Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Gun Debate and Lousy Message Promotion

I’m always leery of wide-eyed fanatics who blindly push material on me with a message that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny or that I’m not allowed to question.

Wide-eyed fanatics come in many flavors ….

…. the ones who are trying to save my soul.  When I tell them that part of my background is in theology, they are undeterred and proceed to tell me that everything I have learned in the past is wrong but they will “straighten me up”.  Apparently they have the real hotline to God.

…. the ones who are trying to save my body from the scourges of the pending Mayan apocalypse or some other pending disaster that has been revealed to them alone.

…. the ones who are trying to save my mind by attempting to convince me that Twilight, Harry Potter or some other popular book is the best book I will ever read, bar none.

They remind me of robots in a “take over the world” science fiction.  They can only answer questions that they have been programmed to answer.  Thinking outside of those parameters is not permitted.

I don’t mind them being passionate but some people don’t understand that there needs to be limits to their passion. :-)

I guess I need to add a lot of people for and against guns to this list of wide-eyed, unthinking human beings.

Personally, I have no issue with weapons for self protection, for hunting and the like.  When I was a kid, I would go duck hunting with my Dad.

However, when it comes to automatic or semi-automatic weapons, grenade launchers, machine guns (yes, there are over 1/2 million registered machine guns in America), large magazines, the ability to buy guns at gun shows without a background check and the like, I merely ask the question “why do you need them or need the right to buy them without a background check?”

I haven’t made my mind up when I ask questions like this.  I really want to know.  Perhaps there is a reason that I have missed or that is not readily apparent and when I ask such questions, I am providing people with an opportunity to educate me and perhaps sway my opinion.

However, I’ve been disappointed many times in recent days when it comes to the gun discussion.

Some gun proponents explain constitutional history (to the best of their ability), self defense and the like.   Fair enough.

However, many fall back on things like protecting their family against the alleged corrupt government that is coming to get them.

And many fall back on insults right out of the gate.

For the latter two, when I ask why they believe that the government is “coming to get them” or why they have to answer a normal, cordial question with insults and nothing else, many of these people fall back on more insults and even threats.

As an outspoken public figure, I have received my share of death threats and so I’m not really concerned by such “expressions of passion”.

But if the best that a lot of these people have are threats of violence with no hint of rationalization or attempts to convince me with information, I wonder if they realize they are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for themselves and their right to own firearms.

Anytime I see a wide-eyed person promoting gun ownership and espousing threats, I think they should be disarmed immediately.  Telling them that makes them very angry, exposing them for what they really are.

Paranoid, dangerous people who insist on being armed but who really need to be disarmed quickly.

In fairness, it’s not just the pro-gun side

On the flip side, there are anti-gun advocates who feel that an absence of guns means an absence of violence.  They forget that an intent to kill will be carried out with something else if a gun is not available.  It may not be as easy or as spontaneous in some situations but there is no stopping a person with an intention and a burning desire to carry out that intention.

And to prove that point, anti-gun advocates make their points with intimidation and insults.  In doing so, they seem to have lost sight of their own message that violence only exists when there is a gun present.

Dialog – a better way for both sides

Now, in truth, there are many wonderful, sane, intelligent people out there who have a strong desire to possess weapons for a variety of reasons – hunting, self-protection, as a hobby and the like.  For many of these people, I have no issue with their interest in firearms possession per se.

There are also many wonderful people out there who are trying to bring peace and love to the world but aren’t blind to the reality that expecting heaven on earth is not realistic.

Unfortunately, their respective messages are being lost in the cacophony of people who are unable to discuss, debate or dialog with data, facts, respect, restraint or a sense of decorum.

And as it is with many things, it is always a few people who spoil it for everyone else, regardless of what side of the issue they stand on.

In business, when I am trying to convince a client of a specific direction that I feel works best, I do so with facts, illustrations, respect and a sense of collaboration for the mutual benefit of all.  I stand firm on my beliefs while at the same time, I remain open to the other side’s view as long as it is delivered with data and respect.

Maybe the wide-eyed gun owners (not the sensible ones) should consider doing the same. 

And by the same token, the wide-eyed anti-gun people should also consider following suit.

It’s only when we listen to each other, understand each other’s perspective and then work on a solution that meets somewhere in the middle do we actually find a solution.  After all, if you don’t like it when people are in your face yelling and screaming, why do you think they in turn will be open to you doing the same?

In the meantime, all we get is a lot of noise …. a lot of anger …. and yes …. deaths that could and should have been prevented.

And when that happens, it’s NOT just the pro-gun advocates who own the responsibility of the event.

We all do.

In service and servanthood,


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