Braving the Gun Divide | Mark Beckwith & Wilk Wilkinson with Ciaran O’Connor

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As the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court weigh in on gun rights and gun safety, Americans remain bitterly divided on the right to bear arms. Is it possible to bridge this divide on the level of shared values? What can we learn from one another’s lived experiences that influence our thoughts and feelings about deadly weapons? What are the tradeoffs between gun rights and public health, and how do we navigate them as fellow Americans? 

Ciaran O’Connor convenes Mark Beckwith, a longtime gun safety activist, and Wilk Wilkinson, a strong gun rights proponent, for a passionate, emotional conversation. Mark and Wilk don’t see eye to eye, but they do see each others’ hearts. This discussion is a testament to what’s possible when we speak fully, freely, and without fear—with charity for all and malice toward none.

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8 thoughts on “Braving the Gun Divide | Mark Beckwith & Wilk Wilkinson with Ciaran O’Connor”

  1. It is always such a pleasure to hear civil conversations around important issues facing our country. Braver Angels has made this possible for Americans who care deeply about the ongoing survival of our country and her citizens.
    I found this conversation between Wilk and Mark to be nourishing and encouraging, helping me to continue considering more deeply this issue of such great importance to so many.
    As a conservative voter who is very supportive of the 2nd Amendment, I greatly appreciate Mark’s open-minded and willing attitude to have conversations in which we can work together in hopes of preserving the rights and safety of all Americans. I
    also greatly appreciate the pain he feels for the senseless loss of lives at the hands of those who use firearms in evil ways.
    I, as someone who has been around guns most of my life, because of my father’s and husband’s interest in hunting and sports shooting, appreciated Mark’s concession that his ignorance of guns led him to work harder to become more informed. Hearing
    arguments from someone who is unwilling to even attempt to hear and consider things from the opposing perspective will always be a non-starter for those who take Gun Rights very seriously and with a sense of great personal responsibility.
    Thank you to both Mark and Wilk for this interesting and friendly conversation!

  2. Such an honor to be part of this important conversation. Though we disagree on this topic, I have the utmost respect for Mark (who I’ve had on and will soon be a returning guest on my podcast). Ciaran did a fantastic job and I’m looking forward to more collaboration in the future!

    Point of clarification… I did misspeak when making a point on defensive firearm usage in this conversation. I stated that guns are used for defensive purposes more than in violent crimes… what I intended to say was that Guns are used by law abiding citizens for defensive purposes FAR more often each year in this country than they are used in actual cases of homicide.
    That was a mistake in my wording and I don’t want to mislead anyone with false information.

  3. This was an excellent example of how to have a civil, respectful discussion. As Kermit says, “It is not easy being green”, not is it easy agreeing to disagree in a way that leave hope in tact at the end of the conversation.

    1. Harlan Johnson

      Appeal to people to start a movement. Assault Rifles donated to civillians in Ukaine,
      The National Shooting Sports Foundation says up to 10 million AR-15 style rifles exist in the U.S. They need to go to those heroes defending Ukraine. About 300 million firearms are owned by Americans. Your guns can save lives. Donate them. Ukraine citizens desperately need guns to defend their country from Putin’s war. Americans can help. Gun owners: donate your guns at any police station. Law enforcement agencies: Accept all donated guns. President Biden: Establish a plan to immediately ship the guns to Ukraine. Veterans: Volunteer to offer firearms training. Ukraine needs our help. Let’s get this message out to everyone in America. Time is of the essence!

  4. I would value this conversation , I am a long time gun person and would not want to speak for me .

  5. I come from a gun owning family since birth, like Wilkinson I grew up shooting guns with my family – and I’m knowledgeable about types and uses of guns in this country, as well as gun laws.

    This was my first experience of a Braver Angels debate, and I’m disheartened because I’d like to see the moderator or facilitator call out instances where language is being used to deliberately mislead the audience.

    Wilkinson was allowed to continually use language loaded with equivocation, red herrings, slippery slopes, hasty generalizations and over simplifications – to misrepresent the facts and reinforce rhetoric used by the NRA.

    I will watch a couple more debates in hopes that this was an anomaly, and that in other debates I see the facilitator stop any debater the moment they attempt to use misleading or manipulative language. Otherwise, I fear Braver Angels is one more source giving a platform to those who contribute to the plethora of fallacies floating around in the media.

  6. Pingback: What Role Does Fear and Trust Play in the Gun Safety Debate? DTH Episode 121 - DerateTheHate.com

  7. Harlan Johnson

    Appeal to people to start a movement. Assault Rifles donated to civillians in Ukaine,
    The National Shooting Sports Foundation says up to 10 million AR-15 style rifles exist in the U.S. They need to go to those heroes defending Ukraine. About 300 million firearms are owned by Americans. Your guns can save lives. Donate them. Ukraine citizens desperately need guns to defend their country from Putin’s war. Americans can help. Gun owners: donate your guns at any police station. Law enforcement agencies: Accept all donated guns. President Biden: Establish a plan to immediately ship the guns to Ukraine. Veterans: Volunteer to offer firearms training. Ukraine needs our help. Let’s get this message out to everyone in America. Time is of the essence!

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