Ask questions first, shoot later

Recent news events should prompt us to rethink our gun laws.

Melanie Williams

I’ve always had a thing about guns: I hate them. They make me nervous, and I don’t like to be in the same room with them. It doesn’t matter if they’re unloaded, unassembled and locked in a cabinet with the ammunition locked up separately; I still can’t stand to be around them.

Maybe it’s because I was raised in a house where just bringing home a water gun was questionable, or because I follow the news and have seen the damage that guns do. It’s probably both, but given that I’ve embraced a lot of what my family found questionable in my childhood, I believe I’m more strongly persuaded by the latter.

I also don’t think that my distaste for firearms comes from some kind of internal fear of being killed or injured by one. It would be almost as easy for someone to stab me, yet I keep a drawer full of knives sharpened in my kitchen. If someone shot an arrow into my chest, it could easily do me in, yet I’m perfectly comfortable around bows and arrows and have even instructed kids in an archery range. Then again, when I read the paper, it’s always bullets riddling the murdered bodies, not arrows, so maybe it’s the prevalence of gun violence that causes fear I’m not quite conscious of.

Whatever the initial reason for my pure  hatred, it’s only continued to grow. Many different things have influenced that growth: Columbine, Virginia Tech., cops shooting unarmed protesters, soldiers shooting unarmed civilians, Trayvon Martin, the five people shot in Tulsa, Okla., last Friday. With stronger and more rigidly enforced gun control laws (or no guns at all) those events would never have happened.

I’ve heard all of the arguments for lax and rampant gun ownership before. But excuses like “I hunt,” and “I have a constitutional right to protect myself,” have very little effect on me anymore.

The hunting argument makes more sense to me than the self-defense one. I value self-sufficiency as much as the next person, and as much as I personally disagree with hunting, I can respect the hunter who wants to go out in the woods and kill his or her own dinner. Though I think there are better alternatives, like trapping or bow hunting, it’s mostly for the hunters that I would never advocate for the complete eradication of guns.

However, when it comes to self-defense, I’m steadfastly less lenient. From what exactly do you need a gun to protect yourself? We aren’t living amidst rabid wild animals, and there aren’t aliens attacking Earth or zombies crawling out of graves, so the answer has to be other people — other people with guns. If no one else owned one, you wouldn’t have to either. You know what solves a lot of this problem? Stricter gun control.

That aside, all I’ve really witnessed coinciding with the rise of gun culture is a rise in murder, accidental shootings and unwarranted, vigilante “justice.” Kids (and some adults) don’t take precautions and end up shooting themselves. They respond to bullying by taking guns to school. Men and women get revenge on cheating spouses by unloading a couple of rounds. Trigger-happy “peace keepers” get nervous when they see a black kid in a baggy shirt and immediately shoot to kill and see their attempts at justice as inherently right instead of seeing them for what they actually are — inhumane, unwarranted and wholly unjust.

We can’t just ignore the problems that guns create. We need harsh punishments for those who shoot without authority, those who arm themselves illegally and those who don’t take proper safety precautions. We also need to tighten regulation on gun ownership. Lastly, we needed to stop pretending that guns are necessary. We’re only hurting ourselves.

 

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