The horror that took place in Aurora, Colo., has once again brought calls for tougher gun control legislation in order to prevent future massacres. At the same time, the gun lobby is warning not to rush to take away our rights to own and use guns. Gun “control,” after all, flies in the face of the American principle of personal liberty. So the argument rages on, each side using the term “gun control” but talking about fundamentally different things: saving lives vs. personal liberty.
Instead of gun control, what if we talk about what we really want: to drastically reduce the number of deaths by guns? Rather than focusing just on controlling people’s ability to acquire and use guns, which tramples on an important value for many, let’s shift the conversation to how we can prevent more people from being killed by guns. That conversation can include many different ideas. It will probably include finding ways to limit some guns in certain circumstances, and it might not. But it should be part of a broader look at how we can reduce gun deaths.
As long as we keep arguing with each other about controlling gun rights, little will change. People will continue to die needlessly from bullets fired by guns in the wrong hands. And our country will be the worse off for it. We need a different conversation.