While acknowledging polarized camps exist, do sensible solutions exist?
Just six months ago, I wrote “whenever there is mass shooting in the U.S. …the debate about gun violence inevitably ramps up. Gun control advocates demand more restrictions on gun[s]…while Second Amendment proponents argue that bearing arms is a constitutional right and…more restrictions won’t help…”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Since Orlando, the debate and election-year politics have become even more polarized as legislators and pundits demand “remedies” that may or may not help and legislators fail to find common ground. In a presidential election year with tragedy so fresh in our minds, addressing this issue could be more pivotal than in years past.
The data on guns remains selectively presented by each side, often with rhetoric that indicates more of a reaction to the perception of what the other side wants than reality. Even in the debate surrounding bills that just failed in the Senate, Democrats earned 7 Pinocchios from the Washington Post for arguments in support of gun control. The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, hasn’t said much beyond fighting any restrictions whatsoever and hasn’t proposed a lot more in regard to potential solutions.
As IndependentVoting.org Jacqueline Salit and Kathy Harris pointed out in a recent open letter to the presidential candidates, “communicating across the ideological and partisan divide serves the American people best. The problem is that the culture of our partisan election system makes it difficult, if not impossible, to respond as a unified nation.”
President Obama and most gun control advocates understand draconian gun control is a non-starter. But is that what they secretly want? We’re not mind readers and there are admittedly different interpretations of the Second Amendment, even folks on the fringe calling for its repeal. Still, if Democrats have this hidden agenda, the chances of it coming to pass are negligible.
Likewise, while gun control proponents focus on NRA rhetoric, few gun rights advocates expect unfettered access to any kind of weapons. While the NRA doesn’t offer much in the way of constructive suggestions and often presents info that is equally inaccurate, the vast majority of Americans concur with the Supreme Court and Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote in Heller v. D.C., “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” Fully automatic assault rifles (not assault “weapons”) have been illegal for years and far too many people don’t understand the difference, or that focusing on these at all is a red herring: the number of rifles of any kind used in U.S. homicides is relatively small.
IVN independent author Ricky Gandhi nails it: “Talks of effective gun laws get muddled in partisan rhetoric and overly-simplified (or outright false) data. Gun violence in America consists of a plethora of socioeconomic factors that simple solutions cannot solve.”
Opinions on gun rights are sharply divided, but in December 2014, Pew Research found longstanding belief in a need for tighter gun restrictions had changed, with 52% saying it’s more important to protect the right to own guns while 46% favored controlling gun ownership. More recently, 63% of Americans now say having a gun in the home makes it a safer place compared with 30% who believe it’s more dangerous.
While we cannot legislate away every tragedy, the key to finding answers is not assuming all legislation is more control. The generic idea of gun control is far less appealing in the abstract than specific measures.
A couple of points for perspective: