National Debate; National Divide

gun controlBy Dane LaBorn

The current estimated population of the United States falls at around 313.9 million people. The current estimated numbers of guns, both licit and illicit, inside the U.S. falls at around 270-310,000,000. That is a staggering number. There are nearly enough guns in our country to give each person, man, woman, and child, a gun of their very own.

Since the massacre at Columbine on April 20, 1999, there have been 31 full-fledged, “textbook definition” school shootings in our country. Thirty-one times when a kid has taken a gun to their school and released their pent-up rage or frustration or whatever it is on the lives of their peers. 31 times lives were lost, 31 times families were destroyed, and 31 times we, as a country, collectively said “Never again.”

Yet, almost like clockwork now, people continue to die. Most recently, the call-to-end-arms was rallied because of the tragic deaths of 20 kindergarteners, literal children, barely on this planet long enough to make a dent, let alone make an enemy capable of ending their lives. Still, they died. And not even two years later, another school was fired upon. Then another. The last few weeks have been turbulent to say the least.

I realize that raising this issue of gun control is an issue in and of itself. The open-carry movement, that sees everyday folks taking their assault rifles with them on their trips to Taco Bell and McDonalds, is evidence of one extreme side. The other are those calling for every single gun in the country to be taken away, which is just as ridiculous as strapping an assault rifle over your shoulder to order a Big Mac. This is America, we were founded on certain rights, and one of those rights is the right to own a gun, even if it was written during a time where militia was common and there was a real need to be armed in case you, ya know, had a revolution going on! But 200+ years of American lifestyle isn’t going to change overnight, so how can we find some middle ground?

In this writer’s opinion, the answer is simple; handguns, and semi-automatic weapons, freely available to the public, serve no purpose in this world but death. You don’t hunt deer with an Uzi or a Colt .45. In the UK and Australia as well, they’ve outlawed the possession and ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons, and their crime rates are low. That’s not to say that crime doesn’t exist, as anywhere there are people, there is guaranteed to be some that don’t abide by the rules the rest of us do, but considering the FBI predicts a new violent crime every 25.7 seconds, it’s safe to say that things don’t look quite the same there as they do here. What’s more interesting to me about those two particular countries is that they changed these laws following very similar incidents to 2012’s Sandy Hook shooting. Children. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so why is our camel still standing?

The open carry movement insists that taking away these weapons is going to deliver them right into the hands of the criminals, but if that’s true, why did this program and idea work so well overseas? Furthermore, doesn’t carrying around full-on assault weapons seem like it welcomes more trouble than it prevents? Even the NRA, the most pro-gun organization in the world, is shaking their heads at the Open Carry movement and saying, “hang on guys, let’s just take a minute here….”

The divide on this issue may be greater than any other, and there doesn’t seem to be a noticeable generational gap as with some of the other issues our country tends to be split about. It’s all a matter of opinion as to whether or not one thinks gun control is needed, but one thing is for sure: something has got to change. We, as a country, cannot sit back and let this continue. There have been two campus shootings in the last two months, with another one prevented from happening, and that is simply not okay. It’s not okay that parents are having to explain to their children what to do in case of a school shooting. Kids in elementary school shouldn’t have to worry about anything involving mortality. We shouldn’t have police officers in our movie theaters, to insure that there won’t be another Aurora, Co., shooting. But we do. We have officers in our schools and our movie theaters because we haven’t been able to agree on anything else to do, and it’s time we figure it out.

If not for us, then, corny though it may sound, for the children.

Categories: Commentary