My Last Post About Guns. I’m Out.

flickr: vinothchandar

flickr: vinothchandar

With the recent National Rifle Association’s campaign to bring armed guards into every school in the United States [12/21/12 nra.org], I’m out. Simply put, this posture of thinking and the conversations that have spun out of it, are indicative of a chasm of perspective that I am no longer willing to try and cross via my blog life.

So, NRA, mission accomplished, you win. You and those who would support this plan are scaring the $h!t out of me.

No matter how folks wish to frame recent conversations about guns in the United States, the violence and expected legislation, it is clear to me that the climate is being fueled by fear, self-preservation and an individual’s rights above all others. These are not bad things in themselves, but the problem is that when the debate currency is hyperbole and hypotheticals no one - left, right or in-between - is able to make much headway with the other. We can all quote studies that support our positions, we can all claim the thoughtful approach and we all find plenty of reasons that the other side is delusional and idiotic.

Now normally, I might chalk this political carnival atmosphere up to just another day of politics in the United States, but in this case, I deeply wonder to what end and at what cost? I have seen very few cases – there have been a few – where anyone has changed their mind or had transformative relational experiences with someone from the other “side.” Much like abortion, civil rights and marriage equality I will choose to trust those whom we have elected to office to do what we have tasked them to do: listen to those who sent them there, make decisions for the common good and have the mettle and determination to see those decisions through without feeding the violent rhetoric that take on a very different tone when the issue is guns.

And if they fail, we vote them out of office.

So, I am done blogging about guns because it stresses me out. It stresses out my family and friends who read the comments. And there are simply times when talking about guns – and I think thoughtful gun advocates need to realize this – that when people get pissed off at you when talking about guns and lift up hypothetical violence against you and your family they are scary . . . um, because they have guns and they are pissed. I suspect this is the intent – and some get off on the power and intimidation – but really it’s just not worth it for me to keep poking the internet trolls in the eye. So yeah, fear is playing a role, but my reaction is not to go into lock-down and arm my family, but to walk away and no longer add to the escalation.

The biggest reason that I am dropping out of much of public blogging debate, however, is that I don’t like the way it is makes me feel about other human beings: strangers, acquaintances AND strangers. I strive to always interact with graciousness, try to see the complex beauty with which God has gifted each person and attempt to appreciate those who hold views that are different from mine. But, what I have noticed about my own spirit is that I can feel these interactions eating away at my soul and my ability to truly honor and see the child of God in all people. As a Christian, when I begin to lose the ability to see the other as holy, I become an unhelpful and even destructive voice.

Sometime we must disengage.

But lest you think I am TOTALLY out of the conversation, I am no abdicating my voice and my ability to help connect people and resources. We must each hold our public servants accountable, strive to participate in helpful ways and, even when we are unable to ourselves, instigate and support thoughtful dialogue.  So with this in mind, as I stumble upon good articles and resources, I will be pinning them to  my Support Gun Control Board  via my Pinterest life.

So . . . I’m not shying away from hard conversations, rather, I am striving to be a healthy part of whatever conversations I do choose to have. And right now and for the foreseeable future, it will not be about guns.

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Asking the Question, “Do You Allow Guns on Campus?”

It is hard to believe but in a few short years my first born, my “baby,” will be heading off to college. The browsing has begun and next year we will begin making visits. Truly shocking to this GenX’er dad – not only is the college decision looming before me, but like so many other things that are different than “when I was young,” because my daughter is smarter and more gifted that I was at her age, distilling down the possibilities will be difficult. But try as we might to avoid it, we have to deal with the reality . . . our daughter will soon be going to college and we will have to help. :-)

As we have conversations about the possibilities, we know that her interests and passions will be significant determiners, the shear cost of a college education will be a factor and the application process itself may require an advanced degree. Despite all of these things that make us want to run away and hide, we have begun making our list of questions and filters for schools: some serious, others not so much . . .

  • Which schools are the “best” ones for your interests . . . or for the interests that your parents hope you will be interested in?
  • What are your dreams and will this school help you get there?
  • Who gives good financial aid or has some version of a no-debt programs?
  • Who as the best food?
  • Seven Sisters? West Coast, East Coast or that middle part?
  • Small college or large university?
  • What schools are located in cities that the parental units are willing to visit?
  • What is their policy concerning guns and/or concealed weapons on campus?

Even as I write this post, that final question seems absurd to me.

Yes, I know that there is a contingent of folks who believe that any restriction of gun ownership is an attack on their liberty and constitutional rights, but guns on college campuses? When I was in college I could barely be trusted with choosing my major, let alone carry a firearm. So, despite the shocking amount of legislation that aims to ease gun restrictions on college campuses or forbid colleges from banning concealed weapons, I will simply choose to believe that most folks, even strong gun advocates, would not support policies that would allow students to carry guns on campus.

I also know that most of the schools that we may end up choosing probably will not allow students to carry firearms – as most states either ban guns on campus or allow schools to determine their gun policy [See map above] - but even some great schools are located in states that have or have had legislation that, if passed, would make it possible. You can see a complete list of legislation here. Of the 20+ pieces of legislation introduced in 2012 or carried over from 2011, thankfully most did not make it through this legislative cycle, but I have no doubt that advocates of guns on campus will be back again.

If you are interested in seeing some of the colleges and universities who have signed a pledge to keep guns off of their campuses, please see this list from www.keepgunsoffcampus.org and if your school has not signed, please encourage them to do so. And if you want to see one school that has begun to loosen their ban/restriction of concealed weapons on campus, here is Liberty University’s Gun Policy which includes a list of schools that they lift up as having similar policies.

I write this post not battle some straw man, to incite unnecessary panic or to pick a fight with anyone – yeah, good luck with that I know – but rather to highlight the need to be aware of what’s going on in the realm of guns on our nation’s college campuses. Other than a very brief and surreal interaction during a recent presidential debate, the absence of a national conversation on gun control or gun regulation has been deafening; and as a parent, a Christian and a citizen of the United States of America, the silence is not okay.

I do not want my child going to a college or university that has loose gun policies, so I’ll be paying close attention to legislative trends, especially over the next few years. If you feel the same way, I would encourage you to keep your ears open and stay connected to Keep Guns Off Campus by following them on Twitter or liking their Facebook Page. You can also keep up with the larger conversation via The Brady Campaign. And if you have other groups or schools who are fighting the move to loosen gun restrictions on campuses, please feel free to share.

Thanks for reading.

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