..who desperately believes there has to be a conversation and an attempt to get both sides talking and - above all - listening.
I live in Washington, DC, and do not have or want a gun.
But I own a property 2300 miles away, and have family members living there. It's an entirely different world....below the fold.
My family has a small farm/ranch in Fresno County, CA. The area is rural, and abuts he escarpment of the High Sierra. There are poisonous snakes, coyotes, bears, and the occasional mountain lion. We don't hunt and don't like to kill wild animals. We hear coyotes most nights and keep them out with fencing. We have seen bears go through the garbage, which happened all the time at our old place atop the mountain. My cousins, who run the place, are quite liberal, but they know that you cannot reason with a rabid or distressed animal, and they keep a gun. And it is not under lock and key, because we simply don't know when we might need to use it.
Our place is about an hour from Fresno, and there are meth labs, gangs, and other problems encroaching. We also have two mastiffs among our five dogs. The dogs are sweethearts with the kids and grandkids, but strangers don't have to know that.
We are not paranoid, but we are twenty minutes from the nearest police station. Everyone near us has dogs to warn them and guns to protect them.
There is crime. There are home invasions.
I pray that we never, ever use that gun, but we need it. Al Simpson used to say that his mother, Lorna, kept a gun under her pillow until she died at age 94. She never used it. We're like that, and you can take away that gun when you pry our cold, dead fingers off of it. We need it for our own protection and that's our decision.
Fresno County has nearly 20% unemployment, and there's a lot of crime, despair, and fear. Our neighbors are all conservative, all fearful, and all pro-NRA.
I'm not sure how to reason with them. Even telling them that current gun laws allow mental cases and even terrorist sympathizers easy access to heavy weaponry and body armor doesn't seem to penetrate their political shell.
I feel that gun control advocates don't appreciate the need we have to keep guns for our own protection and don't understand the fear that millions of Americans have about government going after their guns.
I feel that gun enthusiasts don't appreciate that the guns they use for hunting and self-defense will never be taken from them (the Second Amendment isn't going anywhere), and they still don't appreciate the carnage caused by the current lack of restrictions.
It has become a dialogue of the deaf.
Don't talk to me about how "we" are right and "they" are wrong. Been there. Done that.
Tell me how to get both sides to listen, especially when the other side points out there are half a billion guns in this country and any time a criminal wants to get one, they can.