Igniting A Conversation About Gun Control
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Igniting A Conversation About Gun Control

Three ways you can personally change the culture’s approach in regards to gun-initiated violence apart from direct legislation.

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Igniting A Conversation About Gun Control
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With the next presidential election looming, there are many buzz words taking over the media and dinner table discussions. One particular topic of importance worth highlighting is gun control. Gun control is a topic I usually refrain from discussing with friends and family. First off, I have no personal experience with guns – my household does not own any, thus I’m not familiar with the process of registering, owning, or using guns. Secondly, I am usually a silent bystander in groups of more liberal peers but more conservative adults regarding legislation about guns. However, a recent encounter with gun initiated violence has helped me find a little more of my voice in light of this issue.

About two weeks ago I was visiting friends on the East Coast in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One Saturday during my stay, a friend and I treated ourselves and her younger mentee to an evening show of "Finding Dory." However, when we pulled up to the Cinemark Theater in downtown Monaca, PA we were met with an unusual site.

Four police vehicles lined the outside of the theater.

In backwoods Beaver County of Pennsylvania this regarded more than an eyebrow raise. My friend and I both stopped to reconsider going inside, but we still entered against instinct. Everything carried on normally and the three of us shared a lovely evening together.

We woke up the next morning to news reports about a gun man who entered the theater that night. Twenty-one-year-old William Gossett was seen entering the lobby in long sleeve camo fatigues. A policeman found his attire unusual regarding the ninety degree weather and his countenance shady. When they locked eyes, Gossett ducked into the men’s bathroom. Luckily he was tracked in by the officer and searched. The policeman found a concealed, stolen weapon and extra ammunition in Gosset’s large backpack. Later in questioning he revealed an intention to see the new movie “The Purge: Election Year.” Gossett is now currently in Beaver County jail, under charges of possessing a stolen weapon, as they further investigate his motive.

The police cars we saw were backup securing his arrest. All I can think through weeks later is the is the what if’s regarding our near encounter with gun initiated violence. What if that officer hadn’t seen Mr. Gossett? What if he had made it into see his movie? What if I hadn’t made us about twenty minutes late? What if we were caught under fire with someone else’s ten year old child?

What if we died that night?

I will be the first to admit I have not yet developed stances on every gun control related question. What I can say with full confidence is I am not comfortable with the idea of my safety and the public’s safety being easily infringed upon. I’ve come to one central conclusion: we cannot continue to ignore the gun control conversation. No matter your age, political ideology, preferred presidential candidate, family’s opinions, etc. gun violence is something deserving recognition as a real issue and having a nationwide conversation about. Make no mistake – controlling gun initiated violence does not stop with your Senator or State representative.

There are three issues the public can confront head on, apart from just legislation, to help stop gun initiated violence:

1. End the Glorification of Violence As Entertainment

America is supposed to be a nation of progress, so why do we continue to entertain ourselves in the archaic manner of ancient Rome? It is no coincidence that Mr. Gossett bought a ticket to a movie about recklessly and gruesomely killing public citizens. However, Mr. Gossett wasn’t the only one seeing that movie that night. We continue as a society to support, fund, and even eagerly anticipate the release of violent movies, video games, graphic novels, and more. It is an extreme act of hypocrisy to be so constantly entertained by violence, but upset when it becomes reality. I implore you, please stop feeding your mind with such entertainment.

2. Change Our Perspectives Regarding Weaponry

Mothers when we’re young instruct us to not run with scissors or touch a hot oven, because we can get hurt in doing so. We learn to practice caution when affronted with a dangerous household tool. The way a nation of people view weapons equates with the level of respect we associate with such items. How do you, your household, and your friends talk about weapons? When I think about a gun, I do not approach it as a toy, but a dangerous tool that should only be used for its intended, necessary purposes.

The same could be said for how we talk about what we use guns for. Wars are nasty, brutal stains on human history. When we talk about war, it should be with honor and commemoration of those who served and sacrificed, not a celebration of weaponry and casualty. This goes for discussing hunting as well. We should refrain from relating hunting with domination. Many hunters I know have a great respect and knowledge about the animals they hunt and also about the tools they use to do so.

Perspective is such a strong force in the human mind, especially with younger people. If we shift our perspective from fascination with guns to a healthy respect and reluctance to use them, we’ll be far better off.

3. Realize Opposing Opinions Are Not the Enemy

Your enemies in this conversation are ignorance and fear, not someone disagreeing with you. Part of living in a free nation is conversing openly with fellow citizens about issues despite them being controversial. The world and gun control issue is not so black and white. There are many questions we must consider…

  • What were the origins of the 2nd Amendment? What were the Founding Fathers’ reasons behind adding it to the Constitution? Are these still applicable and coherent with modern America? Do you uphold tradition or a living, growing law of the land?
  • How can we really define protection and safety? Is the answer to arm oneself or to rely on armed law enforcement? Should teachers have guns in classrooms or should even an adult carrying a gun on campus be banned? Do guns mean protection or just a violent act waiting to happen?

It’s time to get comfortable with the idea that living in a society with humans who have access to weapons is going to have benefits and also fatal consequences. Many people have many different ways they’d answer these questions. Even if you don’t agree with everyone around you about every gun control related issue, you will benefit from staying informed and hearing others opinions. More than that, you’ll gain a better understanding of the real state of the union. Your voice is more effective when you know exactly where you and those around you stand. So think about the questions above and don’t be afraid to reach out to others for their input.

I considered a lot of things when I wrote this piece. Mostly, I felt the importance of sharing a topic so heavy, given the recent events of this past month. After the Orlando shooting, I was heartbroken for the loss of innocent lives. These were people dearly loved by their family members and friends. To then come so close to experiencing another injustice myself was a wake up call. Minutes before we got out of the car, the little girl in the backseat had told us some movies she was interested in. Among her list was the same movie Mr. Gossett went to see. Her idea of a good two-hours spent could have been his inspiration for stealing a weapon and taking it inside a movie theater. We need to have this conversation for her and her generation. We need to ignite a conversation about gun control.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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