We didn't share the news from Las Vegas with our kids yesterday morning before school. We do talk about current events in our house. In this case it seemed too fresh without enough information known. I did talk last night with my oldest daughter. She's the same age now that I was when the Challenger exploded. She knew about Las Vegas because her Social Studies teacher talked about it - I heard about the Challenger from my Science teacher. My science teacher told our class that like her generation with the assassination of JFK, my generation would remember where we were when the Challenger exploded. She was right.
This is where my heart breaks. When I asked Sophia if she thought she would remember this 30 years from now, she said no. Instead, she named three other similar events off the top of her head. I want you to hear that. For my empathetic daughter, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history is not something that will stick in her mind. And why should it? The 4 deadliest shootings have all happened in the last ten years.
Here's another side to the story of guns. Earlier on the same day as the Las Vegas shooting, the brother-in-law of one my parishioners was killed by a gun in a home burglary. He was killed right in front of his family, including kids the same age as mine. He had a right to defend himself. If he had a gun it could well be that the burglar would have turned tail and run (he actually did run after shooting the man, so we know courage wasn't his strong suit). So my heart breaks again.
One of the reasons I suggested we not immediately respond with calls for action is that the action/reaction is so predictable. The conversation starts this way:
"We need to do something about gun control!"
Then it goes downhill. As if the only options are a total ban or no restrictions on guns at all. So it's not a conversation. Like with so many other issues today, it's just two people or two sides shouting at each other without listening.
"If we ban guns then only the bad people will have guns"
We can only hear each other when we are emotionally moving toward each other. Before a person who disagrees with you can hear you, they have to be open to listening. That's not happening today, on either side.So here's what I would ask you to do. The blog title comes from Ecclesiastes 3:7. I ask that you do both. First, be silent. In the silence, ask yourself what would you be willing to give up if you were on the other side of the issue. I think we need more gun control. As I consider the positions of those who are pro-gun, I can understand why they would be in favor of concealed carry and stand your ground laws. I disagree with both, but I can understand where they are coming from. However 26 states allow a person to carry a weapon without any training whatsoever. I have to think that even if I was pro-gun that would seem like a bad idea. Same for the new silencer law that has been proposed.
Then speak. Contact your state and federal representatives and senators. Say, "I've really thought about this. I can understand why we may need to allow (fill in the blank with what you can tolerate. This gives you something in common and the person can emotionally move towards you and be open to what you're saying). And (this word is important - the word "but" negates what you just said and starts moving the person away from you again) and I also think it would be good for us to (using the next federal vote coming) restrict the sale of silencers because of the danger that they pose."
Silence and speaking. Listening and sharing. We need both. Or we can keep doing what we're doing right now.