We are not even two months into the new year and there have already been 18 school shootings. That is an astounding figure. With gun violence on the rise, why can’t we have an honest debate about gun control?
Well, for starters, because the statistic written above is a lie.
The figure of 18 school shootings in 2018 that so many prominent journalists and politicians have spread comes from a gun control group called Everytown and includes suicides, accidents where no one was hurt, and shootings that took place near a school. After criticism, it appears Everytown has at least removed a B.B. gun fired at a school bus from its list of school shootings.
Thousands of people shared an article from two years ago with a headline that declared the author was “able to buy an AR-15 in five minutes.” Once you get to the very end of the article, you’ll see that he was in the store for five minutes but did not purchase a weapon, did not even fill out the paperwork for a background check, and never really got further along in the process than taking a picture with the firearm he could use with his lying article.
When every shooting that makes national news is immediately followed by lies from people who think machine guns and semi-auto are synonymous, every rifle is an AR-15, and “military style rifle” or “assault weapon” actually means anything, it is understandable that those who know better would push back.
This is not to take away from the real tragedy that occurred last week in Florida. And, of course, even though there have not been 18 school shootings this year, 1 is still too many. You wouldn’t think I would need to say that, but I’ve been told anyone who has voted Republican is heartless and complicit in murder.
We should have a discussion on how best to prevent senseless violence like what occurred in Florida. There are some ideas with real potential. But step one in that discussion is speaking the truth.
Step two is being honest about your proposals. Before we even knew who the shooter was, politicians and pundits were out claiming their favorite gun control policy would have prevented it. Even after we learn the facts of a shooting, many politicians still promote policies that would have had no affect on the shooting that supposedly necessitates their bill. And when you hold up countries that confiscated firearms as your model, don’t get defensive when we suggest your hidden goal is to overturn the Second Amendment.
Third, learn about the issue you have such strong feelings about. When someone reveals they believe semi-auto means machine gun, I immediately discount their opinion. Supporters of gun control often get some of the most basic facts about guns wrong. I understand being passionate about an issue when you see people dying. That’s reasonable and laudable. But turn some of that passion away from Facebook comments and into research.
Finally, approach the debate in good faith. If we disagree on something, consider that just maybe it is because I don’t think your plan will work, or I believe the negative affects of your policy outweigh the positives. Don’t jump to immediate accusations that I have blood on my hands or don’t care about dead kids. It might make you feel better to yell at people who support gun rights, but all it does is prove that you care more about feeling better yourself than actually solving any issues.
We can and should have a national conversation about school shootings. They are intolerable. But the debate must start with honesty, knowledge, and respect. It is the only way to move forward.