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Pro-Gun Gun Control

May 21, 2018

Another mass shooting at a school. And another. And another.

American society is caught in a cycle of gun violence. Last year guns were used to kill almost 40,000 Americans. The leading cause was suicide which is responsible for a whopping 60% of all gun deaths. Accidental shootings kill about as many people as self-defense killings. Gang shootings, robberies, and intentional murder also add significant numbers. And then we have mass school shootings. So far this year 36 students and staff have been killed.

Although the number of deaths is small compared with the other categories of gun violence, school shootings particularly affect us. These are children and youth mowed down in the midst of their innocence.

With school shootings on the rise, lots of proposals have been made to help prevent these tragedies: better intervention and mental healthcare for troubled youth, redesigned schools with fewer entrances, more armed security–including some teachers, and shifting our violence-oriented entertainment culture.

And, of course, better gun control.

This last one is quite controversial among those who see themselves as strong supporters of the second amendment. Any further gun control, in their opinion, is a slippery slope toward undermining our fundamental right to keep and bear arms. They fear that those who support more gun control are using this as a pretext for abolishing the right to own guns. Thus, whenever a Democrat is elected president, gun sales go through the roof because of an irrational fear that somehow the president will be able to stop the sale of guns. (And, ironically, when someone like Trump becomes president, gun sales fall so steeply that it jeopardizes some gun companies.)

Since this fear is so deep-seated, it seems to me that reasonable gun control at the national level is going to have to come from those who are strong advocates of the second amendment. No one else has a chance of being trusted.

Can we convince pro-gun senators and representatives to support a serious study of whether certain measures would likely reduce gun violence in America without undermining the right to keep and bear arms? Specifically, I’d like to see a non-partisan study that looks at the likely effects of the following:

  • universal background checks
  • universal gun registry
  • restricting gun ownership for those under a restraining order or undergoing therapy or medication for violent tendencies
  • mandatory gun locks or “smart guns”
  • outlawing bump stocks
  • restricting assault-type rifles
  • raising the age for ownership of certain types of weapons
  • limited-capacity gun magazines
  • outlawing armor-piercing bullets

I do not know whether all of the suggestions above would be useful or not. They may have minimal or no effect, or unintended negative effects. Gun proponents are correct when they point out that less guns does not necessarily lower violence. For instance, knife attacks may well become more common. But that’s exactly why we need to study gun violence more seriously and fairly, without ideology, and find solutions that will protect the right to keep and bear arms while at the same time lowering the rate of suicide, accidental killing, easy access by criminals and youth, and mass shootings.

Proponents of the second amendment oftentimes have no problem placing safeguards and restrictions on the fifteenth and nineteenth amendments (the right to vote). It seems to me, to be consistent, if you you support requiring identification and comprehensive record-keeping to vote, you should not be opposed to requiring identification and comprehensive record-keeping for owning a gun. That’s an argument I’d like to hear a pro-gun proponent make.

Finding our way to a healthier and less violent society will not happen by following the extremists on either side of the gun debate. The solution, at least on the national level, is probably in the hands of second amendment advocates in Congress who have the courage to see the need for reasonable gun control. And the more it is based on honest research, the better the result will be.

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