Now that I have your attention–let me explain.
I abhor violence. I believe that gun ownership must be re-organized, effectively regulated, and properly monitored. I am completely in favor of a ban on the manufacture and distribution of assault and assault-style weapons to anyone outside of the military or police. I see no reason why civilians need access to battlefield weaponry. These are guns designed purely to kill—to kill many, to kill rapidly, and to kill without fail. It is hard to miss with a semi- or fully automatic weapon.
Most of all, I continue to be amazed by the hard-hearted, sociopathic responses of the NRA to the spate of mass murders committed by gun-wielding crazies.
They are correct about one thing, though. Now is not the time to talk about the issue of guns and gun control. Now is the time to ACT.
As I have noted in several previous posts—language matters. The words one uses and the ways in which one speaks about a topic is important. It can make the difference between successful and effective communication and debate. It can encourage some people to enter the conversation. It can help smooth the way to remediation and resolution.
Gun control seems to be a banner word for the NRA and their political supporters. Taking a stand against gun control is the rallying point and battle cry. So, what is there to be gained by switching up to different language that is actually more accurate, and surely more prudent?
I am not alone in recognizing that the term gun control (1) is the sole term used by the NRA and its proponents in any message about managing guns, (2) is not an exact, clear or comprehensive definition of what the rest of us desire, (3) becomes a giant red flag in what little conversation the NRA is willing to engage, and (4) throws any discussion back onto their “home turf” in that they have dominated and hope to continue to rule any dispute titled GUN CONTROL.
I did not dream up the following phrases, but I immediately understand the value of carefully- chosen language and well-crafted messages. Instead of the well-worn and NRA-owned phrase “gun control,” let’s end the use of that term on our side and use any or all of the following phrases:
COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY
REASONABLE GUN LEGISLATION
GUN LEGISLATION REFORM
Yes, I want better mental health treatment, including enhancements in funding, access, identification, treatment, and follow-up. Yes, I agree that there are films (I have only seen a few) and video games (none of which I have ever seen for myself) in which the level of gratuitous violence is extreme and possibly provocative. Yes, I understand the age-old NRA-invoked slogan “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
However, with the more than 30,000 gun-related deaths in America in just the past year (2012) and the projection that gun deaths in this country may exceed auto fatalities, by as early as 2015, as the leading cause of nonmedical deaths, it seems clear to me that we need to do something real, significant and impactful to stem this menace.
Check out It’s time for common-sense gun controls , a guest op-ed piece from yesterday’s Seattle Times, for the well-written, sincere views of a young man who has already been moved to action. Now, if we could just get him to stop using that phrase gun control.
If you have the time and the inclination, follow up on the link to the NYT article Alex Algard cites in which the writer claims that even public health scientists have been persuaded to cut back on gun violence research. Now that is something scary, IMHO. The article was written in January 2011, but is timely and important.