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The Antelope

The Antelope

Gun control shouldn’t be controversial


It’s time to stop arguing and start saving lives.

Haley Pierce

Antelope staff

I despise those who turn human suffering into an opportunity for political commentary. The victims killed in Las Vegas deserve to be remembered for the life they lived, but that doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to how they died.

When gun control advocates discuss legislation in conjunction with a mass shooting, the shooting is not an orchestrated prop, it is not a show, it is a problem to which they are presenting a solution. The situation is not much different than sending in a crisis team after a hurricane. Nobody is “using” suffering to attack other’s rights.

I wish our country was already making legislative progress on common sense gun reform so we didn’t have to discuss it now. Tragically, the only thing powerful enough to make Americans want to save each other is the thought our own lives might be at risk. Now is the only time America will change.

We must reform gun ownership and many agree. In October 2015, a Gallup poll found 86 percent of Americans favor universal background checks, and in 2016, Gallup found 55 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws.

So why haven’t we seen change? The gun lobby.

Anytime gun reform is mentioned, the gun lobby swings into action. They paint those advocating for common sense reform as left-wing loonies who want to abolish the Second Amendment and take away all your guns. In such a divided America, many right-leaning citizens are eager to believe the nonsense thrown across the aisle and people end up voting against their own safety.

Gun control doesn’t need to be such a polarizing issue. I come from a family of hunters, and I fully support the right to bear arms, but “arms” is a broad term. There is a difference between a deer rifle and a fully automatic weapon. Citizens have a right to protect themselves, but that right shouldn’t infringe on others’ rights to safety.

For this reason, we don’t allow private citizens to own nuclear arms. It’s time we recognize today’s assault rifles are much more closely related to weapons of mass destruction than they are the slow, inaccurate muskets of the Founding Fathers.

I don’t find this to be an extreme position and I don’t believe requesting comprehensive background checks is outrageous. Still, some disagree.

“Guns aren’t bad. The people pulling the trigger are bad.”

You’re right, the people pulling the trigger are “bad.” Better mental health treatment would do much to reduce the number of bad people, but this bad equation has two parts, the people and the trigger.

Because it is certainly impossible to have 100 percent of our country in perfect mental health 100 percent of the time, we must address the second half of this equation.

Conducting comprehensive background checks, checks that take more than 30 minutes to complete, can do much to keep weapons out of the hands of those unfit to carry. If you’re worried a comprehensive background checks will slow your route to gun ownership, don’t be. If you need a gun in a hurry, you’re probably not in a position to own one.

“My rights shouldn’t be restricted by others poor actions.”

You’re a gun enthusiast; you collect and polish them. You only shoot your assault rifle at the range, with ear protection. You would never hurt anyone, and you’re tired of being lumped in with those who do. I understand your feelings, but let me be clear, you are being selfish.

Gun control is not restricting your rights; it is simply defining the very vague Second Amendment more precisely.

With countless case studies of different states and countries showing that stricter gun laws result in fewer gun deaths, your refusal to give up your hobby is costing people their lives.

“Gun control laws are pointless because criminals won’t follow them.”

They might not, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make gun ownership harder for them.

A 2015 NBC News report found over 80 percent of weapons used to carry out mass shootings in the last three decades had been purchased legally.

Instances where this is true include Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando, Sandy Hook and Las Vegas, among countless others.

If tighter gun control keeps guns away from criminals, we are better off. If it doesn’t, we are no worse off. Refusing to pass gun reform because criminals might not obey it is such an apathetic response to suffering it might as well be considered passive approval.

It is time to pass gun control laws. We need tighter background checks and restrictions on the types of weapons owned. I have no desire to withhold the Second Amendment from anyone who has ever dealt with mental illness; only those who are a danger to themselves and others. Nor do I want to take back every weapon ever built. All I am advocating for is a little common sense.

If we are going to make the changes we so desperately need, the right must quit twisting the words of the left. The left could also do itself a favor and quit calling good, gun-owning citizens “gun toting rednecks.”

This isn’t a political issue; it’s a human issue.

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