According to Gallup, the gun debate is a more salient issue in America today than it was in the year after Columbine.
Just the word is enough to stir emotion in anyone along the political spectrum. Whether you are for or against guns, the issue is not black and white, and cannot be adequately understood with a binary mentality.
There are both benefits and drawbacks to guns. Guns can provide protection, a means to feed a family in rural areas, and are even used for sport. But they are also a deadly weapon and can be used to kill and cause terror and tragedy.
Holding my dad’s .22 in my hand on a crisp fall afternoon, I felt the cold, black metal in the palm of my hand. It was heavier than I expected it to be. We were shooting at targets on our family’s farm, and we were the only ones around for hundreds of acres. But even then, we took precautions. Besides safety goggles, ear protection, and making sure the safety was always on, my dad reiterated to me what he had been preaching to me for years: Treat the gun like it’s always loaded, never point it at anything you don’t want to shoot, and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
In the isolated Appalachian mountains, we could safely aim and shoot at targets. At my home in suburban Ohio, the same mentality would not apply. The purpose and safety of guns can be relative to the situation and environment. Because of reasons such as this, the gun debate cannot take on a binary mentality.
Guns being used to kill others is a tragedy that continues to play out in this country. But as we saw with the Ohio State University situation, guns aren’t the only weapon that can cause tragedy. However, it is the one used most often. Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Pulse nightclub—all incidents which used semi-automatic assault rifles.
It seems as if our political gun debate is at a standstill. Democrats and Republicans fail to find compromise. According to Gallup, the gun debate is more salient today than it was in the year after Columbine. Whether or not the solution is to enact more gun control, focus on getting help for those with mental illness, or something else altogether, when lawmakers cannot get anything accomplished, and our nation continues to argue over which side of the gun debate is correct, we may continue to see the same tragedy play out time and time again.