The Liberals are coming! The Liberals are coming!

I keep hearing this one-liner: “Liberals want to take away our guns.”

Now I may have missed a liberal planning meeting or two, but I’m pretty sure that has not been on the agenda. Ever.

Except if you are a convicted felon or have a mental illness that makes you a danger to yourself or others… then, yeah, we want to take your guns away. But then most conservatives agree with that position also.

Here’s the thing… The existing laws on the books are ineffective. They’re badly enforced and full of loopholes. And many people, both liberal and conservative (but, yeah, mostly liberal) want to strengthen the laws and close the loopholes.

You would think that most people would be all for having our laws be effective. Most, except, hmmm, maybe those who would benefit financially from keeping them watered down. Who would that be? Gun manufacturers? Gun dealers? Politicians who receive contributions from the gun lobby?

But believe it or not, I’m not really here to talk about gun control. Not specifically, anyway. The thing is, when I hear people say things like, “Liberals are trying to take away our guns!” or “The liberal gay agenda will destroy families!” or “Liberals are baby murderers!” , what I really hear is that this person is not really interested in having a conversation and they have not actually taken a long hard look at the issue. Instead they have been listening to rhetoric fed to them by pundits and TV/radio/Internet personalities who are only interested in muddying the waters, engaging their listeners on the level of fear, and perpetuating an “us vs. them” mentality. By demonizing the opposition, they hope to rally their base to their own agenda.

Here’s what I believe: most citizens are intelligent, caring people who have more in common than we think. I also believe that some of us get lazy and complacent at times and prefer to let the rhetoric wash over us after a hard day and we don’t do the work of finding the truth on our own.

Here is my challenge to you. The next time you hear something about how “liberals” or “conservatives” are ruining the country, instead of jumping on the bandwagon, try doing this instead: go up to someone of the opposite persuasion and say, “I heard you believe/want to do this. Is it true?” Or if that is too touchy feely for you, try looking up the facts online. You might find out that what you heard is inaccurate and that you actually have more in common than you thought.