A national survey of 2,703 respondents found 89 percent support universal background checks; 69 percent support banning the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons; 68 percent support banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there has been numerous polls and surveys conducted, showing very similar results (take a look at this overview here).
The most important thing to remember is that when it comes to the opinions we are exposed to online, we are our own personal gatekeepers. If I get frustrated with something someone says, I can un-follow them, block them, hide there posts and do whatever I want to steer away from having conflict on my profile page. If I were to pull a Martin Luther and post these surveys on my friends Facebook wall, him and every person he follows would begin to swarm me with facts, figures and opinion contrary to that of my own. It doesn’t mean that either of us would be right, but the effect of the spiral of silence theory would be evident.
As I examine my own social media networks, the calls to action from both sides are evident. Among my friends and family on Facebook, the discussion is very one-sided towards keeping gun laws the way they are; blaming gun violence directly on the people involved, the president and generally ignoring the root of the issue. This side is fueled by a perceived threat and a paranoia. Inversely, other more left wing social networks which I frequent are one-sided in taking all guns away, blaming the violence on the fact that people can get these guns and are fueled by a seemingly knee-jerk perception of all people who own guns are crazy nut jobs who target shoot every day and are otherwise hermits who hoard guns.
The role of technological determinism should not be ignored in the debate about guns either. I do not believe that either side would deny that guns have evolved significantly since the founding of our country. There was a time (not that long ago) where it was much more expensive to own a gun. Because of advances in our factories and materials research, the price of guns and ammunition has dropped. The appearance of online gun retailers and gun trades show how easy it is to obtain one of these weapons. Guns are no longer for hunting animals, but they are precision instruments designed to kill. The guise is that the precision is for target shooting and the like, but that is what a gun is designed to do in the end: kill.
When it comes down it, neither side is correct.
The calls to action from both sides are driven by a misunderstanding of the other side. There is information out there, but because we act as gatekeepers of our social connections, we inevitably (and most of the time, unknowingly) tend to choose people and media that agree with our opinions. I believe that we all start out in the middle, but with the opinions and arguments exposed to us on social media we start to migrate towards one side or the other. Washington can try to make laws that will fix the problem, but because our elected officials are worried about re-election they will inevitably cater to those lobbying on either side of this highly polarized issue.
I don’t have an answer to gun violence and gun control. I’m still struggling to find the middle ground again myself. However, I don’t think it wouldn’t hurt to move this discussion out of the realm of social media and talk about the facts face to face, just like we did in the past. It seems like we accomplished a lot more back then, doesn’t it?
As I was reading the news today, this story about an app to map out “gun friendly” businesses has begun. Though the developer stated that the goal was not to push any sort of agenda, really what it is doing is furthering the polarizing rhetoric into two distinct camps. Now, instead of rhetoric, we could start seeing economic consequences against certain businesses. Great… :-\
Take a look at the story below: