Updated: May 2, 2019
I’m disappointed in us as a country. It feels as if we are so mired in our anger and hatred toward change and each other that we have paralyzed ourselves. It’s hard to believe we are sitting here after all of these mass shootings still stuck at square one of this debate. We haven’t tried anything new, we have made very few changes to existing laws and policies, and there is still no foreseeable action on the horizon.
It’s become the same old, routine story—another school shooting, followed by outcry from anti-gun advocates to ban all weapons, and then opposing cries from the pro-gun crowd that “People kill people, not guns.”
This is a crisis America! The latest victims should be overwhelming evidence to everyone. How far are we going to let this go before we make adjustments to our culture to address this epidemic?
We are caught in the trap of dualistic thinking. Most of America is arguing about either leaving things the way they are or banning all guns. Why are we arguing it’s all or nothing? Those two polar opposite views are not our only options and that’s why I believe we are still stuck. There is way more real estate on the spectrum of possible solutions we are not considering.
No freedom is absolute. Why should gun ownership be any different? There are already many restrictions on gun ownership. For example, you can’t own a firearm if you are a convicted felon, if you have been convicted of a domestic violence crime, if you have a substance abuse problem, or other criteria. Some of the states have even stricter laws than the federal ones.
As a comparison, consider the increased security after 9/11. Nobody likes the fact that we have to show up earlier to the airport, take off our shoes, and can’t bring any liquids over 3 ounces through security. It’s more than annoying when TSA throws away my brand new tube of Crest toothpaste I was trying to bring home. Certainly, if we all had the choice, we would prefer things back to the way it used to be. But the world and the evolution of human beings taught us we must endure a little more inconvenience in order to still enjoy our freedom to fly around the world safely. I believe the same needs to happen with regards to gun control. Yes, there will be more hoops. Yes, there will be more inconvenience and more irritation, but it will ultimately make it so gun ownership is still a freedom we enjoy while keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
I’m not sure exactly what the new process should look like. I do think we should be discussing things such as mandatory classes and training, psychological exams, and more comprehensive background checks for gun owners. And who will pay for this you ask? We pass along the cost of being approved to the consumer and NOT the taxpayer. It just becomes part of the process to exercise your right. And if you’re going to debate me on this, please stop using the slippery slope fallacy. This is a tactic used throughout time that is meant to scare people and discourage change. Behind it is the same ignorance that shouted, “If we let blacks and women vote, what’s next—we let sheep vote?” Let’s discuss the actual issue, potential solutions, and stay away from the deadly fallacies that get people all riled up for no reason. In other words, if your argument contains a “what’s next,” it is invalid.
And here’s another thing to consider—we may not get it right on our first attempt. Nobody has all the answers. This will be a process of trial and error, just like anything else we undertake, for which there is no precedent. We may try some things that don’t work or we may need to add or tweak some of what we try in order to get a good solution, and that’s okay!
I’m convinced there is a good solution somewhere in the middle. Our ability to debate and compromise is part of what has made us so great and powerful as a country. It’s been said, “A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied.” I agree. Nobody is going to get his or her way 100%. If each side will just give a little for the greater good of humanity, we will prevail.
Nobody knows the perfect solution because there is no such thing. We will probably never get to a point where there are zero gun deaths in this country. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. If we can reduce the number of shootings then we are headed in the right direction. Let’s start there. The most important thing is that we actually DO SOMETHING!
To our lawmakers: I’m demanding you finally step up and move past your fear of not being re-elected and start us down the path of reasonable gun control. I’m hoping of those we’ve elected to represent us, surely SOME of you are leaders, visionaries, and pioneers? Surely you aren’t going to just cower behind the desks we bought you? We’re waiting. Our children are waiting. Free us from our paralysis. Start us down the road again to show the world we will adapt and overcome any and all challenges that face America—the greatest nation on Earth.