Mass shooting prompts unproductive debate cycle

Partisan ownership of gun control beliefs prevent compromise


William Phelan

Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, killing 17 people on Feb. 14.

In the wake of this event, many experts have weighed in on the issue of gun violence and how to prevent such tragedies.

The call for a ban on public sale of specific assault-style rifles, specifically the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, is an important piece of this current debate.

According to USA Today, there are more than 8 million AR-15 rifles owned by U.S. citizens today.

The AR-15 has been involved in 17 of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States during the past 20 years, including the Newtown massacre in 2012, the Orlando nightclub attack in 2016 and the Las Vegas shooting this past year.

There remains a large and vocal group of gun control activists vying for an outright ban of civilian gun ownership and even a reduction of guns in the hands of law enforcement agents.

According to Gallup, 30 percent of Americans would support legislation that restricted guns to this extent.

Conversely, many on the political right are unwilling to consider the concept of restricting access to firearms.

Instead, a popular reaction to mass shootings, such as the one in Parkland, is to assert the benefits of increasing the concentrations of guns in the population.

Many conservatives, including President Trump, suggested placing firearms in the hands of teachers as a method of reducing occurrences of school shootings because of the most recent school shooting.  

The debate persists, with both sides presenting such deeply contrasting solutions to gun violence in the United States that compromise seems impossible.  

As long as the left continues its fight against the fundamental Second Amendment rights, and the right refuses to consider that there is no use for assault style rifles in American society today, bipartisan collaboration on gun violence is impossible.

To truly make the United States a safer place in regards to gun violence, politicians must set aside their partisan biases and evaluate the way in which certain policies would most positively impact the American people.

Lawmakers need to understand they cannot stand their ground, and make compromise by restricting the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles and bump stock devices without attempting to pass a full-on ban of firearms in this country.