Respecting the Opinions of Others is Necessary to Achieve a Better Sense of Community


A reflection on a conversation in my class


I remember hearing the gunshots and the screams of children. In third grade, as I witnessed the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on television, I was appalled that someone my age, who could have been my friends, could be gone one day. 

I was reminded once again of this horrendous incident when a conversation on gun violence arose in my class a few days after the Oxford school shooting. 

“Gun ownership is a constitutional right,” one of my classmates said. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Yes, the Second Amendment is our fundamental right in our democracy; yet, nothing is more valuable than the life of a human being. 

I challenged him. What started as a calm dialogue soon turned into an emotional dispute. I wanted to yell back, but I stopped myself. Aggression was never a key to a resolution. Instead, I asked with composure: “what developed your opinion in your support for guns?” 

He explained that he grew up deer hunting with his family. To him, guns were not weapons. Our values often stem from our upbringing; it was his upbringing that shaped his support of gun ownership. I explained how my memory of school shootings constructed my opposing view on gun ownership. We never reached an agreement, and neither of us expected to. What mattered the most was that we were empathizing and embracing our differences. Making an effort to learn about each other’s upbringing led us to converse with respect for one another.