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Dear 2nd Amendment Hardliners: What Do You Value (Other than Guns)?

There’s a time for talk and time for action, and we, as a nation, have said more than enough to one another about gun violence and ownership. The truth is, the facts, statistics, and other hard evidence are all out there. The crisis we’re facing now is not a lack of support for action; It’s that some people flat out choose to ignore the truth and instead embrace inaction. They ignore the truth because they believe, for one reason or another, that to give an inch is to give a mile. However, in this case, when you give nothing, you get classrooms full of children dying from gun violence. While we debate the same old ideas from years past, the deaths keep on coming. 

Let me make a confident prediction: Nobody’s coming for anybody’s guns. The real issue at hand is preventing people who shouldn’t have guns from accessing them. You could give every man, woman, and child in the United States a firearm, and there’d still be 67 million left unowned. If we paid more attention to how politicians on both sides are bought and sold by special interests, which includes the gun lobby, then we’d all know that reasonable gun legislation by no means threatens responsible gun ownership. And it is worth repeating:  reasonable gun legislation by no means threatens responsible gun ownership.  I highly doubt the United States Military, one of the largest clients for defense contractors everywhere, would ever enforce some of the paranoid “confiscation” scenarios floating around. Even understanding that as a remote possibility, it might do your soul some good to ask yourself this question (even if only as a thought experiment): What WOULD I give up to save more lives?  You might even find an uncomfortable truth in answering this question, Do I even want to save lives other than my own?

As a group of global citizens, we should question your lack of compassion and empathy. Despite support from 83 percent of American gun owners for expanded background checks, what dominates the conversation are political representatives and their ideology of ignoring very basic, very practical solutions and instead blaming everything except volatile gun owners: mental illness, pornography, video games,  marijuana, and teachers not packing a .45 when they pass out juice boxes. If you believe that a gun solves the problems these issues present, then you care more about the power in your hands than the power of human life, which means we’ve identified the real problem. 

We should question your refusal to admit reality so we can work together as a community to find out how to heal and “confiscate” the wound inside of you. You’re so afraid of threats, some real, but most are imaginary. What can we do to give you the courage to protect the lives of your fellow Americans? Not all heroes wear a gun belt; That’s a story told to sell movie tickets. However, unlike an action film, this “Infinity War” is real and feels damn near eternal. 

I’m not naïve enough to think you don’t have to protect yourself in this world, but defense is a quiet task in its best moments, and most of what I hear is noise. It’s a self-interested, suffocating noise that can choke the critical thinking right out of someone. When you account for that, you must call out this failure to act for what it is: a rejection of responsibility and care for our fellow human beings.

Guns should be available to competent and responsible citizens like any other tool. The “bad guys” will find them regardless, but I’m talking about the good that can be done as a law-abiding gun owner. After all, irresponsible gun ownership makes sure the illegal market thrives. Whatever your stance and despite what you blame as the actual cause, I think you would agree that the shooters in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park (to name a few out of over 300 mass shootings this year alone) were neither competent nor responsible, and that’s an insulting understatement. Maybe you’re right, and a background check or red flag law wouldn’t have stopped those instances of violence, but is doing nothing at all, commonly known as the “arm everyone” approach, really the solution you want to settle on? 

Most responsible gun owners I’ve talked to favor the admittedly lukewarm legislation suggested: raising the age restriction for semi-automatic rifles to 21, expanded background checks, and red flag flaws to stop the sale of legally available guns to those with a limited capacity to be responsible. Tell me, shouldn’t the “good guy with a gun” that the NRA celebrates be able to pass a background check? You can’t be hired at most companies without a background check, let alone be allowed access to tools specifically designed to cause fatal injury. A compassionate person who wants to bear arms has nothing to fear from a background check. We, the responsible majority, want to know– What are you afraid of?

Whenever fanatics act out of selfishness and hijack the conversation on the right to bear arms, the irony is they do more damage to that right than its opponents could ever achieve. The gun owners I’ve had conversations with clearly distinguish between what they call “gun nuts” and responsible firearm owners who want to protect the second amendment. Simply put, the grossly irresponsible, namely the special interest groups and those that follow their narrative, always ruin it for everyone. 

I just checked, and there’s nothing written in our founding documents that guarantees your ability to fire over 40 rounds per minute over the safety of our fellow humans going about their daily lives, and I doubt our founding fathers ever imagined such a scenario. I abhor radical voices that stifle the conversation. Still, whenever I hear the unwillingness of these voices to engage in safer gun ownership, I must wonder where their priorities lie in other parts of their lives. When I see alarming signs of a complete lack of empathy in someone who values their trigger finger over protecting the lives of our loved ones attending school, shopping at the supermarket, or watching a parade, I really have to wonder what you hold sacred (other than guns.) Again, are you so afraid of your hypothetical boogeymen that you’re frozen in place, and it prevents you from doing the right thing?

To all gun owners and second amendment activists: I thought it went without saying, but I’m not all that surprised that I need to spell it out in today’s “post-truth” world. I challenge you to “GIVE A DAMN” and be a model, compassionate and understanding gun owner that stands for responsibility, empathy, and accountability. It’s reasonable and hardly an exaggeration to say that all of our lives and our children’s lives depend on it. 

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