Guns, Guns and More Guns

Nicholas Johnson

I guess I should talk about guns, though, if I’m being honest, I don’t want to, and I know others will be covering guns in some capacity later in this issue. Regardless, I want to give my opinion, if I  have one, which I may find in the course of writing this essay that I do not. 

My senior year of high school, I took a college writing course, and one of the required essays was an opinion piece about a relevant political issue. We partnered up for this assignment, with either another student taking the pro side of the argument, if we were the con, and vice versa. I chose gun control. I was pro. The essay was paired with a debate component, wherein we would present upon and argue our chosen side in front of the class, our opponent being whoever had written the opposing side.

I had never shot a gun, and was worried about this. The young woman I was arguing against had definitely shot a gun. She was one of those horse girls, if that paints a prettier picture of the whole thing. I asked my cousin if I could shoot guns with him, so that the horse girl would not be able to use my lack of experience against me. My cousin showed me his impressive gun safe. We shot a revolver, a .22, and a shotgun. While shooting, my other cousin, the first’s brother, showed up. He’s a cop, and so let me shoot his pistol and his AR- 15. It was loud, and though I’d never shot a gun before, I was stunned at how easy it was to operate the gun. 

That isn’t entirely true. I didn’t shoot the AR-15. That’s a lie I tell people to make this a better story. But I’m pretty sure that’s how it would’ve gone, had I actually shot the AR- 15, which I didn’t. 

My essay was much better than that of the young woman I was debating against. I was, and likely remain, a better writer than her. I was more worried about the debate. I’m terrible at debating, and I also hate it. I also don’t think debate is particularly useful — winning an argument doesn’t make a person right, though it may make a person’s position worth considering, but I’m not even sure about that. But I won the debate anyway, and by a pretty significant margin, so I didn’t have any reason to worry. 

Which is all a roundabout way of saying I’m not sure what the hell to do about guns.  If I could press a button that would make all guns disappear, I think I’d press that button. We could go back to fighting wars with swords, which always seemed more honest, to me. I’m sorry to make a stupid joke when I should be writing about this serious thing, but I really don’t know how to deal with. Seventeen people are dead. Seventeen more people. I think all you can do is cry. I know it’s trite, but would not doing something, anything, be worth it if you saved just one of those kids? Throw all the arguments you want at me, and you’ll probably whoop me in a debate, or whatever, but it’s pretty damn obvious that gun control would do something. So yeah. I’m pro gun control, though I don’t really know what that means, or what steps should be taken. Sorry.

After having written 500 some odd words of superfluous garbage, I suppose I should get to my real point here. Republicans, even if they’re wrong about gun control, which they probably are, for the most part, are not evil. They absolutely get money from the NRA, which has definitely been a big reason why no meaningful gun control legislation has passed, but I don’t think it’s exactly fair to characterize all that NRA money as something akin to a bribe. The reason the NRA exists is because a lot of people really like guns, or like the idea of guns and what they represent, freedom-wise, and they give money to like-minded politicians. Now, it would be silly of me to suggest that no politician is swayed in their convictions by money. But I think there is always, at the core of all pro-gun arguments, a genuine belief in the Second Amendment. 

I think that these folks, in a lot of ways, are wrong, and that through their refusing to make any changes to our nation’s gun laws, people have died unnecessarily. But we really cannot think they are evil or callous money-grubbers. They do believe what they’re saying. And that makes this even harder.