Bullet Points

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By Jennifer S. Hirsch, a professor of public health at Columbia’s Mailman School, condensed from an October 8 op-ed published in USA Today.

At the rural New York library that I frequent during summer months, my librarian was chatting with a patron as she checked out a volume on guns. Casually, the patron asked how many guns she owned. My librarian replied with a smile, saying she had eight, one for each room in the house.

I was stunned, to put it mildly. Never would I have imagined that this lovely woman with whom I linger to chat about books would be a gun enthusiast. But after my initial astonishment, her words made me think: Could there be more common ground than I’ve assumed between “us” and “them”?

Where deeply held beliefs are concerned, all of us think we have good reason to hold the ones that we do.

Those of us who demand change must seek out and embrace opportunities to talk with individual gun owners. Thousands of those conversations across the country will help build the political support needed to accomplish what our lawmakers have so consistently failed to do. It’s time to talk with my librarian about more than recommended reading.

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