While America as a whole has countless issues that find their way into everyday debates, one of the most heated of these has got to be gun control. With their dual ability to both protect, as well as harm, guns in America were always going to have to be talked about. As the gun craze continues to spread though, more and more legislature is enacted to try and get a handle on the situation, while not infringing on people’s rights. These include stricter background checks, as well as limiting your gun activities to shooting ranges and deserts far from towns. While these safeguards are set in place to try and discourage those from buying a gun, the problem of the guns already on the street still looms over the lawmakers. But once again a solution came forward, as many states started instituting firearm buyback programs, which promised to turn the guns into something more useful. And while many saw this as the answer they had been waiting for, others saw it as an infringement of their rights, and used their art to show their frustration.

If I were to ask you what the most recycled item on Earth was, a quick look in the recycling can would lead you to believe plastic or cardboard. But far and away, the material that is reused the most in America is our steel. Steel is used in basically everything, and it’s properties make it an ideal candidate for recycling. And while cans and old cars were the largest contributors to this process at first, a new buy back program in Los Angeles has started adding guns to the furnace.It is reported that the LASD (Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department) has already collected over 3,400 guns through legal seizures, as well as buybacks. These guns, joined with firearms from almost a dozen other Los Angeles agencies, have already been shipped out to a nearby steel mill. There the guns will be melted down, and eventually turned into rebar for the city\’s bridges and buildings. In this way, the once single proposed piece of steel that made up the gun, can now be used in the bridges we drive across, or the house we live in. While many see this as a triumph of ingenuity, other groups reject this alteration of firearms, and are showing this through their art.

With debates as big as gun control, it’s important to realize that there are two sides to every story, and both have their justification for being right. That’s why it was no surprise that shortly after the buyback program began, there were already those who wholeheartedly opposed it. Many of these people believed that guns were a basic constitutional right, and the wholesale destruction of them was paramount to ignoring said constitution. While these groups fought hard, their complaints fell on deaf ears, and the gun recycling continued. But many of the members of this group were not pleased with the results, and the most creative of them came up with a plan. Instead of turning guns into rebar, they would take that rebar, and turn it back into a gun. These designs, many of them functional, are meant to represent the people’s defiance with the continued restriction on firearms. While these makeshift firearms stand as ingenuitive art pieces on their own, they also express the lengths groups will go to to preserve their rights as they see them. Agree with the art or not, the pieces act as the perfect example of turning lemons into lemonade, and should reflect the creativity of the artist, as well as the message behind them.

As long as guns continue to exist, they will remain one of the biggest debates in our country. The power a gun possesses can not be under undervalued, while the right for people in America to own them cannot be trivialized either. It is a problem that has two incredibly vocal sides, with very little wiggle room in the middle. Yet despite the violent imagery that comes to mind when guns are mentioned, the debate handled between the two factions mentioned in this article involved no violence whatsoever. Instead, both sides engaged in more peaceful activities, with the purpose to show their point of view without putting anyone else down. While the debate over gun control may never end, the tactics used by these groups inspires confidence in me that at least we can remain civil, and maybe a little artistic on our hunt for what we think is right.

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Cameron Shults

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