Friday, December 1, 2023

Students Sometimes Oppose Stricter Gun Control


CNN reported the results of a poll last month saying that most Americans broadly support a ban on weapon purchases by anyone under 21 and believe gun control laws should be stricter in general.

(Jacob Lund/iStockPhoto)

Among high school students, support feels even stronger for stricter gun control—or rather, gun safety—laws, writes Sanchali Pandey in the student newspaper at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. “Even a sliver of empathy should be enough to get these lawmakers to realize the sheer necessity of gun control in our society,” Sanchali writes. “Let’s save lives, not put them at greater risk.”

The student writer claims that lawmakers, mainly divided along party lines, have managed to block any meaningful gun control legislation:

What many fail to realize is that gun control should not be a matter of voting like mere sheep and following the rest of the pack but rather about safety. Knowing that schools and other public places are not safe because of such lax gun control laws is a bad thing in and of itself, and politicians should realize this regardless of whatever side of the political spectrum they are on.

This is where the argument for gun control legislation goes astray. Although life would be safer and free of gun violence if nobody had a gun in the first place, there is widespread disagreement on whether stricter gun control laws will effectively reduce gun possession by would-be school shooters. In other words, a gun-free America and the safety it would bring may be unreachable pipe dreams, and if the premise of an argument is flawed, the conclusion is irrelevant. So when the writer asserts that “schools … are not safe because of such lax gun control laws,” the op-ed loses half its audience: the cause-and-effect asserted is empty and not supported with data.

Many people on all sides of the political spectrum justifiably question the effectiveness of gun control laws because, they argue, criminals will still find ways to obtain firearms illegally and strict gun laws will primarily impact only law-abiding citizens. Opponents of more stringent gun laws in this camp may petition for alternative solutions, such as improving mental health services or addressing the root causes of violence in our communities or schools.

Lawmakers may have political reasons for taking their positions on gun control legislation, such as preserving individual rights, following the Second Amendment, or avoiding government overreach, but in this democracy, the people are in charge. And until people are convinced that stricter gun control laws will effectively reduce school shootings and other violence, there’s no point in discussing safety. Find good data to support your argument.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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