A Gun Ownership Debate Almost Ruined a Friendship on ‘The Bold Type’ & We Can Relate

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

If differences in political opinions have ever had a negative impact on your relationships, or have caused you to view people in a different light, you’ll relate to this week’s episode of The Bold Type, "Betsy."

In previous episodes, we’ve seen best friends, Jane, Kat and Sutton, disagree at times, and some of those disagreements have even been pretty serious, such as the time that Jane and Kat argued about white privilege. However, this week’s episode introduced to two completely opposing viewpoints, where it didn’t really seem like the women would find any common ground. In today’s polarized political climate especially, we’ve all been there, whether we’ve seen an acquaintance post something on Facebook that makes us think, “yikes, I never knew you felt that way,” or attended an awkward family dinner where our own relatives have expressed viewpoints that made us feel extremely uncomfortable or even unsafe.

There are many, many topics that might spark a political debate, but the gun control debate is one where you’ll find many opposing views—strong, seemingly irreversible opinions. On The Bold Type, it was no different. Sutton and Jane both held strong opinions about guns and seemed unwilling to change them. Sutton grew up in central Pennsylvania and was part of her school’s shooting club in high school. Without Jane knowing, Sutton still had her shotgun, which she called “Betsy” (hence the title of this episode), locked in a case in their apartment. When Jane found out about the gun, she freaked out and asked Sutton a ton of questions, in typical Jane fashion. We later found out why Jane was so vehemently opposed to guns: she was in first grade during the Columbine shooting, just miles away from it. She was traumatized by it and threw away her favorite light-up sneakers when she got home from school, thinking they’d make it easier for the next shooter to find her.

Here, we can see that Jane and Sutton’s backgrounds and experiences with guns are completely different, therefore shaping their views. For Sutton, the start of deer hunting season was a holiday, shooting was a sport, hobby and after-school activity, and gun ownership was normal. For Jane, guns were horrifying and designed to kill. It’s unsurprising, then, that two drastically different experiences and upbringings led to drastically different opinions, and even different realities. This is what we’re dealing with right now—trying to understand views and experiences that are so different from our own when we have our own strong opinions and core beliefs that have been shaped by our own experiences and upbringings.

Often, engaging with people with these drastically different opinions seems impossible. The arguments go nowhere, and people on any side of the argument reiterate the same talking points we’ve heard again and again. In this episode, Sutton and Jane’s initial conversations were similar to this. After Jane shared why she hates guns, Sutton’s response was, “that’s terrible, but it’s not the gun’s fault.” Jane responded with, “oh, so guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” Sutton said yes, and Jane called it bullshit. This argument didn’t end well, with Sutton shouting about how she’s tired of feeling guilty for something that doesn’t involve her and her gun. “Let everybody know that I still like my shotgun,” she shouted.

Jane was supposed to write a story about this topic of guns, but when she showed her story to Jacqueline, Jacqueline said the story was slanted and asked where Sutton’s point of view was in the story. To try to understand others' views on guns, Jane went to the shooting range with Sutton (and Kat), which seemed like a hopeful step. She was trying to understand. Even when she did, though, her opinion still didn’t change. Instead, she insisted that the gun felt deadly and told Sutton she didn’t want Betsy at their apartment anymore. In Sutton’s mind, she knew how to be safe and use a gun responsibly. She was good at shooting and knew what she was doing. In Jane’s mind, none of that mattered because they were talking about a deadly weapon. At this point, when they still couldn’t find common ground, their friendship seemed even more at risk, especially because Sutton was offended that Jane didn’t trust her. This is relatable, because with gun ownership and other controversial issues, people don't often "agree to disagree." 

Toward the end of the episode, Jane and Sutton had another conversation about the gun. Jane tried to be more understanding of Sutton, and said, “This isn’t about trust or about your right to own a gun. I think you just need to ask yourself why you’re fighting so hard to keep it.”

By the end of the episode, Sutton took her gun to a shop and had it re-purposed as earrings. The Bold Type presented us with two very different opinions in a complex debate. Many additional opinions and experiences exist. For Sutton, making a compromise and giving up her gun might’ve been easier because shooting was more of an old hobby than a current passion. Though finding common ground didn’t come without difficulties for Jane and Sutton, resolving the conflict might not always be as simple as it was for them and sometimes it might be, if everyone involved at least tries to understand how others feel. Regardless, the episode showed us how political opinions have threatened or changed our relationships with people. Despite the strength of Jane and Sutton’s friendship, a difference in opinion still posed a threat and we can, unfortunately, relate.