Common Ground: At the March and After | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Common Ground: At the March and After

Avery Gardiner

I marched last weekend. Joined by my daughters, my cousins, and a favorite aunt, we moseyed along the National Mall for six hours. "Moseyed" because we moved slowly as we tried – and failed – to get to Independence Avenue, the March's starting point, amid the throngs. Instead, we shared common ground on the Mall with hundreds of thousands of other marchers. We were awed by the enormous crowd. We laughed at clever signs as we ate soggy, squished peanut butter sandwiches.

Two days later, I had a discussion via email with a different favorite aunt, a southerner who voted for President Trump. She remarked that on most issues, we mostly agree. She is right. We usually vote for different candidates. But we agree on many policy issues, on our respect for the democratic process, on our desire that politicians act respectfully, and on our love of country.

In the next few years, there will be major battles over issues. At Brady, we have mapped our strategies for those battles, and we're ready. But there is so much common ground on gun violence prevention. In our enthusiasm for and commitment to the major battles, we must focus on that common ground and achieve meaningful solutions.

For example, more than 9 in 10 Americans agree that we should have background checks on all gun sales. Yes, there are disagreements about the precise implementation of background checks. But when 9 in 10 people agree, we don't have to go looking for common ground. We know where it is, and we're going to get it, state-by-state.

And the government reports we have show that 90 percent of crime guns come from only 5 percent of gun dealers. We've dubbed those the "bad apples" because they act illegally, unethically, and with wanton disregard for their communities when they supply guns to criminals. There's common ground in stopping those "bad apple" gun dealers, including requiring gun dealers to obey the federal laws that already exist – and by which most gun dealers already abide. Pres. Trump's choice for Attorney General told the Senate that he thinks enforcing federal gun laws will reduce gun violence in America. We agree. That's common ground, and we're going after "bad apples" in cities across America.

Truth must be at the core of common ground on any issue. Today, 63% of people believe that they are safer with a gun in the home. Studies show that isn't true, that it is a myth perpetrated by an industry that uses scare-mongering to sell more guns. Moreover, we know that helping gun owners store their guns safely reduces gun deaths. That's the common ground, and we're going after it with thoughtful, evidence-based discussions in communities all over this country.

Brady focuses its work in these three areas: background checks, "bad apple" gun dealers, and dispelling the myth that guns make people safer. We know that improvement in those dimensions will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We know how to reduce gun deaths. That's common ground.

Avery Gardiner, Chief Legal Officer, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence