Why some of us can’t stop thinking about guns

By Grace Wehniainen

University of Miami Hurricane

As a native of Parkland’s next-door neighbor, Coral Springs, I live in a community changed by gun violence. These days, who doesn’t?

Here, you never stop thinking about guns, and how they can harm—because even on everyday drives to Walmart, you see Douglas, and remember the lives that were lost there.

And the airport.

And your friend’s college campus.

And at—well, you get the idea.

That feeling—of confronting gun violence, even in the most mundane of places—is not-so-slowly growing more familiar to Floridians, and to the nation as a whole, too. So I was eager to listen to the experts, a roundtable of Florida influencers, talk about guns, one of five key priorities discussed at the Florida Priorities Summit on Tuesday.

The discussion was refreshing. It provided a level of practicality and professionalism we don’t often get to see in political “talks” with family and friends. Based on a common understanding that there is, indeed, a problem, the assortment of influencers were able to work based on that foundation—that something needs to be done.

What that something is, though? TBD. Equal in their intentions yet disparate, sometimes, in their idea of execution, members of the table formed a sort of microcosm for the larger debates happening throughout the state and country.

That disparity was highlighted, particularly, by deliberation on gun access.

Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami law professor, emphasized the need for making it harder for everyone to get guns. Bob McClure, though, president of the James Madison Institute, likened her suggestion for a stricter system to a kind of “gun version of the IRS,” and said the average law-abiding citizen should not be subject to increased restrictions.

(But as Franks said, a law-abiding citizen is only law-abiding until they aren’t.)

Of course, the conversation continues. I forget why I expected there to be some sort of unanimous group vision from the get-go—but now I know that even these esteemed, experienced influencers can disagree on the carrying-out of gun control. That’s not really a bad thing, though. If they were to approach the issue from a perfectly cohesive perspective—no issues, no “buts” or “I-don’t-think-sos”–then surely whatever plan they put out would have a hard time winning over the other 50 percent of the population come next Election Day.