Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ending political extremism will help end gun violence

by Brian Bruns, Columnist

     The debate about firearm regulation is taking over America.

     Republicans and Democrats in Washington are set to debate the finer points while President Obama proposes federally mandated background checks on all guns sold, a ban on assault weapons and limiting magazine sizes.

    Even the president’s center-left proposal goes too far for some and not far enough for others. Those in the extreme left would take away all privately owned firearms. The extreme right would put a firearm in every classroom.

    I reject extreme political positions.

    They go against everything I believe about problem solving in a complex and contradictory world. Standing on either extreme of an issue requires keeping your mind closed to the opposite side and makes seeing a middle ground even more difficult.

    So naturally, I disagree with both ideas. Taking away the right to own firearms does nothing to the illegal gun owners who never had the right to begin with.

    Handing weapons out like it’s the start of the zombie apocalypse is too much of a blanket solution. A compromise can be reached only if both sides let go of their extreme dreams.

    The posturing and political tough talk isn’t going to last. There is a lot of social pressure in favor of making some changes to gun control policy. Enough pressure to make sure those lawmakers who sit in Congress and do nothing now will be doing the same from home after the next mid-term election. Change is on the way and neither the liberals nor the conservatives will be extremely pleased with it.

    For instance, instead of requiring background checks on all guns sold, lawmakers may decide that background checks are only needed on assault weapons.

    This simple compromise gives liberals reason to support it by making it difficult for people to obtain weapons, while also giving conservatives grounds to support it, as the law still allows citizens the right to obtain the weapons legally.

    The major problem is simple: people are using guns to kill other people. This is nothing new and has existed as long as guns have. What has changed is who is being killed and how.

    Students have been involved in numerous shooting incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook. In each instance, one or two people have used firearms to devastating effect on schoolchildren and college students. Some of the perpetrators have been children themselves.

    As Americans, we often feel immune to the type of violence that occurs around the world everyday. So when children are murdered in America, we perceive it as a great injustice.

    Murder is deplorable but the reality is that the world is a violent place. In a mostly free society like the United States, preventing all gun violence is impossible.

    The same freedom of action and choice we enjoy can also be used to commit heinous crimes against other citizens, especially against those who are most vulnerable.

    The gun cannot be un-invented, no matter how much legislation is passed on the subject. Background checks can only tell us so much, as legal gun owners are just as capable of murder as illegal gun owners.

    However, accepting that fact does not mean it is acceptable to do nothing. In spite of the reality of gun violence, we must act in the best interest of all citizens to prevent it as much as possible.

    Whether that is through banning a certain type of weapon or ammunition or beefing up security at schools, there must be something we can do to limit or prevent the ghastly crimes such as those that occurred at Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine.

    Everyone in Congress must compromise or risk big political losses. No one will be entirely happy with the change, but that is the nature of a compromise. Most normal adults come to a compromise when presented with a difficult problem and no easy solutions.

    Only in Washington D.C. is it acceptable for adult professionals to act like children who don’t get what they want. In any other line of work, refusing to compromise is a good way to get fired. It’s possible that come mid-term elections, the same will be true for Congressional lawmakers.

    Brian Bruns is a father, a husband and a U.S. Army veteran. Sarcasm, wit and a good cup of coffee are all keys to his success. He can usually be spotted Thursday night working for Mast TV’s News @Nine or Friday nights hosting Lutes, Listen Up! on LASR.