Making Gun Safety Viable in America – Episode 61

Making Gun Safety Viable in America - Episode 61Robert and Dave continue to wrestle with the divisive issue of gun safety. This episode is part 4 of the series in search of the middle ground to make gun safety a viable possibility in our country. How can we avoid stereotypes to reduce the heat and the hate? As Robert focuses on creating a greater chance for peace, the extremes of both parties must be excluded. The fringe ends generally create more conflict than resolution. Former President Trump is in a completely different category. He is a danger to democracy. Nor does he have respect for the truth or voting rights. Trump fosters violence and gun danger.

 Hopefully, soon, a wave of centrist Republicans will turn the tide toward a party more in line with Justice Berger and see the sanity in the original intent of The Second Amendment. Gun owners have good intentions to protect their families. This mentality could be harnessed to protect and support the police, The National Guard, and create an extra protection layer for our country. As you’re listening, do you find yourself dismissing this out of hand? No one yet knows that answer but the podcast conveys that it is a worthy debate that needs to happen to imagine and create a country we can all feel safe in. 

Join us for this spirited, frank, and honest conversation where Robert and Dave have a rare disagreement. How many people should be included in becoming gun-carrying protectors? Could it be 5,000 or 10,000, more, or many less that qualify for this peace corps? What is a healthy fear of creating a supportive force of trained and screened protectors versus danger and endless controversy? It is healthy to have fear and trust. It is healthy to be cautious. It is not healthy to be paranoid. It is not healthy to be hateful. The aim is the middle way. The conversation deals with both the ability to see into people’s intentions and how to become safer with sensible gun control. All humans are vulnerable to seeing the extremes and we all would do well to see things in more relative terms.


Mentioned in this episode
The Global Bridge Foundation

Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast

Announcer: (00:00)
The Missing Conversation, Episode 61.

Robert: (00:04)
We need to really recognize that we’re dealing with a different enemy than where our founding fathers were. And I fully believe that our founding fathers would be trying to establish a Peace Core of people that were well trained to support the police.

Announcer: (00:22)
On this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view. Your host, Robert Strock, has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation and inquiry. Born from working on his own challenges.

Robert: (01:00)
A very warm and passionate welcome again to a Missing Conversation where we’ve been addressing perhaps the most controversial issue of our day. Although there are too many to really make that as a simple statement, which is how do we make gun safety a viable possibility in our country? How do we expand that? And we’re looking into how we can not stereotype people that have guns in general and lessen the hatred, reduce the heat and the hatred. That’s going both ways, gun owners feeling that people that don’t have them are just stupid and judgmental, and the people that are judging gun owners are not seeing that the vast majority of people that own guns are doing it for protection. And we’re going to really deepen our focus on how we can create a greater chance of gun safety and peace in our country. By doing this, we are pretty well having to exclude the left, the extreme left and the extreme right, because those ends of the party are generally creating much more conflict than they are resolution.

Robert: (02:13)
And I wanna be really clear right from the start that when I’m talking about the left and the right, I’m not including president Trump. President Trump, I put in a completely different category. I see him as being a danger to democracy and when it comes to gun control and all of that, I see him as fostering violence, fostering gun danger. And I believe that we as Americans need to create safety for democracy and guns. And that President Trump has been someone who does not have a respect for the truth, does not have a respect for voting rights, does not have a respect for so many things, including democracy that we have to take a, a stand that’s passionate, but we need to be very careful how we do that, so we aren’t just voices of hate that are carrying off of each other, increasing the hatred in our country. We have enough hatred. We don’t have enough boundaries. This is a case where we need to use our justice and we need to have a passion for justice, rather than an acceleration of hatred. I’d like to start off the episode with introducing Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and my dearest friend for the last 50 years.

Dave: (03:35)
Thank you. Uh, to say these have been spirited would be an understatement. I think, uh, you and I have never had exchanges on the podcasts, uh, the dozens and dozens, uh, ever before. And, I appreciate the frank and honest exchange and, and, uh, look forward to doing more.

