Despite my best efforts to steer clear of the most recent and inevitable gun laws debate, mostly out of respect for the Newtown community, it has been impossible to turn a blind eye.
The president subtly addressed the matter of gun control during his vigil address to the Newtown community Sunday; and a number of conservative legislators switched their position on gun control this week, igniting a media storm of debate about what could be or should be done about current gun laws, and when. What happened last week undoubtedly galvanized the discussion of gun policy in this country and love it or hate it, I believe we’re on the brink of change.
One of the biggest issues I see at the core of this convoluted discussion is that peoples’ emotions tend to cloud judgement. It’s a sensitive issue, and rightfully so. On one side, a populace dedicated to preserving our nation’s 230 year old heritage; on the other side, people committed to protecting ourselves from, well, ourselves. Unfortunately, with all the noise, the back and forth, the accusations, the threats, the “reasoning” and “patriotism” (for lack of better words), those who are unbiased about the issue – arguably the voice of reason – aren’t being heard.
In the midst their emotion, advocates of gun control as well as those who oppose it lose sight of logic and fly off the cuff instead. Subsequently, there’s no meaningful discussion, just push and push back (and admittedly, some ill educated, conspiracy-driven arguments generated by opposing views of each side have gotten me stirred up too).
I’m not stupid enough to say guns were the cause of the enormously sad occurrence at Sandy Hook. And unlike some, I refuse to pit blame solely on the accessibility of mental health care, or lack thereof. What happened in Newtown is so multifaceted it’s impossible for anyone to fully comprehend, let alone seek retribution for. There’s too much to consider: guns, mental health, culture, upbringing, adaptation, broken family, sociableness; there’s always going to be an X-factor and who the hell knows what it is.
Adding confusion to the gun debate was action, or inaction rather, of the NRA. The organization has remained silent since the tragedy and won’t release its first statement until Friday. The fact that the NRA, an organization opposed to virtually any restrictive gun law, has not been advocating for the protection of all current gun laws is huge. Perhaps what transpired over the weekend was enough to reconsider the fate of gun ownership in our country for even the most unyielding gun rights advocates.
So where do I stand on the issue? Personally, stricter gun regulations don’t bother me, especially when it comes to assault weapons (as seems to be the brunt of the discussion). That’s not to say gun ownership should be illegal, but rather to ensure only responsible citizens own responsible guns – key word being “responsible.” Maybe there should be limits, so long as there are limits on those limits that sustain second amendment rights. There’s plenty of wiggle room though; gun regulation isn’t synonymous with a gun ban.
The right to bear arms certainly isn’t the first constitutional right subject to limitation, whether by law or by civic responsibility. I’m granted freedom of speech, but it doesn’t warrant that I say what I want, when I want, and to who I want. I have a right to freely worship, just not in a place where my religious views might infringe on the views of other citizens. Really, any right can be limited if it poses a threat to the rights of others; this is where objectivity comes into play. Yes, I would love to see stricter gun regulations. At the same time, the horrific, hate-filled actions of a select few who had access to very dangerous artillery do not reflect the same attitudes of all gun owners.
Is it fair to restrict gun-ownership based on the actions of a select few? Honestly, I don’t know. In my perfect world, there would be no debate. There would be no guns. There would be no senseless acts of killing, no bullies, no disorder, no NRA, no need for government because people would be responsible enough to govern themselves. But how old are you before you learn nothing is perfect? Maybe it’s best to be objective.