As part of our ongoing work to find common ground, I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with three gentlemen who are gun owners. They are also all members of the National Rifle Association, for various reasons.

I always learn a lot from hearing stories of how people were introduced to guns, what they were taught about gun use and storage and what gun ownership represents for them today.

Part of the conversation focused on differing views of “safety” relative to guns.

Some find safety in gun ownership and carry. Others feel the presence of guns reduces their safety.

Here’s an example of what that can look like in real life relationships.

One of the gun owners, we’ll call him “Joe,” shared that he asked a good friend (let’s call her Sue) how she would feel if he brought a gun into her home. Sue said she would be very offended.

Joe was upset by this response. His position was that Sue knows him to be a reasonable person and experienced gun owner. Sue should trust him. Therefore, he thought Sue’s not wanting his gun to be in her house was a negative reflection on the status of their friendship.

I have heard this view before. To some extent, I understand it.  I then shared another perspective, one held by some people who do not own guns.

Guns were basically created to kill living beings. They are designed as lethal weapons. (And yes, there is trap and target shooting – we are speaking in broad strokes here.)

There are many reasonable, responsible gun owners. However, any time a gun is present, there is always a chance an accident will occur or that the formerly responsible, reasonable acquaintance will become angry and/or irrational and use the gun to harm others.

Therefore, it can feel like a very big “ask” to expect those who prefer not to be around guns to tolerate their presence.

Basically, we are saying, “Who gets to define safe?”

Should it be the people who feel safe from having the gun with them? Should it be the people who feel safe when a gun is not present? Or is it determining in what places and spaces each gets their wish?

Following this discussion, Joe said, “It just occurred to me.  It’s not just gun owners who have rights… people who don’t have guns have rights we need to respect too.”

Yes, indeed.  We ALL have rights that need to be respected.

Let’s seek solutions that we can all live with.