Four more people were shot dead on Wednesday, this time at a hospital in Tulsa. Yet again, the gunman used a military-style semiautomatic rifle. He bought it that very day. This is the 233rd mass shooting in the U.S. so far, in a year that’s not yet at the halfway point. Guns have replaced car accidents as the leading cause of death for children. In the light of our country’s ceaseless gun violence, the need for real progress toward a solution becomes ever more urgent.
Is there really no common ground? I continue to pray that it does exist. We might find it if only we could step out from the confines of our ironclad political ideologies for a moment. Of course, this is difficult because we don’t want to leave the safety of the familiar. Maybe imagining ourselves in a hypothetical situation can help. Let’s say we’re students, working together on a final group project. We’re tasked with arriving at a plan to curb gun violence. We don’t agree with, or like, everyone in our group. But we all could really use an “A.” Our teacher reminds us that no plan can possibly stop all gun violence, humans being what we are. She suggests that we pretend, for the duration of the exercise, that the two major political parties as we know them do not exist. A fellow classmate suggests that a real solution may be hiding in plain sight. He proposes starting with some basic questions for discussion. Here they are:
- You’re a parent, and you learn that an active shooter is threatening your child’s school. Which incites your greatest fear?
- To hear that the shooter wields a small handgun capable of firing a limited number of bullets before reloading is required, or
- To hear that the shooter wields a semi- or fully automatic assault-style rifle capable of quickly firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition
2. You’re a police officer, responding to a call about an active shooter at a school. Which gunman would you prefer to confront?
- One wielding a small handgun, as above.
- One wielding an assault-style rifle, as above.
3. Does it really seem good, right, and appropriate that any eighteen-year old, unable to legally buy a beer, is able to purchase not one, but two AR-15 rifles for immediate use?
4. Think of a particularly immature, hot-tempered teenager whom you know. Would you want this person to have easy access to multiple such weapons and a huge cache of ammunition?
5. Would you feel comfortable knowing that the volatile teenager above is armed and roaming your neighborhood regularly?
4. Is it really likely to impact your rights as a responsible gun owner to protect your home if the person mentioned above is unable to purchase an AR-15 or similar gun without a background check, waiting period or any red flag laws in place?
5. Do you lock the doors of your home at night and when you’re away? Or do you not bother because, if someone wants to rob or harm you, they will find a way?
The next victims of gun violence will likely not be members of our own families. But let’s act as if we expect them to be. Let’s quit bickering, acknowledge our shared humanity, and take real steps toward lessening this horrific epidemic.