For my fellow liberals, stop calling the NRA terrorists, stop accusing the gun lobby of profiting from mass shootings, and stop acting as though the right likes it when kids get shot in school. And for the right, no one is trying to take your guns. We all want the same thing; we’re on the same side. Our disagreement is only on how to get there.
The problem with the gun debate is that both sides pretty much agree with each other already; but no one is listening.
All my life I’ve been told that you should listen first. Seek to understand. Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. A little over a week ago, a gunman walked into his former school and gunned down over thirty of his former classmates and teachers, killing seventeen of them. As if on que, the right wing talking points on gun control got regurgitated all over the place, and the left wing meme factories started putting in overtime. And yet both sides aren’t listening very well, and that’s the reason nothing has been done so far. It’s the reason nothing was done last time, or the time before.
For the right, the perception is that there is this liberal, socialist Nazi at the door clamoring to take away their guns and institute some kind of mind control over the people. Turn us all into sheep. For the left, the perception is that there is this conservative nutcase who salivates every time innocent people get slaughtered, who wants people to get shot.
But let’s get a few things out of the way:
Person A has a history of, and continues to show a propensity to violence. Recently, he’s shown signs of radicalization, having been on websites sympathetic to ISIS and Al Quaeda. Should this individual have access to guns?
Person B is a responsible, respectful, active citizen of our country who has taken the time to learn how to use, care for, and properly store a firearm, and who is current on all relevant permits. This person likes to shoot for recreation; their favorite thing to shoot at is a can of paint. Should this person have access to guns?
Person C walks into a gun shop following what sounded like shouting going on outside. He’s noticeably angry on the order of belligerence, and smells strongly of alcohol. He wants to buy a gun here and now; since handguns require a waiting period, he’ll take a rifle. Should he be allowed to buy a rifle?
Person D lives in the country, where hunting is still a viable way to put food on the table. He grew up around guns, having learned to respect them for the deadly weapons they are from his grandfather. Should this person be allowed to buy a rifle?
I hope, and I assume that there would be a consensus among sane people as to how each of these scenarios should play out. Now, we can debate on whether such-and-such a class of weapon should be legal or illegal, or how stringent a background check should be. We can talk about the viability of ‘soft targets’ in gun-free zones, and whether there should be concealed carry reciprocity. All these details are relevant.
But what we need to do is stop the finger pointing. For my fellow liberals, stop calling the NRA terrorists, stop accusing the gun lobby of profiting from mass shootings, and stop acting as though the right likes it when kids get shot in school. And for the right, no one is trying to take your guns. We all want the same thing; we’re on the same side. Our disagreement is only on how to get there.