“How to have a conversation about gun control”

  By: Troy Anderson *


If you are at all like me, you are not only horrified at the epidemic of gun violence in the United States but also frustrated at the inability of our political system to do much about it.  Just as frustrating can be repeated, futile attempts to find anyone on the other side of the political aisle who can agree with you on the issue at

Dwelling on this horror and frustration, I crafted a few easily understood statements that can help frame an effective starting point to discuss gun control issues. If you and your conversation partner could agree to these statements before beginning a discussion about gun control, it might help your conversation be more productive.

(1)I ADMIT THAT WE HAVE A GUN PROBLEM The United States has a massive gun violence problem. Mass shootings such as recently in Las Vegas are merely the tip of the iceberg in this gun violence problem. The massive numbers of gun deaths and injuries in this country mostly involve suicide, domestic or family disputes, and urban crime.

Yes, you could say something pithy such as “it’s a heart problem or a sin problem,” and in a philosophical sense you could be right. But that doesn’t negate the fact that people with problems are using guns to try to solve those problems, and we can and should do something about the resulting violence if we can.

We have more than 33,000 gun deaths in the USA every year, 2/3 of them suicides and a huge percentage of the remaining 1/3 being cases of family violence. Obviously this brings in issues of mental health and family intervention and poverty and a variety of other issues. But at least starting with what should be the obvious – that we have a major problem with gun violence, would be a good place to start.

(2) I KNOW THAT THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS HERE TO STAY I believe that the 2nd Amendment has an important political foundation, and I am not in support of its repeal. I am in support of reasonably thought-out gun control legislation which I believe would reduce some gun violence in the USA, particularly as each piece of legislation is targeted to a specific part of the gun violence problem.

(3)I WILL NOT BE A JERK I will not call people names, be rude or offensive, or otherwise engage in unhelpful public discourse on these issues. Where I make a mistake in that regard, and where I am called out on it, I will admit my errors as quickly as possible, giving the benefit of the doubt to people who I disagree with.

(4)I WILL ALSO BE REASONABLE AND INTELLIGENT I will do my best to make well-reasoned arguments. I will critique my own flaws more than the flaws of others to guarantee that my opinions are solid. I will agree with others where I find points of agreement. I won’t use logical fallacies and will admit it when I do and am called out for my reasoning errors.

(5)I AM AN ENGAGED CITIZEN My life will be significantly defined by personal sacrifice for the benefit of others. I will be an engaged public citizen, not a keyboard warrior. My life will be evidence that, wherever I stand on the political spectrum, I am serving humanity and therefore can be trusted as a person who wants social policy to benefit all.

In these crazy political times, these might be some helpful starting points for a meaningful discussion on gun control. I hope that this helps your thinking.


*International Director for Speak Up