There are numerous talking points I want lambast today: the definitions of assault rifle and semi-automatic, the propaganda statistics flooding the internet, and the knee-jerk response to ban firearms. However, it seems that gun control is so wholly engulfed by emotion that debate is useless. Instead, I want to focus on a nonpartisan topic—mutual respect.
A few days ago, CNN hosted a town hall to grant survivors of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting an opportunity to publicly discuss their grievances. Unfortunately, the egregious rhetoric presented by some of the participants thwarted any semblance of rational discussion. For example, Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the shooting, stated to Senator Marco Rubio that “it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15” and when the National Rifle Association (NRA) Spokeswomen Dana Loesch took the stage, another survivor, Emma González, asserted “we will support your two children in the way that you will not.” Further, the town hall was replete with shouts of hatred like “murderer!” and “burn her!”—none of which were overtly condemned by the host or audience. To the contrary, Dana Loesch required a security detail to exit the town hall safely due to the fierce response to her remarks.
So, my contention is this: equating supporters of gun rights to murderers is both immoral and nefarious.
I will not change your mind on gun control policy, I understand that; but, regardless of your feelings, I urge you to remain civil in political discourse. To equate a member of the NRA—of which, I am a proud member— with the damnable school shooter is heart-breaking. I understand this is an emotional topic; but, we must approach this discussion with a level-head. Immediately following a mass shooting, when the trauma and emotions are still palpable, is the wrong time to discuss gun control policy (or any policy). Emotional people do not create good policy. If you disagree, consider this: Is it wise to make critical decisions following a heated argument with your spouse? Or, is it reasonable to discipline your child if you’re still angry or frustrated at their offense? I hope everyone can honestly answer in the negative.
Regardless of your feelings, it is wrong to engage in destructive hyperbole. From the myriad studies I’ve read on gun control, my understanding is that a firearm ban in America will increase homicide rates. Now, this does not insinuate that I believe firearm ban supporters are murderers or evil. I think they may be misled or emotionally driven—but not evil. This concept applies universally. For instance, I think that abortion is murder; however, I don’t think a person who votes pro-choice is the equivalent of a murderer. That would be a terribly foolish assertion.
Parenthetically, this issue is not limited to the left; I’ve witnessed many incidents of conservatives engaging in this atrocious act.
Gun policy is a hard and complex issue engulfed in partisan rhetoric, propaganda, and bias research. Because of this ambiguity, I will always afford the benefit of the doubt to those who oppose my ideology. Though, to be clear, I am not asserting that we are all correct in our positions. I am a staunch proponent of absolute truth, and thus think there is a correct stance to be held on every issue. But, we mustn’t degrade our ideological opponents to prop up our own beliefs.
For the sake of brevity, let me posit this final question: what if you’re wrong? I don’t have all the answers, nor does anyone. A complete firearm ban has never occurred in America, so the consequences are purely academic. I may be wrong; a firearm ban may lower homicide rates—and I respect those who arrive at this conclusion.
Please afford others the same respect.