Generation Z’s guide to talking about gun control

Rebecca Lee

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Gun control is one of the most, if not the most, dividing issue in the contemporary United States.

There are those who believe that the ownership and use of all guns is a constitutional right, while there are others who believe that the federal government should ban access to all guns by everyone everywhere, and there are a whole lot of people in between.

All of us, however, have in common the belief that we are right.

I’ve found that it’s especially difficult to engage in calm and reasonable discourse about gun control.

For many of us, this matter goes far beyond policy. For many of us, our stances on gun control are rooted in our upbringing, our core values, and what we believe to be our rights as United States citizens.

So, how does one go about having an unemotional and thoughtful conversation about gun control, when the issue feels like anything but?


Tip one to engage in productive civil discourse about gun violence in the United States: do your research. Too many of us rely on the claims that our parents spout and the random articles that our Facebook feeds generate. Despite what our president says, news sources are crucial to our awareness and activism as Americans.

Let me revise that–credible news sources are crucial to our awareness and activism as Americans. Although you are absolutely entitled to subscribe to Breitbart, recognize that most people will neither take you nor your argument seriously if that is the only source you can cite.

Tip two: ad hominem attacks are fallacious and ineffective. When you assume that all members of the NRA are white, racist, and uneducated, you demonstrate a complete disrespect for others’ views. When you accuse a gun-rights supporter of not caring about the children killed by mass shooters, you suggest that he or she is an evil person simply because he or she disagrees with you.

When you make ad hominem attacks against a person with whom you disagree, you ruin the possibility of ever convincing that person of your position.

Tip three: don’t use poverty, racial tensions, and violence to conveniently shut down opposing arguments. Too many Americans seem to only care about gang violence in Chicago when it serves as a political talking point. Politicians of all parties grossly exploit public grief after mass shootings to push agendas.

It feels as though many Americans have become desensitized to the destruction and death caused by gun violence. In fact, it feels as though the destruction and death caused by gun violence have become one big political debate.

Gun control is literally a matter of life or death. As of Dec. 11, 14,605 Americans have died gun-related deaths in 2017. There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings in the United States since Sandy Hook.

I think all of us, no matter where we stand on gun control, can agree that this current state of affairs is unacceptable. We can all agree that we need to do better. I think this is where it starts.

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