Politicizing tragedies to push an agenda is an old tune in government policy that both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of. It would be hypocritical of me to argue how strict voting laws are unconstitutional in one column while not addressing problems in gun-control legislation prompted after mass-shootings.
The Second Amendment shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Anyone who argues for one part of the Constitution should not shy away from arguing for another part just because they don’t like it.
I don’t like guns, and I don’t see myself ever owning one in the future, but I’m also not ignorant enough to believe that there aren’t decent, level-headed people out there who understand and respect guns. Gun ownership to some people is part of the American identity and taking away that identity is understandably scary for these people.
The U.S. has a gun culture that is unlike anywhere else in the world and taking that away just doesn't seem like a plausible option. Yes, it's true that guns make me uncomfortable, but should that mean others should be automatically barred from having them? Of course not.
There is still a lot we don’t know about gun violence and some of the studies that have come out about guns are problematic. During President Barack Obama’s speech concerning gun control on Jan. 1, he cited a study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a branch of gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety to illustrate the pertinence of gun control legislation. According to the study, one in 30 prospective gun owners on Armslist.com had felonies that would normally have had them fail a federal background check, therefore barring them from purchasing a gun. The study suggests that convicted felons can purchase guns and skip the federal background check procedure.
The study authors analyzed more than 13,000 listings on the site and were able to link only 607 people to the state of where these gun ads were placed. Of these 607 people, only 20 had criminal records which is where the one in 30 statistic came from. There is also no evidence that this study was peer-reviewed.
When the President of the United States says "One in 30 people looking to buy guns on one website had criminal records." That carries a lot of weight and prompts a call to action. But the source he is referencing may or may not even be valid. To me, this is extremely problematic.
Instead of jumping the gun — yes, this pun was intended — on legislation, there should be a bipartisan open dialogue on responsible gun ownership and safety.
But how can we even begin to have more governmental research when the National Rifle Association continues to lobby to block funding for these kind of studies? The Federal Centers for Disease Control has cut firearms safety research by 96 percent since the mid-1990s because of blocks by Congress. The NRA takes credit for this research halt accusing the agency of lobbying for gun control.
The path to better gun legislation should not be shrouding ourselves in more ignorance and I think this lack of understanding on gun ownership gives us the wrong ideas on how we should approach gun legislation. I do believe gun rights and gun safety can exist simultaneously if we were to approach it openly in a meaningful dialogue.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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