Robert: (03:59)
I agree with you. Uh, we do it a lot in private, but we don’t do it as much in public. So, I wanna clue you in that in between episodes, Dave and I had a completely contentious conversation where he said, I don’t agree with you. I don’t think this is the right the right way to do it. And Dave himself is a gun owner, and Dave and I have been best friends for 50 years. This is the first time he’s ever really complete disagreed with the whole premise of why I was doing a podcast. And then when it came right down to it, and this is what I’m concerned that you will do, he didn’t really disagree with the whole premise, he disagreed with the amount of people that we possibly could have that would be protectors that have guns now.

Robert: (04:43)
And he thought it was completely unrealistic. So I initially had said hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions of people could be protectors. And he was saying, no, you might get 5,000 or 10,000, but even that’s a lot. So in any of these issues, please, please hang in there and realize that if Dave and I are gonna disagree and we’re 50 yearlong friends, I guarantee you, you’re gonna have gut level reactions. But the main premise of having protectors be there that have guns, that gun owners have good intentions to protect their family is so crucial that you understand that there is goodwill that can be harnessed. So, it is a reflection of the kind of conversations I believe needs to happen in the country where we can argue about whether there’s only a hundred people that are gonna be qualified to be part of this, this support for the police and the National Guard and safety for gun control.

Robert: (05:38)
But what we don’t wanna do is keep the mutual hatred that’s existing between both parties. We wanna be for democracy. We wanna be for our approach to democracy. And this means, as far as I’m concerned–and I know this will result in a lot of people hating me {laugh}, and I’m willing to accept the hate–that Trump is not a real Republican. He’s a stand-in Republican that is based on power control, deception, lies, and not democracy. And that needs to be called out. And even though this is on gun safety, I believe he’s the epitome of gun unsafety. He’s gonna foster not only guns not being safe, but he’s gonna foster the use of guns to be used for killing. So in spite of that, as has been indicated, the best chance that we have of breaking this polarization in gridlock is by seeing the basic goodwill on both sides.

Robert: (06:46)
Now, I agree that it’s very hard to see the goodwill of a lot of the Republican politicians. It’s very hard to see it when they’re supporting president Trump. And I don’t support that in any way whatsoever. I feel like it’s a weakness, but which amongst us is not weak. In some areas they wanna be elected, they’re addicted to power, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have another approach that makes sense in other areas of what our country needs. So when I’m talking about assuming the goodwill, I’m talking about assuming the private goodwill, even on their part, that there is a wanting to do something to serve the country that’s been temporarily–and in some cases maybe permanently–but temporarily disrupted by the need for power. So, we need to model being passionate for democracy and not being hating of Trump and all his sycophants that are reinforcing what he’s doing.

Robert: (07:53)
So, this basic goodwill means that there are plenty of Republicans that are sitting quietly, having private conversations that want their approach to how democracy can work. And hopefully during our lifetime, we’re gonna see, hopefully within the next six months, we’re gonna see a rearising of the Republican party that’s going to be sane and gonna be more like Justice Berger, where he’s talking about the sane use of guns for safety and the original intent, which is safety for democracy, not fostering, what appears to be a takeover, a hostile takeover of the Republican party. The truth is from my vantage point is there is still a significant innocence in a large number of Americans that are even followers of Trump, but they have a corrupt side that’s showing itself. And they have not faced the shame yet, but we mustn’t condemn the whole being.

Robert: (09:02)
And this is true regarding, not only the Trump supporters, but also of people that are pro-gun rights. And we’re trying to harness a position where the people that are pro-gun are also seen as protectors in their own world, which lessens the division in our country. And if we can harness some of those people that again might have to be people that have past military experience, it might have to be people that have National Guard experience, it might be people that have had police experience that are trained, that we’re trying to salvage a extra protection layer for our country. So a question for you, as you’re listening to this: do you find yourself dismissing this out of hand? Look and see, and if you are, I ask you to consider that protections may be in order to where it may be a very, very small group of people that are gonna be added to the crew.

