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Home country: USA
Current location: Dallas, Texas
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 30,252

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One year after Sandy Hook, a search for civility

On the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, I did not attend any vigils or ceremonies to honor those killed, because the ones I knew of were organized by gun-control activists who likely would have considered my presence an unwelcome intrusion. At the same time, however, I did not attend any pro-gun demonstrations or events yesterday as I considered many of these opportunistic, if not insensitive.

My lack of participation in any of the forementioned exercises, naturally, has no impact in what has turned into a cold civil war over firearms in America, with both sides digging in deep and refusing to budge.

I learned a few interesting things on DU over the days, weeks, and months that followed Sandy Hook. For example, I was told that the Second Amendment was only enacted to protect slaveowners, that Nazi Germany was actually a gun-owners paradise where you could buy any firearm you wanted (if you were a white Aryan male), that women who owned semi-automatic firearms actually had tiny penises, and that I was a "freak" with "blood on my hands" if I dared voice objection to anything that the gun-control movement demanded - which meant that I'd have to agree to not only bans on "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines, but also mandatory insurance for gun owners, "one-gun-a-month" laws, and a Federal permit as a prerequisite for owning a simple squirrel rifle. For starters.

But gun-control activists weren't the only ones to double-down on craziness. We are all too familiar with last month's armed protest in Arlington, Texas over members of Moms Demand Action holding a luncheon at a local restaurant, which many of us interpreted as outright intimidation. An overabundance of "open carry" demonstrations finally convinced Starbucks to change its attitude towards guns in its coffeeshops. And there has been too much support for George Zimmerman and his perversion of Florida's "Castle Doctrine" laws that allowed him to murder Trayvon Martin and get out of jail scot-free, at which point he continued to draw attention to himself with his impulsive and violent temper.

In the national scuffle, the one piece of legislation that might have done some good - an improvement of the Federal background check system, proposed in the bipartisan Toomey/Manchin bill - met an ignominious death on the Senate floor.

For all this talk about the need to have a conversation on gun legislation, nobody is talking to each other. And it's getting worse.

Ginny and I could talk about it, though. She supported most forms of gun control, while I opposed them. But our dinner conversations remained quite civil. Not that we weren't capable of pushing each other's buttons, but our love and respect for each other overcame that. And I was probably responsible for more of the button-pushing, but that was purely by accident. When your wife gives you "the stare," that's a clear warning that your argument is heading off into the weeds.

So we learned how to talk with each other. And we even learned to make each other think about our respective positions. Voila! Conversation achieved.

I'm not afraid to ruffle the feathers of my fellow gun owners with some new ideas now and then. Eric Liu contributed an interesting opinion piece for CNN regarding the concept of "gun responsibility" in support of improved background checks. It's a concept that, if presented correctly, could possibly coax people on both sides of the debate out of their bunkers long enough to talk about background checks and finally get something done on Capitol Hill - after the 2014 elections, of course. But while some fellow Democratic gun owners are leery that this is just another repackaging of the old gun-control paradigm, I see it as possibly illuminating a new way forward.

This isn't about compromise on either side. This is about the need to talk, the search for new ideas. I believe in talking.

We need a new civility in America over the gun issue, and it should begin with each of us.
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