People in conversation

Guide to Conversations About the Role of Guns in American Life


Discussions of the proper role of guns in American life have become increasingly contentious, high stakes, and polarizing. These conversations raise issues around personal and community safety, law and order, public policy and individual rights. 

The overarching purpose of this guide is to help you have a conversation about guns that fosters trust, mutual understanding, more resilient relationships, and a stronger sense of belonging in your community. In this resource, you'll find:

  • Suggested structures that can help people have these difficult conversations in a new, healthier way
  • Purpose statements that describe when and why you might convene each of the 5 conversations outlined within
  • A set of prompting questions for each purpose, which you can use as they are written here or adapt to your own context
  • A tip sheet at the end, both to help you feel more confident as a facilitator and to share with participants

These conversations will help people understand different views. They will help people envision, together, the proper role of guns in a given context. They will encourage belonging. They will create the conditions for healing and support after a traumatic event. They may lead directly to a collective decision, or lay the foundation for future decisions.

This resource is based on real conversations that have taken place among gun ownership and gun regulation advocates as well as people who don’t fit neatly into either of those labels.

If you want or need guidance to lead these conversations in your neighborhood, school, faith community, campus, or organization, do not hesitate to reach out.