Let’s Talk About Guns

Guns. They take lives. They save lives. They are one of the most divisive issues of our time. Gun ownership has been a part of the United States’ culture since before it’s independence, and it is highly unlikely to go away anytime soon. There have been plenty of ideas over the years to regulate and reduce the dangers of guns and our interactions with them, but as with everything else in this country, big money interests have undermined nearly all efforts to do so.

The second amendment is the most commonly cited legal document when it comes to defending gun ownership, but many do not realize how vague the language truly is. The amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. Most political discourse only centers around the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”, but this is ignoring the entire concept of a militia and what was commonplace in the late eighteenth century. People have been hunting and defending their homes for centuries, this is nothing new, but prior to the twentieth century, there was not a weapon commonly accessible to civilians that was faster than a revolver or a bolt-action rifle. People outside the military did not wheel around Gatling Guns. With the advancement of military science, semi-automatic and automatic weapons began finding their way into civilian ranks. With these vastly improved weapons, the general purpose of guns in society changed. They became frequent tools for organized crime, mass shootings, and as most gun enthusiasts would have you believe - target practice.

While automatic weapons have been heavily restricted, semi-automatic weapons are largely unregulated and available for public consumption. These weapons have been used everywhere from San Bernardino (2015) to Sandy Hook (2012) and serve zero practical purpose aside from killing people. Despite this, the NRA has been hell-bent on opposing any and all regulations on guns whatsoever, and they have been enormously successful in doing so thanks to their copious amounts of funding that they use for lobbying, donating to campaigns, and perpetuating propaganda. They’re so powerful that they recently had a regulation barring the severely mentally ill from purchasing firearms removed.

Before you go in the comments and attack me for bashing guns, understand that I recognize that gun ownership has it’s benefits as well. Although I personally would never own a gun except out of absolute necessity, I know plenty of people who have more guns than would be necessary for a “well-regulated militia”. I am not going to comment on if these individuals are paranoid, insecure, or just have an odd taste in hobbies, but some of their concerns are valid. While the majority of the population lives in urbanized areas, there is still a rural culture of living off of the land and “defending oneself from tyranny”. I doubt that the majority of the population has ever tasted venison, but it is far healthier and tastier than steak, chicken, or pork. Hunting, when done properly, is a very efficient and means of population control that can also help feed families and reduce dependency on grocery stores which have a plethora of problems. On the other hand, some subhuman beings kill for sport and target exotic and/or defenseless animals. True outdoors-men recognize problems like this, and they are aware of the problem with mass shootings as well. A solution I have heard from many of them is to have mandatory gun education and saftey courses as a prerequisite for ownership, but not to restrict the purchases themselves.

Prominent politicians such as Bernie Sanders have called for “common sense” gun reform, which would reimplement a ban assault rifles and implement comprehensive background checks to stop the mentally ill and criminals from gaining legal access to firearms. Of course, anything that has to do with “common sense” in American politics is instantly pushed aside and mocked. Instead of finding common ground on a divisive issue, the neoliberal establishment would rather perpetuate this divisiveness to distract from legitimate economic issues that they screw the working class over with on a daily basis. Hillary Clinton latched onto this issue as if her life depended on it to distract from her deficiencies on literally every other issue. She used guilt, gaslighting, and the politicization of the losses of family members in the Sandy Hook Massacre to justify her truly absurd agenda of wanting to sue gun manufacturers for crimes committed with their products and to progressively strip all firearms away from the populous. The hypocrisy is truly astounding coming from a candidate and a party that has the blood of hundreds of thousands of lives on their hands abroad.

Bernie’s plan, like any other is not perfect. Guns are lethal weapons and as long as they are manufactured they will find their way into the wrong hands either legally or illegally. But, in a day and age where both political parties benefit greatly off of gridlock on every issue that doesn’t benefit the top percentage of Americans, some form of compromise is desperately needed. It is time to put a stop to the fear-mongering and the gaslighting and to finally enact common sense gun reform.

Of course, there are authoritarian implications that come along with taking away some people’s guns, and I am not proposing that for the average citizen on any level. It is not a radical idea to think that people on the no-fly list, with violent criminal backgrounds, or with a severe mental illness shouldn’t be able to purchase a firearm. People will commonly state that they need their guns to fight off a tyrannical government, but the truth is your peashooters won’t come close to the raw power of a country with a military budget of over $600 Billion. Regulations are needed to protect people’s rights to life just as much as their rights to guns, and it is time that we start thinking logically instead of divisively, which is exactly what the corporate elite wholeheartedly fears.

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