Bullying is disgusting
Mar 29, 2018 | 1108 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Earlier this week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill to regulate the sale of guns in Vermont. In general, the bill would expand background checks to the private sales of firearms, raise the age to purchase a gun to 21, ban bump stocks, and set a limit on magazine size. The ultimate fate of the bill is unclear, because it has to go back through the Senate and, if passed there as is, be signed into law by the governor.

The bill has engendered much debate around the state. We know that any discussion about gun control will bring out strong feelings on the issue. People get emotional, we understand that. After all, there are real-world life-and-death consequences that could arise from legislative action, or inaction.

But we were shocked this week to hear that local legislators were being bullied and receiving threats of physical harm because of their votes, or the perception of their votes.

Frankly, the fact that people have to resort to bullying on social media and direct intimidation through email and phone calls is disgusting.

Just because bullying seems to be the new political norm doesn’t mean we should accept that. It shouldn’t matter what side of the gun issue someone is on, or any issues for that matter. We need to be better than this, as a community and as a nation, if we are ever going to have a meaningful understanding about how to best keep our population safe from gun violence.

People have to be willing to listen to one another, and accept that just because other people hold differing views they are not evil, or soft, or turncoats, or constitutional deconstructionists.

We need to move beyond posturing and name-calling and stereotypes on all sides of the gun violence issue and find a way to reach solutions that are reasonable and fair. We can do that with other things that put people in harm’s way, like driver’s training, licensing, and safety inspections for automobiles. We as a society accept them as the norm. Why is it we can all accept that there must be a certain amount of training and qualification to drive a car, but so many can’t accept that about owning a gun?

Those who support gun rights, as we do, need to understand that every time someone says we need to look at revising our gun laws it doesn’t mean someone is going to knock on a door and confiscate every gun around. Laws often need revision as technologies or social norms change. We do it with our traffic laws constantly and in general people can accept change and understand it is for the common good.

We also need some evidence-based analysis free of the hyperbole before we can have a reasonable debate about what is appropriate for safety and what violates a constitutional right. But the federal government is loathe to spend any money on the public health threats of gun violence.

We understand why people feel threatened when there is any talk of gun regulation. But there are also people who are threatened by the actions of some people with guns. We would assume that survivors of Parkland, Las Vegas, the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Pulse Nightclub or any of countless other shootings are haunted by the memories of what they went through and the knowledge that it could happen again.

That’s why there is a need for rational discussion on both sides. We owe it to one another to disagree agreeably, rather than answer with threats and intimidation. Here in the Deerfield Valley, we often pride ourselves on being a community that can work together and talk about our differences. Now is the time to show it. Without civil discourse this country will never move beyond the polarization and social-media posturing that characterizes many debates over laws and life in this country. It must start at home.

We, collectively, can be better than what we are right now. Good people, including religious leaders, politicians, friends, families, and neighbors on all sides of an issue must speak for decency and call out the trolls, the thugs, the bullies, the haters, and the alarmists for what they are. We don’t need this, and it has to stop.
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