Opinion: Guns: An issue not so black and white

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Guns.

This is a topic that has always been, and seemingly always will be, controversial: From the 2nd amendment’s staunch “right to bear arms” supporters, to mad-men massacres of the innocent, to children killing themselves with loose, loaded, and unattended guns in completely preventable tragedies, the headlines seem never-devoid of a gun-related story.

Guns and gun violence has been scrutinized, especially over the past few decades. But the same questions keep popping up: Is the gun the problem, or is it the gun owner? And how do we ensure a gun owner is a responsible one?

And, simply, how do we stop these senseless shootings from happening (yet) again?

Put simply, guns scare me. They give me the chills and make me feel uneasy. The shear power they hold and damage they can cause is incomprehensible to me. This forces me to respect the gun; the functionality of the gun and and the seriousness around the gun and its culture.

A gun powder-powered ego-trip? A sport? A piece of American history/culture/nature?

Hunting, sport shooting, home and person protection, and collecting are a few of the main reasons people like guns. The first gun prototype was created in the 10th century by the Chinese. They have come a long way since then, and have branched off into specific, modified types, and groups that make specialized guns for specific activities. Guns have always been used for protection, and then also used to assist in hunting and leisure activities as well. Now that guns have been around for centuries, people have been gathering and saving a piece of history, expanding into the relative common hobby of collecting.

Guns themselves are not inherently the problem, as, yes, they are inanimate objects without someone to pull the trigger. The problems they cause in the wrong, irresponsible hands is, of course, the issue. It’s humans that are the problem. We. We are the problem. Gun advocates, sellers, buyers, apologists, and each and everyone one of us, needs to be held accountable when a shooting occurs.

Why do law enforcement officers in the U.S. resort to their deadliest tool as a “first response?”

Over the past few years, and through all the controversial killings at the hands of law enforcement, one thing keeps rolling through my head: Why do cops in the U.S., all too often, first draw their deadliest tool when confronting or trying to apprehend a suspect? A baton, a taser with a range of 20ft, a stun gun, chemical spray (pepper spray or mace) with a range of 25ft, and what seems like a five pound MAG light that could easily put the KO on whatever criminal or suspect, are all meant to work well, and do.

Don’t get me wrong: I agree that a gun, at times, can be the right tool for the job (with innocent lives at stake, etc.). But cops today have a full belt of tools and weapons. Most of those tools and weapons mean a non-lethal use of force when apprehending a human being. There is one tool which can kill, point blank, and it seems to always be the star of the show.

“Shoot first, ask questions later.”

Questions must be asked. Is it because of poor and/or infrequent training? Because these specific cops themselves are unfit to police? There are a small handful of countries around the world that don’t arm their police with guns, or do not require police officers to have guns on their person when patrolling the streets. There isn’t any quantifiable research to say this is the right or better way, especially in a country as large and diverse as the U.S., but one thing does remain true: People with guns get shot more often then people without guns.

As evidenced in this Scientific American study: More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows

We need to ask why, at least, that this correlation exists.

A startling trend

There also seems to be a great disconnect between a white man having/reaching for a gun and a minority having/reaching for a gun. There are countless videos of unarmed or armed-but-non-aggressive minorities being gunned down by law enforcement without repercussion. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, there are also instances of, say, a group of white men taking over a national park, and/or reaching for their firearms in the presence of law enforcement and being apprehended unscathed. I’d love to think of this as a coincidence, but both situations occur far too often. It’s become clear that there is a problem, and we can’t solve the problem of gun violence; we can’t solve the problems that keep plaguing our churches, schools, movie theaters, concerts, and streets, until we solve the inherent inequality that still exists in this country.

Again, it starts with us. And it always will.

Have something you’d like to say? Email us at hello@tcagenda and we’ll publish, at editor’s discretion, your response on the subject.

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Born and raised in the suburbs of Saint Paul, MN, Brandon has immersed himself into being a local and sustainable advocate for delicious living. Working for the best Chef’s in the Twin Cities before becoming the Residence Chef at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence and personal Chef for the Zimmern family. Foraging, eating, parenting, writing, cycling, consulting, catering and hosting pop up dinners are what his free time entails.