Counterpoint: Gun Control is Needed

By: Timothyna Duncan

The Chron published an anti-gun control piece on January 13 by Opinion editor Dane Stier. Here, Timothyna Duncan makes the opposing case in favour of gun control.

Fear, shock and disbelief paralysed many Americans on December 14th 2012 when 20 children and 7 adults were slaughtered by a gunman. The sounds of the gunshots on that fateful day may still be echoing in the innocent minds of the survivors of Sandy Hook Elementary, as America reignites the debate on gun control. The issue, specifically about the availability of assault weapons, is congesting our discussions on the dinner table, newspapers and several social media websites. The conversation is widespread, yet our government is silent.

Addressing December 14th as the “worst day” of his presidency, President Barack Obama guaranteed he would take action in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. He realised the rhetoric about gun control tends to fizzle after several events of this ilk, but vowed to take necessary measures. He has assigned Vice President Joe Biden a task force to propose a law aimed at reducing gun violence in America. We however live in a democracy controlled by a three-part government and the truth is, there can be no action or real conversation if only one side is speaking.

The quiet politicians in Congress must also speak out about gun control. Their silence during this national debate is revealing their indifference towards the 10,300 people killed by firearms in America every year. Tied to their conservative bases, and naively justifying their inaction, they concoct silly mantras like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”,and cite the second amendment as reason for the ineffectiveness of gun control. Yes, the second amendment does grant us the right to bear arms, but it does not prevent the government from regulating the type of arms.

Gone are the days of virtual representation! Our government is supposed to represent the views of the majority and not be silenced by the power of a conservative minority. A recent CNN poll reveals that 62% of Americans are in favour of the re-enactment of the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004.

The National Rifle Association is one of the influential voices in the minority that disregard the effectiveness of gun control. After a week of expected silence on the Sandy Hook shooting, the NRA finally presented an excuse to justify the murder of 20 children. In a disgraceful statement from Wayne Lapierre, the Vice President of the NRA, he blamed video games and violent pornography for the increasing frequency of mass shootings in our country.

These are merely hypotheses. We need to address the facts. The fact is Adam Lanza used a semi-automatic weapon to slaughter 26 innocent victims. The fact is America hosted sixteen events of this ilk in 2012.The fact is Australia has not experienced a mass shooting since its ban on assault weapons took effect in 1996. The fact is the NRA is blindsided by money, and ignorant about an evolution in the nation’s opinion about gun control. The fact is America will experience another mass shooting if our government does nothing. If Wayne LaPierre thinks we can stop the “bad guys” with more guns, he is drowning in deep delusion.

It is despicable that outspoken political personalities like John McCain and Donald Trump are vehement about trivials such as the “true” nationality of our president or the competence of alleged Secretary of State nominees, but are tongue-tied about legislation which could potentially prevent another slaughter of innocent lives. Shame on those cowards! They need to take political courage and tackle this national crisis head-on! Even if no law can ever prevent every act of gun violence, we can at least take necessary measures to reduce the fatalities.

I wish there was some formula to eradicate gun violence in America. We however have the opportunity to learn from other nations like Australia that have been in our position. Yes, this means instilling a ban on assault weapons, buying back the arms already in circulation, and ensuring effective background checks on every federal or private sale of any weapon.

We certainly cannot overlook other main components in this complexity: our mental health system and our culture of violence. It is absolutely necessary that our government address the loopholes in the mental health system and the effects of violent movies and video games on young adults in America because inaction perpetuates repetition.

Columbine.Virginia Tech.Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. If our government continues its silence, more Americans will be silenced by another deranged gunman.

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