I’m writing this week with a heavy heart.
The mass shooting by a terrorist at a night club in Orlando has once again brought shock, horror and despair to our nation. While I feel compelled to write about this horrific violence this week, I am not going to cling to typical talking points.
First, as an avid gun owner, shooter and Christian who is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I understand the concerns many of you have about guns. To anyone who has not grown up, been exposed to, or trained with firearms, I can understand how intimidating even being in the presence of guns can be.
Second, I also understand that because you and I often disagree about political issues and because I am often hard-edged with my rhetoric and frequently dismissive of your comments about firearms, I can understand how you feel that I, as a gun owner, am callous and uncaring.
But I want to be clear – I do care about you. And so do the millions of law-abiding gun owners who carry a firearm visibly or concealed every day.
I’m not going to discuss proposed changes to laws, background checks or banning certain weapons in this column. I want to make a bigger point about the divide we face as a nation.
We face a radicalized group of people who want to kill us for reasons we largely do not understand, or as retribution for acts we did not personally commit.
As these radicals are united in their hatred for us and desire to use whatever means necessary to slaughter us, we stand divided, debating the details of background checks, magazine capacities and concealed carry permit laws. No matter who wins these debates or implements policy they believe in, we will face the threat of terrorism just the same.
These terrorists won’t always use guns. They have used box-cutters and airplanes, pressure cookers converted to bombs, machetes and more, just to kill Americans. They don’t ask our political affiliation, sexual orientation or political ideology before attacking us.
But we can do better. And we can do more. It starts with how we treat one another.
Internet forums and social media have exploded with Americans fighting about gun laws and statistics.
While terrorists plot to kill more Americans, we are treating one another as if our disagreements are the greatest threat.
To the people on the left who are opposed to gun ownership, or feel threatened by the presence of firearms, please understand – the same people you are arguing with about the Second Amendment and guns in America would most likely stand between you and a radical gunman, returning fire, to protect you. They would do so without asking your party affiliation, sexual preference or political philosophy. They would do it because they value your life, and the lives of all their fellow Americans.
To the people on the right whose first instinct is to ridicule people who are genuinely frightened of guns – please lead by example. While some people use these tragedies to score political points, many are just afraid, lacking information or have never been exposed to responsible, freedom loving gun-owners.
To everyone – let’s recognize that our biggest threat is not one another, it is a group of radicalized terrorists who have been set on a wild-eyed mission to kill as many of us as they can.
Let’s listen to and elevate the peaceful, freedom-loving voices on all sides of this debate to build a better, more secure and more free future for our children.
Now is the time to come together, and make sure future generations are touched by the better angels of our nature, not by a growing threat from radicalized terrorists or our inability to come together in the face of this threat.