Your gun argument is weak

A received letter to the editor by Mr. Dale Satre alleged that the idea that we have to ‘do something’ about gun violence is misguided and that high school students should not drive the debate on gun control.

The idea that these students shouldn’t be driving policy is confusing; these students are the survivors of a horrific attack that is symptomatic of our archaic and ineffective gun laws. They should be heard as they have unique, firsthand experience on the issue. Beyond that, their comments on the issue have been composed, well reasoned and delivered with a degree of grace that is shocking given the recent trauma they have endured. Students like Emma Gonzalez have given riveting, well-crafted speeches that have reinvigorated discussions about guns by giving a voice to the victims. Even if, as Satre says, young people shouldn’t be driving the discussion, the fact that they are disproportionality the targets of such shootings should be a concern.

Even discounting the student’s ability to affect democracy indirectly, many of them already are of voting age. Gonzalez, along with many of her contemporaries, are already adults. Even those that are not able to vote yet soon will be. These people are the future of our democracy.

Satre goes on to suggest that restricting assault weapons will “punish legal gun owners even more than they currently are,” to which I say, how are they being punished right now? Gun owners have the NRA whose lobbying is so far-reaching and has such political power that any gun control legislation at all is almost guaranteed to be choked out no matter how reasonable it is. Characterizing gun owners as victims is outlandish.

The idea of even raising the age of ownership is questioned by Satre, who suggests that raising gun ownership age is like raising the age to own a smartphone or the voting age, even bringing up that car accidents kill more than guns. He conveniently ignores that while cars kill more people a year and smart phones can occasionally cause distractions, they are necessary in the modern day. 24 hour accessibility is expected by many employers and vehicles are almost a requirement for most people, whereas very few need a gun every day. The truth is that guns serve little to no utility in the modern day beyond sportsmanship and hunting. Any benefit taken from home defense is mitigated by the danger easy access to guns causes.

Satre suggests that there is little correlation between violence and gun control, conveniently ignoring responses to gun violence by countries like Australia. Australia’s response after a mass shooting was to pass dramatic gun legislation; as a result Australia’s gun violence rate is .16 murders per 100,000 while the U.S. gun violence rate is 3.5 per 100,000. Implementing gun control resulted in dramatically reduced gun violence. Reports that Australia had increased violence rates post gun control have been described by Snopes as “false.”

A suggestion made by Satre that those who commit these crimes ‘slip through the cracks’ and that before we implement new laws we should enforce the ones we already have. This argument ceases to hold water when one realizes that the majority of recent mass shooters had legally obtained weapons.

Finally, he makes the argument that gun legislation is a “slippery slope” that will cause government expansion and an erosion of rights. This is downright insulting to the intelligence of everyone involved in the gun control debate. The idea of a slippery slope is not meant to promote conversation; rather it ends any and all dialogue without providing evidence. It would be just as valid to say that rolling back regulations would lead to an anarchistic society. The slippery slope fallacy is the last bastion of the defenders of the status quo who don’t have anything important to say.

The truth is that other countries have implemented legislation to dramatically curb gun violence by refusing to even consider this, we are cultivating a culture where violence is not only perpetual, but the systems that support it are unassailable.