There are some issues in our body politic where digging in your heals, demonizing the other side and screaming bloody epithets over the high fence won’t get you any closer to victory. Plenty of people have worked to find common ground, but the partisan bickering reinforces each position to the detriment of those in the middle who represent a powerful majoritiy.
Though the U.S. Senate just supported a filibuster against a bipartisan amendment to expand background checks for gun purchasers, polls continue to show that 90 percent of Americans support this kind of expansion. That’s more Americans than the percentage who say they like apple pie (81 percent) or even baseball (67 percent). The rhetoric between the gun control groups and the NRA continues to be pretty predictable, but there are some voices in the middle that are reaching out to responsible gun owners — who they know support background checks and other policies — and they are finding a middle ground.
Sandy Hook Promise is one of those organizations. The powerful, emotional voices of families who have lost children to gun violence cannot be ignored, but their sensible, constructive approach to this is turning heads and moving the issue. Finding a way to speak to the middle doesn’t have to mean giving up your moral high ground. It just means realizing that what unites us is sometimes more important than what divides us. And that if we take a look at ourselves as parents, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents we can all agree that the majority of deaths by gun violence in this country are not the price we must pay for our freedoms, and there has to be a better way.
Tim Makris is a co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization formed in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 children and six educators. The group was organized by friends and neighbors and has two main goals: to support members of the Newtown community and to “work to identify and implement holistic, common sense solutions” that will make us safer from similar acts of violence.