Got liberals? Good. We need them, and they need us.
Most of the time, it’s probably not a problem—your friends and family whose political leanings are to the left know you for who you are and are able to separate the stuff they hear in the news about gun ownership from their feelings about you. But every now and then, especially during the 2020 election season, they might ask The Question. The Question isn’t always the same question, of course—but they do always follow a pattern: “But YOU don’t believe (thing that is being portrayed in the news as absolutely insane although it’s actually a totally normal part of being a gun owner), do you?”
The first thing to remember about The Question is that it’s a good thing that they’re asking it. That means that they care enough about their relationship with you to try to resolve the cognitive dissonance they’re feeling about what the columnists are saying you are (a bloodthirsty racist who just can’t wait to hunt humans like rabbits), and the person you actually are (the guy who wants to rehash last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones”). This is an opportunity, not an attack. Here are three things to say when this opportunity arises.
“Guns are not magic wands.”
It seems so basic and essential that it shouldn’t need saying—a firearm is an inanimate object, not a Horcrux—but here we are. Although everyone has heard the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” the saying is so shopworn that, at this point, using it is actually playing into the cultural slander that all gun owners would very much like to use their guns to kill people. So avoid that phrase. Try something like, “Guns are tools, nothing more—just like the Internet. An evil person can use it to bilk old ladies out of their retirement, but the rest of us are just looking at cat pictures and recipes.”
“I really hope I don’t have to use it.”
There’s one thing the anti-gunners have right (although that’s mostly by accident, in much the same way that even a blind squirrel might find a nut): Gun owners do think about deploying lethal force more than non-gun-owners. It’s because we have to. Part of being a responsible gun owner is running the “what if” scenarios in the backs of our minds. What they don’t generally understand—but responsible gun owners do—is that being forced to shoot another human being is a horrible experience. It’s more common than not that people who have had to use a firearm to defend themselves develop PTSD or other extreme psychological distress. In fact, for most of us, we see it as the second-worst thing that could happen to us. The only thing we fear more is either being dead ourselves or losing a loved one to a criminal attack. (And, liberal buddy or kin, that includes you.)
“Would you like to go shooting with me sometime?”
They say talk is cheap (which just proves they’ve never met a lawyer, but I digress). So instead of arguing, why not offer to take your liberal friend or family member to the range with you? There’s nothing like hands-on experience to help someone understand that much of what they’ve heard and read about guns wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on or the pixels they used to paint it. We even have some tips about how to make that a positive experience for them!
The key thing to remember in all of this is not to let the conversation get too emotional. If you sense that you or your friend are getting too heated—and it happens to the best of us, since this is a highly charged subject—you should consider letting the subject drop with a “let’s agree to disagree.” You can always revisit the subject later when everyone is calmer if you really need to.
What do you tell your liberal friends and relatives when they ask you about be a gun owner? Tell us in the comments!
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