The issue of guns is arguably the most sensitive that we have at any level of government.
The reasons for this are quite clear.
On the side of increased regulation of guns, the consequences are considered to literally (using the traditional definition) be life and death. Proponents of this point of view are trying to prevent as many deaths as possible.
On the side of decreased regulation of guns, the consequences are likewise considered to be life and death. Proponents of this viewpoint are also trying to prevent as many deaths as possible.
This is a simplification, of course. People have a myriad of reasons for standing on whichever side they choose: philosophical, strategic, political, etc.
When both sides consider the stakes so high, emotion has a way of flooding any discussion between opposing views. When negotiations of policy that affects millions are conducted emotionally, the losing side will likely react negatively. The cycle continues on and on.
The concern isn't that people act emotionally in response to tragedy. That is human, and is a trait to be admired. The concern is when a partisan sees the other side as the enemy. That's easy to do when the stakes are so high.
I don't think I can offer any remedies, other than thinking of the other side as a part of a discussion instead of an enemy at the gates. In a recent episode of my podcast, Wonk and Circumstance, there was a civil conversation that never went beyond words. It even included DADE’s Nick Jiménez as one of the panelists.
If only conversations like this one were the rule rather than the exception.
Juanky Robaina is the co-founder of VoterAid, a Miami-based startup focused on improving civic engagement by helping voters find their ideological matches from among the candidates on Election Day. VoterAid was chosen to be part of Florida International University’s first incubator cohort, graduating in December of 2016 after successfully helping people across the state of Florida vote in the November elections.
Juanky was born and raised in the county of Dade to Cuban exile parents. He lives with his wife and spends too much time watching West Wing and Psych reruns.