WASHINGTON – As hundreds of thousands of people streamed into the nation’s capital on Saturday, March 24, 2018, to demonstrate against gun violence, a small group met quietly a block from the National Mall for a very different experience: listening to, and trying to learn from, people who have vastly different perspectives on the role of guns in America.
They were 21 people from across the country: hunter, gun control advocate, gun violence victim, teacher, police officer, decorated military veteran, retired diplomat, concerned parent. They were men and women, teenagers and retirees, from different religions, races and ethnicities.
They were kicking off an unusual project that will soon expand to include another 130 people selected from 900 applicants who have committed to a month-long, moderated Facebook conversation, in which they will examine the role of guns in America across partisan and social lines, asking: Can we get past our differences and talk with one another where it really matters?
The project is organized by a coalition of news-focused organizations led Advance Local, along with Spaceship Media, the Newseum, Time magazine and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.