The reality is, right now, I’d rather focus on what we can agree on, which is that, you know, we need to do something. We need to act. And we agree that gun violence, no matter if we’re on the left or right, is unacceptable. School shootings, daily acts of gun violence, you know, ridiculous numbers of gun suicides that are preventable are unacceptable. And we do need to do something about it.
So what I try to do instead is, you know, I say, whenever I’m in conversations like this – so there was a, this past semester – I don’t mean to dwell on this point. But this past semester, I – after one of the many unfortunate shootings that have happened, I decided the only thing that I haven’t done at this point was learn as much as I can about guns and how to use them, operate them, clean them and fire them safely and responsibly.
And I joined the shooting club at my college. And I talked with a lot of young people there who were actually pretty supportive of the work that I was doing, along with some people who obviously were not, because not – nobody is always going to be in agreement about everything.
But through that process, I realized that, you know, there’s a lot more agreement than disagreement out there, even with people who think that they’re completely against us. And it’s not just about – we have to move beyond this binary of either it’s you’re only talking about guns and how people access them or you’re only talking about mental health. We have to talk about both – right? – but with nuance around it. …
There’s a lot of nuances that go along with this that I think would benefit all of us if we focused on that instead of constantly coming back to this debate where nobody’s going to be moved in any way on it just by debating it over and over and over again. And I’ve had enough conversations with people who vehemently disagree with me, who often send me awful things in my private messages on Twitter and things like that. And I’m always able to find some level of agreement with them, you know?
I say, look. I can respect that you don’t agree with me, but I can’t accept that there’s nothing that we can do to address gun violence, right? And from that, we’re able to make progress.
Yeah, I mean, my first time shooting guns was when I was in fourth grade because my dad was an FBI agent. And he wanted us to – he wanted me to make sure that, you know, I knew this wasn’t a toy. And I – you know, I, of course, grew up like most, you know, boys in America, shooting BB guns in my backyard and stuff like that and playing with Nerf guns and things like that. But, you know, after – it just got to a certain point where I got tired of expecting – I can’t keep expecting people to come to me, you know?
If I’m truly dedicated to trying to end this gun violence, I need to go directly to the people who are some of the most ardent people that are against me. And what I found, surprisingly, is, you know, there’s assumptions that people have on both sides. You know, people hear gun control, and they – what I’ve learned is that to them, it means confiscation. Even if that’s not what it means, even if that’s not what we’re aiming for, even if that’s not what I’m aiming for, to them, it means confiscation.
And it’s been a really enlightening process to talk to a lot of them ’cause I’ve been in competitions before where I’ve had the head of the club come up to me and say – you know, ’cause other people recognize me in this competition against a couple other schools, and they were like, oh, my God, you know, that’s that, you know, quote-unquote, “anti-gun advocate,” David Hogg, you know, and he’s here.
And they come over to me, and they – they’re kind of, like, freaked out, and they’re like, what are you doing here? You know, are you here to protest us? Meanwhile, I had, you know, a 12-gauge, you know, cracked, hanging on my shoulder. But I just said I’m here because I think that there are some assumptions that you have about me and probably some that I have about you. And I don’t think either of them are entirely accurate. And I’m here to figure out what we can agree on so we can move forward, end the gun violence that neither of us wants to see continue. And from that, we’re able to make some progress.
— NPR Fresh Air, A Lesson Parkland Shooting Survivor David Hogg Learned: Find the Joy