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Sitting on the grass away from the March For Our Lives rally, Jared Kriegel (black shirt) and Shawn Amos (hat) discuss their difference of opinions on the issue of gun violence. Kriegel described himself as a conservative. He wore a black "Let's Go Brandon," T-shirt to the event, which immediately ignited some negative comments from the crowd and not long after Amos asked Kriegel to step away from the crowd so they could talk. Amos described himself as liberal on some topics, and less liberal on others. Both Kriegel and Amos are Frisco residents, moving to Texas in the past few years after both living in California. As they sat and talked, the discussion never become heated — despite the heat from the sun blaring down on them. These two men simply had a conversation. They both made their points and shared their opinions on the topic of gun control and school safety. At the end of the talk, which lasted 20 minutes and well after the march participants made their way back to Simpson Plaza, the two men shook hands, and even took a selfie together. As they talked, a few others attending the rally sat down and joined them in the discourse.

As approximately 300 marchers held signs pleading for national and state government officials to consider new gun reform legislation and "protect the kids," Jared Kriegel and Shawn Amos sat down in the grass nearby to have a one-on-one conversation.

At noon Saturday, participants in the March For Our Lives rally gathered in Simpson Plaza outside of Frisco City Hall and marched north on Coleman Blvd., turning east on Main Street and let their voices be heard as traffic drove by on the northeast corner of Main and Frisco streets.

The rally was held to raise awareness of gun violence in schools, and was organized with the help of two Frisco ISD high school students, Shivani Jayaraj and Saanvi Mukkara. The rally in Frisco is one of many March For Our Lives rallies being held throughout the U.S. Saturday in the wake of the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and 2 teachers.

While the rally participants stood with their signs and chanting in unison, Kriegel and Amos decided to talk through their differences. Kriegel described himself as a conservative. He wore a black "Let's Go Brandon," T-shirt to the event, which immediately ignited some negative comments from the crowd and not long after Amos asked Kriegel to step away from the crowd so they could talk. Amos described himself as liberal on some topics, and less liberal on others. Both Kriegel and Amos are Frisco residents, moving to Texas in the past few years after both living in California.

As they sat and talked, the discussion never become heated — despite the heat from the sun blaring down on them. These two men simply had a conversation. They both made their points and shared their opinions on the topic of gun control and school safety. At the end of the talk, which lasted 20 minutes and well after the march participants made their way back to Simpson Plaza, the two men shook hands, and even took a selfie together.

Kriegel and Amos are perfect examples of how we should act as Americans. No shouting. No finger pointing. No words of hate. No physical altercations. They simply talked and, yes, even more importantly, they listened. In the end, they agreed that they disagree on some aspects of the issue and agree on others.

Public discourse in this country is in a toxic state, and that is why it was refreshing to see Kriegel and Amos willing to talk to each other and listen. If only everyone in this country, no matter how you feel about the topic, could do what these two men did. How much better off would we be?

Kriegel agreed this country needs more civil discourse.

"They should sit down like we are; he is a Democrat and I am a conservative, and we can come to a mutual agreement," Kriegel said. "He pulled me aside, and he wasn't angry. He saw me and asked if I could talk over to the side, and that's what people should do, pull them off to the side and just talk to them. That goes for both sides.

Added Amos, "We agree that we are demonizing each other, and we agree that we are stereotyping each other, and we agree that we have to figure out a way to find some nuance in what is going on. I think we agreed, for the two of us here, it is not about taking every single gun away. It is about how to be safer and live more safely in our society. We don't live as safely as other societies despite all of the guns. We have more guns and yet we are less safe. Something has to give, and change, and I think we agree on it.

"The gun issue is a serious issue, but it is one of a million issues that point to the same thing, which is the inability to trust one another, our inability to talk to one another about anything of consequence. I think if we are going to get ourselves out of all of the messes we are in, we have to figure out how we can speak and trust one another."

One conversation between Kriegel and Amos was about open carry in the state of Texas. 

"It is so weird to me, I am from Los Angeles, right, so it's strange," Amos said, who has lived in Texas now for 4 years.

"It is weird to me, and I am from San Jose, from the Bay Area, do I think it is weird? Yes, I do," said Kriegel, who moved back to Texas a little more than a year ago after being born in Corpus Christi. "But do I think open carry should be here? I think it should be. I lived in San Jose for 34 years, so when I moved here and saw people carrying guns it was strange, but to me I think it is awesome."

In the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting, Kriegel said change is needed. He doesn't agree with the sentiment that teachers should be armed with guns, but he does believe there should be armed security guards protecting all schools. Jared also said he is not in favor of changing the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

"Because you have 18-year-olds going into the military, I think it should be 18," Kriegel said. "I think we have enough background checks."

Before they stood up and walked away, Kriegel noticed the sign sitting on the ground between he and Amos.

"I see that sign, and it reads "protect kids, not guns," but to me it should read, "protect kids with guns." Our president is protected with guns…"

Before Kriegel finishes his sentence, Amos adds, "I would change it to 'and', actually."

"'Protect kids and guns,'" said Kriegel. "Ok. I like that."

Proof again that a discussion can at times led to compromise between differing opinions.

Away from the one-on-one discussion and back in the heart of the rally, Greg Howe of Frisco stood near Main Street with a homemade sign that read, "Protect Kids Not Guns." Howe is a father of two school-aged children, a fourth grader and a high schooler, and also has a sophomore attending Texas A&M.

"I believe strongly that we need some gun reform, and it has gone on too long and we need to fix some things in Washington and I want my voice to be heard," Howe said on why he attended Saturday's rally. "I have a fourth grader, so Uvalde really hit me strong. All we can do is hug our kids, tell them we love them and let them know we are doing everything we can to protect them. That, again, is one of the reasons I am out here today. I am writing to my congressman, and doing whatever I can, to try and get them to listen and get us a fix."

Near the intersection of Main and Frisco streets, stood Carol Coulston, who attended the March For Our Lives rally as a grandparent and a former educator. She said, "I am very concerned about the state of Texas gun laws, and I have been for years. It seems to only get worse, and Gov. (Greg) Abbott has done nothing of significance — nothing to stop the killing. I feel we need federal laws to place limits on gun ownership. People can still use guns for sport. They do not need semi-automatic weapons. We need universal background checks. We need some restrictions to protect our kids, as far as minorities, and everybody else."

Coulston taught for 25 years, both first grade and kindergarten, and she said teachers should be focused on teaching, and should not be asked to bear arms.

"If trained law enforcement has tremendous challenge getting a shooter out of a situation where they are threatening life, a teacher, who is an education professional, should not be asked to do that. I think it is insane," Coulston said.

Rick Rogers is the president & publisher of Star Local Media and its 14 print and digital local media publications. Email him at rrogers@starlocalmedia.com.

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