It has been some 30 hours since the horrific shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Even 2,000 miles away, the shock is still raw. I cannot imagine the suffering that the people involved must be enduring at this moment. To be sure, they are in my prayers.

During these mind-numbing 30 hours, people have given voice to the usual positions on gun control. I find this distressing—partly because of the volume and hostility behind these pronouncements, but much more because they do not begin to answer the questions deep beneath them.

Here are some of the questions that roll through my mind. Please understand that I am not asking them in a rhetorical fashion to defend one position or another; I truly want to know the answers. And if you have a position on guns, I invite you to post your answers and your thinking. I would only ask that you refrain from (a) restating tired positions and (b) demonizing the other side. Go deep.

That said…

For people who favor the unfettered right to bear arms:

  • Why is gun ownership important to you? How has it made your life better?
  • From your perspective, are some guns more dangerous than others? Do some guns have legitimate uses in a democratic society and others not?
  • For those who answered yes to the previous question: If a ban on very dangerous guns with no legitimate use could reduce incidence of violence, why would that be a bad idea?
  • Is there any connection in your mind between a culture of gun ownership in general and the incidence of violence? If so, how high would that incidence have to be for you to accept some limits on gun ownership?
  • Why do you consider background checks onerous?

For those who favor limits on gun ownership:

  • How do you feel about guns in general? Why?
  • How do you think about the apparent randomness of mass shootings?
  • What do you do with the fact that no screening procedure, no background check, and no limit on guns will eliminate the kinds of mass violence like that perpetrated last night?
  • Are there legitimate uses of guns? How would you ensure that people can use them legitimately?

I’m sure there are many other good questions, but now it’s your turn. Please. More than ever, we need to get somewhere on issues like these. And we can only get somewhere when we talk—and listen.