Let’s find a way to talk about guns that crosses our divisions of entitlement and common good

Writers’ Group Growing up, we always had a rifle. It hung behind the clothes in my parents’ closet. I remember getting it out one time. Dad quickly said, “Put it back. It’s not a toy.” The bullets were kept on a shelf high above the basement stairs where even a tall adult could barely reach them. The gun and bullets met on butchering day when a hog needed to be killed. Our neighbor John had a gun case that contained a mix of rifles and shotguns. John’s collection didn’t prevent him and my dad from being friends. Guns have become a hot button issue. Guns divide us. It’s become difficult to have calm conversations about guns. It may be even harder to have productive conversations about our Second Amendment. The Second Amendment may not be as noble as we like to think. Are we ready to recognize it was included, at least in part, to satisfy southern states, where plantation owners wanted protection from slave revolts? This doesn’t sound as noble as protecting oneself from tyranny. Do we care that this sacred amendment is stained by the blood of slaves? Today’s gun conversations are colored by fear — fear of infringement of our Second Amendment rights, fear of others with guns, fear of people with different values and ethnicities. More and more, we assume we need guns. As Iowa lawmakers got back to work, a three-member House panel proposed a gun rights amendment be added to the Iowa Constitution. […]

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