It wasn’t the typical kind of conversation you’d expect in a convenience store. It started with the still raw anger and confusion over the recent school shooting elsewhere in our state. It’s not like we’re one of those states where things like that just happen every so often, so we were still processing what it means to us ordinary everyday folk. The people involved in the conversation were young and old, men and women, believers and unbelievers.
Some just couldn’t understand why anybody would need an AR-15 or bump stock.
“A kid just shouldn’t be able to squeeze a trigger and fire off dozens of rounds in an instant.”
Others felt that …
“It starts at home, you teach your kids from as early on as possible that guns are not toys.”
“You lock up your guns tighter than Fort Knox; a kid just shouldn’t be able to get access to guns.”
A younger guy pointed out:
“I blame social media. These kids are relentless online and there’s just no escape from it. Not like how it was in the old days where you left school at school – it didn’t haunt you day and night when you’re at home.”
But the statement that got the most agreement was:
“People just don’t believe in God anymore.”
God. Guns. Laws. Social Media. How I would have loved to have everyone keep on talking about it – hash something out. Figure out what we’re going to do to make sure it never happens again. But if anything, having eavesdropped on all that – it occurs to me that there’s no shortage of confusion. You can’t make everyone believe in God. you can’t ban all young people off social media. (They’ll just create profiles with fake ages so they can participate on them anyway, just as the older millenials had done before them.) You can’t ensure every household teaches about gun safety to their kids the same way – or the right way. And it seems that laws themselves are not capable of ensuring the best outcome given the impossibility of setting them in motion in the first place because of the efforts of the lobbying groups.
Still, I was proud of my middle of nowhere town. At least for a few minutes we were really listening to each other. I know; in a week it’ll be back to the same old, same old – but for now, it made me thing that if we could do this much – then we just might be able to make a difference … but really, it does start with listening. A grandmother came across her grandson’s journal and foiled a potential school shooting because she was listening – and paying attention. Maybe if we all learned how to listen to others who are crying out for help, and learned how to stand up beside them so that they didn’t feel that they had to stand behind a gun to be heard then we could make some real change that makes a real difference and really saves lives.