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The 'big picture' on gun control

Emotions run high in the gun control debate for most people. For me, not so much. I don't own a gun, so I didn't invest much of my thoughts or emotions into the debate.

But when talk of the Second Amendment began to dominate the conversation, I found myself preoccupied with the issue, to be sure, but also with the tact of the people debating.

A careful and wide view of the issue forces me to admit something startling: As strong as the foresight of our Constitution is, I do not think our forefathers could see technology reaching the point of rapid-fire weapons that we have now.

I honestly am unsure that they could have imagined beyond their one-shot muskets that took practically ages to reload. I honestly wonder how the Second Amendment would have been drafted had they known the possibilities.

Those who favor gun control might agree with what I just said.

But some of their most vocal proponents have not relied on the "big picture" sentiment I just shared. Instead, they have leaned on the narrow "small picture" crutch of sensationalism.

I usually avoid debate involving my own emotions. It doesn't allow me to bring my "A" game. Emotional debate is often an oxymoron. You should not try to debate those who have lost loved ones. When a person loses a loved one, they should be allowed to say whatever they want in their grief.

I wish to focus my attention on a grieving father who lost a child in the Sandy Hook shootings in December. His name is Neil Heslin, and he spoke about the death of his son, Jesse, at a hearing last week on the Sandy Hook shootings.

During the hearing he issued a challenge to the people in the room for someone — anyone — to explain to him why it was necessary to have such advanced weaponry. After a long silence, a few unseen people briefly answered his challenge.

NBC News took footage of that hearing and carefully edited it to remove not only some key elements of the Heslin's challenge, but also the long respectful silence that followed. This made those whom he invited to debate him look like swift, insensitive naysayers. The narrative arose that they were "hecklers."

It is a rule of thumb that if you must resort to dirty tactics to demonize those with whom you disagree rather than civilly debate them, your principles which you are fighting for appear far less noble.

People who saw this report were not given the "big picture." They were given the aforementioned narrow sensationalism.

An even worse byproduct is that Martin Bashir, the host who approved this editing, has basically admitted that the suffering of the children of Sandy Hook is not sufficient enough to warrant change. He has to lie for them. He dishonors the victims by using deceit in their name.

I am a journalism major. I get an automatic failing grade if any of my stories so much as misspell a person's name. It is a disgrace and an outrage that anyone can still keep their job in this industry after deliberate deception like that.

If you are unwilling to see the "big picture," you have no right to prevent others from seeing it as well.


Reach the columnist at or follow him at @coltongavin


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