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Why Does The Gun Control Debate Always Follow Tragedies?

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A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed a shooting instructor with an Uzi and the country has suddenly been thrust into another discussion about gun safety, control and restrictions. The incident at the Arizona shooting range was horrific and tragic, but it should no longer take reports of strange occurrences like this one to spur gun control rhetoric on either side. It’s obvious that something needs to be done.

Much of the gun control debate, however, follows similar incidents. A Google Trend report shows that there was a significant spike in searches for “gun control” in December 2012 and the three months that followed the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. The data spikes at several other key points. Each of these points corresponds with a major shooting or gun-related incident that, however briefly, captured the attention of the nation. 

April 2007, for instance, marks the month of the shooting at Virginia Tech. October 2008 is when a shooting at the University of Central Arkansas happened. March 2005 is the month Jeffrey Weise went on a killing spree on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. 

After each peak, however, the trend of “gun control” being a relatively unpopular search term remains the same.

The issue of gun control has become one of the foremost symbols of America’s dichotomized approach to problems, and the country’s inability to enact legislation. Any time there is a significant incident such as the recent accidental shooting in Arizona, gun control supporters warn about the dangers of weapons while second amendment activists explain their importance. 

Even in response to the Arizona incident, a seemingly obvious example as to why 9-year-old children should not be handling automatic weapons, there are those that stick by the arming of individuals regardless of age. One gun-owning resident Aaron Jent told AZ Central he taught his 8-year-old daughter how to shoot because, “You can either gun proof your kids or kid proof your guns, and one of them’s going to work and the other one’s not.” 

At least most people can agree that the handling of guns — whether that itself is a good thing or not — should be approached with extra care when it comes to children. It’s incredibly sad that it took a death like this to encourage this conversation, and that should be a reminder that gun control should never leave public discussion until real change and results are achieved.

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