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Opinion: Gun education could be the solution

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Sometimes it just sticks. Sometimes an idea permeates into your thoughts and stubbornly sits there with its arms and legs crossed just waiting for you to wise up and use it, or at very least share it. While this doesn’t always occur with great frequency, it does happen, and it happened to me while sitting in an earth-toned, new-age coffee shop in the far off land of Billings, Montana. There I was, sipping on my favorite tea and talking to a friend about politics, of all things. Then the issue of gun control bubbled to the forefront of our conversation. This issue has been consuming everything from the media to dinner conversation since the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14.

Montana, as many would imagine, is primarily a red state. With only a few left-leaning tendencies in the west, the majority of the state is composed of republicans, some more conservative than others. However, despite how far any one person may lean to the right, gun control is a question which almost any Montanan will give the same answer to: No. And with good reason. The day-to-day life of a Montanan is saturated with guns; from hunting in the winter to playing on the shooting team in school to fathers giving their children the guns that his father gave him and his father gave him and so on, guns are more than a means of protection, they are part of the culture.

And so, when the discussion turns to gun control, my friend says no way. The typical points rise to the surface: safety, the second amendment, the government becoming too big, etc. At some point during the conversation, an idea tunneled its way into my mind. It was the idea that, perhaps, everyone is looking in the wrong direction.

One of the biggest problems with the country today is not the economy or immigration or even gun control, but rather it is the polarization of our political parties. The left continues inching farther left and the right continues inching father right. Moderates are rapidly becoming an extinct species. What is left is this gaping hole consuming all productivity. Moderation needs to be considered above all else, rather than instead of all else. Gun control is no different. So instead of this all-or-nothing ultimatum where guns are either allowed or taken away, maybe it is the process which needs to be looked at.

Education is the answer. Requiring education prior to the purchase of a firearm would sufficiently decrease the number of accidents, as well as making it more difficult to purchase a firearm without making it impossible. Currently, residents of Ohio are not required to have any license or permit in order to purchase or possess a gun, so long as the resident meets the age requirement, is not a felon, and is not the guardian of a child who was convicted of a crime which would be a felony if the child was an adult, according to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. This means an Ohio resident can walk into a store and purchase a firearm with minimal effort. Not only does this system increase the prevalence of firearms, but it also allows anyone to own a firearm regardless of their knowledge on the subject.

Gun control will continue to be an issue on the forefront of our minds and the edge of our lips. Liberals want to create a safer society, and conservatives want to maintain their rights. Somewhere in the middle is a place where we can find compromise and a solution, and that is the place where firearm education lies.

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