“Gun Control” and the Second Amendment: Set the Rhetoric Aside and Take Action Now

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“We need gun reform!” “No, Second Amendment!”

Stop. Just quit with the memes and the talking points. Set the rhetoric aside and take action now.

As you probably know, a young man walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas last week, murdered 19 children and two teachers, left many more wounded, and traumatized a nation.


The Problem

Our government apparently does not think this problem is theirs to solve. Each time a shooter enters a school and freely murders children, or a white supremacist opens fire on a crowd of brown people in America, the stereotypical Democrats demand “action” while the stereotypical Republicans insist guns are not the problem.

The nation is gripped in a paralysis fed by politicians – and voters – who are more interested in culture wars than in solving problems and protecting our children. What is the problem? Guns? Mental illness? White supremacy? The money that infects and controls our political institutions?

All these things are the problem and more, but the solution, whatever it is, must begin with effective communication, an end to the miscommunication and fear-mongering of some politicians, and a determination to find common ground and a starting point.

The Solution

What is the solution?

It is not memes on social media or political talking points.

If you share a cute meme on social media about someone’s dead, murdered child, with #guncontrol, or a call to vote out all Republicans, you are part of the problem. If you are responding to those cute memes by angrily proclaiming that guns are not the problem #secondamendment, you are part of the problem.

“Gun control” is not a solution. It’s a hashtag. A talking point. A meaningless phrase that has no substance unless you also explain what you mean by gun control and how you propose we get that specific legislation passed.

“You’re not taking my guns!” is not a solution. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to 1) politicians who are purposefully misleading you to get you fired up and 2) democrats on social media who don’t know how to articulate what “gun control” they are advocating for. Most of them also have guns. They aren’t coming for yours.

So, what is the solution?

Start Somewhere. Now.

Talking to Democrats, Republicans, and people across the spectrum, it is clear that there are some common-sense measures that most people, regardless of political party, agree on. There are also some extreme measures that are non-starters because too many people on either side cannot agree on them.

The measures that we cannot agree on are not the starting point. We don’t need to argue about whether guns should be banned as they are in other countries because that is not going to happen in the United States of America. Similarly, more guns is not the answer – giving teachers or students weapons in the classroom is only going to create more problems and opportunities for violence.

Legislation We Can Agree On

What do people seem to agree on?

Universal background checks – did you know that anyone can buy a gun in America, regardless of their criminal record? You could have been released on parole yesterday after serving a sentence for murder and buy a gun today at a gun show or from any individual outside of a gun store.

Every Republican I have talked to about this issue agrees that it is a loophole that must be closed. Some will then go on about how we’re not going to take their guns, though. Because Ted Cruz said we are coming for their guns. I’m not going to take your guns. You aren’t taking mine either.

But you do agree that we need to close the loophole and prevent dangerous criminals from buying guns…

Did you know this exact legislation has been pending in Congress, but Republicans in Congress refuse to vote for it? Why do they refuse to vote for legislation that 1) would prevent at least some mass shootings and 2) most Republicans support?

Training and licensing requirements for gun owners – I can walk into a gun shop today and buy a weapon. Legally, because I am not prohibited by a criminal record. Even if I have no idea how to use the gun, store the gun, or defend myself with it.

To represent people in court, I was required to train for three years (after getting a bachelor’s degree). I was vetted by a Committee on Character and Fitness. I was required to pass a comprehensive examination on various areas of local and national laws and critical thinking. Once an attorney is licensed, they are required to continue training each year, and their license is taken away if they do not attend training.

Why? Because attorneys are in a position to hurt people if they don’t know what they are doing and if they are not behaving ethically.

And yet, you can buy a handgun or an assault rifle with zero training, take it home, and use it however you see fit…

I think most Democrats and Republicans would agree that it makes sense to 1) allow every person to own a firearm if they want to and if they are not a dangerous criminal or dangerously mentally ill, and 2) require every person to undergo training in how to use that firearm, firearm safety, and home defense before allowing them to purchase the gun.

Mental health prohibitions on gun ownership – this is a deceptively complex solution that is not going to be the answer. Why?

We can all agree that mentally ill persons should not have guns. That’s where the agreement stops though because who is mentally ill? Are you going to tell an Iraq veteran with PTSD he can’t own a firearm? If someone seeks counseling for depression, are the police going to take their firearms?

We have red flag laws in SC that say if you are mentally ill and dangerous you cannot own a firearm – they aren’t always enforced, though, and often can’t be enforced as a practical matter.

Assault Weapons Ban – we are not going to agree on an assault weapons ban. This has been a hopeless struggle for decades, and it is wasted time and effort. You may strongly feel that assault weapons are the problem because so many mass shootings were done with assault-style rifles. But too many people strongly feel that assault weapons are not the problem, and you are not going to take their rifles.

It’s not common ground. Let it go and find the common ground. Now.

If We Agree on These Measures, Why Are Republicans in Congress Refusing to Pass Them?

The most common answer I see is that Republicans in Congress are beholden to the NRA and, if they stand up to the NRA and vote for any gun laws that would impact gun sales, they will lose their job to another NRA-supported candidate.

This may be true, but it can’t be the whole story. For example, this article explains how an extremely vocal minority is forcing politicians to shut down gun reform legislation, even legislation that a majority of Republicans support, out of fear of losing re-election.

There is no simple reason for Congress’ failure to act. There is no simple solution. In my opinion, the problem is cowardice and a lack of integrity, whether it is a fear of losing NRA support or a fear of losing the support of the vocal minority. It comes down to wanting to keep your job, and the power that comes with it, more than wanting to govern the country and save children’s lives.

There is common-sense legislation pending in Congress. It is a starting point. Find out why your elected representatives are refusing to vote for it. You are smart enough to understand that “they’re coming for your guns” is not the real reason behind their refusal to pass the legislation.

The starting point must be passing the legislation that most Americans across the political spectrum support.

If your elected representative is not taking action to prevent more mass shootings in America, replace them. You don’t have to replace them with a Democrat. Replace them with a Conservative who is not playing to the fears of their constituents. Replace them with someone who is not going to bow to the demands of a vocal minority. Replace them with someone who is not taking blood money from the NRA.

Replace them. Do something.

Teach the Children

Don’t raise sheep. Raise warriors.

Teach your children, out of necessity, that the police are not going to save them. Their teachers are not going to save them. If there is an active shooter in their school, barricade the classroom door, hide, and do what the teacher says.

If there is an active shooter in the room, attack them and kill them or die trying. Teach your children that we do not live in a safe bubble, that bad people exist, and, most importantly, that we must save ourselves if the day comes when we are facing life or death at the barrel of a gun.

We do not live in a safe bubble where no one can hurt us. People die. Children die. We live in a world filled with people who hurt other people, and there are times when violence is necessary to prevent more violence.

Take Action Now.

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