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.