Since the Parkland mass shooting, my Facebook feed has been filled with posts trying to convince the reader that the author’s viewpoint is clearly the right one. Almost all of these posts are one sided. They do not take the time to compassionately explore and understand the underlying reasons and fears that drive the other side to believe in their position. You can’t fight fear with logic.
To the left, it appears that the right is valuing gun ownership more than the people who are being killed. My liberal friends share many statistics showing the lower death rate in countries and states with gun control. If you look at these statistics, it would seem obvious that that we need to get rid of guns.
The right shares a completely different set of statistics. These statistics cite countries in the 20th century where confiscating, registering, or not allowing guns allowed mass genocides to happen. If you look at these statistics, it seems obvious that getting rid of guns is dangerous. If I were worried that I might need a gun to defend myself from a government takeover, I wouldn’t want to register it or have it taken away from me. A massacre by the government would cause many more deaths than we are having now.
When I first thought about the possibility of needing to fight a government takeover, I told myself that it was crazy to think that could happen in the United States. If you are hearing that voice, take a closer look at it. When Trump was elected, I heard many people telling me how scared they were that The Handmaids’s Tale was going to come to pass, that there was going to be chaos, or that they were going to be rounded up and deported for no reason. While some of that has been happening on a small scale, if it were to happen on a massive scale, it makes sense to have a gun to stop it.
The real issue is not whether mental illness or lack of gun control is causing all these mass shootings. The real issue is how we can understand where the other side is coming from, let go of our fears, and help everyone feel heard. As long as each side is afraid of death in their own way, neither side wants to give an inch. This makes it challenging to have a meaningful discussion of positive next steps. Survival is a big motivator. Overcoming fear takes trust. Instead of rushing to judge the other side for what they share on the surface, what can you do to help create a world where everyone feels safe?