How To Ease Tensions At Dueling Rallies: Talk
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
In these sharply divided political times, it's rare to hear of two sides coming together and actually working out their differences, yet that's exactly what happened at a January demonstration in Annapolis, Md. Activists with Mothers Demand Common Sense For Gun Reform (ph) were rallying for a change to state laws that would take firearms away from those convicted of domestic violence. A handful of counterprotesters showed up and began chanting. Police Captain Tyrone Collington was at the event. He says he and a few others approached the countergroup to have a conversation. Collington says the tension began to ease. And then both sides realized they were all on the same side.
TYRONE COLLINGTON: This wasn't to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. We weren't anti-Second Amendment. This was just making sure that we close the loopholes keeping children, families and law enforcement safe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Collington says he felt the need to step up because he also owns a gun. And as a police officer, he's had lots of firsthand experience with this issue.
COLLINGTON: This is one of the most dangerous calls that we respond to - domestic violence calls. You know, there's already violence in the home. And when police show up, we take fire from the abuser while we're just doing our job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It wasn't until later while watching the news that Captain Collington realized he had actually changed some minds that day.
COLLINGTON: They went back and interviewed one of the people in the group. I was pleased to hear that our conversation played a part in changing the perception.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: As for the deep divides in opinion that others might be experiencing, Collington has some advice.
COLLINGTON: Be open and be willing to exchange ideas and thoughts. Some time, we can sit down, and we can have sensible discussions, even if we oppose the other side, and then realize, you know what? We both stand for the same principles.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And he says that's what he thinks makes this country so great.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: This report incorrectly refers to a group of demonstrators as Mothers Demand Common Sense For Gun Reform. The correct name is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.