You hear the American rhetoric on guns. You hear about “2nd amendment” and “rights” and “no gad-darn liberal commie gawna steal mah gun from ME.” You hear about “if the teachers had guns, we wouldn’t have school shootings.” You hear all this, and you think it’s exclusively the domain of Bible-thumping redneck hillbillies from the flyover square states with missing teeth and a barely running pick-up truck. But it’s not.
I’m studying at a major college in southern California. You hear the words “college” and “California,” you’d immediately see the word “LIBERAL” flashing in giant neon blue letters in your mind, right? That’s what I thought too, until my senior politics class this afternoon got onto the topic of gun control.
This was a class where a guy in the back actually said “if the teachers at Sandy Hook had guns, maybe the shooter wouldn’t have gotten as far,” and nobody bothered to correct or challenge him. This was a class where another guy said “Sweden has the same amount of guns as we do, but they don’t have as many murders, so guns aren’t the problem. Taking away guns won’t solve much.” This was one that the teacher nodded in approval of, and that several other students murmured in agreement. This was one that I had to challenge; “I don’t buy that, because in Australia we don’t have guns, and we had about 25 gun murders last year.” This is a class where one girl said “we have the right to have guns, so the government shouldn’t take that away.”
Of all the gripes I have with America, the gun control debate is the only one that makes my stomach turn. The way that the NRA and other gun advocates have managed to equate “gun control” with “THE GOVERNMENT ARE GOING TO TAKE AWAY ALL YOUR GUNS AND THEN STEAL YOUR HOUSE” in the minds of the public is both astonishing and disgusting. The gun control stand that Democrats have been pushing for years is not even dreaming of taking away all guns. They just want to say “hey, maybe you DON’T need that AK-47 or sniper rifle or rocket launcher in your house, maybe just a regular old handgun is fine.” They want to say “maybe if you need a gun that can hold more than 12 bullets at a time, you should be seeking some serious help from the police and proper authorities.” They want to say “maybe there are places in society like schools that you really shouldn’t be carrying a loaded deadly weapon.”
But that is all drowned out by the gun lobby, who have managed to tie the words “gun control” to “violatin’ mah civil raaaghts” (the ones who lean so heavily on the 2nd amendment are roughly the same socio-economic section who can’t find five minutes every two years to cast a vote). Gun control is about exactly that – control. It’s not about gun elimination. That is never going to happen in this crazy screwball country. It’s just that, oddly, there are some people in society who would prefer that we do a quick background check on people before we hand them a weapon that has almost unlimited capacity for murder and destruction (we do it for driving licenses, why not for guns?). Who would feel a little more secure if you couldn’t buy automatic or semi-automatic weapons from gun shows, which don’t keep reliable records on purchases and who don’t do background checks. Who would breathe a little easier if the guns that are already out there would hold less bullets, making it harder for mentally disturbed felons to spray a school classroom or cafeteria or gymnasium or cinema or shopping mall with gunfire.
I’ll end with this. What sane reason does any person have for needing an automatic assault rifle?