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Opponents in the gun control debate have the same goal

Masses of Hayfield students stand in front of the school on Feb. 21, 2018, for 17 minutes to honor Parkland victims and protest for gun control.

Masses of Hayfield students stand in front of the school on Feb. 21, 2018, for 17 minutes to honor Parkland victims and protest for gun control.

Minh Vu

Minh Vu

Masses of Hayfield students stand in front of the school on Feb. 21, 2018, for 17 minutes to honor Parkland victims and protest for gun control.


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At noon on Wednesday Feb. 21, a massive crowd of Hayfield students gathered outside the front of the school to showcase their support for increasing regulation of firearms in the United States. An outsider looking out at the mass of chanting kids in front of school might assume that the students were mostly united in their quest to end gun violence and desire for increased regulation; however, they would be incredibly wrong. Many of my classmates expressed anger and frustration at the walkout, and many of them, although somewhat ironically, expressed their hatred for the ‘triggered liberal’ students who organized the protest. For the amount of complaining I hear from my conservative friends about how incredibly liberal our school is, the eye rolling and animosity aimed at the walkout puzzles me.

The walkout represents something even more significant than purely a desire for increased gun control; it is the perfect demonstration of how incredibly lucky we are as students and Americans to express our discontent through peaceful protest. So why did something so innocent, and dare I say American, generate so much hate from some students? I blame misconceptions about gun control, as well as the perceived lack of organization surrounding the walkout.

What I think many students fail to realize is that the vast majority of Americans support some form of gun control, and I’m not just referring to Democrats. A 2015 poll conducted by Politifact showed that 74 percent of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support requiring background checks for all gun sales. This means that even the majority of people in the NRA, the most famous advocacy group for gun rights in the US, support raising current standards for gun control.

According to the National Center for Health Research, 40 percent of gun sales in the US today do not go through a background check because they take place online, through classified ads or at gun shows. Gun control does not have to mean that guns would be taken away or made illegal, as I have heard some people presume. It can mean something as simple as making background checks before purchasing a gun mandatory. Like many other political issues in the US, a problematic all-or-nothing mentality seems to surround gun rights and regulation, when in reality most Americans desire something between the political extremes.

Personally, I support increasing the regulation of guns to help prevent tragedies such as the Parkland shooting from happening as frequently as they currently do. The gun control that I support, however, does not involve making guns illegal. Outlawing guns would never be effective in our country, which has a gun culture stronger than most other nations. According to the Pew Research Center, more than a third of Americans say that they or someone in their household owns a gun, and 67 percent of gun owners say that they own their guns for protection, meaning that for many Americans, possessing a firearm represents safety.

This, I believe, is where the divide over gun control in the US comes from: some Americans feel unsafe without a gun, while other Americans feel unsafe because other Americans own guns. Both sides share the same desire for safety; they simply have different ideals about how to achieve that safety.

Even just slightly increasing regulations on gun ownership would go a long way without angering too many Americans. According to the National Center for Health Research, a two year study showed that having background checks completed at the local level resulted in a 27 percent lower rate of gun-related suicides and a 22 percent lower rate of gun related murders. In a country where, according to BBC, each year over 10 thousand people are killed due to gun violence, something as simple as mandating local background checks could potentially save hundreds of lives.

As I watched the students gather for the walkout and heard the chanting for more regulation intermingle with the bitterly sarcastic comments from my friends who frowned upon the walk out and disagreed with its motives, I realized that perhaps the reason that the gun control debate in America is so contentious is that across the spectrum, people are afraid, but they disagree about how to alleviate that fear. Regardless of how you felt about the motives and effectiveness of the walk out, I think everyone should respect and celebrate that in America, we have the right as students to peacefully protest something that we believe is unjust. Expressing discontent with an issue is one step towards creating change; the next is learning to listen to each other and trying to reach a compromise.



*Stay tuned for more coverage of gun control and student expression both online and in print*

1 Comment

One Response to “Opponents in the gun control debate have the same goal”

  1. Mary on February 23rd, 2018 4:25 am

    Very well spoken I agree totally great to see the support out there well done from ireland

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Opponents in the gun control debate have the same goal