Biting the Bullet
The great gun debate has been raging in the United States for decades now, with no end in sight.
But since the new “permitless” gun law has recently taken effect in Oklahoma, the weapon controversy seems to be an unavoidable part of casual conversation.
This new law is pretty self-explanatory — but in case you’ve somehow managed not to hear about it, the change makes it now legal for any persons 18 and over (and military service members/veterans 21 and over) to open-carry a gun without a permit, as per nraila.org.
This law went into effect on Nov. 1, and exactly 17 days later, on Nov. 18, there was a shooting at Walmart in Duncan, Oklahoma, wherein a man shot and killed his wife and her boyfriend, then himself.
Whether this was caused by — or even related to — the policy change is disputable, but both the new law and this shooting tie into a bigger problem in America: the ridiculous amount of gun-related deaths per year.
According to BBC News, 73 percent of all homicides committed in the U.S. during 2017 were caused by guns. This number might seem pretty high, but it’s even higher when you compare it to England and Wales, who had a total of 3 percent for 2017 and 2018, combined.
The big question is “why?”
Why are there more gun-deaths, mass shootings and even guns themselves in America than there is anywhere else?
The potential answers are insanely skewed; everyone attributes the overwhelming problem of gun violence to different influences.
But one thing is certain: none of these supposed instigators can solely be blamed.
The most common argument you’re likely to hear is lack of education.
It must be because kids aren’t raised learning about guns; kids aren’t taught to respect them, and how to use them properly. I mean, at least a fraction of the gun death statistics are accidental, right?
It must have been the lack of education that caused Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to massacre students at Columbine High School, right? If they had been taught younger how to use weapons, they wouldn’t have killed 13 innocent people and wounded 24, right?
Someone has to have realized by now that “lack of education” isn’t a possible answer.
Knowing how to use a weapon does not make it safe in someone’s hand. Knowing the harm a gun can pose if used does not make it unusable. In fact, understanding how to use a gun can be even more deadly if someone is that intent to commit a violent act.
This brings me to the next rational conclusion people seem to draw from the increasing amount of gun violence in America: inadequate treatment for mental health.
It’s not news to anyone that attitudes toward mental health issues have a brutal history, especially in the U.S. — and if one is so willing to take a weapon and use it to harm someone, or several someones, it should be easy to conclude that there are some sort of mental health problems to be factored in.
But other countries have populations with mental problems, too. Why are American’s so prone to using guns when suffering these problems?
Possibly because mental health issues aren’t treated correctly or simply aren’t diagnosed — but surely this happens in other countries as well. And America is known to over-diagnose mental problems to the point where common issues, such as depression and anxiety, are almost trendy.
So again, is mental health unawareness to blame? Maybe it’s a factor, but it still isn’t the only culprit.
On to the next popular villain: violent media.
We let kids and teenagers play violent video games and listen to violent music and watch violent movies, so obviously they are taught to be violent! That’s the problem!
Because is it the baby boomers shooting up public places? No. It’s all the angsty teens who have mental problems and access to guns.
But wait — wasn’t Stephen Paddock, the man responsible for murdering 58 people in Las Vegas 64 years old?
Does everyone think he was playing violent shooter games and listening to angry rock growing up in the 70s, and that’s why he decided to commit the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history?
And don’t other countries have violent media? What makes America so special?
Perhaps it’s merely the fact that potential wrongdoers now know notoriety will follow such brutality. Finally a way to get noticed, for all those society left behind.
These are just a couple conclusions that people seem to come to, and the real answer might lie in a combination of all of them.
But what I genuinely cannot understand, is why a law that eliminates yet another barrier between guns and potential attackers can, in any conceivable way, help stop the vicious cycle of death?
Maybe stopping this gun violence epidemic wasn’t the intention when the law was passed — couldn’t possibly have been, considering there is literally no way that taking away the necessity of a permit to open-carry a weapon in Oklahoma could ever be a step toward ending the violence.
But to be clear: this should always be the goal.
Truthfully, there is no point in arguing about guns anymore.
Everyone has their own opinion about their necessity — or lack thereof — and are so staunch in their own beliefs that they can’t even calmly discuss a different opinion — not unlike other social issues, unironically.
We, as Americans, are so quick to give everyone a gun because it’s our Second Amendment right — which is all well and good until someone takes that gun and shoots up a school.
Then suddenly, half the population wants to take all the guns away — while the other half now needs those guns to protect themselves and their families, and the cycle goes on and on and on.
It’s a circular argument that will never have an answer, and Americans are fooling themselves if they think that having a different person in charge of the country is suddenly going to spell out a solution.
Regardless, something has to change if we are ever going to stop the bloodshed.
Though somehow, I don’t think this new law is the solution we’ve been searching for.