Olivia T. Michigan

The Importance of Knowledge

A letter that takes steps to understand the truth behind gun control, and why our nation must understand our freedoms.

It was 2012 in Manhattan, a man was pushed onto a subway track, and killed while attempting to climb out. It just so happened that a free-lance photographer was also planning to take a ride on the subway that night, and shot a photo of the man right before he was hit. The next morning the photograph appeared on the front- cover of the New York Post. This issue immediately attracted the attention of citizens and politicians across the nation; of course this incident called for reform, our nation would not stand for this amount of deaths caused by something that could be prevented! This was an emergency, for 55 people hd already lost their lives to the subways of New York that year! With every new death the epidemic got more and more out of hand, reiterating the need for immediate action. Politicians crafted blue prints of glass walls that would be constructed from ceiling to floor around the tracks to prevent accidents from costing lives. The politicians swooped in at just the right time, quelling the public's worry with their audacious plans that would confront the subway epidemic. Except there was no epidemic. Infact less people had been killed that year than the year before. The only reason that the subway deaths seemed to be a growing issue was because of the attention that the media directed towards it. This phenomena is very similar to what has been going on in the U.S. concerning gun control. The media pulls the public's attention to each gun violence crime, telling us that our nation is more violent than ever before and is in desperate need of more restrictions on guns to bring us out of this rut. If this sequence continues soon a ban on guns won’t be necessary; the second amendment rights that we take such pride in will have been stripped from us. Therefore it is indispensable that American’s not let go of the promise of our freedom to bear arms. With the push for gun control continuing to grow, we must take steps to understand the truth behind the control that so desperately wants to take hold of our freedoms.

One must first realize that at the root of the push for gun control is the media. On a Thursday in October, 2012, Marina Krim returned to her apartment in New York with her three year- old daughter to find her two other toddlers- LuLu and Leo stabbed to death in their bathtub. The Krim’s nanny Yoselyn Ortega was next to the bathtub, holding the knife the children had been killed with. This tragic crime quickly made it to all major sources of news across the nation. An article published in “The New York Times” explains that Ortega had been struggling for money and her health had been declining prior to the incident. The authors of the article admits “The authorities remain mystified over the motive”(Kleinfield and Ruderman). Paul Browne, the chief police spokesman tells the press that there was “no fighting with the mom, the family, kids,” and that “everyone is looking for a reason here. We’ve got nothing bad other than the fact that that she killed two children”(Kleinfield and Ruderman). The authors of this article focus on the fact that there are no clear motives behind the crime. Only once in the article does it mention the tool used for the murders; “a bloodied kitchen knife” (Kleinfield and Ruderman). When writing about the case Kleinfield and Ruderman rightfully assumed that their audience would be more concerned about the loss of two children's live and the motives that caused it more so than the weapon used to commit crime. Why is it then that when lives are lost because of a person with a gun, the media focuses on the weapon more than the motives of the person with the gun? If a knife can be used to take the lives of two children, why aren’t we moving to place restrictions on knives? Because in the cases like the one between the Krim’s and Ms. Ortega, the media tends to focus more on the reasons behind the crime rather than the “tool” used to commit the crime. But when it comes to cases involving gun violence, the tool used to commit the crime is the topic of the media's interest, and the motives of the criminal are discussed minimally if not at all. It is in this way that American’s views on crimes and weapons are altered by the media. A gun is not what kills a person. The person who pulls the trigger is what truly takes the life of a human, and they could do just that using an infinite amount of things. It is the motive that the person has that kills their victim, and this is what the media fails to communicate.

Secondly, one must understand that the why of the crime is more important than the how. If we want to make our nation a safer place, it is critical that we focus more on why people want to commit crimes rather than controlling the weapons they commit the crimes with. In 2012, James Holmes killed twelve people and injured seventy others when open firing at a midnight screening of “The Dark Night Rises” in Aurora, Colorado. When arrested Holmes told the police that he “was the joker,” and even dyed his hair orange to match the villain of the movie. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 took only 16 days to gross one billion dollars. Stephen King’s book “Rage” about a boy who kills his teacher and holds his class hostage was read by three young boys who were them accused of bringing a gun to school and taking the lives of their teachers and fellow classmates. With horrifying amounts of violence in the movies, books, and videogames in our culture, it is no wonder that we often hear about incidents with guns and other weapons. We live in a culture that glorifies and rewards violence. We need to focus more on how to prevent people from wanting to put others in danger, because if we succeed in this, there will be no need to restrict the weapons that people need to do this with.

Finally, we must understand that a nation with more gun control is a nation more susceptible to gun violence. This can be demonstrated in Chicago, the city with some of the tightest gun control laws in the United States. An article published by the Huffington Post titled “Gun Laws Blamed For Chicago’s Holiday weekend Shooting Surge” states that over labor day weekend in 2014 there were 21 shooting incidents on Sunday alone. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy believes “better laws are needed to reduce the proliferation of illegal guns in our communities.” He also observes that 3,300 illegal firearms had been seized by police in the year of 2014. Defenders of gun control laws such as Mccarthy can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that stricter gun control laws will reduce amounts of shooting and illegal firearms is contradicted by their statistics which prove that shootings and illegal firearms are still very numerous. If Chicago has some of the most precise gun laws, according to gun control advocates shouldn’t there be very few shootings a day and less than 3,300 illegal firearms seized a year? McCarthy states that Chicago needs stricter laws pertaining to gun control, but theoretically if they already have very tight laws and they still have twenty one shootings a day, wouldn’t even tighter laws make to problem worse? The gun violence in Chicago can be used as foreshadow of what could be to come if gun control advocates succeed. It is evident from Chicago’s example that more gun control laws do not mean safer communities.

In Conclusion, the nation you head will always be in conflict. This is what it means to have a democracy. There will never be a topic that all Americans agree on, and that is the beauty of our nation. We have the ability to debate, inquire, and vote, and freedom is something we often take for granted. But in this freedom lies the danger of corruption. It is the people's job to fight for our freedoms, and we can only do this if we have knowledge. James Madison once said “The Constitution preserves ‘the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms’” (Madison, The Federalist, No. 46). Like Madison said, American have a right that most other countries don’t. It is every American's job to educate themselves on what freedoms we fought for so that our knowledge may prevent any of our freedoms from being lost. And it is your job as president as the United States of America to trust the people with freedom.

Sources:

Article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/27/nyregion/motive-for-stabbings-a-mystery-as-a-portrait-of-a-troubled-nanny-emerges.html

Article from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/chicago-weekend-shootings-gun-laws_n_5564565.html

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