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By Jordan Rogers Jordan Rogers is an editor at Chapelboro and an occasional reporter for WCHL. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he lives in Raleigh, drinks in Carrboro, and writes in Chapel Hill.

My Issue with the Gun Control Issue

By Jordan Rogers Posted December 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm

It takes only few minutes of cable news to see that Americans need to have a gun control discussion. However, I seem to be one of the few people willing to actually have it. This goes for both sides of the debate, which refuse to have any semblance of a “discussion,” and it’s why the most levelheaded refuse to join either side until there’s a sense of compromise between the two.

In the right-hand corner is the 2nd Amendment crowd, which has still failed to form any workable definition of exactly what the Right to Bear Arms entails. They use flowery language about Constitutional Rights and personal liberties while continuing to ignore the fact that there are clearly issues in America that need concrete solutions, not symbolism and Country music.

Unfortunately the Gun Control group in the left-hand corner has been even more addled. There is complaining that “gun control legislation in this country never goes anywhere” yet this likely because no one ever defines where it should go. How many people have demanded “gun control” without putting an ounce of thought into what this would need to constitute in order to curb gun violence? I only ask this because I am still — after decades of hearing about a gun control discussion — yet to hear anyone actually discuss the following:

  1. How would the proposed gun control legislation actually, in practice, curb future gun violence?
  2. Do you aim to ban guns? If so, which ones? All? Just the most dangerous such as assault weapons? Just dangerous accessories like high-capacity clips?
  3. If ‘yes’ to any of those questions, is this retroactive? Or just for new purchases? Will we be going on a nationwide sweep to confiscate newly banned items? (The retroactivity issue is—mind bogglingly—never addressed by gun control advocates.)
  4. And if yes to that, what about the thousands upon thousands that will no doubt not be legally turned in or located? Why is it never addressed that proposed legislation would likely not affect millions of guns and ammo still on the streets for years to come?
  5. And, lastly, how will these laws work within the state versus federal framework? The logistics of that would be immensely complex.

It’s true many gun owners use these questions to make the gun control issue appear too complicated to address, or that when the gun control supporter cannot answer all of them, then they’ve “lost” the debate. But I’m asking these questions simply because they have to be answered to move forward. Whenever someone glosses over the details of gun control, and huffs and/or puffs “well we just need more gun control,” then you have the answer to why we still don’t.

The complex nature of the issue is reflective of the tax code debate from last year. The unbelievably intricate and multifaceted mess that is American tax policy was somehow dumbed down to “the rich should pay more” versus “the poor need to pay something at least” as though that helped anything. And we’re seeing it all over again with gun control — oversimplifying an issue that is not simple.

If you want an example just entertain some of the “statistics” people on both sides throw around. You know how they look: “Non-America country X has this percentage of Y, and their crime rate W has risen or fallen by Z amount.” Have the people debating others with these statistics not yet realized that for every five statistics they have to back up their opinion there are five perfectly sound statistics that contradict it?[1]

The issue with “gotcha-stats” and sound bite logic is they do the exact opposite of what they’re intended. While each side is using them to foster their discussion, they lose site of the fact that by dumbing it all down, they have prevented a discussion from taking place. They merely generalize a ridiculously complex problem so that black and white oversimplifications can be made and “you versus me, us versus them” style discussions can be repeated ad nauseam.

Once these battle lines are drawn, no one can have the rational, serious discussion they claimed to want in the first place. Case in point: if you merely suggest having armed policeman on school grounds, you’ll be shouted down by supporters of gun control as though you’re attempting to dump guns in school gymnasiums or hand them haphazardly to teachers. Case in point: if you merely suggest the idea of stricter gun control, you’ll be shouted down by gun enthusiasts as though you want to ban and confiscate water guns.

Even the highly educated talking heads on cable and in print make vague statements about “gun control legislation,” and yet never seem to outline how the goal of lessening gun violence would be attained through this method.

People want less gun violence. We know this. But gun control has to be implemented correctly. If the proposed legislation wouldn’t stop any of the events that were used as a reason for the law, that needs to be considered. (I’ll ignore — for now — the fact that there’s no way the current Republicans and Democrats figure this out.)

I’m sure I could easily find a study that claims the majority of American’s want assault-style weapons banned. (But the deadliest shooting in American school history took place at Virginia Tech with small handguns.)

I’m sure most Americans would be against high-capacity “drum” and “banana” clips. (But as horrible it is to even speak of, a criminal could do plenty with two small-clip pistols. Legislation should be aimed to do more than only slightly lower casualty counts.)

The point here is that the “discussion” is not about gun control legislation, it’s about gun control legislation that will actually curb gun violence. Let’s say the gun control crowd wins absolutely and bans all gun sales and even confiscates guns that can be found. Well, Adam Lanza was turned away from purchasing a gun and simply resorted to stealing from someone he knew to have them. And even if argued that the mother may not have had them in that case, we cannot go back in time, there will be millions of guns on the streets for years whether we ban them or not.

My point here is not to condemn gun control. Quite the opposite in fact, my tough questions for anti-gun activists are only because I want to join them. But, I want to do so in a way that protects our 2nd Amendment rights (this is entirely possible) and will actually curb gun violence, not just so some people sleep better at night. Here’s a few ideas to start with:

  • Ban high-capacity magazines, retroactively as well. They are simply too dangerous. Gun enthusiasts can easily enjoy their 2nd Amendment rights without 30 round clips.
  • Entertain the logistics of having policemen on school grounds. While many seem to claim that “adding another gun to the equation will never help,” I have never been able to understand this. We’re not “throwing” another gun on the situation, we’re talking about placing it within the hands of a trained government official who’s already chosen to dedicate his life to protecting the public. We do this at nearly every government building in our country. Would you feel less safe if a cop walked by you and your kids in the mall? Then why or why not in schools?
  • DRASTICALLY increase the duration and scope of waiting periods and background checks. If a twelve-year-old or blind person somehow got a license to drive and ended up running over a pedestrian, would we blame cars? Or would we blame the cracks in bureaucracy that allowed it to happen? An oversight in paperwork allowed the Virginia Tech shooter to acquire his weapons. The waiting period measure would certainly increase the likelihood that only law-abiding, mentally stable citizens with a clean record own guns, and even those would have a long wait before getting one.

I’m not proposing any quick answers; this is merely the opening to an actual discussion. From what I’ve come to expect in this arena, some people will take what I’ve written and boil it down to blindly supporting gun control, some people will take what I’ve written and boil it down to blindly supporting the Second Amendment, and some people will take what I’ve written, oversimplify the logic, and use it to blindly yell and scream their opinion. And all of those people will continue to demand that, at some point, we have a “discussion” — a discussion no one ever seems to actually want to have.

 

Footnotes

1. Heaven help the person who would try to win a debate against me, for or against, on gun control with cherry-picked statistics. So you say gun violence dropped in England after banning guns? OK, by how much? Did they even have wide-spread gun violence beforehand? Are you taking cultural differences into account when applying these results to the U.S.? So you say gun violence actually goes up in strict gun sale and gun-free zones like in Chicago and D.C.? OK, have you considered that gun violence in these areas was already high or is not going to be affected by legal gun sales anyway? Have you taken into account the 1000 reasons gun violence might rise apart from any gun control legislation?

2. I’m obviously terrible at writing titles. If you would like to ghost write titles, email me.

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