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When innocent people are killed in a burst of gun violence, gun control rhetoric can never be far behind. It is only natural then, that the latest mass shooting in America’s sordid history — the Sandy Hook massacre — has prompted some of the most heated debate over gun legislation in recent memory. Much of the talk about new legislation has centered on banning assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips such as “banana clips” and expanding background checks for would-be gun owners. In other words, the people controlling the debate are those who want to restrict access to guns and ammunition.

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, has come under fire — no pun intended — for suggesting that the most effective deterrent to future school shootings would be legislation requiring armed guards in every school. His critics say he is out of touch and borderline delusional. Surely, so their argument goes, the answer to gun violence cannot be more guns. While I agree with his critics in part, I don’t think he should be criticized for suggesting we put more guns in schools.

No, the problem with Mr. LaPierre’s proposal is that it does not go far enough. Of course we should have people with guns in every school. But what about our workplaces? Our shopping malls? Our places of worship? The only way to ensure that every American citizen is safe from the very real threat of gun violence is to make it mandatory for every American citizen of legal age to own, and carry with them at all times, a firearm.

I recognize my proposal is unorthodox, but consider the state of the country today. It is a fact that roughly 10,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence. It is a fact that you are 40 times more likely to be killed by gun violence in the United States than in the United Kingdom. It is a fact that the United States has the highest rate of guns per 100 persons of any country in the world.

There are two ways to go about remedying the first two problems. The first is “gun-grabbing,” which includes the aforementioned proposed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and more draconian measures which seek to restrict gun ownership and reduce the danger posed by existing guns. This ban would be ineffectual at best, and at worst, reminiscent of a certain Depression-era German chancellor who restricted gun ownership early on in his career — a man whom I’ll refrain from naming.

The second direction is to protect people from guns, and the people who own them, already out there. In other words, this idea takes the third fact stated above into consideration. The beauty in a law that increases, rather than decreases, gun ownership, lies in its simplicity. We often talk about “leveling the playing field.” What better way to level the playing field of daily life in America than to guarantee every citizen the same power of life and death? Even if someone were to attempt another massacre, he’d be neutralized quickly by responsible, trigger-ready citizens before it even became a news event. Or — on the more fantastical side of things — as Gene Weingarten postulated this month in the Washington Post, “With the possibility that everyone, everywhere, is packing, no one will risk being impolite.”

Imagine an America where you can escort your child across the street with a .357 Magnum at your side, say “good morning” to the M-16-wielding crossing guard and drop your child off at the bus stop where he’ll be whisked away to school. Guards with semi-automatic rifles will escort him to class and patrol the hallways for trouble as you go about your daily business, secure in the knowledge that your little angel is safe and sound and help is only a trigger-pull away. It would be a safer, more peaceful and more secure America.

Of course, there are other measures we could take. We could make sure that the mentally ill in our country are properly cared for and never feel that violence is their only way out of the darkness. We, as consumers, could put pressure on news outlets to show the victims of gun violence, rather than plastering the shooters’ faces on our screens and newspapers at every opportunity as if they were deranged folk heroes.

We could each make it our personal responsibility to reject the glorification of violence and bloodshed and move towards a more compassionate, empathetic society. These aren’t quick fixes — they’re difficult, unsexy and require real effort on all our parts. Nevertheless, if we want to effect real change in our society to put this awful chapter of our history behind us, this kind of individual effort is what is necessary.

But let’s be realistic here.

 

Adam Asher ‘15 is concentrating in Classics and can be followed on Twitter (@asheradams).

The views expressed in this opinions piece are satirical and should not be taken seriously.



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