An interesting article and a good idea but I would offer some caveats.
Your first statement is, “If I understand your argument correctly, you are concerned that gun control makes people more vulnerable to gun violence, not less. Is that right?”
To which my answer would be, “No, I am concerned that the laws currently proposed will not work. I say they won’t work because they have all been enacted at the federal or state level and they have not produced the promised results.”
Your second statement is, “I know this issue tends to be really divisive for a lot of people, but it seems like you and I agree on the basic goal of gun policy: that is, we want to protect people from gun violence.”
To which I would reply, “Um, no, I want to protect people from violence. Guns only account for about 7% of the total violence-related deaths and injuries and I regard all of them as being equally important.”
Unfortunately, at this point you have shown yourself to be fixated on “gun violence” which indicates to me that you are preparing to attempt to persuade me that a bunch of ineffective and even unenforceable laws are a good idea.
Having been down this road more times than I care to remember, I start to tune you out and any opportunity for a productive dialog disappears.
If you want to be accepted as open, you have to be open. You have to be open to the idea that gun owners are quite comfortable with gun control; we live with it every day. We accept that some laws, such as the existing prohibitions on certain people possessing firearms, and the establishment of minimum ages to purchase firearms, are both good and valuable.
By using the term “gun violence” a gun owner instantly knows that you are an enemy. Gun violence is a “trigger word” used to justify lumping two very different things, homicide and suicide, together to make a big, scary number. Gun owners generally know that suicide and homicide are two very different acts with very different causes.
So now, here you are: Contrary to your belief you have created an alliance, you have caused the gun owner to go to DEFCON ONE, with all interceptors scrambled and in the air.
Even though you have failed miserably in your attempt to create a more collegial atmosphere, you plow ahead regardless.
You listen to everything the other person says and then you say your piece. I didn’t see anywhere in there that says you listened to what they said or considered it before commencing with your spiel. Yet you apparently expect them to be open to your viewpoint.
Hint: You have already made your viewpoint crystal clear by using the term “gun violence.” Now you’re just digging your grave even deeper.
But once again, into the breech!
You tell the other person, “I have three teenage sons and in recent years I find myself worrying more and more about their safety at school. I know the high school has good security systems in place and they do drills to prepare students for the unthinkable, but it never feels like enough. As a parent, I want to know that my kids are 100% safe, you know?”
Gun owners generally know life is not sanitized for your protection. We want our children and families to be safe; that’s frequently one of the reasons we have guns — and things like smoke detectors, first aid kits, jacks in case of flat tires, etc. My wife and I put four kids through public schools and we weren’t particularly worried about a school shooter. Perhaps that’s because we knew there were armed people on the campuses.
So the gun owner tells you, “Schools have been gun-free zones since 1994. Neither the policies nor the laws have prevented the shootings. They have happened in states with strict gun laws and states with relaxed gun laws.”
Then the gun owner might explain to you why they believe that arming teachers is a good idea. How open are you to their arguments?
Gun owners generally don’t feel unsafe. This is something that is important to know about them. In fact, the main danger in most of their minds is gun control advocates like you. Remember, you were the one that said “gun violence.”
Some people say gun owners are paranoid. As the old saying goes, “It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.”
Gun owners, with a lot of justification, believe they are under attack. The believe this because they are. As the gun control rhetoric has heated up, it has moved on beyond guns in the hands of criminals to law-abiding, peaceable, gun owners.
How many times have you seen demands that gun owners, or the NRA, take “ownership” of mass shootings? Gun owners regard that as a bit irrational and take it personally.
The fact is that you are acting on a fear that you have been conditioned to have. Your next statement makes this very clear:
“Having kids has really shaped my thinking on this issue. I’ve never been a fan of guns, but I figured if people wanted to own handguns for their own safety that wasn’t really any of my business. That changed when my kids were old enough to go over to other people’s houses to play. I started to realize I had no way of knowing if the other parents owned guns and, if they did, whether those guns were safely stored. As a mom, that really scares me.”
When I grew up, it was almost expected there would be guns in any home we visited. Hunting was still very popular and hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women) had returned from World War II and Korea with guns. The U.S. government was selling off hundreds of thousands of surplus battle rifles and carbines. You could go into a five-and-dime such as F.W. Woolworths and pick up an M1 carbine that was fully capable of accepting a 30-round magazine and had a bayonet lug for about $25. You could order guns by mail. There not only weren’t any background checks, there weren’t any forms to fill out. You walked in the store, picked out the gun you wanted, paid for it, and left with your new gun.
In the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s fatal injury report for 2017, there were 102 fatal injuries due to accidental discharges where the victim was 18 years old or less. That’s 102 out of an estimated 77.9 million.
If this really concerns you, why aren’t you promoting Project ChildSafe? Since 1999, when there were 189 such fatalities, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 37 million free gun safety kits that include a gun lock.
You’ve shared your experience. That’s nice but so what? Unless you listened to what the other person said, there isn’t a dialog. You have said your piece; let their response go in one ear and out the other without ever considering that might have some valid objections; and gone on your merry way having accomplished nothing.
The biggest point that you have missed is that gun owners aren’t inalterably opposed to any form of gun control; they are inalterably opposed to the specific agenda that has been forced down the throat of the American people for the best part of the past 30 years. They are opposed to bad laws that don’t do anything about violence but simply add an other burden to people who aren’t inclined to be violent.
As long as you and others who share your viewpoint fail to understand this, there will never be a dialog.