Gun control debate goes beyond party lines

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

After the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, gun control has once again come to the forefront of political conversation.

Most attribute Omar Mateen’s actions to religious extremism, while others find a bigger problem with how Mateen, who was previously on a terrorism watch list, could possibly be allowed to purchase firearms.

This week, Democratic representatives at the U.S. Capitol held a sit-in to demand a vote on proposed restrictions for gun purchases and sales, including for people who are being monitored for terrorist activity. In the U.S. Senate, proposed restrictions were voted down.

Despite the increased political conversations and seemingly endless social media posts about gun control, a larger problem has instead become apparent.

Constituents seem to fall on the altar of party lines.

This is nothing new. Voters have always made decisions based on party affiliation, but what is needed now is unbiased self-reflection.

Whether one is in full support of gun restrictions, disagrees with them altogether or finds oneself somewhere in between, let that decision be based on personal views, simply because it is what one feels is right.

Just because a Republican senator says so doesn’t mean Republicans have to fall in line. On the flip side, a Democratic legislator’s opinion doesn’t have to align with all other Democrats.

By drawing lines in the sand, all that is accomplished is more bickering. Bickering stalls any type of results.

America has some tough questions to answer, and it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of those questions in the midst of such a ruckus. Instead of coming to a conclusion because of all the other party members, make sure the research has been gathered and educated decisions are made. Don’t blindly follow in the footsteps of another. This goes for both sides of the aisle.

Whether pro- or anti-gun control, all should agree that the Orlando victims at least deserve a hard look into what happened and what it means for gun policies.