Memorials Don’t Illustrate Nuance Of Gun Debate

There are two primary ways people reach their political beliefs. One is based on reasoning and the other is based on emotion. Neither one will automatically lead anyone to a given conclusion on any given topic–even reasoning can only do so much since “garbage in, garbage out” applies as much to the human mind as to a computer and an emotional response to something may lead them away from the typical emotion-driven opinion.

But on the gun debate, for the most part, the emotion-driven response is to favor gun control. Especially considering how the anti-gun side routinely uses emotion to try to convince people to side with them.

And how do they do that? Well, among other things, they do things like this:

The Gun Violence Memorial Project is an ever-changing collection of quiet and beloved items.
Stuffed animals. Action figures.
Baseball cards. Jerseys.
Family photos. Jewelry.
Letters never sent.
The items take on a sacredness when it’s all that’s left of a life. This exhibit grows as it travels, a symbol that displays the tragic toll of the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.
Inside four glass houses are 700 transparent bricks, which represent the average number of lives taken each week in America due to gun violence.
Inside each brick is an object, a touchstone either gifted or loaned by a family who lost someone. It’s overwhelming to be surrounded by possessions held long after the person passed with a name, a year of birth, and a year of death of the person honored.

And I’m quite sure it’s all very poignant. 

No one favors a life snuffed out, particularly when it’s such a senseless loss.

But these projects aren’t about memory. They’re not really attempts to enshrine what remains of victims so that they’ll never be forgotten. 

No, they’re anti-gun propaganda designed to sway people to support gun control.

Yet they lack nuance in the debate. They don’t provide anything except an emotional reaction to the violence that claims these lives. There’s no context on their loss, there’s nothing to look at and say, “Yeah, this is what happened” other than someone was shot by another person with a firearm.

“What nuance is there?” someone might ask.

Well, for example, were they shot by someone who broke every existing gun control law already on the books? Were they someone who claimed their own life and were determined to do so no matter what tools were available to them? Were they someone involved in criminal behavior and were killed by a rival?

You can’t tell by looking at this.

Additionally, we don’t have similar “memorials” for the people who are alive today because of a gun. We know that guns save far more lives every year than they supposedly claim. Even the most pessimistic figures have twice as many defensive gun uses every year than “gun deaths,” and the actual numbers are far higher.

But these things don’t show any of that. They try to elicit an emotional response to the loss in hopes that people will support gun control. That’s all they exist to do.

What pro-gun folks need to do is step up and put up some of these art installations of our own. We need to evoke the emotional side of gun rights. We need to proclaim from on high how guns save lives.

It helps that it’s all true, but emotion is powerful. We’re forced to fight so hard right now because we’re not using it to our advantage.

That needs to change.

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