I grew up in Hawaii and sang in a choir. We were a very tight group of teenagers from various schools. We were laid back and went to the beach together and sang our hearts out. Then we all grew up and followed our paths until we met up again on Facebook a number of years ago. And we were different. Last night one of my friends, who moved to the Midwest, posted something supportive of Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and I went ballistic. I reached out to him and asked how he could possibly hold this view in light of what has been happening lately. Massacre after massacre after massacre and he still thinks the laws on the books are enough? He told me about being assaulted once and having a friend who was raped and about his opinion that if good guys were armed then we could fight back against the bad guys. He wrote “the slippery slope to me is that once a law starts to be framed, it morphs into something very different from its original intent. A well intended law can become a monster with irreversible consequences.”
I told him about my experiences covering massacres like Columbine and the Aurora Theatre shooting for NBC News and meeting victim families and feeling the pain and suffering of survivors as I’ve asked them to share their stories. I told him about the funeral for Officer Garrett Swasey that I just attended and how a gun didn’t help the good guy on the day he died outside the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood office. I told him about the very moving End of Watch video that was shown at his service. I fired back that “apparently people are morphing the second amendment and the constitution into something the founding fathers never intended.” He and I will never agree on this topic, we are on complete opposite sides of the argument and shake our heads at the other’s point of view, but we had a respectful on line discussion and wished each other a happy holiday season.
Today I mentioned our exchange to my instructor at yoga and he suggested that I come from a place of love and my friend comes from a place of fear. Last night it seemed that way to me too, but the more I think of it, the more I realize we both come from the same place. He loves his friends and family and community and I feel the same way about mine. He thinks the way to protect his people is with guns and I think the way for my people to be safe is to get rid of them. We are both fearful of where our country is going after Sandy Hook and San Bernardino. How we differ is in the way to get there. He holds tight to his rights and his AR-15, and I hold tight to my rights to live in a land free of gun violence and semi-automatic weapons. I may be naive, but I hope by having the discussion we are a step closer to compromise and something we both can live with.
The dialogue over gun control has devolved into something akin to the fiery rhetoric over abortion. It is so black and white that it seems there is no middle ground. The person who shot his gun through the front page editorial about gun control on Saturday’s New York Times is an indication of how counterproductive this argument has become. People have dug their heels so deeply in the sand they cannot be budged. But on the issue of gun violence we need to budge. Hopefully my conversation with my friend is a move towards understanding and maybe others will talk to their friends and neighbors and we will have a larger national conversation that will lead once and for all to our leaders having the courage to craft some common sense solutions that create a safer nation for my friend’s children and mine. And no, even though my friend worried I would unfriend him, we both have agreed to leave the door open for future conversations.