This weekend Gabby Giffords and her Husband Mark Kelly brought their “Rights and Responsibilities” tour to Raleigh. In an effort to bridge the gap and start a conversation they had a clay shooting day at a local gun range followed by a roundtable discussion on gun control. Now I don’t know how much it will help but I respect how Giffords and Kelly are trying to meet the opposition on their own turf and speak their language. This is what we need more of in political debate in this country, honest attempts at dialogue. Unfortunately not everyone got the message.
You see, the location of the event was kept secret, probably due to safety concerns, and Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun rights group, wanted to find out where. However they used the worst possible incentive to get their supporters to find out the location. They offered a “Where’s Gabby” contest and offered a reward of 100 rounds of assault rifle ammunition to whoever located the range they were going to. Now, I know they only did this because ammunition has become an expensive commodity and they thought this would motivate their members, however, they completely missed how this would look to everyone else (it looks like a bounty on her, guys). Much like Sarah Palin’s putting crosshairs over targeted legislators (which some believe contributed to Giffords’ shooting in the first place) it’s a thoughtless move that could have consequences for gun owners and gun control advocates alike.
The problem when you only listen to the echo chamber of one’s own ideas is that you can cause harm without realizing it. That’s why I asked a friend of mine what he thought about the reward. My friend is a veteran, a Republican, and a gun owner, all things that I am not, which is why I asked his opinion. He said that while he wasn’t really happy with Giffords visiting the state, the actions of Grass Roots NC, “Will really only harm responsible gun owners like me in the long run.” It’s why trying to understand how the other side sees things is important for dialogue. So, gun rights people, think about what you’re doing in the future, not for me, but so you don’t make responsible gun owners like my friend look bad.