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We’ve all failed at talking about gun violence

Nancy Hardy, of Las Vegas, cries as she walks among crosses placed in honor of those killed in the recent mass shooting Friday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

If ever there was a Friday where I wanted to use the cliche “TGIF,” this is it.

By Wednesday night, I told a friend of mine, “I feel really sad today. I’m exhausted.” They asked me why, and for the first time it dawned on me, “I guess it’s because I’ve been talking about unbelievable carnage and senseless violence for three days straight.”

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On top of that, when your first opinion hits the internet, the trolls are waiting to pounce. It’s a cruelty that’s unfamiliar to me. I can’t even check the comments anymore. It’s impossible to engage with people in a reasonable way about gun deaths.

That’s why I was sad. If I’m honest, I still am.

But the job of radio host is to flip the switch, and come in here and do a good show. The show must go on.

When we first started in afternoon drive about 12 years ago, I naively thought that maybe I could help shape public opinion about extreme gun violence. The horror just seemed so obvious to me. Who wouldn’t want to do everything possible to change that? I assumed that most people are reasonable. Most people could look at the evidence and conclude that it’s appropriate to act for the safety of us all. I look back on that version of me and think, “Bless your heart, you foolish man.”

Don and I were on the air covering an NBA game when Columbine happened. Then we talked about Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, The Boston Bomber, The Aurora Shooter, rampages on Capitol Hill and Cafe Racer,
San Bernardino, The Pulse Nightclub, this shooting in Las Vegas, and the list goes on.

I’ve tried my best to articulate reasons why America would be better if there were fewer guns around. Fewer suicides, less gang violence, fewer domestic murders, fewer toddlers that accidentally find a gun. Fewer mass shootings. But I have failed to find that reason.

I can’t come up with the magic thesis that changes hearts or minds. And it seems like no one else can either. There’s an army of people smarter than me that have written miles of copy that have reached the same end as me. Failure.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that there is no more divisive topic in America than guns. Our level of divide on this issue makes abortion and gay rights seem like minor squabbles.

I guess I’ll say it this way, I’m not so much “anti-gun” as I am “pro-not-getting-shot.” I’m pro living my life without fear. I’m pro being able to go to Vegas or a concert or a ball game and not having to look over my shoulder for a gunman. I’m pro not being suspicious of people because they might be plotting a mass shooting.

The fact that there seems to be no way to even talk about this issue makes me sad.

I usually try to tell you to have a great weekend. Unwind and do something fun. The best I can do today is to say, I hope we’ll all be a little less sad by Monday.

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