The Current Gun Debate: 'Everyone Looks At It From Their Own Perspective'

Apr 19, 2017

 

Credit Paulo Valdivieso via flickr under Creative Commons

There’s been a lot of talk about gun control already, and it seems agreement there is pretty far off. But maybe there are ways to make guns safer, without restricting them.

Any consensus starts with talking, with a conversation. That’s a hard thing to do when it comes to guns, according to Dr. Harry Wilson. He’s the author of Guns, Gun Control and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Firearms. Wilson talked with WSKG's Crystal Sarakas.

Interview Highlights: 

On the polarization around guns 

Harry Wilson: What we see is people almost essentially living in different worlds. That people living in one world view firearms in one perspective, and in the other world, on the other side, view firearms in a completely different way. 

One side sees them essentially as weapons of destruction, and the other side essentially sees them as tools and, in some cases, as forms of recreation.

On mass shootings  

HW: Mass shootings are really very difficult to prevent. People don't like to talk about that and people don't like to admit it, but they're very difficult to prevent. And what that means is, if you don't know who, and you don't know how, and you don't know when, how do you try to prevent that from happening? 

By most estimates today, even if one wanted to restrict AR-style rifles - which is of questionable value, I would argue - but even if one wanted to do that, most estimates are that there are between seven and ten million of those out there now, maybe even more than that. How do you begin to get those back? You can't. 

When we've enacted laws such as this, they've all been prospective, they've all been going out into the future and restricting future sales, but that means all these weapons are out there, and essentially are already available.

On talking to each other 

HW: I think what we need to try to do, and it's very difficult, but we need to try to find some common language and we need to try to find a way of putting ourselves in the position of the other person. For example, in the state of New York, guns are seen very differently and support for guns control and views of firearms are viewed very different in New York City than they are in upstate New York. And that's for very obvious reasons, because guns mean very different things in New York City than they do in upstate New York.

People need to sort of understand that, but people need to understand also that there are folks that live in other areas. What we encounter more often than not, is that everyone looks at it from their own perspective, and no one ever looks at it from the other person's perspective, and says, 'oh, someone might be able to look at these things in a different way than I do.'

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