Amerika

Polarizing views of gun control miss the point

The gun-control activist whose provocative billboards have been turning heads along the Massachusetts Turnpike for 13 years today will unveil one of his most eye-popping messages yet – a fake neon advertisement for American gun shows where people can buy weapons, no questions asked.

“Gun shows are the equivalent of Al Qaeda terrorists walking directly onto the airplane while you and I wait in the TSA line,” John Rosenthal, founder and chairman of Stop Handgun Violence, said in a recent interview. “They don’t want us to go on airplanes but they let Al Qaeda buy guns unprotected.”

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Since our society is one never-ending commercial, cute billboard advertisements catch our eye and provide fodder for debate, instead of the actual problems behind the motivation for those billboards. I went to school in the area where these billboards have been posted for over a decade now, and never once did I feel an impact by “controversial” advertising. I’m sure plenty of the future Obama supporters at the time felt a great sense of pride that thousands of people would be forced into reading a controversial advertisement on their way to work…a job well done!

There are two viewpoints stoked by these billboards: It’s either “I want guns for all” or “I want guns for none”. Never mind for a second that our insane society of applying the same screening processes for all individuals doesn’t work.

The fact is, people should absolutely be allowed to have guns to protect themselves, but if society wants their citizenry to own that right, they also have to ensure people know how to handle guns before buying them. Private gun shows where untraceable transactions can occur should be illegal; there are about 270 million firearms out there, why exacerbate the problem of criminals and sociopaths being able to obtain a gun whenever they want? A better government would regulate guns and not allow people to resell them to others, but allow people to buy them. No state should have a no-ID or no-background check policy on guns these days; that just doesn’t make sense.  Or at least, decentralize and allow states to manage this process on their own.

Unfortunately, when you have a neurotic society, you end up with pointless gun violence. If people actually cared about something more than their own petty drama, owning a gun would be an afterthought for most people, and it would cut down on home invasions and other violence because one would have no idea whether or not the potential victim would be waiting with a .32 tucked into their back pocket. Texas has had this idea for a while now and they frequently rank below average, nationally, in terms of gun violence statistics. It’s not because they’re hicks and happen to love guns, it’s because they have a national identity within the state and people have a semblance of shared values, which includes the right to protect oneself against would-be enemies and predators. If only those values had spread to the other 49 states (or rather, had never left the other states), this country would be a model for a place like Europe to adopt similar gun control policies, instead of disallowing their citizens from ever owning guns.

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