It's impossible to explain to someone who's grown up in a gun culture what it's like to grow up in a place where hardly anyone is armed.
I know. I've tried.
Inevitably, I hear two arguments: One is all about having the right to defend yourself. The other is about freedom and the constitution. Which doesn't give any individual some absolute right to own a gun, but let's leave that aside for now.
Let's instead wonder why an organization like the NBA has decided to participate in a new campaign aimed at fighting gun violence.
As the New York Times reports, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul and the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah are all featured in an ad that ought to jar at least some into stopping and thinking.
Interspersed with these stars' comments are stories of ordinary people whose lives have been affected by gun violence -- survivors of shootings and families who lost loved ones to someone wielding a gun.
The campaign was orchestrated by director Spike Lee.
He suggested that the NBA collaborate with an organization called Everytown for Gun Safety. Founded by Michael Bloomberg, Everytown is trying to offer a counterpoint to the willful, numb pronouncements of the National Rifle Association.
Lee told the Times: "Ninety Americans are dying every day because of the N.R.A., gun manufacturers, and politicians willing to run you under the table."
It's extremely rare for sports stars -- and, indeed, sports leagues -- to express views that some might regard as political.
Michael Jordan was once asked why he didn't make social or political statements. His reply: "Republicans buy sneakers too."
It's remarkable, then, that the NBA is risking criticism from those -- often on the Republican side -- who holds guns sacred.
It seems, though, that the pressure to be involved in the campaign came not from team owners -- many of whom might not be sympathetic to its goals -- but from the players.
Some have grown up with immediate knowledge and experience of gun-wielders wrecking lives. Some realize that the ease with which guns can be obtained brings horror where it could be avoided.
Noah told the Times: "I'll never forget playing basketball in a park with some kids, and a young woman approached me in tears, and told me that her brother had been shot and killed on that same court a year earlier."
The facile argument is that guns don't kill people, people do. Another one is the idea that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Somehow, one can't help thinking that if people couldn't get hold of guns so easily, there might at least be slightly less killing. There might, just might, ultimately be slightly fewer bad men with guns.
Perhaps that's naive. Perhaps guns are now far too embedded in American culture for any change to be possible.
Still, a sports league is willing to put its name and its stars to a campaign that will run during peak Christmas TV viewing.
This suggests that there are influential people who think something can change and who are willing to stand up for believing in that possibility.
In recent times, the NBA has shown itself to be an organization that believes in values that some might describe as progressive and others might merely think common, human sense.
At the very least, this campaign just might accelerate the process toward looking down a gun barrel and actually seeing some light.
Now that would reflect a little of the spirit of Christmas.