Gun Control: Emphasizing the human element

Christine Colleran

I have shied away from this topic for a while, because I feel it is very similar to the abortion debate. There is a lot of passion surrounding it, and people tend to feel very strongly one way or the other. These strong emotions can inhibit rationality and one’s ability to think through a problem. In fact, my line of thought on the gun control topic has been a muddled and convoluted path to work through.

It seems appropriate to start with a huge problem our country has, an obsession with winning and saving face. For some reason this obsession trickles into politics in an alarming manner. People, politicians and average civilians alike, begin to internalize their stances on political issues so that they become a cemented part of them. After this happens, political debates like those on gun control become about protecting the views that people identify themselves with. An attack on these views can feel like a personal attack, though it is, for the most part, not. In an ever evolving and changing world, it is so dangerous to act in this manner.

While we should always be sure to stand by our beliefs, they must constantly be open to review. When we seal them off and defend them like we are defending our own physical body, we leave very little room to get anything done.

After we recognize this, we move on to the facts about what has happened in our country as of late. In Aurora, Colorado twelve people were killed and 58 injured in a theater massacre. Move to Newtown, Connecticut where 27 people were killed, 20 of them children whom the world will never get a chance to know. It is here we want to drop to our knees weeping and demand that every gun in the entire country be burned. And it makes sense to feel like that, but we can’t let emotions rule our political decisions.

With those things in mind, I have come to two conclusions surrounding the gun debate:

First, there is no need for any civilian to have a semi-automatic or assault weapon. I think this a fair stance – and, providing the zombie apocalypse does not happen, I cannot reasonably foresee an instance in which any one person would need to fire 100 rounds at once (one of the Aurora shooter’s semi-automatic weapons was capable of this). Get rid of the grandfather from the assault weapons ban, and make the possession of these firearms illegal – no matter what. Yes, people will still get their hands on them, but it is a start.

Second, I think it is high time that we review the ways in which we deal with individuals who have mental illnesses. History and science have told us that there is often a cry for attention or help in these situations, and we need to open our ears and our minds. There are warning signs surrounding most mental illnesses that should never be ignored, and maybe the public needs some more education in order to start recognizing them.

Something fell through the cracks in the case of Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, and James Holmes, the Aurora shooter. That is our fault, as a society. It is not only our sons and daughters being killed, but doing the killing as well.

Guns have the potential to be so dangerous, but we can’t ignore the human element behind them. We can try to rid ourselves of hyper-dangerous guns and try to put more restrictions and regulations on gun use, but ultimately we have to fix the people that are pulling the trigger.
[email protected]