This is not my first draft. In fact, I do not really care to disclose how many times I attempted to write a pro-gun opinion piece. Music blaring and coffee flowing, I attacked it from several different angles, all the while losing my own voice and opinion and succumbing to what I perceived as the popular opinion. I believe there is something to that.
The issues of gun control and gun rights are so divisive that those with feet in both camps get quickly swept up and are forced to choose a side or keep quiet. As somebody who cannot be strictly defined as “conservative” or “liberal,” I felt severely underrepresented on the issue. The fact is that both sides of the gun debate need serious reformation.
I type this recognizing that I will not be conservative enough to get the support of the predominantly pro-gun community, and certainly not liberal enough to garner the attention from those on the left side of the spectrum. What I have finally settled on are my own words. The following is a pro-gun argument with asterisks for both sides to look into.
I would like my friends on the conservative right to understand that gun violence exists, and that downplaying the issue will never be a successful strategy. Also, saying, “Well, if somebody had a gun then (insert most recent tragic event here) would not have happened,” does not help either. In fact, to say that tragedies can be prevented by gun owners implies that those affected by mass shootings who did not retaliate instantly are somehow at fault. So stop that. Please.
My fellow gun enthusiasts, instead of fighting tooth and nail against new gun legislation, gun owners like us should use our energy to ensure that gun laws already in place are properly enforced. For instance, the yahoos that are open-carrying their rifles in public places need to be prosecuted. Also, shootings that are not clear-cut self-defense situations should always result in an indictment. I am looking at you, Ferguson. Status does not excuse behavior, and police officers do not get a free pass from inquiry.
To my friends on the left, please stop regarding gun owners as any less intelligent than we are. Not every gun owner is a racist, homophobic psycho who only leaves his cabin in the woods when it’s time to go vote against something. De- humanization of anyone just because they disagree with you is one of the most ignorant things you can do. We are all better than that. Some of the most intelligent people I have had the pleasure of meeting also happen to be gun enthusiasts.
Guns are too powerful to be left to the exclusive use of one side. With understanding and open minds, both sides of the issue should be discussed constantly between conservatives and liberals, moderates and the undecided. There is too much at stake to be closed-minded on an issue which can so directly affect us all.
Weaver is a junior majoring in communication. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.