Robert: (10:10)
I don’t know. I don’t really know. I don’t think our country knows, but I do think it’s a debate that needs to happen. I do believe the goodwill, a very large percentage of gun owners needs to be owned and felt that they are protectors of their family, they have no intention of being violators or violent. Now, again, as I’ve shared in many episodes, if I had my way, I’d have all, all weapons that are AR-15s or magazines or capable of killing large swaths of people, I would love to have it be taken off the streets. But right now, we’re facing a new enemy just as when the founders were worried about foreign invaders and perhaps, maybe at another level, they were also thinking of some kind of takeover in the country that there needs to be a place for seeing gun owners as potential protectors and giving them a place to potentially declare that.

Robert: (11:19)
I think the more that comes out, the more chance there is there will be less hatred they’re bouncing off against, and there will be ability to have more dinners in our country where we don’t have to hate on each other. Now that’s independent, that’s the starting point of this conversation. And we are doing our best to try to see, can we have some kind of a signup to improve the safety of our innocent civilians. This is a very hard thing to conceive of for the vast majority of gun safety people who are not gun owners and are on the left. There’s a very strong tendency to see gun owners, and especially people that have AR-15s, as evil and stupid and dangerous. And again, I’m not questioning that I’m anti AR-15s, but I am anti-hate. And I am anti-hate of these people out of hand, especially because it’s already the case.

Robert: (12:27)
We already have to face that this is a part of America. And if we keep spiraling around this hatred, it’s gonna make them more hateful. We’re actually gonna be fostering a part of a person that has hate, and it’s gonna make them more hating. We’re trying to reduce the temperature. We also need to recognize that these people generally have a deep-seated fear that they need protection. We need to identify more with that part of them, not for ourselves, but that’s their reality. And if we can see that it will make us less terrified and less hating.

Dave: (13:09)
I just wanna echo the other side of part of that, which is I have a fear of going to certain states where right now you can carry a gun, use a gun with no training, no background check, uh, nothing. You could be a sociopath, never have to go through a background check or any kind of anything. So, there’s also a reasonable fear of people who have guns. They are not, it’s not as simple as saying assume their goodwill that they’re there to protect themselves. Amd, yes, I believe in most cases, that’s true, but I think there’s a significant number of cases where that’s debatable.

Robert: (13:50)
So, there’s a big difference between having a healthy fear and a trust versus paranoia and hatred. So I too would have a fear of going to certain states and walking down a dark street and being concerned, but that’s different than paranoia. Would I completely trust my fear, would I think maybe I’m partially hysterical, would I think maybe I’m a little bit paranoid? Yes, I would. But would I also think that the fear has merit? Yes. But it’s healthy to have fear and trust. It’s healthy to have both sides. It’s healthy to be cautious. It’s not healthy to be paranoid. It’s not healthy to be hateful. What we’re talking about is a middle way. Does that make sense to you?

Dave: (14:49)
If you’re asking me. . .

Robert: (14:51)
I am asking you.

Dave: (14:52)
I would say to you, I don’t feel paranoid. I just feel, uh, a realistic sense of vulnerability and, uh, it’s not everywhere. It’s not every state. It is in particular and I’ve experienced it actually driving through different states. I’ve gone into a 7-11 with, uh, with people standing in line with rifles, uh, AR-15s, guns on their hip, sometimes multiple weapons, and saying to myself, you know, this state has no training. Now it’s not often, cuz I don’t go often, but with the criteria they have to have to get armed, me being unarmed, uh, yeah, it’s concerning. And I don’t feel paranoid, I just feel like, you know, I’m gonna, I’m gonna take a step back.

Robert: (15:45)
See, I happen to know that you own some property in Texas. And I have a thing, Texas is one of those states you’re talking about. Does that mean you’re not gonna go to Texas?

Dave: (15:53)
I actually don’t mind going to where our property is in Texas.

Robert: (15:57)

Dave: (15:58)
I really don’t mind at all.

