In the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, we are caught in the middle of another name calling tug-of-war between gun-rights advocates and gun-control advocates.
One side paints their opponents as backwards rednecks that will tolerate mass shootings as acceptable losses so long as they get to keep their shiny sticks that go “bang-bang.”
The other side believes their adversaries are emotionally driven, naive socialists who want to take everyone’s guns away to make way for a new communist regime.
But is there any common ground?
What if both groups really want the same thing?
What if both sides actually want to prevent gun violence and future mass shootings?
I know it seems hard to believe that both sides have a common goal, but what if we assumed the best about each other? And we try to believe that we all want to prevent our children from being victims of another mass shooting…but we have different beliefs on how to achieve that objective?
What if we tried to understand that gun-rights advocates really believe that the best way to protect our families, homes, schools, and our children is to have freer access to guns? And that gun regulations make our families and children less safe?
What if they’re really following Jesus’ warning to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Mat 10:16) in this dangerous world and to be prepared because “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36)?
What if we really truly believed that gun-rights advocates believe that more guns makes the world a safer place?
And what if we tried to understand that gun-control advocates really believe that the best way to protect our families, homes, schools, and children is to have less guns in the world? That the unrestricted access we have to guns in our country makes us less safe?
What if they’re really following Jesus’ command to “put away your sword, because those who use the sword will die by the sword” (Mat 26:52)?
What if we really truly believed that gun-control advocates believe that less guns makes the world a safer place?
So what do we do when two groups want the same thing, but have directly opposing solutions?
Can we set our biased emotions aside, stop vilifying the other side, and try to believe that we all want the same thing?
And what if we actually made room for the possibility that our solution to the problem may be wrong?
Because what were doing right now isn’t working. People are dying.
If handing out guns to every man, woman, and child means that no-one else ever has to die from a madman hunting them…then I’ll be the first in line to hand them out.
But if turning in our weapons means that not one more man, woman, or child has to die needlessly from a bullet…then I’ll be the first in line to hand in my gun.
Or maybe there’s a solution in-between the two extremes we can discover…if we choose to respect each other and believe that we all want the same thing.
Joel Varner has served in ministry for the past 15 years. He is a pastor in Albany, Oregon equipping and training missional community leaders. Joel works with his wife Brenna, of 14 years, and their two daughters. You can find him on Facebook.