Living in the state of North Carolina, it is hard to throw a rock and not hit someone who owns a gun. It seems a southern tradition to keep several in the home. I know my family owns multiple guns, three of which were passed down after my farming grandfather passed away. Hunting on the weekends, gun shows in the local convention centers, racks and racks of firearms in America’s favorite superstore all show a specific side to the firearm fixation within our nation’s culture.
However, this gun use and the gun use we see in the media are two separate spectrums. From the summer’s horror of the Orlando shootings to gun violence in urban areas reaching new heights, it seems that people want to compare apples and oranges when it comes to gun use in the United States. Old rifles and Saturdays in the some wooden stand are vastly different from the weaponry used to commit mass murder. Unregistered handguns and loose regulation on gun shows is a far cry from reputable dealers selling their quality products. When America looks at gun control, we never seem to see the multi-faceted issue that it is both amongst the people and throughout the government. This is what needs to be changed above all else; that we stop looking at gun violence in such a black and white perspective and convince our legislators to do the same.
Taking it back to the Orlando shooting this past summer, the perspective of guns and their purpose was highlighted in the aftermath. In the days following the Orlando shooting, Democrats broke with decorum to start a sit-in against the lack of gun reform and Republican refusal to resolve the issue post-haste.
To make a long story somewhat shorter, when the world looked to the United States government to react to the traumatic event, it seemed Washington paused. Congress was about to go on a break for summer, and while action needed to be taken it seemed nothing productive ever came of the matter. Once again, the two major political parties were opposite sides of a great chasm.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton took to Twitter saying “Enough”, pairing it with the names of all those who died in the Orlando shooting. Democrat Elizabeth Warren spent her birthday taking part in the sit-in, commenting on Facebook how there was no place she would rather be. Leaders of the democratic party were up in arms, calling out for reform before vacation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called these protests by his peers a “publicity stunt”. Critics of the protest refused to act on the legislation being put up, or voting it down if there hand was forced. No true legal action came of the shooting, and still America stands stagnant on the matter.
When going back to the people, it seems that we are not so divided. CNN reported in June 2016 their polls showing 92 percent wanted expanded background checks and 85 percent would ban those on federal watchlists from gun purchasing. These polls are public and easily found, but it still remains that politicians cannot come to a consensus. The reason this is happening is largely thanks to the lobbying of sporting and hunting corporations to the likes of the National Rifle Association and financially supporting many congressional members to fight their battles legally.
In a report by the Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut back in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, it was found that The NRA leadership has worked to develop close ties with firearms industry. The research showed that the vast majority of funds (74 percent to be more exact) was contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” since 2005. The donors are from members of the firearms industry with monetary givings that totaled between $14.7 million and $38.9 million.
Those donations are ones that lead the systems of power to portray such a black-and-white view of gun control and reform. Statistics are showing that the people of this nation agreed with fundamental gun reform, but conglomerates and political factions make it appear as if villainizing and finger-pointing is the only way to fight this battle.
For instance, Hillary Clinton has been condemned on multiple occasions for allegedly wanting to eliminate second amendment rights, even though she has explicitly stated she does not ever intend to do such a thing. Clinton believes in these rights the constitution gave us, but because Hillary Clinton and her fellow democrats call for political action they are demonized. It is like one big scam, brainwashing us into thinking one side is out to get the other. Every citizen who advocates for gun control is some idiotic liberal hippie and every individual who is concerned with their gun ownership is some apocalyptic prepping redneck, but that is just not true.
Whatever you believe in regards to this issue is beside the point. What really matters is that we all understand that there is a spectrum of ideologies here, not just pro-control and pro-gun. These misunderstandings and the obvious ignorance perpetuate the divide and contribute to issues of gang violence and police brutality. The misgivings create hypersensitivity, which could be alleviated if United States actually talked about the issue instead of resorting to cheap propaganda tactics and fear mongering. A brute squad will not be formed to take all the guns away. Weaponry will not be as easily bought as milk and eggs.
What will happen though, if we do not start talking about this issue and making productive and real change to the system we have created for firearms then killings like Sandy Hook and the Orlando nightclub will continue. Day-to-day fears and hypersensitivity that heighten the killings of minorities will only further. If we go on vacation and try to avoid the issue like Congress did, the matter at hand will only ever get worse.