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In My Opinion
Lynn Paris

The Great Divide


There’s an unbridgeable divide between two extremes in this country that nothing seems to be able to bring together. Not a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy and not the senseless slaughter of innocent children in Newtown. It doesn’t really matter. The divide is that immense.

For those of us watching from one side, the other side seems to be all about ME, ME, ME. Don’t take away my guns. Don’t help those people whose homes were destroyed by a hurricane unless you give me something in return.  Don’t give compassion (or God forbid food stamps or health care) to the poor, the hungry, the jobless or the uninsured; as long as we’ve got ours, we don’t care.  Don’t strip me of my rights; take away theirs.

When we, from our side of the divide, look at those on the other side, we see what looks like irrational, selfish, paranoid conspiracy-theorists who despise Obama and oppose whatever he tries to do. My assumption is that those on the other side look at us and see what looks like godless, unpatriotic socialists who want to give their hard-earned money to moochers and strip them of their constitutional rights, especially the right to keep and bear arms.

How can people so divided ever come together? I’ve come to the conclusion that they can’t.

So writing about this latest divide, the one over gun control legislation, is an exercise in futility. From what I’ve seen on Facebook, or read in blogs and in the media, conservative republicans, notably the tea party and their sympathizers, cannot be swayed by logic, facts or even compassion. Nevertheless, fool that I am, I am writing the truth just for the heck of it, because it feels good.

  • First of all, contrary to what you believe, NO ONE, not the President, Vice President or any senator or congressman, has ANY desire, whatsoever, to take away your Second Amendment rights.

  • Furthermore, NO ONE has tried!

  • There are absolutely NO bills being considered that even come close to allowing anyone to confiscate your guns or take away your legally bought and owned firearms. So why do many of you write things like: “Don’t confiscate our guns!” or “Obama is destroying the Second Amendment?” That just makes you look uninformed. Or paranoid. Or both.

  • We ALL believe that the overwhelming majority of gun-owners are law-abiding citizens who have guns for sport, hunting, enjoyment, collecting or purposes of self-defense.

  • We also believe that it isn’t any of our business why gun-owners own their guns, as long as they own them legally and aren’t criminals or mentally unstable.

  • We ALL believe that it would behoove everyone, gun-owners and non-gun owners, for people who want to purchase guns to pass a background check. That includes buying guns from gun shops and gun shows (ie; closing the gun show loophole).

  • We can’t imagine why any law-abiding gun-owner wouldn’t want to help prevent felons or the mentally ill from obtaining guns, which only gives guns and their responsible owners a bad rap.

  • We believe that guns should be registered, you know . . . like cars. Both have specific functions, but both can be dangerous if they wind up in the wrong person’s hands.

  • NONE of us believes that guns commit crimes; we ALL know that people do!

  • NONE of us believes that cars get drunk and kill innocent people either; we ALL know that drunk drivers do.

  • In all my years of having to get my cars registered, I never once thought that the government was planning to confiscate my car. That would have made me look uninformed. Or paranoid. Or both.

  • President Obama did NOT request Secret Service protection for his children while not caring about yours (as the latest NRA ad asserts). EVERY president and his family are REQUIRED to have Secret Service protection. They ALL receive death threats every day. When was the last time your family received a death threat?

  • NONE of us believes that enacting certain gun regulations or even banning high-capacity magazines or assault weapons is the solution to gun violence. It is, at most, a part of a complex problem that requires a multi-pronged approach.

  • Some of us are willing to consider increasing security, such as trained law officers, to help protect our schools. Some are even willing to consider training a select group on the use of firearms and designating them as the first line of defense in public schools should tragedy strike. Both are included in the President’s proposals.

  • Some of us believe that another component of the gun violence problem is the lack of access to mental health services. That’s included in the President’s proposal.

  • Some of us believe that it is worthwhile to conduct research on any possible connection between gun violence and the glorification of gun violence in media and video games. That’s included in the President’s proposal.

  • And finally, if you don’t believe the above-listed points, then I invite you to check for yourself. Do your homework! Rather than blindly accepting a cartoon on Facebook or an ad by the NRA, read the President’s proposal yourself. It’s only 15 pages in very big print: you can read it in about five minutes.

You might agree with some parts of it and disagree with others. Perhaps you have some better suggestions. What’s important is that for once we will all be talking about the same thing. Then maybe, just a few of us will be able to bridge the great divide.

I wrote this column before Inauguration Day, which served as an inspiring and heart-warming reminder to me that not only did millions of Americans vote for Barack Obama to serve a second term, but that a vast majority of Americans, no matter who they voted for, love this country, respect its rich history and traditions and, thankfully, fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes that dominate the news. It’s on us to support those who are trying to provide sane solutions to gun violence and so many of the other pressing issues of our day. No matter how loud and annoyingly in-your-face they get, in reality, there are far more of us than of them.

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