There was a recent shooting at a high school in Florida and the gun control debate is back.
Born and raised in a country where I’ve only seen two guns ever in my life and touched only one of them, I have a default bias and that is – why do we need guns in a civil society? Aren’t a majority of developed countries getting by with tougher gun laws?
Every society promotes one value above all else and that goes on their banners, t-shirts, hats and so on. In India, it is tolerance and diversity. (Although it’s starting to be questionable). The Chinese value economic emancipation. On those lines, Americans value liberty – the freedom to do what they want and speak their mind.
Both the left and right will agree on liberty. Their definition might vary, but they agree on the principle of freedom.
More than 40% of American households own gun i.e hundreds of millions of people. It’s is very easy for a someone like me to say everyone should give up their guns for their collective safety. It will work as effectively as telling Indians to forget their caste. Owning a gun is not half as bad as the Indian caste system which is a slow poison that affects millions of families for generations. Yet, it is not something that people (the higher caste mainly) can give up easily. It’s hard for people to even fathom being stripped of their caste. It is part of their identity. Looking at this through that lens, Owning a gun, provides people the safety to live anywhere and protect their families. A handful of deaths a year is the price paid for the freedom of the collective. I’m not justifying it. Just presenting it as I understand it.
When people on the left ask the people on the right to give up their guns, they want a less violent society. But what they realize is their urban lives is very different from the lives of people in the rural areas(predominantly right). Their needs of different. They are thinking – how am I to protect my family when I live in a rural village where a cop would take hours to respond to my 911 call?
Now not all gun enthusiast lives in a rural setting. Many live in urban areas too. But a 400-year practice is not something that can be thrown away overnight. It’s not going away. And it is not a minority.
We need to at least accept one thing. Gun enthusiasts don’t want kids to die as much as gun control enthusiasts. We need a compromise here. We can’t ban all guns. But guns in the hands of kids that can’t buy beer or cigarette shouldn’t be a hard thing to disagree on. The left and right need to give something up from their side for a compromise. No side is going to change the minds of a population equal to theirs in size. The best option here is to have an open ear for the other side and take a step towards each other.