An open letter to gun-enthusiasts

James Lee

“Another unattended gun was found,” reads the beginning of the second UT safety alert released last Wednesday. In light of recent events, it’s especially concerning to hear that guns are being left in random places on campus.

It isn’t too surprising, though. After all, this is Texas, where over a third of the population owns at least one gun. Many of us enjoy hunting, and it’s not strange for someone to own multiple high-powered assault weapons.

In the rural town of Muenster, Texas, where I went to junior high school, guns are a staple of country life — up there with beer and pickup trucks. School shootings such as the one that occurred in Florida last week inspire an aggressive defense, by the good ol’ boys of small town Texas, of their constitutional right to bear arms. But it should mean something else to them — it should inspire a sort of rational introspection.

Owning a gun is an extremely serious responsibility, and gun owners should realize that their actions have an impact on society’s perceptions about them. Plenty of UT students grew up around guns and many of them are feeling a great deal of inner-conflict lately. Rather than hiding in the corner or diving straight into heated political attacks, we should start a much-needed and long-overdue conversation about this epidemic.

I am as anti-gun as it gets in this country. But I also have practically zero experience with guns. I know very little about gun safety, and I know very few people who are gun owners. Compare my experience to that of someone who grew up around guns, who has years of practice with them and whose friends all own guns as well. One of us has a lot more power to educate the public about gun ownership and gun safety. It isn’t me.

Most importantly, gun owners are the usually the people there to recognize when someone is acting violently. Be it a friend, family member or someone at the gun range, it’s critical that the person be appropriately reported.

Whether seeking help when someone around them is exhibiting disturbing behavior, or simply not forgetting their gun in the bathroom, gun owners have a responsibility to uphold common sense.

And if gun owners are willing to start taking this issue seriously, to respond to this epidemic with rationality instead of hostility, then I am ready to accept that it’s not probable that guns will ever be banned in this country. Let us talk to each other, let us sacrifice and compromise, and let us do our best to make progress. Some things are worth meeting across the aisle for. I think the lives of our peers are worth more than political differences.

Lee is a philosophy and sociology sophomore from Fort Worth. Follow him on Twitter @jamesxblonde