Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gun Control v's Gun Violence

 It seems that in the world of US politics nothing stirs the loins of conservative liberals more than the phrase ‘gun control’ – ok except maybe abortion and gay marriage. I can’t imagine what it would be like for most Americans to be a part of this debate seeing your country fiercely divided over such an important issue.

Guns, it seems, strikes right at the heart of America. The gun control debate has raged for years despite the gun deaths of Presidents, children, soldiers, politicians and countless of everyday American’s who are subject to gun violence.

What interests me more, is the reaction from President Obama and the Democrats in trying to reign in the violence. Behind closed doors of the White House, in a room somewhere, Obama sat with Vice President Biden and his scores of advisers  to come up with a strategy to address this issue. I am thankful there were some communications professionals in that meeting. They came out with a strategy that included policies, meetings, new laws and community action. But under it all it was clear – “We’re talking about reducing gun violence, not gun control.”

Not once has there been a statement, or even an inkling that Obama was looking for ‘gun control’. Instead he is after reducing ‘gun violence’. What’s the difference? There’s a huge difference. Spin, and word selection play a major role in communicating en mass and the Obama camp is better at it than most. The term ‘gun control’ creates fierce opposition based on the pointless argument surrounding the US Second Amendment. Alternatively ‘gun violence’ suggests that there is room for healthy debate about the amount of injuries and death caused by guns in the US - one step closer to possible change. Will it work? Only time will tell.

One word can make all the difference. Ask the average person if they think the US should reduce gun violence and you will most likely get a ‘yes.’ Reducing gun violence is a good thing, making people safer is a good thing, keeping children free from harm is a universal good thing.

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. 
We all breathe the same air. 
We all cherish our children's future. 
And we are all mortal.” 

Talk about gun control – and things and people get ugly. When I see a news report of a ‘gun control’ rally on the steps of Washington, all I do is shake my head because most of them don’t get that words matter. Talk about reducing gun violence and you have a chance.

Healthy debate will always trump political bickering.


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