As a former volunteer judge for Public Forum Debate, I loved that the kids who were debating had to research and defend both sides of an argument. We are all biased to prefer one side over the other, and even as a judge i had to work to take my biases out of the equation so that I could be an impartial judge in the process. It is a great exercise in understanding and listening. It is also a great exercise in having data and sources to back up your arguments.
Lately I have found myself in a position of advocating for gun safety. I have joined a committee with the League of Women Voters that is working towards making sure there is a balance between gun ownership and gun safety. I for one, am not a fan of guns at all, but I do understand the intent behind the Second Amendment and believe people should have a right to own a gun with some exceptions; a discussion for another day.
Since the Pulse shooting there have been a couple of other shootings in Florida that have received media attention. Most recently, yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. This shooting comes on the heels of SB 140 which is focused on open carry and extending guns to be allowed on college campuses, airports, and libraries. I had recently asked my son, who is a great researcher and writer to help me to respond to an email from Senator Stuebe where he defended his position on open carry and college campus guns. My son said he would help, but later sheepishly asked me to consider that he might not be opposed to guns on campus. OUCH!
That conversation ensued in a short discussion about the state of society as we know it and the idea that promoting gun free zones might not be a good idea. I listened and still disagree, but I was happy that he felt comfortable challenging my views so that we could have a healthy discussion, I did see an article this morning on business insider that showed some data that gunmen rarely target gun free zones. I shared it with him.
I say all of this as a reminder to myself that all stories have two sides and it is important to listen and understand, It is also important to continue to seek information to back up our arguments rather than just listening to emotion or platform. I have been proved wrong before, and I am open to learning and understanding all points of view. My one caveat is that it needs to be healthy discussion, not hateful rhetoric.