America’s Gun Epidemic and Its Epic Stalemate

Sophia Mirabal

Gun violence in the U.S. remains one of the country’s defining standstills. As it returns to the forefront of public consciousness, intermittently, the wave of fury and protest that follows seems only temporary, and fades before legitimate reform is made. This is repetitive, and while recent decades prove this issue is ever-growing, not only is there an absence of initiative, but a puzzled dispute of cause. 

When this argument does revive, it often follows one of two paths. One is a rallying call for cause, reform, and blame on lax administration and law. The other seems to direct attention away from the gun, and instead point fingers at America’s mental health crisis (or some other exploited sympathy). While this crisis also stands among our forefront (though lacking commitment from its manipulators), it does not erase necessary preventive measures. Its application is only a distraction. 

The real issue reaches beyond the weapon itself, to some of the country’s most cherished myths and legends, our persistent blind eye and pervasive pathologies. It seems only natural that a country built on a rallying cry, one that speaks to self-reliance and rugged individualism, may be reluctant to give up the gun. It feeds the culture and underscores a sense of homestead. It counters inefficiency, of course. Such claims have spiraled into a twisted association: gun rights with patriotism and reform with disaffection. 

This is where the problem is woven into political standpoints. It also explains why the U.S. reserves a record for gun violence incomparable with other industrialized nations. What other nation so often (and loudly) revisits its famous pursuit of liberty? Pro-gun advocates associate loss of arms with loss of liberation, when instead, gun control is a benefit, not a deficit. Instead of evaluating the true effects of policy change, they lose themselves in a spiral of outdated commitments. After all, when the national narrative is one of conquering and resolution, an antiquated attachment to the gun can have more pull than a rational cause against it.