Shots Fired

An examination of our ability to communicate


The Second Amendment, written verbatim in a Government textbook. People use these lines as a way to avoid hard discussions about things that they enjoy, and that’s a problem (photo credit T. Dent).

Taylor Dent, Stampede Editor in Chief

As of today, we are less than 150 days into 2021, and as of April 9 the U.S. as a whole has recorded over 130 mass shootings. April 9 was day 98 day of 2021, which means that we have averaged more than one mass shooting a day. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2,217 people have died from gun violence and 553 have suffered injuries as of April 14.

Firearms have always been a controversial issue in this country; at least, they have been for as long as I can remember. When I was in middle school, or even as a freshman, I would turn on the news every night, and I would always hear the same thing: “shooting at x street and x street, more at 6 p.m.” Or “fatal shooting outside grocery store, stay tuned.” I would watch these stories, sitting there on my couch in the living room, and wonder why people didn’t just take away the guns. People would tell me that I was too young to understand, that I would get it when I was older.

Dear people: I’m older now, and I’m no closer to ‘getting it’ than I was when I was 12. Sure, now I understand that it’s a ‘Constitutional right’ to own a weapon. I get that, and I’m not necessarily disputing it.

What I am disputing are the people who use that right as a shield to avoid any sort of discussion about accountability. It’s just like people who will use First Amendment rights to justify saying terrible things… yes, technically as U.S. citizens we can say whatever we want, but we also need to remember that something being legal does not mean there are zero repercussions. People can go on social media and angrily rant about any subject they like, but they have to be prepared to acknowledge the fact that it may cost them future job opportunities, or that friends may heavily disagree with what is being said and cut off contact.

It is the same with guns. Remember those statistics I mentioned earlier? 2,217 people have died because of firearms. Assuming all those firearms were legally owned, and the people who had them purchased them legally and had proper documentation and did everything right; even assuming all of that is true, 2,217 still lost their lives as a result. And at that point, debating legalities doesn’t seem like a good argument. 

But let’s talk more about the amendments for a second. The Founding Fathers, while they may seem like giants, immortalized on our money and in huge monuments in D.C., were still people. They were trying to build a country from scratch, and sometimes they got some things wrong. That’s why there was a revision process in the first place. The Constitution has been amended 27 different times, all because there were things they forgot to put in, or because the times changed and we realized that we were facing problems they never considered.

So yes, it is legal. But something being legal does not necessarily make it a good thing. Remember, there was a time in this country when slavery was legal, when it was written in the Constitution that those who were enslaved could only be counted as three-fifths of a person. 

I have what are considered to be very ‘radical’ opinions about gun control and legislation. I have learned, over the course of my life, that I need to greatly dilute my opinions if I want to talk about anything vaguely controversial with my peers. When writing this piece, one of the people I had read it told me that I needed to more firmly state what my opinion is. But I cannot. I cannot because my opinion goes ever-so-slightly against the Second Amendment, so the instant I shared it people would throw up their “Right to bear arms” shield and wouldn’t have a conversation. And that is the problem.

I wish that I could write a true opinion piece about gun control, I really do. But if I were to do that, the majority of the readers here would exit the page before they got past the first paragraph.

So here is what I will leave anyone still reading this with: be open to discussion. Acknowledge that legality is not always the same as common sense. Be willing to have an honest conversation without hiding behind the words of an amendment written over 200 years ago.