May 25, 2018
Those who feel the effects of gun violence understand the issue best
By Hannah Jannol, Editor-in-Chief
On March 14, millions marched in schools and communities around the U.S. to protest gun violence. In Los Angeles, some posters had slogans like: “NRA: Blood is on your hands!” “AR-15s are murder machines” and “I am 12. I shouldn’t have to protest for my safety.”
The posters had a dramatic and emotional tone — as they should have, since the issue of school shootings is dramatic and emotional. Those worried about gun rights have come to oppose the “March for Our Lives” movement because it advocates for gun control. But gun control does not mean the banning of all guns everywhere.
The 40 or so marchers I spoke to in Los Angeles said they were marching for “sensible” gun control, or at the very least better enforcement of the existing security laws, something that could have prevented Nikolas Cruz from opening fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Feb. 14. While my sample size is small, no posters said anything about banning all guns — just AR-15s, school shootings and the NRA.“Sensible” gun control meant different things to different people, but no one mentioned a national ban of all guns. Most echoed the sentiments of Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez, who has become a face of the movement. In an op-ed for Teen Vogue, Emma wrote: “We need to digitize gun-sales records, mandate universal background checks, close gun- show loopholes and ban straw-man purchases, ban high-capacity magazines, and push for a comprehensive assault weapons ban with an extensive buyback system.”
Straw-man purchases occur when someone buys a gun for someone who is not allowed to have one due to a criminal record or mental illness.
Opponents of those measures worry that revoking some guns would provide the impetus for more gun control. But there is no way to predict this, and the “If you give them an inch they’ll take a mile” adage often comes from a place of irrational fear. In 1971, the voting age was decreased from 21 to 18, and while some likely worried “What’s next — 10-year-olds voting?” that never happened. Oh and by the way, bestiality has not been legalized since since gay marriage has.
Though a ban on AR-15s and bump stocks wouldn’t definitively end gun violence, it would prevent some gun violence, and would show that our government is serious about preventing shootings. According to The Washington Post, banning assault style weapons would specifically prevent gun massacres. During the assault weapons ban of 1994-2004, there was a drop in deaths and incidents.
Certainly, the gun laws currently in place should be actually enforced. If they had been, maybe the Parkland shooting would not have even happened. If it’s your life that’s saved, even though you never know, you’re glad.
A second issue people have with the movement is that it was founded and continues to thrive as a group motivated by emotion — specifically, the trauma of survivors and sadness of those who were close to victims.
But the people who survived these shootings have every right to voice their opinions on gun control because they are the ones who actually understand the effects of lax gun control:15-year-olds attending 17 funerals in one week. More to the point, they contribute a perspective which for the rest of us is not a lived experience.
Even George Washington, the father of “logical” American freedoms, probably felt deeply oppressed by the British motherland. Feelings and visceral emotions are a valid thing to bring to the table.
Of course, facts should not be left out of the equation. Basing arguments solely on feelings is dangerous. Decisions based on no facts or real information often distort the truth and lead people in the wrong direction. But what Gonzalez called for in her Teen Vogue piece was not an emotional distortion of reality. Following the recommendations she proposed would actually prevent some violence, by preventing illegal or problematic gun purchases.
What survivors want is not a tyrannous stripping of liberties. It bears repeating: they want more security surrounding the purchase of guns, universal background checks, closing gun-show loopholes and banning high-capacity magazines. That’s what they say. That’s what they mean.
Really, the issue does not have to be so partisan. Both sides have shown support for proper enforcement of current gun laws, as well as taking action through hiring guidance counselors and security professionals in schools. Both sides want to see an end to gun violence, or at least I hope they do. This issue is visceral and politicized, so it is easy to imagine a great distance between the right and left.
But for once in American politics, both sides have similar goals and routes of action, so instead of calling one another dishonest and manipulative, why not unite on this issue in a — as many have been putting it — “sensible” manner?