As our hearts break after yet another school shooting, supporters of the Second Amendment are once again vilified and attacked. These attacks are rarely polite and in most cases are vicious and vulgar. Many times they are launched by celebrities who rally for disarmament while enjoying the protection provided by armed security. The hypocrisy is enormous and expected. Even in the face of this, many of us are still compelled to have conversations with people regarding the Second Amendment and gun ownership in general.
As you roll your eyes with the thought that there is no room for discussion, I will explain just who my audience is. There are many on the left who are simply incapable of having a rational discussion about firearms. They are so entrenched in their emotion-driven ideals that nothing short of a miracle will move them. The people that I am more interested in talking to are those on the fence about firearms. In my day-to-day life, I encounter many people who are neither anti-gun nor pro-gun. In their own words, they can “see both sides.” These tend to be thoughtful people capable of having a rational discussion on guns. I would say, though, that how we carry ourselves in that conversation is important. While I would never try to tell anyone what to say, I would like to offer a few suggestions on how to share our points and help get people off of the fence.
We might be used to the left trying to force their opinion down our throats, but that doesn't mean that's the best way to change a fence-sitter's mind.
While we rightfully hold the Second Amendment as the touchstone on which arguments are measured, it is a very polarizing concept. In short, people in the middle are susceptible to Second Amendment fatigue. This is a condition where they are tired of being beaten over the head with a document that they really don’t understand and on which nobody has provided modern-day clarity. So we need to educate them on this important topic. Few people in the U.S. own guns simply because it is a right. If we acted on things simply because it was our right, then voter turnout for elections would be enormous. We own guns because of the sense of security provide. This is the essence of gun ownership and for what we have passion. It is this passion that we need to share with those that are on the fence.
People own guns for a variety of reasons, but the primary one is personal defense. We are ultimately responsible for our personal defense and the defense of loved ones. Law enforcement might have an obligation to protect you, but they can’t always do that. It is not out of malice but because of logistics. There simply aren’t enough police officers to actively protect the citizens of the country from violence. A firearm allows me to protect myself from dangers. The argument that usually arises at this point is, “How often does that happen?” The suggestion is that we are being paranoid. In a recently unearthed piece of research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we find that about 2 million Americans use guns to defend themselves or their families every year. This is important because we live in a dangerous world, and hope is not a course of action. Just because any single person has not experienced a violent crime doesn’t mean that it will never happen. Having a firearm is an insurance policy to help us deal with real world dangers. While we pray that we never have to use it, we are prepared for the worst.
The best way to approach someone who is ambivalent about guns is to use a calm, rational approach. Make your case, answer their questions and don't get angry.
It is at this point where we usually encounter the idea that some guns are acceptable, but others are not. Enter the AR-15 argument. Never has an inanimate object been so vilified. While I would assert that the puppeteers behind the anti-gun talking points know this, it is easy to move people by creating a boogeyman if you will. My personal response to this is straightforward. I explain that this specific gun has been singled out because it is easy to demonize because of the way it looks. People simply do not understand how guns work. The AR-15 is not a military weapon. Nor is it an “assault weapon.” This is also the point at which I encourage people to be free thinkers. I politely show them that the information they have heard regarding these rifles is distorted and, in many cases, a flat-out lie. The anti-gun leaders are exploiting the fact that many people simply do not know any better.
This provides a perfect segue into more misinformation that is spouted. Number one on this list is the gross manipulation of data and numbers pushed out by our opposition. The one we have seen most in recent weeks is the number of school shootings across the United States. The anti-gun leaders intentionally and grossly manipulate this data to make it sound as if our schools are battlegrounds. When this data hits, people envision elementary schools and small children or perhaps a local high school. What they do not know is that these numbers include items such as:
Gunshots most likely fired from off campus, that hit a campus building window at California State University.
Student pressing the trigger on school liaison officer’s gun in Mapplewood, Minn.
A man who committed suicide in parking lot of an elementary school that had been shut down six months prior in St. Johns, Mich.
The list can continue, but this is enough to prove that the goal is to emotionally manipulate people. If presented calmly without finger wagging or lecturing, we can perhaps generate some skepticism of the information that is fed to the public by the left.
The last item I bring up in these conversations is the Second Amendment. I believe the Bill of Rights is an interlinked matrix where one right cannot exist without the others. The First Amendment is crucial yet must be protected by the Second Amendment and vice versa. The 10th Amendment is in jeopardy without the First Amendment and so on. The Second Amendment is intended to allow the citizens of the United States to own firearms. The primary reason for this is to ensure the security of a free state. While some would paint this in the light of only the military having guns, it is specifically intended to allow everyday citizens the ability to protect themselves and their country.
Firearm owners and advocates in the United States are the guardians of the Second Amendment. It is not only in our best interest, but it is our duty as citizens. There is an active attempt underway to slowly diminish many of the liberties set forth in the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment is in the forefront right now. I encourage you to engage as many people on the topic as possible. It is also essential that we educate our children on the true meaning and intent of the Second Amendment. Listen to people politely and acknowledge their concerns, but be educated enough on the topic though to provide your own thoughts in an eloquent and well thought out fashion. If the person is intractable in their ideology, simply walk away and search for open minds. They do exist, and they are the key to strengthening our position.