Surely, there must be common ground.
Start with the horror that most all Americans felt when they heard about the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. National mourning was much in order. Common ground there.
Even the presidential candidates suspended their campaigns for a day to offer sympathy and words of comfort to the families and friends of the 12 persons killed and the more than a score seriously wounded. The tragedy was Topic Number One in the country for days after the shootings.
What stops the debate so often is to assume nothing could have been done, to prevent Columbine, to prevent Virginia Tech, to prevent Tucson, and now, to prevent Aurora.
Where are the voices of common sense? Where are the voices of those those who don’t prey on people’s fears? Where are the voices of those who don’t have a political agenda? Where are the voices of those who don’t have a financial stake in fostering fears?
Where in heaven’s name are the clergy? Aren’t they suppose to lead us on moral issues? Isn’t gun violence a moral issue? Somebody shooting innocent people? Do the clergy fear offending members of their congregations who might oppose any rational restrictions on the kind of assault weapon that James Holmes allegedly turned on an innocent crowd of theater-goers Friday night? Mighty quiet in most pulpits over the weekend.
Indeed, what of all those people of faith who vow fidelity to the cause of peace and brother and sisterhood?
Silence here is the stance of moral cowards.
Let’s have the national debate on guns. Let every side bring out the facts. Let’s hear from the researchers, the constitutional authorities, the NRA, the Brady Campaign. Let’s hear the arguments, pro and con, on reviving the assault weapons ban. Let’s find out who is getting rich keeping gun laws weak and enforcement lax. “Following the money” helped us understand the health care debate. Apply it to guns. Let’s hear how we can keep firearms out of the hands of those persons who most people believe shouldn’t have them.
Yes, we need a full-throated national debate. We need to have a debate where everyone listens with respect to the other side. We can do that. We’ve done it before. We need to have a debate that produces new policies on common ground. We’re Americans. We can do better. We need to open a new day on firearm policy that makes the Aurora tragedy the last.