These gun owners support stricter gun control for amazing reasons we all need to hear.

Pro-gun doesn't mean pro-NRA.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Dannison.

Nathan Dannison received his first firearm — a Browning bolt action .22 rifle — as a Christmas gift when he was 11 years old.

Now 34, he's owned guns consistently since and enjoys hunting and clay shooting. But he says the line gun owners are expected to toe when it comes to the national gun control debate is troubling.

"We've let the Hollywood cowboy wannabes take over the debate," he says. "We've let the NRA devolve from a conservation and education organization into something unrecognizable."


Dannison is part of a growing number of gun owners breaking from the stereotypical NRA-driven script and advocating for new, stricter, common-sense gun legislation.

Alexander Voorman, 34, believes that gun owners bear the greatest responsibility in this debate.

"I may personally like guns," he says, "but I also believe that everyone has the right to live safely and freely without one, and that those people are in no way culpable for the epidemic of gun violence in this country."

Photo courtesy of Alexander Voorman.

Voorman was raised in a strictly no-gun household, but says he was fascinated early on by guns and currently visits the shooting range as a hobby.  

South Carolinian Bill Ware, 59, owns a slew of firearms as a hobby as well: .20- and .12-gauge shotguns, rifles, several pistols, and an assortment of reproduction black powder guns.

Like Voorman, he's questioned the validity of ownership and his role in the debate while people are dying in mass shooting after mass shooting, especially those involving assault-style weapons. "I was having a crisis of conscience of sorts," Ware notes.

He, Voorman, and Dannison believe that gun owners must overcome the radical voices that have long dominated this conversation.

"The continued silence of much of the gun-owning populace in the face of shooting after shooting casts us in a horrifyingly bad light," Voorman says. "It makes us look callous and uncaring at best; complicit at worst."

It's not easy to advocate for limiting freedoms from within the gun community. Many believe any change would be a slippery slope to sweeping bans on all firearms or even the creation of a database of gun owners.

From Voorman's perspective, though, gun owners' resistance to regulation seems steeped in paranoia. He says they fear that overregulation due to the "ill-defined, just-in-case" scenario in which they might need a gun.

In this way, gun ownership becomes a comfort.

Katie Kirchner, 39, has been a gun owner since 2001, after someone knocked on the window of her rural home in the middle of the night. Though her gun provides her a sense of some security, she doesn't believe that makes gun reform a threat.

"The gun is not a need — it is a want," she says. "And at this point I am not even sure I want it any longer so as not to be lumped into the intolerant, gun-owning, chest-pumping, NRA-loving group."

Photo courtesy of Katie Kirchner.

With a third grader who tells her about the lockdown drills they do at school, Kirchner is even more troubled, saying, "I hate that she has to consider this even happening to her and her classmates."

Public safety, especially in schools, is perhaps the greatest motivator for this group pushing for tighter regulation.

There is a growing consensus that the NRA is a toxic, destabilizing force in U.S. politics.

Dannison points to profit's role in the gun reform debate:

"It's critical that people understand that a gun is a product with an indefinite shelf-life. This makes it very, very hard to run a profitable, growth-based industry around manufacturing guns. Imagine if cars never wore out. The car makers would go bust in a few years. This is what is motivating the gun lobby."

When it comes to weapons like AR-15s, the gun of choice in many of our mass shootings, Dannsion says they're kind of like a Lego set because of all of the little pieces, parts, and modifications a person can purchase. "It's a really deadly toy," he says wrly, "but you know how children get when you try to take away their toys."

These gun owners are ready to have real conversations about gun control.

They have progressive ideas about how to make changes that reduce gun violence and shootings and keep everyone — gun owners or not — safe. "The solution, or mere inspiration for actual progress, lies in finding the profit in regulation," Ware explains.

Photo courtesy of Bill Ware.

He believes that registering and insuring guns might be the key to motivating insurance companies to participate in the dialogue, much like the ways we regulate cars.

Kirchner says she would be glad to participate if reforms were to include screening current gun owners.

"I would be the first in line to see if I am capable of owning a gun," she says. "I have nothing to hide and sometimes wonder what the non-gun reform people do have to hide.”

No matter the outcome, Dannison, Kirchner, Voorman, and Ware agree that gun owners need to get involved in regulation advocacy right now.

"We are increasingly painting ourselves as a very dangerous and angry minority in America," Voorman says, "and it is my belief that if we want to continue to enjoy our freedom to bear arms, we must either give a little now — or give a lot later."

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular