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Opinion

Recent shooting at University of Texas rekindles gun debate

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October 7, 2010

I had a column planned for this week, but given the Sept. 28 shooting at the University of Texas, I decided instead to return to a topic to which I’ve given a good deal of thought in the past: the notorious gun debate.

The entire issue of gun laws is very contentious. If you’ve ever witnessed such a debate, you’ve probably seen of the intense flurry of emotion that emerges. It looks like a war of extreme opposites. One side wants to strictly control firearm ownership, while the other side wants the freedom to own their weapons. The issue, of course, is in the nature of the debate. The interpretation of our constitutional rights is very meticulous, and with such high stakes, neither side wants to lose.

I’m perfectly fine with people owning guns, however, we have to change the way we look at them. After all, the world has grown in all sorts of ways since the 18th century. For most people in the United States, it is no longer necessary to go out and hunt for your dinner every night. Nationwide networks of law enforcement have replaced local militia and mob justice. The shadow of England no longer looms over us, threatening to reclaim their colonies. Guns simply have become obsolete for the average U.S. citizen.

Most people don’t live each day in mortal danger. I’m sure you find this claim ironic given that it’s following such a terrifying event, but this is an outlying case. The chances of being attacked randomly are minuscule, and even then, it’s not guaranteed that there will be an opportunity to defend yourself or others. The possible benefit simply doesn’t seem to validate the necessity of carrying a gun into Starbucks. Honestly, if your local Starbucks makes you fear for your life, it’s probably better to find another coffee shop.

It’s no surprise that we’ve been seeing an increase in the frequency of these shootings. Just look at the culture we’re stewing in. Violence. It’s on our screens and in our games; its been soaked into every facet of our lives. We fetishize all forms of violence, especially guns. We expose children to these idols at incredibly impressionable ages, and let them learn that they’re fun and exciting. As they get older, we take the comedy away from it. We give the former children more realistic-looking worlds and weaponry, killing more things at once, showing it as the end-all means of resolving conflict.

The problem comes with how we approach other aspects of our humanity. At the same time as promoting mindless violence,  we try to quash our sexuality. We tempt ourselves with scantily clad models and airbrushed ideas of beauty, but we tell ourselves it’s wrong to acknowledge such a fact. We’re completely turned around. So what are we making here? We’re building time bombs. We’re creating generations of sexually repressed, angry youth who believe that violence can be used to solve all their problems. Are these really the people we want to arm?

I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of someday allowing people to freely carry guns, but we need to make progress. We need to admit this problem to ourselves and try to get help for it. A nation that promotes violence will simply breed more violence. It’s only when we can acknowledge that we don’t all need guns that we can start making more allowances. There’s plenty of power already — let’s be more responsible about it.

Leo Alberti is a creative writing major. Besides writing, he enjoys reading novels, debating and plotting world domination.