Robert: (16:00)

Dave: (16:01)
Um, and I also want to confess here, I, I am well trained with those types of weapons, including the types that I would wish were not on the street. So it isn’t that I am timid when it comes to weapons. Uh, but that’s not the life I’m living right now. Right. And that’s how it is.

Robert: (16:21)
I would feel more comfortable if you said, rather than certain states, you said when I’m in a 7-11, and I see somebody packing, and they look to me like they’re a little wild that scares me. But when you start to generalize the states, you start to sound paranoid to me.

Dave: (16:36)
Let’s just put it this way. Uh, I have choices where I travel and part of my choice and consideration for me is the criteria people have to go through, what hurdles they have to jump through, or not, to be armed. It’s a fact. {But when you say} I can make that choice and I there’s lots of places to travel, uh, because I have an interest in a property in Texas, I can overcome a choice because it’s not neutral. I have an interest I have to go attend to. That’s different. But if I have a choice that’s neutral, that will be a factor. Yeah.

Robert: (17:18)
And to me, the trying to nuance this, to respect fear, to respect caution, to respect sensibility that’s fine. That to me feels healthy. But to generalize to states, I think is unhealthy. And I think, I think even to condemn states for traveling is unhealthy. I think that to want to boundary where you go, am I gonna go into a 7-11 in Texas? Probably not. I probably would discriminate, not particularly 7-11, but stores where I see that people might be packing, et cetera, et cetera. I’m not gonna wanna go in those environments. I don’t wanna take risks either, but I’m not gonna generalize as the states. And I think that part of the conversation is separating out, what’s fear, what’s paranoia, what’s hatred, what’s passion, what’s sensible gun responses. Given the reality of where we are today with the amount of guns that are there and the premise that we’re operating from is we’re facing today’s reality and saying, can we channel more goodwill toward people that have guns, rather than automatic paranoia? Can we also possibly recruit some of them to be protectors that are really inclined and will be willing to go through the various scales of training? Can we open ourselves to that possibility?

Dave: (18:56)
Last word from me? I disagree with your perception of me as being paranoid for choosing to go to unregulated places. I don’t think that’s paranoia. I think that’s the personal choice, which again, without a vested interest to go like having a property or some specific reason. I think that’s for me, that’s sane. That’s okay. Not it’s respecting my feeling of vulnerability, and there’s lots of places to travel.

Robert: (19:29)
Fair enough. Um, I don’t see any state that I’m gonna feel that way about, myself and you do, fair enough. So, there is a very important distinction that we need to clarify between what our founding fathers were facing and what we’re facing today. And our founding fathers were facing the dangers of outside forces coming in and wanting citizens to have the right and really even responsibility to be protectors of the state and ultimately of the country. Great, great vision. And by the way, assuming a goodwill, that seems outrageous today. Now from my vantage point, I don’t believe people have changed that much. Now the exception I believe is the Trump followers, especially the hard-core Trump, not the soft-core, but the hard-core Trump followers are the exception. I think that is a real change. Of course I wasn’t living then maybe they existed then, too.

Robert: (20:36)
But what we’re facing today is 300 million guns and we’re facing gun killers. That is the enemy. We’re not so much facing, uh, an army coming from an invasion from another country. So the question is, how do we address this issue? That’s here and now, and again, as I’ve said in other episodes, if I had my way, which I don’t, I would pass pretty much the democratic agenda for background checks, raising ages, training, pretty much all of the standards, raising the age, all of that would happen, but because I don’t have control, I’m trying to deal with present reality. I don’t want it to be misunderstood that there’s a neutrality on those issues. It’s that we all need to face the reality of where we are and how do we become safer. Now, when we just stay primitive and we are threatened by guns, it’s like being threatened by a snake or being threatened by heights. Never underestimate the power of the unconscious and that how extreme that can make us. Dave saying states, okay, fair enough.

