top of page

(2017) How Guns Shift Conflict Towards Violence: Part 5

Originally published October 11, 2017

Republished due to current events

How We Can Move Forward

It is my strongest hope and belief that we as a society can find some middle ground between protecting a citizen’s right to protect themselves and allowing hate-filled individuals to materialize hate into action that costs innocent lives. Guns are a divisive and passionate issue in the United States, however one this is clear: no matter where in the world, guns grant individuals an awesome amount of agency to act on any destructive impulse. It is impossible to entirely inhibit people from developing hatred. What must be done, therefore, is everything possible to limit their capabilities in turning emotion into lethal action.

A common warning circulated by pro-gun groups is that any measure of proposed gun control is the federal government’s attempt to take away the guns of law abiding citizens. It is painted as some Orwellian overreach of authoritarian power, used to increase the absolute jurisdiction f the state over its citizens by taking away their capabilities to take action against tyranny. This is no doubt the largest reason that the gun industry saw such an astonishing uptick in demand during the Obama presidency, whom the NRA and other pro-gun groups portrayed precisely as the authoritarian described above. However, this paranoid conspiracy just doesn’t follow logic. Those who oppose gun regulation argue that control measures shouldn’t be brought up following a mass tragedy such as Las Vegas. Yet, doesn’t this point to the fact that gun control proponents aren’t trying to take guns away from law abiding citizens, but from those dangerous individuals with the capabilities and motivations to commit these heinous massacres? It requires an incredibly cynical view of humanity to believe that those pushing for more logical regulation of gun sales are doing so in order to establish an authoritarian state restricting all individual rights and checks on tyranny, not simply trying to take a common sense approach towards putting an end to mass shootings.

Discussion, introspection, and action on gun violence and its structural facilitators is necessary. Mass shootings each follow an all too familiar cycle: horror, tragedy, thoughts and prayers, hashtags, vigils, heated political debate, and eventually another addition to a list growing in number and severity of mass shootings. And at the end of this cycle, inevitably there is never any action. I will be the first to admit that gun control is not the only solution to these mass shootings. The United States has a history of misunderstanding of mental illness, and the country and world face intense political and cultural divisions that are driving people to violence in their frustrations. These divides are not going to heal immediately; prejudice and hate are slowly sucked out of a society through education, understanding and empathy. But until our world is a more compassionate place free from these forces, we must take a logical approach towards limiting these destructive force’s powers. Ensuring that those who harbor such evil within their hearts cannot access the lethal capabilities the world has witnessed in Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Sandy Hook and now Las Vegas is the first and most immediately necessary step.

Over the past five days, we have posted the five parts to this piece, which you can read in its entirety on our Medium page here.


[1] The New York Times, “Las Vegas Shooting: Investigators Grapple With Gunman’s ‘Secret Life’,” The New York Times Online, October 5, 2017

[2] Edward Mogire, “The Humanitarian Impact of Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Threat to Security,” 2004,

[3] Michael Siegel, Craig S. Ross and Dr. Charles King, III, “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010,” American Journal of Public Health, 103(11) (Nov. 2013)

[4] “International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Arms Availability and the Situation of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” American Red Cross, 8, 2007

[5] “Human Cost of Illicit Flow of Small Arms, Light Weapons Stressed in Security Council Debate,” Meetings Coverage, United Nations, May 13 2015

[6] National Shooting Sports Foundation, “Firearms Industry Economic Impact Rises 168% Since 2008,” Gun Laws and Legislation, The Daily Caller, October 4, 2017 [7] Adam Winkler, “The Secret History of Guns,” The Atlantic Online, October 2 2017

[8] Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, “Police say Las Vegas gunman planned ‘extensively,’ used cameras to monitor officers as they approached,” The Washington Post Online, October 3 2017

[9] Blair Guild, “GOP Sen. Lankford open to possibility of ‘bump stock’ regulation,” CBS News Online, October 4, 2017

[10] Shekou M. Sesay, Davidson S.H.W. Nicol and Others, “Civil War,” Sierra Leone, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, September 15, 2017

[11] Michael S. Schmidt, “Background Check Flaw Let Dylann Roof Buy Gun, F.B.I. Says.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 July 2015,

[12] Griffin, Drew, Jeanne Meserve, Christine Roman, and Michael Sevanof, "Campus killer's purchases apparently within gun laws." CNN. April 19, 2007.

[13] Pearce, Matt, "Adam Lanza's files show him as another shooter caught up in Columbine," Los Angeles Times. November 27, 2013.

[14] "Court Found Cho "Mentally Ill"," The Smoking Gun, July 18, 2010.


bottom of page