Thinking Outside the Box on the Gun Debate

He had come to speak at our Toastmaster’s meeting as a guest speaker. When I realized what his topic was, my stomach clenched. He was going to talk about gun violence. Inwardly, I rolled my eyes.

I am a gun owner–a proponent of gun ownership–that people need to own guns to protect themselves–that only the armed have the means to defend themselves.

My view reflects the rural influences around me. Those influences differ vastly from a view often seen in the city–that guns are the tools of those who deal in drugs and crime.

I thought my view was one of only two ways of seeing the issue of gun violence.

But he came to our meeting from a city about an hour away, a city that doesn’t quite have daily murders, but sometimes sees shootings weekly or at least monthly. 

My job was to evaluate his speech–hence, the clench in my stomach. I thought he would roll out the only other perspective–the old idea of eliminating guns.

I thought there could be no third way of seeing the problem.

But there is a third way. And the third way works.

Here’s the plan that is already reducing violence, already transforming some places in America (from a news report)

1. Detect and interrupt [retaliation after an act of violence has already occurred].

A. Work to prevent retaliations: If a shooting occurs, teams of trained workers go into the community – even a hospital where a gunshot victim is being treated – to work with anyone impacted and help “cool down” emotions.

B. Mediate ongoing conflicts: Identify ongoing conflicts by talking to key people in the community about ongoing disputes, recent arrests or prison releases, using mediation techniques to resolve them peacefully.

C. Follow up with conflicts as long as necessary.

2. Identify/treat the highest risk – Trained, culturally appropriate outreach workers work with the highest risk to commit violence – often people they hang out with –  to make them less likely to act violently. Provide them with support to help high-risk individuals instead find drug treatment or jobs and lure them away from street gangs.

3. Mobilize communities to change norms – Engage leaders in the community as well as community residents, local business owners, faith leaders, service providers, and “high-risk” individuals, conveying the message that residents, groups, and the community do not support the use of violence.

Here’s a program that’s working. It’s a fresh way of looking at an issue that’s divided our country–among many other issues that divide us today.

There will be places this third way won’t work because enough people won’t step up and do what they have to do to become part of this solution. 

The solution requires people to involve themselves–to immerse themselves in people and problems that are difficult.

The solution requires us to think outside the box, to find the third way. And to invest ourselves in putting the third way into practice.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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11 Replies to “Thinking Outside the Box on the Gun Debate”

    1. Thank you, Roos. In the past, nearly everyone–even so many young men–owned guns, largely without incident. But who knew that recrafting the cultural influences could get us back to a time of civility and respect. May the tribe of interveners grow!

  1. Since Obama days I am reading a lot about gun debate. There is always lot to say and lot to discuss. Weapons are forged to harm others. Guns are there to protect ourselves but I see that 90% times people are using them to just kill others not to save themselves.

    Hope there will be something better for all of us.

    1. Just last week, an armed father stopped a shooter at a McDonalds. Funny how the mainstream media didn’t make that a big story. Perhaps you should read in different places. In cities, there’s a real problem with guns. But you won’t get the bad guys to put them down. You may someday succeed in disarming the dads in McDonalds who will then be part of the body count.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Alicia. And I love the creativity here. They can work with people on both sides and help some see that the problem isn’t gun ownership. It’s people lacking the relationships and principles they need to function and thrive within community. God bless!

  2. Wow! Such a powerful approach to start making change bit by bit. It allows us to address the root of the issue instead of the symptoms. What a wonderful way to begin to create necessary change.

    1. Thanks, Brittany. It’s the way of the Church–to walk with someone. We can’t just make laws or just pass out money to help people. We have to mentor and disciple them. That’s what this program at least begins to do. God bless!

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