Why I Changed My Opinion About Guns

Friday, July 27, 2012

Polarization of a political issue has become all too common in today's debates, as pundits and politicians drown out the more nuanced opinions of quieter moderates. The debate on gun control was reignited by the Aurora, Colorado shootings, and amidst the fiery rhetoric, there is a good deal of common ground between gun owners and gun control advocates. 

Chauncey Hollingsworth is a freelance writer for The Atlantic and Playboy. He has been around guns all his life, but the Aurora shooting is what he calls the tipping point that has changed his view on gun control. He was also affected by the Columbine school shooting in 1999, and the Fort Hood, Texas massacre in 2009. 
"When I consider the idea that others could have this right as well, and freely, with less regulation than what would be required to get your driver's license, that's what gives me pause," he says. What Hollingsworth would like to see is stricter regulations for buying guns, especially in the case of gun shows. At these shows, sellers who are not trying to make a profit do not have to have a license to sell, and buyers can avoid background checks. 

Laurence Budd is a water efficiency consultant and gun owner in Fort Collins, Colorado. He grew up without any sort of gun presence in his home. When he was in the Peace Corps in southeast Asia, he was a witness to atrocities committed by Filipino government forces under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. 

"The public was unarmed, and the army was armed," he says. Upon his return to the United States, Budd purchased a firearm of his own. "I bought a gun when I came back, feeling that this is an important right for citizens to have." 

What the two men agree on is the need for increased scrutiny of weapons and ammunition purchases.

"I wish that we did a much better job of tracking and watching people who [start] buying a lot of guns and ammunition," Budd says. "I know it's a bit of an infringement on privacy, but I think it's kind of important that we start doing this more." 

Hollingsworth concurs, and points to the lack of regulation as a major reason for why the shootings at Columbine, Fort Hood, and Aurora were possible. 

"The lone male gunman is no longer an anomaly in this country," Hollingsworth says. "It's become a commonality." 

"The commonality seems to be that you have these people who are very intelligent loners set off from everyone else in society, and they have unfettered access to as much ammunition as they want, to as many firearms as they want, to large capacity magazines."

He believes that the common ground that he and Budd have has been shouldered out of the national dialogue due to polarization of the issue. "You've got two diametrically opposed sides that push the argument to the margins," Hollingsworth says. 


Laurence Budd and Chauncey Hollingsworth

Produced by:

Robert Balint and Brad Mielke

Comments [3]

Chuck Anziulewicz from Spring Hill, West Virginia, USA

Dudley Brown is the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which advocates for firearms owners’ rights. This is what he had to say: “We’re different than other cultures. We DO allow Americans to possess the accoutrements that our military generally has.”

"Accoutrements." What a pleasant way of describing the weapons and ammunition and body armor that James Holmes had accumulated over a period of a few months.

Doesn’t ANYONE find this just a bit disturbing?

Someone who wants to own a handgun for the protection of himself, his family and property, and/or a rifle to go hunting with, who is also willing to go through reasonable background checks and registration requirements? THAT’S what I would call a responsible gun owner.

But to suggest that the Second Amendment guarantees that anyone can have an arsenal, stocked with as many guns as he wants, of any type of gun and ammunition that he wants, just because it’s his HOBBY? That’s just nuts.

All I can conclude is, if this is the way it's always going to be, then we should simply dispense with the hand-wringing when the next massacre takes place. James Holmes did not have a criminal record before he opened fire on a crowded theater. He went about accumulating his weapons and "accoutrements" in a perfectly legal manner. We might as well get used to this sort of thing, because obviously no one has the guts to stand up to the NRA.

Jul. 27 2012 02:49 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Like any true New Yorker, I have had guns pointed at me a couple of times
All you see is the gun. The gun looks really big, like Yosemite Sam's guns in the cartoons

I was raised with guns. My Grandfather kept his family alive during the Holocaust in hiding and he had a gun which saved him.After the war,he taught me about guns and how to use them.

In Israel when I was 13 years old and working on a Kibbutz they stuck an Uzi sub machine gun in my hands because I was a big kid and had a beard and because I was a good shot in target practice.

Owning a gun should have a class like Driving Ed attached to it...Strict training and yearly mental exams are my idea for who should have a gun.

Maybe I'm crazy but its just not a good idea for hot heads or desperate people to own a gun.

I am alive because my Grandfather owned a gun and used it in particular this one time to keep a Nazi quiet in the woods of Lithuania.

Jul. 27 2012 01:07 PM

I honestly lost count of all the phony and evidence-free presumptions in this "report."

John Hockenberry began with "the distinctively American lone-shooter massacre..." Uh, John, there are victim families in Scotland, Norway, Canada, the Far East and throughout the Middle East who would beg to differ.

John immediately carried on with stacking any debate with a description of a "stalled and stilted discussion of gun control." I take it that any discussion of gun control that is not resulting in more restrictions of gun rights is "stalled." Any failure to move our society in the direction of removing guns and gun rights is just that; a failure.

John then let pass nearly every one of Chauncey Hollingsworth's fact-free presumptions; that we need to close the so-called "gun show loophole" (none of the Fort Hood or Aurora guns were gun-show purchases); that "the lone man gunman is no longer an anomaly" (when in fact that is exactly what it is -- an anomaly, in a nation where gun violence has gradually and steadily decreased over the last 40 years; and the general presumption that a 100-round magazine is what essentially ennabled the Aurora shooting, when ten 10-round clips might (we don't know yet) have resulted in even more carnage.

As a technical matter (this is something good reporters would want to report on in detail), it is my recollection that the Virginia Tech shooter's weapons were all purchased via FFL's (Federal Firearms Licensee-sellers), with the standard background check. As were the Aurora shooter's weapons. And the teenaged Columbine shooters obtained at least some of their wepons via adult-strawman purchasers, which is already against the law. Indeed, strawman purchases are against law(s) which were passed with the support of the NRA!

Does The Takeaway really think that a conversation filled with so many incorrect pablums was a good service to the listenership?

Jul. 27 2012 10:22 AM

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