Opinion: Gun control is useful, necessary and complicated

Tamlynn Torchon

Graphic by Sam Chaney

Gun control is an extremely touchy subject. It is perhaps the most divisive topic in the U.S. where there seems to be no middle ground. It is a difficult conversation to have but, as time goes by, it’s becoming necessary. Let’s understand this complex topic.

According to Merriam-Webster, gun control is defined as “regulation of the selling, owning and use of guns.” It includes which guns are allowed in society, who gets to purchase them, how to carry and use them and so on.

Let’s be clear: gun control is neither gun abolition nor gun confiscation. No one is trying to take away your guns, and no one is suggesting a ban in the U.S., either. With that said, it’s important to note that gun control encompasses all rules and regulations, and they may actually be beneficial for society. Despite research and findings, this is where opinions are strongly divided, though there is a potential for common ground.

The support for more and stricter gun laws stems from the increasing amount of mass shootings in the country. The U.S., unfortunately, has this problem more than any other country in the developed world. The U.S. also has the most guns per capita than any other country, as well as 31 percent of global mass shooters. Therefore, there are legitimate concerns about gun ownership in this country.

Well, if there are already so many gun laws and they clearly don’t work, why bother having them? That’s a dangerous logic because it implies that laws simply do not work so, in turn, it dismisses having any at all. When considering gun laws, one must at least know about their composition and what causes their success or failure. For instance, loopholes and lack of enforcement are common issues.

Let’s say that laws work, such as the unrenewed ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines from 1994 to 2004, or the “red flag” laws in Indiana that temporarily seized guns for suicide concerns. What about places like Chicago? Illinois used to have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but this changed in 2010. It’s been found that most guns fueling violence in Chicago come from other states with less regulation on private sellers. It is, frankly, a bit tiring to use Chicago as a political device to refute any law creation, reform or enforcement.

What about gun culture? Yes, in the U.S. (especially in rural areas), there is a culture around gun ownership. In the U.S., it can be argued that gun culture is closely related to militarism, power displays and many (what-if) safety scenarios. People cite lack of proper or fast policing, as well as family/personal safety as reasons for that ownership, and it’s perfectly understandable.

It’s also related to non-defensive, non-violent activities such as hunting.

Another country with an interesting gun culture is Switzerland, where gun ownership is rooted in patriotism (in the army and the police). It is strictly regulated, and ownership is decreasing. Perhaps a re-evaluation of U.S. gun culture is needed to see why violence seems to be part of it.

When it comes to gun control, let’s acknowledge the other unheard communities. Before the Parkland shooting, survivors were not taken seriously. Black inner-city activists and disabled survivors haven’t been heard or have been blatantly dismissed from the conversation. Gun control discussions must include them as well, because of their first-hand experiences on the matter.

When taking all of this information into account, it becomes overwhelmingly difficult to decide on a universal way to treat gun ownership and usage. Gun control should be enacted in the same complex way it exists. Many factors (educational, socioeconomic, cultural, etc.) fuel gun violence, and they should all be addressed. Keep in mind that states and cities can take a local approach, and certain sensible laws should be federal, such as background checks and waiting periods.

It really depends on who you ask, but gun regulation seems necessary. Again, no one is saying that there should be zero guns. Violence is real for many people, and each person experiences the U.S. through a different lens.

However, many are demanding that gun acquisition should be regulated and monitored for safety reasons, and their voices matter, too. In the end, everyone worries about gun violence, so everyone should work together for national safety.

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