone, including ourselves? How can we extinguish this fear, in which initiates our need for guns?

To undo what history has given us, the government must assist us in unlearning all of the pros to owning a gun, and relearning the consequences to owning a gun. Understanding that owning a gun puts not only ourselves, our family and friends, but complete strangers in danger, given it’s put in the wrong hands. Nowadays, any gun can become a tool of mass destruction. Registered and unregistered guns have been used in mass-shootings, so the risk is waged no matter how safely you go about owning a gun.

If one still chooses to own a gun, the government should take several steps in order to lessen the probability of injuries by funding education on how to handle and store a gun in one’s home, and advise against carrying guns out in the open. On top of that, major revision to our current gun control legislation needs to be made. Instead of allowing people to own hunting rifles all year-round, provide seasonal permits for large guns. These restrictions may not be well-heard by those that use guns in this manner, and especially not by legislators that represent these people, but it needs to be understood that larger guns and automatic weapons are consistently used in mass-shootings, and thus have proved to be unreliable in protecting the safety of Americans.

Congress is always in the midst of hashing out a bill that has something to do with gun control. The issue is, that bipartisan sentiments get in the way of any sort of resolution. Democrats feel too strongly that guns should be taken away, while Republicans feel too strongly that guns are important for self-defense and personal rights, and neither is a healthy way to view our situation at hand. Going for a less-restrictive, logical approach to gun control that appeals to both sides interests is the only way to navigate the situation- not by debating over it with no end in sight.

Congress has approached legislation that is liked by both Democrats and Republicans, but no agreements are ever assured. The last major hallmark of gun-control’s history took place during the Obama administration, following the Newtown shooting. Since then, mass shootings that cast shadows over those of the past have ravaged America, and no solid legislation has been offered, let alone passed. Congress is active in combating issues like mass shootings, but not aggressively enough because of bipartisanism.

The problem with guns is not a problem that’s impossible to decipher. At times, especially after the mass shootings that occurred in 2017, it feels hard to do anything but grieve for something so disconcerting, and no doubt it seems unattainable to solve a problem so much larger than ourselves. Still, we must push through these feats with perseverance, and thwart the fear that fuels monstrosities like these into existence. There’s nothing better to do about a predicament like gun control than educate yourself as well as you can. With knowledge on topics like these, you understand how to better yourself on them, and how to make something as treacherous and daunting as gun violence, seem a lot more reversible to everyday Americans.