Gun violence is an issue plaguing the youth in America affecting 18 lives daily. The reason? Many quickly cite the lenient gun laws and the creation of the 2nd amendment. After all we are known worldwide as the country that has “the right to bear arms” and it’s the reason why we gained our independence in the first place. It is a constitutional right, but it’s one that is taking innocent lives daily.
Creating harsher gun laws and enforcing stricter background checks may limit the number of guns in this country, but they won’t omit the gun violence.
Judy Williams, who runs the organization Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOMO), agrees that guns will always be available, but that the route to solving the problem is about perception and empathy towards communities where the violence occurs in.
“The reality of it is, they are not going to do away with guns in this country… The fact is that they are so plentiful on the streets and people have…It’s ludicrous to think you can take guns out of people’s homes in this country…It ain’t gonna happen.”
Furthermore, the amount of gun violence has recently been more depicted nationally because technology platforms have made the information easier to access. One would think that this would cause beliefs enforcing gun control to increase, but that is not the case.
Since 1993 members of each generational divide (silent generation, boomer generation, gen x, and millennial) have had beliefs trending towards gun rights rather than gun control.
I interviewed Dylan Fair, who worked for a federal political campaign in Colorado, and he believes that this trend has to do, “with increased lobbying power by the NRA. They have created a hazardous culture of tying gun rights to a plethora of other personal freedoms that do not necessarily correlate.” He goes on to say that there is a misconception between regulating guns and simply taking citizens guns away.
Dylan also believes that extended background checks and banning fully automatic weapons would help reduce the number of gun rates, but that it wouldn’t fix the problem. Gary Younge, who wrote about gun control in The Nation magazine, believes that the solution includes regulation laws, but also perception and community empathy.
“Segregation is a serious barrier to empathy. So when poor black and brown people are shot dead in areas deprived of resources, the media, the police, and a sizeable portion of the political class are confirmed in their view that these are dysfunctional places where dysfunctional people live and die. It doesn’t challenge their worldview; it confirms it”
Younge simply believes that a majority of the youth is a victim of their local community. In his piece, he writes about the death of 10 children that occurred on the night of Nov. 23, 2013. After asking the parents of the victims why they thought this happened to their child, none of them cited guns.
This response speaks to the point of how a community’s perception can be influenced by what they believe to be the norm. Doriane Miller, who is a primary care physician, spoke with multiple young adults who had been affected by gun violence or who knew someone that had.
Miller stated that the common belief among these young people was that, “nothing is going to change what’s happened and that there was a sense that this is the way it is in my life and in my own community. There is a learned hopelessness around this. And so you suck it up, you man up, and you move on.”
Jack Thomas is a student at the University of Denver and recently did a research study on the correlation between youth deaths and access to guns. Jack believes that the movement to decrease these deaths starts with stricter gun laws, but that it is in no way an immediate solution.
“My suggestion is to take the money spent on gun lobbying and put it towards education, community centers and job growth so that people aren’t left behind in impoverished communities.”
In summary, as a country we must create stricter gun laws, but do so in a way that gives rightful owners the ability to still use guns. Secondly, instead of putting money into organizations, like the NRA who lobby for gun rights, we must invest that money into the communities that are struggling so that positive opportunities can be created for young people who would otherwise be involved in illegal and/or violent activity.
The recent presidential election will affect this movement greatly and both Dylan and Jack agree that it will have a negative impact on gun control. I also spoke with Emily Robbins who is a gun owner and in favor of gun control laws that would limit automatic weapons and call for harsher background checks.
Emily thinks that the recent election will bring “terrible things for potential control legislation and that gun safety laws have been set back by 10-15 years.” While Trump isn’t necessarily pro-gun, his backers in the Republican party are and that will likely affect legislation.
When speaking to Jack Thomas he had a simply but accurate explanation. “The left can have all the facts and diagrams they want, the right has won the emotional argument and that is what fuels decision making.”
Gun violence and youth deaths in the America is an issue that we hope to resolve, but it is clear that without empathy towards unfortunate community situations we will not make progress. Without stricter gun laws we will not make progress. The solution relies on both of these goals being achieved.
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Worked for State Senator Morgan Carroll
“I think the startling comparisons between us and European countries indicates more control yields than deaths.”
Hometown: Dallas, TX
“The left has been horribly bad at creating persuasive narratives on pretty much every issues of late, but they also have a hard task. Calling people stupid/racist/bigoted is not a good way to win debate! The right says you need a gun in case someone breaks into your home to harm you and your family. How do you argue with hypotheticals? Every mass shooting feeds into this narrative in terms of, what would have happened if the teacher had a gun” (citing the Sandy hook mass shooting).
Hometown: Weston, CT
“As a gun owner, I believe in further regulation because it would decrease the ability for a person with an unsteady mind to purchase a gun. I also believe that if anything, the sale of automatic rifles should be more highly regulated.”
Gun Rights vs. Gun Control. (2016). Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Retrieved 10 November 2016, from http://www.people-press.org/2016/08/26/gun-rights-vs-gun-control/#total
Hargrove, D. & Perdue, R. (2015). A broader perspective of gun control. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 85(3), 225-227
Spitzer, R. (1998). The politics of gun control (1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: Chatham House Publishers.
Statistics | Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (2016). Smartgunlaws.org. Retrieved 13 November 2016, from http://smartgunlaws.org/facts/statistics/
Younge, G. (2016). Why the gun-control movement fails. The Nation, 303(19), 12-15.
Featured photo by: Curt Merlo
Infographic stats: http://smartgunlaws.org/facts/statistics/