The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: Guns are the central issue in gun violence

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While I appreciate publishing opinion pieces from all sides, I think Jacob Rowden’s column on gun control leaves out a lot of important facts.

To start, only a few comprehensive, published studies on the subject exist because we are widely prevented from studying gun violence and control measures as these efforts have been long stifled. However, the quantity of mass shootings per capita and the amount of guns owned per capita are directly correlated across the globe. While other factors may play a role, it’s apparent none do more than enacting actual legislation that would help decrease the amount of guns owned and purchased in our country.

In terms of the other concerns mentioned, most are already dealt with in a variety of ways. The media takes certain precautions when covering a shooter, and these usually involve considerations about publishing their names or manifestos when possible. Increased security does not always prevent shootings: That’s why they still occur at a school with an armed guard, or at military institutions like Fort Bragg. While some mention how our culture might drive violence, this is a cop out as well: Many of the aspects of entertainment media we have in the U.S. are present in other countries as well, and “culture” here is code for people who are different.

The examples cited about standing up to the government with guns are also not applicable. Yes, we’ve seen democracies shift to violate human rights, but the Nazis were able to take control in Germany because the people voted for the individuals in power. The Vietnam war was so long ago, and military strategy has changed drastically since then. Our military failures come from an assumption that the government cares about people’s lives. When it doesn’t, the situation changes: See the effects of a nuclear bomb.

Acting as though our constitution is immutable and always correct is not accurate. The understanding of the Second Amendment changed dramatically in the 70s and with the push of conservatives and the National Rifle Association, from dealing with states rights to a militia to individual rights. The language is ambiguous and hard to understand, and a controversial Supreme Court decision led to where we are today.

Most importantly, consistently, people against gun control attempt to bring up other arguments to conflate the issue and prevent real change. We don’t have unlimited rights in our country, and saying that we need to have unlimited rights prevents any real change from happening. Many of our gun laws need to change — all making it harder to buy guns and restrict access, to even instituting a gun buy-back program. But saying we have to study the other potential factors before making any decision delays action and is the argument used by those who don’t want change — and therefore they bare some culpability. As the Onion headline says after every mass shooting: “‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens.”

Matthew Altman, School of Communication ’10

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