The Gun Control Debate

In the past 10 years, gun violence has been at an all time high and the gun laws stay the same.

Students+protesting+for+stricter+gun+laws+at+the+White+House+in+2018.

Lorie Shaull

Students protesting for stricter gun laws at the White House in 2018.

On average, 39,000 Americans die as a result of gun violence each year. When can we finally say it’s enough? Shooting after shooting, promise after promise, we still haven’t seen any improvement, which raises another question: are we just pawns in the game of politics? 

The gun control debate in Congress has been going on for decades, although what many people don’t know is that it’s not a debate about the second amendment. Rather, it’s about control, money, and politicization.

It’s a universally agreed-upon standard that people should take priority over politics. However, that standard is not being met by our current political atmosphere. According to Pew Research, 53% of Americans believe that there should be stricter gun laws in place, so why isn’t congress listening when we say that we want stricter gun laws?

Chloe Oppelt

A major inhibitor to gun reforms is the NRA (National Rifle Association). One of the things the NRA does is raise money to contribute to Congress members who fight against gun restrictions. According to The Center of Responsive Politics, in 2016 around 99% of the million dollars the NRA contributed to Congress candidates went to Republicans (the party that is usually against having gun restrictions). The only way politicians have a shot at their next campaign is if they have funding such as the money the NRA provides.

This is my basic opinion of the NRA, however, coming from a family who has never owned guns nor have I ever shot a gun, I decided my opinion is pretty biased. Because of this, I decided to talk to Liberty teacher Jeff Kelley, history, who has been a member of the NRA for about 25 years. 

Kelley’s reasoning for joining the NRA is because it appeals to hunters and firearm collectors, but most importantly, the organization is heavily involved with the promotion of the 2nd amendment. According to the NRA official website, “-the NRA fights back against politicians, judges, and bureaucrats who want to regulate, restrict, and ultimately, destroy your Second Amendment freedom.”

According to Kelley, one of the most common misconceptions about the NRA is that the organization is responsible for the recent shootings that had occurred over the past few years.

“[it’s like] connecting every automobile manufacturer to every motor vehicle death in the country- there is no connection,” said Kelley.

In addition, Kelley explains that the NRA is absolutely against people who use firearms irresponsibly.  

“The NRA is very much in favor of prosecuting people who break laws using firearms,” he furthered.

Kelley firmly believes that education and training about the use of firearms is the first step towards preventing gun violence. 

  “One thing [I think] that can help is if we had a nationwide firearms education program- much like we do for drivers ed,” Kelley explained.

Requirements and training for getting your driver’s license in the US vary by state. In Iowa, you must complete taking a 30-hour driver education course and have an additional 20 hours of practice beyond the course. 

One thing everyone can agree on is that gun violence is unfortunately inevitable. The issue isn’t just black and white anymore. Everyone can also agree that it’s essential for politicians to prioritize people over politics, but the million-dollar question is, how can we prioritize everyone?

Even though we disagree on the topic, having this discussion with Kelley broadened my view on this topic and made me see how others interpret this topic.