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Saba Long

The Tragic Merry Go-Round of the Gun Rights Debate

By Saba Long

I fired a weapon for the first time in my adult life last year. Three different caliber guns to be exact. It was exhilarating to hold this relatively small item and feel the force that exited from it. I felt both a sense of empowerment and responsibility.

I’m no stranger to guns; members of my family carry and my parents made sure I knew where they kept them and that I had a clear understanding of the power of a weapon.

While I presently lack the desire to purchase and carry a weapon, I acknowledge others do.

Anytime someone chooses to carry a gun in my presence, I also recognize that, to a certain extent, my life is in his or her hands. It’s the same for any of us. We must trust the person carrying that weapon will not discharge without reason.

This leaves to me wonder if we have developed a hyper sensitive sense of fear.

There was a shooting at Columbine. Go buy a gun.

There was a shooting at the Navy Yard. Go buy a gun.

A Congresswoman got shot in the head. Go buy a gun.

A kid shot his mother in an elementary school. Go buy a gun.

The person in the car next to me was disrespectful and therefore I felt threatened. Let me shoot him.

Unfortunately, America is stuck on a tragic merry go round of gun ownership as a coping mechanism to evil, isolated incidents. The proliferation of arms through legislation has not culled that fear. Even more disturbing, this deep sense of fear has created a cultural war that, particularly in right-leaning circle, mandates gun ownership as a test of patriotism.

Some say America is a safer country than others because of the right to bear arms. In fact, we have significantly more gun-related murders than any other developed country, including Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Even so, we continue to pass ever-expanding gun bills while ignoring the root of gun-related murders. The ludicrousness of the General Assembly’s legislation is clearly noted in its title, the “guns everywhere” bill. The power and responsibility of gun owners is now being expanded by removing previous area restrictions – including airports, churches and bars.

This notion of fear prevails once more by the implied self-defense allowances this bill provides while you and I have to trust the general, gun-toting public to not do anything that will endanger us.

The legislature thinks we want guns everywhere. So be it. Tack on mandatory background check for all gun buyers. A 2013 poll even showed 91 percent of Georgians approved such a measure.

Fear, perceived and real, continues to lead this matter of gun ownership and widespread permits to carry. Meanwhile, a singular approach of “go buy a gun” does little to assuage that fear as we continue to bear the burden of preventable, tragic gun violence.

Saba Long

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.


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