Conversations…. (REBLOGGED)

Hi again.

Reblogging a couple of posts which make good points about the need for dialogue when talking about “contentious” things. Finding the common ground should be the important thing. Unfortunately it’s much easier to use what I’ve heard called “wedge politics”, where the two sides try to stay as far apart as possible and ‘wedge’ the other side into a tight spot over the issue. It might get them more supporters in the short term, but in the long term…we all really just want solutions. These bloggers (below) are both American and are talking about gun control. However, their ideas about dialogue over argument can be applied to many things.

Pragmatists, perhaps, get more things done faster than idealists. It’s a hard lesson I myself had to learn earlier in the year relating to asylum seekers. :/
If we find common ground, then solutions should follow. Even if that common ground is at first hard to find. We can be set in our views. All it takes, though, is a willingness to listen and attempt to see things from the other’s viewpoint. Letting go of preconceptions is hard, but we need to try if we’re to get anywhere at all on so many issues.

First, another piece from Kerri (whose post on gun control I posted this morning).

If only…

If only there could be a conversation, rather than a debate about gun control. Let’s take the politics out of the conversation. Instead of having talking points designed to “stir up the base” what if both sides just took a moment and created a dialogue. If only we took out the extremes and found the middle ground. Imagine instead of reading this:

Pro-Gun Control: The NRA is killing your children and we must ban all guns
Anti-Gun Control: The Liberals are taking your guns and your children will be killed

Neither statement is true, in my opinion.  The Pro/Anti monikers could be interchangeable with Anti-Gun and Pro-Gun ownership.  Let’s take off the labels and consider instead the conversation went like this:

Person: I’m concerned about the amount of gun violence in our country. I feel there must be something we can do, as a society, to make our homes/schools/towns safer.
Person: I’m concerned about that as well (aside–who wouldn’t be?).

Imagine how the conversation would progress if we started as common stakeholders in our community’s safety?

Read the rest here.

Second, here’s Laurie Works, a gun violence survivor.


For the last couple of weeks since I wrote my letter to Congress, I’ve been trying to foster dialogue with the people of the Internet and the people of my city (hello, Colorado Springs!).

This has not been easy.

A lot of the replies that I’ve received via my blog or Twitter account have been painful. Painful is a strange word to use, but that is what comes up when I transcend the flash of anger that appears when I first hear certain things: pain.

When people ask me, “What do you think about the armed citizen that stopped the shooter in your shooting?” As if I didn’t realize she was a part of my story.
When people assert that people are the problems, not guns. As if it were not bullets that killed my sisters.
When people say that laws don’t dissuade criminals. As if they don’t set norms in society of what violence equates to, as if they didn’t set the norm that the shooter adhered to.

The list goes on. Each of these replies first pierces my heart and honestly? I want to lash out.

I want to be the same exact person I see all over Twitter. Insulting, and raging, and cursing at people I disagree with. Sometimes, I admit it, I degrade to being that exact person because it hurts so damn much.

But if I can take a step back and look at it for a second, if I get curious, something happens that changes everything.

I meet people.

I’ve heard so many stories in the past 2 weeks. Stories that I am honored to carry, and that you can go read in the comments of my blog. I’ve had amazing conversations with people I would have called “the enemy”, had I continued to react out of pain.

At this point, that means much more to me than being right. I don’t want to be on the “right” side of this discussion. I want to truly meet people and hear their heart.

So while I’m now going to tell you about some of my personal beliefs about gun violence, I want to ask that you do the same. Tell me your stories. And tell me WHY you have them. What beliefs are behind your stories? I’ll trade you, okay? But let’s be people first, and issues secondary to that. Meet me here – I promise to hold your story in a safe place in my heart.

Read the rest here.

P.S. Don’t get used to twice-daily posts…my blog schedule happens as it happens. Today, I forgot to include the above links and words in this morning’s post, so here it is in the evening. Most of the next few days have scheduled posts – I’m in the middle of exam revision. (Two weeks until it’s over for the year.)

REBLOGGED: Why No Action On Gun Violence?

I tend to keep quiet online about certain things to do with other countries…know your own patch first and all that. Also, with the issue of gun violence, I’ve got the impression that anything Aussies say about it sounds a lot like preaching, at least to some Americans.

However, I will signal-boost. Below is a post (original link here) from an American mother. She makes some good points I reckon. She’d like the message spread, so here goes:

Why are we not taking action?

I have a license to carry a firearm.  So does my husband. So do many of my friends. So know this at the start: I promise I am not trying to take away your right to possess a firearm.  What I am trying to do is make our legislature pass common-sense measures to make our society safer.

Consider what we, as a society, generally do when faced with viable threats:

A man boards a plane with a shoe bomb. We now take our shoes off at the airport.
Children suffer injuries in car accidents. Nationwide standards are created for proper restraint systems.
Drunk driving kills 25,000 people in 1980. MADD is formed and works with legislatures to pass laws to decrease drunk driving deaths by half in 2013.

And yet: In 1991 three students shot and killed 12 classmates, 1 teacher, injuring 21 additional people. More than 260 school shootings have occurred since then, and 19 young people have died at school.  More generally, in 2014, there were 12,563 deaths by firearm. This year, 2015, isn’t over yet and already there have been 10,200 deaths by firearm. Over 500 children under the age of 11, have died or been injured been injured since January 1, 2015. (Statistics: Gun Violence Archive)

School districts have responded; they’re locking their doors, and using already-scarce resources to hire unarmed security guards. Colleges are taking similar measures. But that hasn’t been enough to stop school shootings.

We need to change our laws.

I do not want to take away anyone’s right to have a gun. We have guns in our home. But  I question the ease in which we can obtain a weapon of mass destruction. Yes, mass destruction. Anyone affected by gun violence will attest that it created mass destruction in their lives.

My friend’s son just received his driver’s license. He took a 30-hour classroom course, spent 12 hours driving with a licensed instructor, spent 6 hours driving with his parent, and took a written test combined with a practical one. He had to prove he could actually drive the car.  At the Department of Motor Vehicles after he took (and passed) the tests, he had to take a visual acuity test.

When I received my license to carry a firearm, I took a 4-hour class sponsored by the NRA. I took my certificate to the police station, filled out a form and a background check was performed. Once that was passed I met with the officer for an interview and fingerprinting.  Less than 2 months later I returned to the station to pick up my license.

I never had to prove that I retained the information provided to me during the 4 hour course or that I could handle a live weapon (let alone a fake one). There was no simulated test that I had to pass or a written one.  My vision, depth perception and reaction times were not evaluated.

How can that be? How can it honestly be easier to arm myself then to drive a car to get groceries?

I believe my children’s teacher should not have to worry about protecting them from gunfire. I believe that we need nationwide laws, just as we have nationwide vehicle laws. I believe in background checks—each time you purchase a weapon. I believe in more stringent testing, more class time and actual live fire exercises. I believe when you go to renew your gun license you should have a vision, reaction and cognition test. I believe your gun license should be reciprocal in every State and the same laws should apply in California as in Nebraska.

I believe if you need a gun permit to purchase a gun, you should not be able to buy the bullets that go in that gun without a gun license. In many States anyone can purchase bullets. No license required. A gun is useless without bullets, how is it that you do not need a firearm license to purchase them?

It is up to us, each and every one of us as a stakeholder in our society, to demand the kind of legislative action that will reduce gun violence.

Even with the right laws in place, will criminals still be able to obtain a gun? Of course; after all, there is still drunk driving. But if the number of drunk driving statistics has fallen by half with better regulation, oversight and consequences for operating under the influence.

Why are we not taking action to reduce gun violence?