Guns and Agreeable Reform - by Jonah Campbell

The shockwave from last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas will ripple through the entire US, manifesting in the inevitable tsunami of 2nd amendment arguments to come crashing down on the already crumbling bridge between American citizens. Tempers will flare, tensions will rise, the NRA will dive deeper into its crisis aversion/diversion fund, and the country will proceed as it has always done with regards to this topic, little unchanged. 

Legislative action rarely takes place from shooting to shooting in the US, with the exception of an instituted background check here, or a permit application there, because a large portion of the country believes so unwaveringly in the granting of the constitutional right to bear arms by our founding fathers. There are organizations, the NRA included, that were created in part, to protect this right.  For some, the 2nd amendment is non-negotiable. 

Instead of buying a ticket on the merry-go-round that is the gun rights debate, and trying to convince a group of people that their beliefs aren’t valid, or their rights should be violated for the good of the country, I’d like to try to approach this topic with intercession in mind. 

If the 2nd amendment is truly non-negotiable, and action against unthinkable, then there must be some form of supplemental reform that can be universally (or almost) agreed upon.  I refuse to believe that there isn’t a compromise.  Comprise can mean avoiding gun access laws altogether, and simply implicate education. I don’t mean to suggest the, “Here’s a gun, this is how to use it,” education touted by your uncle who did two years in the National Guard, but rather mandatory gun violence awareness and conflict resolution education beginning as early as elementary school. 

Guns and gun violence should be approached much in the same way that sex and drugs are in this country.  If we cannot get rid of them, we should educate ourselves as early, and as thoroughly, as possible about them.  In my hometown of Arcadia, California, I was given sex education as an elementary school student, which included, but was not limited to, being shown graphic pictures of active sexually transmitted diseases. I was also enrolled in the mandatory DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, that involved being forced to watch videos of drunk driving car accidents, and listening to rehabilitated heroin addicts share their harrowing experiences.  All strong, and at times appropriately uncomfortable, educational tools that left lasting impressions. It is a valuable endeavor to try to leave the same type of lasting impression on America’s youth about the calamities of gun violence.  Educate kids on boilerplate gun safety and gun laws, sure, but include education on conflict resolution, how to diffuse confrontational situations and learn to compromise; teach skills to deal with anger and aggression; invite survivors, and perpetrators, of gun violence to come speak about their experiences; show videos of gun violence and its aftermath; have students act out scenarios that force them to embody, and thereby empathize, with every player, directly affected or otherwise, in a gun violence incident; provide a forum for them to discuss the ethics of murder; allow them to voice their opinions, and debate current gun laws.

If we cannot hope to cut out the agent of infection from the festering wound that is gun violence in this country, then we must strive to cleanse it into a benign state of existence.  If we cannot prevent a person like Stephen Paddock from gaining access to the more than ten rifles found in his hotel room, then the only logical option is to strive to prevent the idea to commit such an atrocity from ever being engendered. Simply the probability that an early education may have given him pause is enough justification.  Though there is no way to know for certain if education could have prevented this particular event, in the light of hindsight, the path forward becomes illuminated, and if there truly is no other mode of acceptable mitigation, then preemptive measures must come to be.

The history and present reality of gun violence in this country is a bleak narrative of moot points batted around by legislators sitting in large, comfortable chairs, while people are struck down in the streets.  If there cannot hope to be some sort of restrictive action taken against citizen’s access to firearms, then there MUST be an avenue for alternative action.  The implementation of a comprehensive, holistic program of education about gun violence in the United States is one way to mediate our future before hither we arrive, wishing we’d acted differently, like we are doing today, staring at our own reflection in the muddled waters of last night’s act of domestic terrorism. 

Greer Clem