The future of America — and of Utah — stands to be much safer and more peaceful if we start by recognizing that two political movements that may seem to be diametrically opposed to one another are both seeking the same thing.
All that is wanted by nearly everyone — those who are sick of the proliferation of high-powered weapons in our society and those who stand by their right to own and carry such implements — is to be safe. And for their families and their own and everyone else’s children to be safe.
They just have very different ideas about how to accomplish that worthy goal.
In ascendence right now, especially among the younger generations, is the understanding that weapons of war have no place in the hands of civilians. That angry, mentally ill or otherwise unstable people morph from tolerable annoyances to deadly assassins when guns fall into their hands.
The more powerful the gun, the more people they kill.
That is the message to be carried into the streets, and to the centers of power, by the March for Our Lives events set for Saturday in Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., and many other locations across the nation.
The movement is a reaction to the massacre last mont at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. And it is being lead by some of the incredibly articulate students of that school, students who have lived their entire lives in the shadow of mass shootings, in schools and elsewhere, and are sick and tired of waiting for the supposed adults who hold power in our nation to do something about it.
The Utah version of the march today is to be matched, in feeling if not in numbers, by an activity that organizers are calling March Before Our Lives. This is a group of our neighbors who feel that freedom and security come from being armed — or, at least from the right to be armed. And many of them are expected to be carrying examples of things that, in their minds, make them safe.
Polls and some political statements suggest that the purist interpretation of the Second Amendment — the idea that arming oneself with powerful, rapid-fire weapons designed to kill many people in a short period of time is the way to individual liberty and security — is in decline.
Even Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has been heard to say that some limits on the private ownership of firearms — age restrictions, universal background checks for gun purchases, eliminating devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into virtual machine guns — might be necessary and wise steps toward improving school safety.
Saturday’s demonstrations, on both sides of the issue, are in the best tradition of American freedom. May they be strong, peaceful and heard.
They certainly won’t be the end.