Much of the problem is that the rational folks on both sides of the issue often ignore each other in favor of pointing to the crazies on the other side and saying “That’s just crazy!” They also tend to ignore the crazies on their own side, and focus on the other rational folks on their side. Thus, they function in a paradigm where all the crazy people are on the other side, and all the rational people are on their own side. It’s a false paradigm. Until that falseness is widely recognized, the issue is unresolvable.
What rational folks on the gun control side need to hear and understand that the pro-gun folks understand:
- Semi-automatic is not machine gun. You get one round fired each time you pull the trigger. You just don’t have to work a bolt action or lever action to load the next round.
- Semi-automatic rifles are useful for hunting and target shooting. They are used for these things far more often than they are used to kill children in movie theaters, by many orders of magnitude.
- There are millions and millions of firearms owned by lawful and responsible people which never cause a problem for any lawful person or society. Owning a gun and carrying a gun does not prove that a person is unstable or dangerous.
- Most hideous gun events involve the violation of multiple existing gun laws. Like mass shootings in gun-free areas.
- Changing gun laws doesn’t change gun realities. Only law-abiding people change their behavior in response to changes in law (obvious to anyone who has driven a public road or freeway). Changes in law will not stop those who disregard the law, but it can turn safe and honest people into unintentional technical criminals.
What folks on the pro-gun side need to hear and understand that the gun control folks understand:
- Many people have never had any contact with a firearm of any kind. What they know of them, they have learned through TV, movies and books, where they are used to kill and injure people hundreds of times a day. They find guns scary, and don’t understand why any sane person would want them to exist.
- While they might like to think of a world without weapons and violence of any kind, they don’t really think it’s reasonable or useful to talk about taking all guns away. Reasonable regulation is not necessarily the camel’s nose that leads to full registration and forced disarmament.
- It does make sense that people who own guns use and store them responsibly, and that they be trained to use them safely and effectively. Nobody wins when people use and store their guns irresponsibly. These things will probably not be legislated, but it’s good to advocate them at every turn, to show the gun control folks that the goal is not to produce a fantasy wild-west scenario.
A little assurance from each side that their goal is not what the other side fears can go a long way to calming people down. After that, constructive dialogue can follow. It’s not as much fun at pointing at the crazies on the other side and laughing at them. It requires more thought and consideration. That’s why it rarely happens. But it is possible.