Wanted: Civility not cynicism

NPR
By Sebastian Moronta, SGA Correspondent

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands gathered in cities across the country for pro-gun control marches where activists, public figures, and most notably students from the shooting in Parkland spoke about a host of topics surrounding guns. The Parkland students have been largely responsible for organizing these marches, and they’ve also presumably had help from liberal organizers.

That’s not a criticism, just an observation given in all the coverage from the marches it’s hard to spot very many anti-gun control advocates.

If any were in attendance, surely, they were out-numbered. The Parkland students have stayed firmly in the public eye since the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, with some of them even making onto the cover of Time magazine with the word “Enough” boldly written across them.

Not all the students who’ve garnered media attention made it onto the cover, just the ones who are pro-gun control. I agree with most of the policies they’re espousing. For example, I support raising the legal age to purchase any firearm to 21, a ban on high capacity magazines, and definitely a ban on bump stocks and similar pieces of hardware.

An assault weapons ban would require a little more discussion surrounding specifics and implementation before I give that a thumbs-up but for now, I think we on the left of this issue need to talk seriously about these kids for a minute. The right certainly is, and frankly, we should too.

I’m glad these kids are showing strength in the face of tragedy. The public eye is a punishing one, and those who willingly put themselves into this debate have some serious brass. They say it’s because they’re determined to create change, move the needle forward on this debate, and if that’s true, I am supremely concerned with how they’re doing it.

Trust me, I’m no fan of the NRA. Their tactics are rife with fearmongering, and their influence over politicians like Marco Rubio is shameful. I do not, however, believe that the NRA are directly advocating for the murder of children, or are somehow okay with the murder of children, nor do I believe the same of politicians. I say that because the Parkland students don’t agree with me, and feel comfortable saying so on TV.

David Hogg in particular has a pretty colorful vocabulary for a high school student, saying “they could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action because they all still see those dollar signs.” Similar comments were plastered over signs at the marches and in online discourse on the issue.

This kind of speech is wrong, and irresponsible.

I know these kids are young, I’m not much older than they are, but I’ve got a few years of unprofessional debate experience under my belt and I know enough to know that attributing these malevolent motives to your opponent is the fastest way to lose.

This goes for everyone on the left. Stop assuming those who support the Second Amendment or the NRA are murderers and accomplices. You’re antagonizing the right, and doing that will only do more to entrench the debate where it is, and ensure that they won’t compromise when you want to reform gun policy.

These kids have captured the public eye. They have the opportunity to move the needle, to facilitate a nationwide discussion, and frame it any way they want to. Framing it as “us vs. them” is the same method the right uses to conjure xenophobia and drum up support for anti-immigrant legislation. If we claim to be better, we need to act like it.

Photo Courtesy: NPR

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