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Gary Johnson: Here's How You Have a National Conversation About Guns

by Gary Johnson, published

It is tragic that it has taken a mass murder of historic proportion to remind us that the vast, vast majority of people are fundamentally good.

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, we have witnessed and learned of countless acts of heroism, courage, kindness and generosity. Strangers helping strangers, even at the risk of their own lives. Thousands standing in line for hours to give blood. Funds for the victims and their families being established and receiving millions in donations virtually overnight.

It’s amazing, but not surprising. Those are the things we do in this country when the going gets tough. We’ve seen it time and time again, and reminds us of a human spirit for which we should all be grateful.

Hundreds of lives were permanently altered, and dozens were lost

At least 59 people died, hundreds more were injured — many gravely, and yes, we once again witnessed the fundamental goodness of Americans as they responded to an unspeakable tragedy.

All of that because one maniac, for unfathomable reasons, decided to get a corner suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort, assemble an arsenal, and open fire from above on thousands of innocent folks just trying to enjoy a concert across the Strip. With that cowardly act, hundreds of lives were permanently altered, and of course, dozens were lost.

And while the loss of so many can never be replaced, and the harm never truly healed, we know that Las Vegas, the state of Nevada and the nation will stand up, dust ourselves off, and move forward. That’s what we do.

A suggestion for having a national conversation about guns

Of course, the conversation has already begun. Yes, that conversation. The one about gun control.

While cell phones in the pockets of the deceased were still ringing as loved ones tried to find out if they were OK, some politicians – and others – were taking to Twitter to lay blame and somehow demand that we legislate safety from a deranged mad man.

This time, though, I have a suggestion. Imagine what a conversation we could have if our politicians display the same respect, selflessness and dignity that thousands of ordinary Americans displayed last Sunday evening at a concert venue in Las Vegas – and in the days since.

We need to have a conversation about what happened in Las Vegas. To let such a tragedy pass without asking tough questions about how it happened and what we might do to prevent something similar in the future would be foolish and irresponsible.

A national conversation respecting the Second Amendment but also asking legitimate questions

But it has to be a real conversation, not another rerun of two political parties playing to their bases. It’s a conversation we need to have without counting votes and campaign contributions, and one that respects not just the Second Amendment, which I wholeheartedly defend, but also legitimate questions about how a guy came to murder dozens of people with an automatic weapon from a hotel room window.

We Second Amendment supporters need to accept that it’s OK to ask those questions — and gun control advocates need to accept that there actually is a right to bear arms in this country.

If, after an appropriate time of mourning and respect, we can approach the inevitable revival of the gun rights debate with just that little bit of mutual respect, it will be a fitting tribute to the heroism and selflessness we have witnessed in Las Vegas and beyond.

Editor's note: This article originally published on The Jack News, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN. It was republished with permission from the author.

Photo Credit: Cineberg /

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