Inevitably, whenever a mass shooting takes place, each corner of the political compass starts blaming each other. Depending on whom you ask, the problem is gun availability, or violent video games, or a lack of prayer in schools, and so on, and so forth. While any of these could conceivably be factors that contribute to gun violence, we don’t know for sure because we’ve never had an open dialogue about it. As soon as the issue of gun control arises, both sides of the aisle start talking past each other and any potential solution is stymied.

America prides itself in being “the home of the brave,” but we are incredibly fearful of opinions other than our own. Rather than speak to a colleague or neighbor with viewpoints opposite ours, we tend to want to engage only with those that already agree with us. How is progress ever going to be made if all of our ideas remain in an echo chamber? I can’t tell you what the single biggest factor is that contributes to gun violence in America. But I can confidently say that we won’t figure it out until we learn to speak civilly with those whose viewpoints differ from our own and seek to learn from them.

Stetson Rockwell


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