It is a dubious enterprise to write about gun control right now.
Our contemporary debate surrounding this issue is heated, emotional, and often fueled by fearful rhetoric. In cultural debates like this, one more blog post about gun control can sound like a bee buzzing in a roaring sea of hysteria.
Nevertheless, I have decided to write this post for three main reasons.
Why Another Gun Control Post?
First, I am deeply concerned about gun violence in schools. I was a middle and high school teacher for sixteen years, and I was a principal for three of those years. When I went back to graduate school, I wrote my dissertation on education and justice.
I believe in education, and I think the health of our nation depends largely on the health of our educational systems. Given the way gun violence has affected schools so profoundly in the last few decades, I am deeply concerned about it.
I am especially concerned when people adopt a hopeless or fatalistic view of our ability to prevent gun violence. When we do this, we give up on providing a safe and nurturing education for our students. And I believe this is a profound mistake that undermines the integrity and health of our nation.
Secondly, a few years ago, I wrote a book called Everyday Debate that teaches middle and high school students the art of discussion and debate. Gun control was one of the example issues I explored in the book, and I examined good and and poor arguments on both sides of this debate. It troubles me how often poor arguments are used in contemporary gun control discussions, so I want to address some of those arguments in this post.
Lastly, I want to write about this issue because I have spent roughly half of my life in conservative circles and half of my life in liberal circles. I deeply respect people on both ends of the political spectrum. One of the things that saddens me is how difficult it often is for conservatives and liberals to speak to each other in a civil and productive way.
It is absolutely possible for us to have a civil and productive conversation on this issue. And one of the best ways to do it is stop relying on weak and ineffective arguments, which I will discuss in this post.
I should mention that I was raised in a Quaker household with strong pacifist leanings. And I was not around guns at all growing up. Nevertheless, I now have several family members who are hunters and gun owners. This has increased my awareness of the ways in which responsible gun owners behave.
In addition, I live in a neighborhood that, unfortunately, has a fair share of gun violence in it. I have had neighbors who were victims and perpetrators of gun violence. These experiences have definitely given me a more nuanced view of guns.
The Organization of this Post
In this post, I first will examine some gun arguments that I believe are ineffective. I will then suggest several things we might do to move forward in the gun control debate.