Robert: (21:55)
I don’t agree with it, but big deal. I don’t care if Dave goes to Texas or goes to somewhere else, but then it goes to countries or then it goes to political parties. “I don’t wanna be with anybody that’s part of this political party.” That starts to become a sign that our whole fabric of the world is falling apart. The fabric of our country, the fabric of democracy is falling apart. So, I know what’s happening in these episodes is we’re dealing with two levels really when we started with one. We’re dealing with both the ability to see into people’s intentions, which is turning out to be co-primary. And we’re also dealing with, how do we become safer with sensible gun control? I hope that you will at least get the benefit of seeing into people’s intentions that are not the same group of people that you normally hang out with, and that you see the importance of that.

Robert: (22:55)
And that possibly you’ll join me in assuming the potential of goodwill, like our founding fathers did, with I’m sure there were plenty of renegades when they decided what they decided. When we can assume the possible goodwill of many of the people that are willing to go through the hoops to be potential heroes and risk their life, just like people do in the army. That in a certain way, we’re talking about creating a civilian army and trusting just as we do as soldiers, soldiers could go over and kill each other. I believe that the goodwill is viable for people that are willing to go through hoops. And I believe it’s a critical thing because it’s going to accomplish two stones with one stone. It’s gonna accomplish less division in our country psychologically and I believe that it will create some more safety. And if you’re finding yourself resisting, because you don’t believe anybody could ever receive enough training, anybody, that’s not police, shouldn’t be police, and even police can’t be trusted,

Robert: (24:06)
Then I would say, be careful. I am talking to what I believe is a paranoia. Do I believe there are some bad police officers? Of course I do. Do I believe it’s a large percentage? No, I don’t. If you wanna debate that, I would be happy to debate that. I believe the vast majority of police officers are good. I believe the vast majority of gun holders are good and I believe we need to enroll people into this goodness, so we can start to reverse the trend in our country. Quoting the constitution, we, the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America. I believe that goodwill is fundamental and is a bigger part of all of us as people.

Robert: (25:11)
And that we need to harness that goodwill and turn it with passion. And that goodwill can be moved toward gun safety. The fact that we started out making a statement like that when there was slavery is obviously a hypocrisy. And one of the features that we wanna explore in this episode is we are all at some level hypocrites. We all have areas where we aren’t doing what’s best for humanity. There are lots of people that would make the case, if you eat meat then you’re killing the planet. You know, if you are using fossil fuels, then you are killing the planet. There are so many areas and none of us are gonna pass all the tests. Now, again, I’m not putting this relativity in the same category as Trump, or the extreme followers of Trump, or people that are declared defiers of the truth.

Robert: (26:11)
People that don’t believe in free voting, people that don’t believe in democracy, they ought to be, they need to be boundaried. We need to be strong, but we mustn’t be hating. And we need to recognize, we need to really recognize that we’re dealing with a different enemy than where our founding fathers were. And I fully believe that our founding fathers would be trying to establish a Peace Core of people that are well trained to support the police. And yes, of course the police training would be a big part of it. So hopefully the main takeaway that you’re getting from this is that you, like me, like all of us are humans and are vulnerable to seeing things in the extremes and that we all would do well to see things in more relative terms to, and not all things, but see the relative and relative terms to be careful of our tendency to move toward alienation and hatred.

Robert: (27:18)
And to see how we can enter this debate about gun safety in a way that’s gonna include more of America, that is not gonna be in psychological terms like a borderline, which means that we have black and white thinking that we can see that there are some good people. There are some good people that are even soft Trump followers. There are some people that are even puppets that have an addiction to power, but underneath that, they still have a goodness, despite the fact that we aren’t pure in all ways that we can accept and tolerate more people. That’s the foundation of our country and democracy–that there’s gonna be levels of corruption or levels of lack of purity, but fundamentally there’s a goodness. And as a final statement, I separate out the severe Trump followers and Trump, but everyone else pretty much, maybe the white nationalists go in that group too–not maybe they definitely do–but the majority of Americans are good. And we need to find ways to unite with each other, and we need to find ways to foster gun safety, and we need to be thinking out of the box. Thank you for your attention.

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