Each time there is a mass shooting, like Wednesday’s attack on GOP Congressional leaders, we see anti-gun news anchors fumble all over descriptions of firearms that were wholly inaccurate, doing nothing but add to gun hysteria in this country. Likewise, the Conservatives “celebrating” that the alleged gunman was a Bernie supporter do absolutely nothing to solve the very complex issues in this country. It truly seems that pundits in the media or in political office are not actually concerned with addressing the issues of gun violence. Ring of Fire’s Josh Gay has suggestions for taking on the gun control debate.


This week, we mark the one year anniversary of the terrible shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. And then on Wednesday was the tragic shooting at the GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Now, of course, with any of these shootings, it stirs up the gun control debate once again. Of course, with any good debate comes rhetoric. The conservatives on the right wing, they’re celebrating that this guy was a Bernie supporter, not some right wing terrorist. And then the mainstream media, they keep spouting out more and more inaccuracies about guns.

But if we really want to fix this, if we really want to tackle gun violence in this country, we can’t deal in rhetoric. We have to deal with rationality. We have to deal with facts. Guns themselves are not evil, but in the hands of the wrong people, they make those evil people much more effective at being bad people. In fact, there are actually studies out there, tons of studies, that show that guns actually do prevent crime when they’re in the right hands. There’s a DOJ study out there that shows that 74% of felons said that they wouldn’t rob a house because somebody might be home, because they don’t want to get shot.

And there’s studies all over the place about mass shootings. It doesn’t matter which gun they used. It doesn’t matter about the fire rate of the gun or the size of the magazine. These people who are doing these mass shootings, they train, they prepare, they think things through. These people know that they have to reload often. It doesn’t matter which gun they’re using. In face, the shooter in Alexandria, he reloaded multiple times. He was prepared for that, so the magazine doesn’t matter.

The point is, it’s not the gun. I don’t care how scary the gun looks. I don’t care what the fire rate of the gun is, so stop talking about semiautomatic weapons if you don’t know what you’re talking about and stop talking about assault or military-style weapons. You don’t know what you’re talking about. So how do we fix this? First of all, we have to tackle this criminal justice system in this country. It is an absolute failure. The main thing we have to tackle is recidivism. 68% of those that are convicted of a crime using a gun return to prison within two years. Within two years!

So they’re back on the street using a gun again, committing crimes again. We have to do better with post-release programs, not minimum sentences for putting marijuana users behind bars. We also have to concentrate on educational programs. Sure, let’s give PEL grants to felons. Let’s get them educated, because studies show that the more educated somebody is, the less likely they are to return to a life of crime. So if they’re gonna be in prison, we might as well put them back to work and being a successful member of society.

We also have to cut down on loopholes. Loopholes in the gun purchase process. 80% of those who use a gun during a crime either got the gun illegally or got them through a straw man purchase through a family member or friend. We’ve gotta cut that out. And then the next thing we have to do is hold gun owners responsible. If a gun owner’s gun is not properly secured in their home, if they don’t take the proper steps to make sure it doesn’t get stolen or fall into the wrong hands, we need to hold those people responsible. If gun owners start realizing that their guns are the ones killing people, then maybe the gun owners are gonna step up and start helping us fix this problem.

Now, another problem that’s out there is we’re really worried about terrorism. I know we are. We’ve spent billions of dollars on it. But you know what? Terrorists, number one, don’t give a damn about what law you pass, and they don’t care how much money you’re spending to stop it. There’s still gonna be some nutcase that jumps in a van and runs over people on the sidewalk. And still, even then, only 74 people on average die annually from terrorism. And that’s if you count the nearly 3,000 people that died in 9-11.

Compare that to 74 people a year to 10,000 people in the United States a year that are killed by gun violence. There are, just like terrorists, people that are going to kill no matter what the law is. They’re gonna find a way to kill somebody and commit their crime. This nutcase in Alexandria, Virginia is one of them. However, we can and we must do better. We can’t tolerate the NRA’s insistence that we do nothing, that we don’t increase background checks, that we don’t keep criminals from having guns, that we don’t make sure that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.

However, the debate has to be rational. We do not have to keep buying into this hysteria. I don’t care how scary a gun looks. I don’t care how many round it can fire or how many rounds it can hold at one time. What matters is who’s pulling the trigger, and we’ve gotta stop them, stop those people from using guns and using them again once they go to jail. We have got to better with the gun control debate and change has to start today.

Josh Gay is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. He is passionate about civil liberties and defending the Constitution. Josh looks forward to lively discussions via Twitter @ROF_Josh.