Thoughts and Prayers and Gun Legislation



“American Exceptionalism” in the gun control debate is tantamount to American naïveté and narcissism.

When most every other highly developed nation has considerable legislation to curb gun violence, yet our Congress cannot even agree to make AR-15 regulations match handgun regulations—allowing 18-year-olds to legally acquire semi-automatic rifles—there exists a deep, distressing divide within our country.

Mass shootings and heightened suicide rates are not the products of some mental illness crisis unique to the United States; it is a product of Americans’ excessive reliance upon hypothetical, anecdotal evidence and dogmatic resistance to learning from other countries’ successes.

The United States suffers from an exceptionally pervasive gun violence crisis in the same way that it oversees a uniquely ineffective and expensive system of medical care. Just as health care will not correct itself without intervention, neither will violent crime, and with so many other nations managing health care and gun control differently, the United States must recognize its dilemma and accept that other countries may carry solutions before it can advance.

To preface, I recognize that, yes, people kill people and criminals will always break laws, but when rates of gun violence are significantly lessened in countries where common-sense gun reform exists, I feel like our nation and our politicians have an obligation to protect their citizens by following suit, or at least lending an ear to measures put forth abroad.

Separately, I completely understand the argument that gun ownership serves as a safeguard against tyranny, but at the same time, I am unconvinced a public militia would fare well against today’s modern military. Rule of law is still the best measure against dictatorship and oppression.

I don’t need to go into great detail about the number of school shootings in recent months, the effectiveness of gun reform in other developed countries, or the pleas of students in Parkland, and Santa Fe, and Sandy Hook – that data and those speeches are readily available.

But what is so threatening about oversight tightening access to military-grade, high-volume weapons whose only purposes are to murder a great number of people in a short amount of time? The second amendment provides for “a well-regulated militia” – not a laissez-faire system of gun sales absent of background checks or waiting periods, solely to entertain “gun enthusiasts” outside of self-defense purposes.

I cannot offer much new to the debate over gun reform. I have only held a gun a few times in my life, and, quite frankly, I only know AR-15 stands for “Armalite Rifle” because I googled it. I fully recognize that I do not have the qualifications to craft gun reform legislation, nor do I have all the answers to the intricate details of the gun control debate.

But, I DO know that I attend a high school where, despite armed security, locked gates, and security cameras, students are still subject to higher rates of gun violence relative to other nations simply because they reside in the United States.

I’m not asking for a ban on guns or a forced confiscation of firearms. Nor am I intoning that opposing arguments to gun control are baseless. I am just asking for an end to the “American exceptionalism” that dictates that effective gun control measures elsewhere would be ineffective here. When homicides by firearms total over 29 per 1 million people in the United States, as compared to 1.4, 1.9, and 5.1 in Australia, Germany, and Canada respectively, perhaps there is something to be learned from other nations’ approaches.