In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and staff dead and a lockdown last month at Paly, the topic of gun control has swept up a broader population than ever before, including students. This should give us all hope.
But emotions have taken over all sides, resulting in the blinding of reason.
It is understandable that after footage of bloodied children being rushed to the hospital, people feel overwhelmed. The result, though, is that the gun control debate exists in an environment where people have blocked themselves off on two opposing sides, hurling insults at each other. This especially frustrates students because for many of us, this is our first time becoming engaged politically and we’re not used to how much time it can take to make change.
Binary options are not the answer to the complicated gun control debate. To ban all guns clearly contradicts the Second Amendment, yet if we continue on our current path, more deaths will surely follow. This country was built on, and will remain strong with, compromise.
The answer seems clear: Bring both parties to the table and create an environment where ALL opinions are respected. If we are to reach an universally-accepted solution, it must be built upon a groundwork of trust and respect.
Currently, there is no forum that facilitates such a constructive debate. The reporting and commentary presented by major media outlets such as CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC take stern and direct positions that do not voice the other side’s point of view. The gun debate in America is entangled with partisan politics and stereotyping on both sides makes it impossible to unravel.
The best place to start when seeking a compromise is with something both sides can agree on. In this case, that is bump stocks. Bump stocks are an accessory that makes a semi-automatic rifle shoot as fast as an automatic rifle, and people on both sides, from President Donald Trump to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Dem, Ca.), support an immediate ban on the sale of bump stocks.
Another move that has drawn support from both sides is the “Fix Nics” legislation, which seeks to close loopholes in the national instant background check system. The National Rifle Association (NRA) supports it, critics say it doesn’t go far enough, but at least it could be a starting point people could agree on.
In the past, gun control legislation included a ban on assault weapons, including the kinds of guns used in recent mass shootings. It started in 1994 and lasted for 10 years, but was not renewed. Originally, it enjoyed support from both parties, and former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan wrote to the House of Representatives supporting the ban. It fell out of favor because studies found it made no statistical difference in reducing the overall number of deaths or injuries due to guns.
Today, though, efforts to renew the ban are growing because supporters point out that even though most deaths by guns are due to handguns, the most recent mass shootings have involved assault weapons. The NRA continues to oppose such a ban, and when Democrats proposed a ban in February, the Republicans voted it down. Meanwhile, experts say that banning high-capacity magazines, which hold a lot of bullets to feed into the gun, would be a more effective safety measure because it would slow down a shooter. So, why not start with the magazines?
Banning bump stocks, improving background checks and restricting magazine capacity are just three places where compromise could start. And once you start working together, you discover your opponent isn’t the evil actor you thought — even when it is the NRA or the anti-gun lobby. That makes it easier to keep going and tackle even bigger challenges. So, the only feasible option for America today is to work together to create a safer future for everyone.