Opinion: America’s relationship with guns: Why are people so afraid of 2nd Amendment restrictions?



Thisanjali Gangoda

For fear of being ridiculed, I’ve held back. I’ve never been explicit about my opinions of gun laws in America, and frankly, it’s because the entire subject is infuriating.

The media, politicians and public overlook the core issues. It’s also a complex issue involving passion, history and culture. We are fixated on the violence that people create with guns, yet we continue to have such open gun laws that allow nearly everyone in town to own one (or more).

When America debates about gun laws, the idea of personal responsibility is disregarded, and instead we blame political rhetoric and the current state of our country as the cause. For example, as the tragic shooting in Arizona unfolded nearly two weeks ago, every news channel and government official scrambled to make statements about the need for toning down aggressive political speeches. It’s true that many politicians use extremist language and that most Americans are financially strapped, but is that the real reason why this unfortunate event occurred? There was mention of the perpetrator having psychological disorders, which could have added to his sadistic behavior, but what about the bigger picture?

We may never know why Jared L. Loughner shot 17 individuals at a political rally. But we do know by what means he destroyed the lives of the victims, their families and their communities. Therefore, it seems obvious that our country should push for more restrictive gun bans, especially after countless violent occurrences.

This is not the case. Americans love to cling to their history and pride. We would not be the country that we are today without an established military and our gun-toting identities. We accept structural violence as being the American way, and we only condemn it after mass shootings and “unforeseen” acts of carnage.

Rarely do we challenge our love of guns on the basis that they are too accessible and that there are too-limited government mandates on gun education and safety. Why is it a terrible idea to have more extensive gun laws? Does it impede on our civil liberties and the second amendment, or does it put a dent in the wallets of gun lobbyist profiteers?

In an article by the BBC, American history professor Saul Cornell of Fordham University in New York, said, “The threat of French, Spanish and Indian hostility on the frontier meant that from the very beginning America was a society that relied very heavily on a population that is armed.”

The notion that we must use guns with vigilance against possible threats is a cultural norm that we accept day to day, with little concern for fostering nurturing, productive and accepting communities devoid of numerous guns.

I believe that people do have the right to own a gun for reasons such as hunting or self-protection, but I also think that as a society we should challenge ourselves, and our government, to ask a simple question: What are we really afraid of?

Before another tragedy occurs, we should encourage gun education and safety for the gun owners of America.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major, and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].