Uploaded by Matt Selvaraj

AmCon Paper2

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Selvaraj 1
Matthew Selvaraj
Op-Ed 2
Focusing on The Real Problem
Political scientists, politicians, and most other humans have an opinion on how to move
forward with gun control. However, nothing can be done with all these ideas, because no one can
agree on what constitutes “gun control.” People do agree that something needs to be done about
gun laws. A Pew Research Center study found that seventy percent of participants across
America want to do something about gun laws1. In fact, a majority of those people want to
specifically tighten gun laws2. This general will, gun owner and non-owner alike, is sensible,
because according to a study on Oxford Academic, a compilation of gun control studies around
the world show that gun control policy directly correlates with a decrease in shooting-related
death3. The problem arises when lawmakers divide into red and blue. Seventy five percent of
democrats want to see stricter gun laws, whereas seventy six percent of republicans would like to
see looser gun laws or no change at all4.
The split between republicans and democrats that is not present amongst the general
public raises the question of why the US government is so divided when the people that it
consists of are still people too. The split can be best be accounted for by politics, the business
that literally makes America what it is today. Although a majority of people agree that gun laws
1
Kim Parker et al., "Views on Gun Policy in the U.S.," Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends
Project, July 10, 2017, accessed April 15, 2019, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/views-on-gun-policy/.
2
Ibid.
3
Julian Santaella-Tenorio et al., "What Do We Know About the Association Between Firearm Legislation and
Firearm-Related Injuries?" OUP Academic, February 10, 2016, accessed April 15, 2019,
https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/38/1/140/2754868.
4
Kim Parker et al., "Views on Gun Policy in the U.S.," Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends
Project, July 10, 2017, accessed April 15, 2019, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/views-on-gun-policy/.
Selvaraj 2
need to become stricter, political divides lead to proxy battles over policy issues5. These proxy
battles lead to no policies ever being passed and the safety of innocent civilians still
compromised by the looming threat of a shooting. Ultimately, policy makers need to put down
their political facades, so that they can work together to create policy for the betterment of
America.
Policy makers have to represent “the people,” or better known as those that vote in their
favor. In order to represent their people, policy makers need to hear and act upon what their
people want. According to the Pew Research Center, gun owners are more likely to contact their
legislators than non-gun owners6. Similarly, gun owners are have also shown to more commonly
support organizations that take stances on gun control7. Contextually, gun owners were
supportive of looser gun laws than non-gun owners8. These stats show that people cannot simply
blame lawmakers for not supporting the general public, because a majority of those that speak
out have shown to be in support of guns. At the same time, in an ideal world, policy makers
should look to represent all people within their districts to better represent all the majority of
people who would like to see stricter gun laws.
The polarization of “reds” vs. “blues” has also contributed to lack of action on the gun
control scene. Oftentimes clash between these two groups can be very emotional which can
unfortunately lead to more bad than good. People who are stereotypically termed as “reds” are
those who support gun rights as part of their culture. They view those that support gun control as
5
David Brooks, "Respect First, Then Gun Control," The New York Times, February 20, 2018, accessed April 15,
2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/parkland-gun-control-shootings.html.
6
Kim Parker et al., "Views on Gun Policy in the U.S.," Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends
Project, July 10, 2017, accessed April 15, 2019, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/views-on-gun-policy/.
7
Ibid.
8
Ibid.
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condescending elites who want to destroy their supposedly despicable culture9. These people are
often stereotypically termed as “blues.” Marches and rallies with signs that say “keep your hate”
or “our blood, your hands” only increase polarization of two groups10. In order for change two
occur the two groups need to come together without villainizing the other.
There have been attempts at such forms of cooperation in the past and in the present. In
the past there was the ever-present battle between agrarians and post-industrialists. That battle
was soothed by the creation of community organizations that drew from both sides such as the
Boy Scouts and the Settlement House11. These organizations worked well because both sides of
trusted and respected that the other would not ruin the joint organizations. Similarly, within the
gun debate there has to be respect given from both sides. Better Angels is a non-profit that has
shown that this mutual respect and trust can be established. The organization brings “reds” and
“blues” together to have constructive conversations in an effort to de-villainize the two groups12.
It is through this de-villainization that gun politics can revert back from the tribal war it has
become into normal, constructive policy debate.
From the establishment of republicans and democrats conforming specifically to
the view of those that reach out to them to the issue that the polarization of “reds” and “blues”
poses, gun control policy in America has become a tribal war between two sides unwilling to see
the other that needs to revert back to a debate on gun control. Studies have shown that people,
gun owners and non-owners alike, want gun laws to be more strict, but the constant battle
between republicans and democrats to control the government has turned the fight over gun
9
David Brooks, "Respect First, Then Gun Control," The New York Times, February 20, 2018, accessed April 15,
2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/parkland-gun-control-shootings.html.
10
Ibid.
11
David Brooks, "Guns and the Soul of America," The New York Times, October 06, 2017, accessed April 15,
2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/guns-soul-of-america.html.
12
David Brooks, "Respect First, Then Gun Control," The New York Times, February 20, 2018, accessed April 15,
2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/parkland-gun-control-shootings.html.
Selvaraj 4
control into a proxy war that is not getting the focus it deserves. Policy makers need to stop
worrying about the votes of certain groups of people and need to be more focused on working
together to create gun policy that could save lives. Therefore, based on these factors, gun control
in America can only be achieved once people set the “problem” that is the opposing party aside
and look at the problem that is poor policy leading to death of innocent people across the
country.
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