The Cougar Chronicle

Editorial: Both Sides of the Gun Debate Are Right (And Both Are Wrong)

Jadan Smithers, Assistant News Editor

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The debate around our Second Amendment right is raging like wildfire since the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Unfortunately, the national conversation always seems to be framed on a binary scale; you’re either for or against guns.


It’s important to understand that gun violence in America is a complex subject. While the arguments in favor of gun control and those against both have validity, they’re also incomplete.


Those who believe banning firearms entirely, ignore that in our diverse country firearms are necessary for protection and survival in certain places and circumstances.


However, part of the problem is that it’s unreasonably easy to purchase a firearm. In some states, any adult can buy a firearm off the street with little regulation, creating a devastating recipe for disaster.


We need common sense gun control laws that keep firearms in the possession of responsible owners. We need stronger regulations on private party gun sellers and improved universal background checks on everyone purchasing a gun. We also must encourage our law enforcement agencies to do a better job of following up on red flags that mass shooters display before their crimes.


On the other hand, arguments against gun control laws often point out that mental illness is a prevalent factor in gun violence tragedies. This is certainly true, but it becomes problematic when mental illness is blamed exclusively. It should not be used solely as a deflection of gun control arguments. Instead of blaming symptoms we need to advocate for solutions.


We must improve mental healthcare, education and welfare systems that support families that need help. We have to do a better job of providing marginalized members of society with support that prevents them from slipping through the cracks of our communities.


While each side of the debate offers their diagnosis of the problem, each is too stubborn and polarized to see that it’s incomplete without the other. Simply stated, both sides of this debate are right. And both sides are also wrong to think they are the only side that is right.


The sooner we recognize this as a nation, the sooner we will be able to move together to end the heartache and agony that grips our country.


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