Four Corners: Gun Control in America

Four Corners:
Here in the newsroom, we tend to get in our own heated conversations. Four Corners is a
transcription of a deadline day debate. Read on as four of our editors weigh in on a hot topic.

SM: My stance on gun control, currently, is that I don’t think that we should take everyone’s guns away. I think that’s ludicrous and never going to happen. But I do believe there should be stricter background checks, maybe a follow-up on those background checks as they receive their gun licenses. I think that the issue at hand here is not necessarily the gun themselves but the state of mind of the people that are using them.

RC: I guess as I think about this thing, I need to have this voice, but I am the forever-paranoid of dystopias. That is not to say that I’m crazy and that I think Obama is trying to take our rights away. On a practical standpoint, I one hundred percent acknowledge that background checks are necessary, but all of these things are, again, tools that, in the wrong hands, can be manipulated. Of course, guns can also be manipulated. So I am at a teetering point. On the one hand, I follow the age-old adage that the more guns you get rid of, the more that the only people who have them are the government and the criminals. On the other hand, it’s too easy to get guns. But also, it’s too easy to get guns illegally too.

BB: I agree with Sarah in that I don’t think we can take people’s guns away. I think that is a right that we need to have. I think that in the event  that something goes wrong, where somebody’s trying to harm your family, you should have the means to defend your loved ones. But at the same time, I don’t think any civilians have the need for an assault rifle. I think there are certain guns that we just don’t need to have, and that background checks are necessary. It comes to a point where you have to decide what you value more: complete freedom or senseless deaths happening regularly at the hands of these guns.

DVN: I’m of the perspective that this idea of gun control plays a lot into an American sort of aggression when it comes to the glorification of violence, or the fact that violence can be fun. There is still the collector market too that I think is something to consider. But I think it comes down to a point that Americans, I feel, tend to think that guns are fun, and I don’t think guns being fun should really be as big of a factor as it is because people collect guns for fun, they shoot guns for fun, they play games with guns and watch movies with guns for fun. And while that is acceptable, and I’m not judging, but it carries out into different forms of expression that I don’t certainly approve of.

BB: I think the whole world has a gun culture, and I think kids all grew up with BB guns or paintball guns. Our upbringing, the cartoons that we watch and the movies that we watch, they promote guns, but I don’t think they promote murder. So there’s a disconnect, because you can promote guns in the cartoons, but it doesn’t mean you promote murder. The murder comes from the mind of the person who has the gun, and I think that’s where the American culture plays a role, because there’s all these debates about the fact that other countries don’t have gun laws as restrictive as us, and they don’t have the mass killings or the school shootings that we have. So why does our country have so many?

RC: A nice proposal to solve things would be to require strict gun classes. To get a driver’s license, you have to take all these courses, and you can buy any car you want. But some cars you have to do extra classes, like for motorcycles, and it could be the same for guns.

SM: If you look at it bureaucratically, it’s as simple as asking, why does it take so long to get a driver’s license, yet so easy to get guns? I think we need to really assess the necessity and the overuse of guns. Because to some extent, yeah, people have the right to defend themselves, and if people feel they need guns for that, then that’s completely understandable. But then there’s this boundary that we are crossing, where we ask ourselves if this is really necessary. Is it really that necessary to have that many guns to defend yourself? Do you really need that particular assault rifle to defend yourself? And why do you, as a person, need that specific gun?

RC: California actually used to offer these civilian carbine classes, and I would be very interested to look and see if anyone who ever took one of those classes ever had any accident, or mishaps, or even intended shootings.

DVN: On the subject of classes and education on firearms, while they are important, I have to challenge on how effective they can be without addressing the culture. You might have a country like Switzerland with a culture and a system where every individual has to spend time in the army, and every individual has a gun in his or her home. But the same argument that these classes will prevent you from using a gun, I don’t know if that is valid or not.

BB: At the same time, the U.S. has to try out some solution. We’re not going to know what works until we try it. It’s like what Sarah was talking about — we need a stricter bureaucratic process. I mean, the whole stance of the NRA is the protection angle, like are you not going to allow me to protect myself when someone is trying to do harm unto me or my family. But it comes a point to where people use the concept of a “free country” too liberally. It means too much, and there comes a point when we have to check that. I think that the classes will help, but at the end of the day, the gun issue comes down to who we are as a country. It’s also something that we must address, because we focus on work more than any other country. We focus on jobs and work, and whether you like it or not, it decreases the happiness of people. These killings are not spontaneous, something is causing them.

RC: People who are a danger to themselves and to others, then they should be helped. It’s the mental health system, and nobody is talking about it. Even us, it took us so long to get to it. What really needs to be addressed is that mental health is the root cause of problems, excluding crimes of passion. The issue with crimes of passion is that the gun is not necessary. But if you’re so angry that you’re going to kill someone … you’ll find a way to kill them aside from a gun. As for these mass shootings and things like that, these are definitely mental health issues.

SM: But in fighting this issue of guns and violence in America, we need to really think critically about it. There is a difference between being a reactionary and being a critical thinker. Because if we were being reactionary, then we would say just simply take all the guns away. But if we try to solve this issue in a long-term perspective, then we must access what is making this violence happen in terms of the usage of guns.

RC: For me, I would like to address again that we should not take drastic measures. I think it’s really important to inject a whole new variable into this to, as a whole culture, not look at things causally … anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of science will tell you that it is so easy to mistake correlation for causation. And, from my perspective, I think there should be more classes for gun-ownership the way it is for drivers.

BB: In my opinion, we mentioned causality, but everything comes down to mental health. You can take away all the guns, but people will still kill each other. The only way you can fix this is to figure out what is wrong and what is making people snap.

DVN: I’m not against guns, but I feel that guns are contributing to the problem in some way. They might not be causing it, but they are a factor involved in it. However, I do feel that they are the branches, not the roots, and attacking the branches doesn’t do much for you.

Sarah S. Menendez is a second-year literary journalism and political science double major. She can be reached at smenende@uci.edu.
Ryan M. Cady is a third-year psychology and social behavior and English. He can be reached at rcady@uci.edu.
Belester Benitez is a fourth-year English major. He can be reached at bbenitez@uci.edu.
Dat-Vinh Nguyen is a fifth-year criminology, law and society and English double major. He can be reached at datvinhn@uci.edu.