Following recent advocacy events on gun violence prevention, I was struck by how consistently our local news media use the term “gun control.”
“Gun control” is outdated and divisive language that mischaracterizes the intent of today’s gun violence prevention movement. For decades, the gun lobby has used the phrase “gun control” to evoke fear and paranoia that those who support legislative efforts to decrease gun violence in our society are somehow “coming to take your guns away.” That simply isn’t the case.
The goal of today’s gun violence prevention advocates is to work toward finding broadly acceptable solutions for what amounts to a public health crisis of injury and death by gun violence, including suicide, which makes up 80 percent of gun deaths in Minnesota. The goal is not to “control” the use of firearms by law-abiding Minnesotans, but rather to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them in the first place, such as felons, domestic abusers, and those who are at risk of harming themselves or others due to a mental health crisis.
Therefore, in order to help further the conversation about the important issue of gun violence prevention, I respectfully ask our local news media to change the language they use when discussing it. Instead of “gun control,” use “gun violence prevention.” Making that change would more accurately reflect the actual goal of the current gun violence prevention movement. It would also help steer the conversation away from an old “slippery slope” myth perpetuated by the gun lobby and toward the consensus that exists, among Minnesota’s gun owners and non-gun owners alike, on numerous gun safety policies such as extreme risk protection orders (or “red flag” laws) and requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales.
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