— Christine Beswick (@bychristinebswk) October 3, 2017
Front page of Reddit, today: “Difference between a brown person killing people and a white person killing people.”
I grew up in a house with guns. I’ve held them in my hands. I’ve shot them, felt the recoil, and seen my targets splinter into pieces.
All of that being said, I believe in gun control.
Following the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, it’s time to redefine “gun control” and our approach to this divisive topic.
“Control” (verb) is defined as “to determine the behavior or supervise the running of.”
Gun control. Meaning, guns control situations, determining the behavior of those facing the barrel. Every time a gun is fired, there is a result. It doesn’t matter who is holding it. Guns themselves control situations. We’ve seen it time and time again in the United States.
As an educator in Cleveland, I saw it when Tamir Rice, the cousin of one of my students, was shot and killed in a nearby park. As a nation, we saw it when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a member of the neighborhood watch. In 2016, the Orlando LGBTQ community saw it, as we all did, when 49 people were killed and dozens more were injured.
Yesterday morning, when we turned on our televisions, U.S. residents everywhere watched it happen again—this time in Las Vegas. Regardless of the situation, racial tensions, communities impacted, or political climate, the presence of a gun determines tragic outcomes.
In another sense, “gun control” is defined as “a set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians.”
Regulations. Policies. Possession. Use. Makes sense right—since a gun can impact not only the owner, but those subject to a gun being in control?
Because a gun, fired or not, determines behavior and dictates situations, there are policies to help us in knowing and understanding the implications of gun ownership. Did you know that “gun control” in the United States wasn’t a thing until 1964?
Yes, my jaw drops too.
I find this ironic, seeing as the Second Amendment was penned by our founding fathers 175 years prior. It is also depressing, because when “our right to bear arms” was cemented into the Constitution, it took about 20 seconds to clean, load, and fire a gun. If this was the case today, how many tragedies would have been prevented, stopped, or ended fewer lives?
For so many reasons, gun owners should be properly vetted. Do we hand over the car keys to a 16-year-old without making them take a driving course, or pass numerous exams? No. This is for good reason, since the average weight of a car is about 4,000 pounds, and young adults statistically drive fast.
Much like a speeding car with a young driver, a gun in the hands of someone who has not been thoroughly vetted is a disaster waiting to happen.
Obviously, so many issues come into play here—however, if you strive to own a gun, isn’t waiting a few weeks for a background check and mental health exam worth the trouble?
Yesterday, the Washington Post published a wonderful graphic showing NRA contributions to state legislators. Take a look at it. This is who we have to blame for the control a gun can have in a situation. This is who we can blame for the ease of which anyone can purchase a deadly weapon.
While individuals and political communities can offer prayers following massacres like the one on Sunday in Las Vegas, prayers surely have a less measurable impact than what our government could do to prevent these tragedies from being all too common. Unfortunately, could isn’t enough.
Author: R.R. Noall
Image: Twitter @bychristinebswk
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Travis May