Hint: It does not involve arguing on the Internet. That’s just for fun.
A few days ago, I wrote a post about the six types of anti-gunners and how to spot them. One commenter–whom I’m not picking on, because he has a solid point–remarked that attempting to educate or inform an anti-gunner is generally a waste of time. He’s correct, of course, because the majority of anti-gunners are operating from places of emotion, not from logic. Whether that emotion is “I want to feel like a good person,” “guns scare me,” or “all my friends are doing it,” trying to come at it with statistics and historical information just isn’t going to make a dent. If anything, it’ll entrench them more deeply into their beliefs. There are, however, two exceptions to this rule–two ways in which someone who hates or fears guns (and the people who use them, of course) can experience an epiphany. And you, dear reader, only have access to one of those ways.
The first way in which someone who wants to restrict gun rights has their mind changed is sad and awful. It’s the little kernel of truth at the center of the following cliche: “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.” (The corollary, by the by, is “a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested,” so there you go.) That’s because guns are, in some ways, a lot like lawyers: You may not want one, but if you wind up needing one? You really, really, really need one. The difference, of course, is that you probably won’t die if you have to wait three days for a lawyer.
One such convert is Sandy Froman, who was the second female president of the NRA…but her journey towards supporting the Second Amendment started with an attempted break-in. In fact, that’s a fairly common trope among women who support gun rights–that having someone either attack or attempt to attack them brought home the idea that self-defense against a bigger, stronger aggressor just isn’t practical without a weapon. However, we’re talking about changing hearts and minds here, and “I hope you get mugged so you’ll understand the need for guns” just isn’t a good look for anyone. So if you’re hoping to persuade someone to think a little more about gun rights, that’s not the way to go. What is?
The next time someone strikes up an argument with you about whether or not civilians should be able to keep and bear arms, including ones that have pointy bits hanging off the end and shoulder things that go up, don’t engage them with facts and figures. Instead, ask them if they’ve ever shot a gun. And then ask them if they’d like to. Invite them to come with you to the range, “just to see what it’s all about.” Tell them that even if they don’t ever want to own one, they might want to at least learn how to load and unload one safely, in case they or their kids come across an unattended firearm. Tell them that you’ll provide the guns, the ammo, the eye and ear protection, and cover the range fees as well as any fees for a safety briefing. And mean every word of it.
That’s because you can’t change someone’s mind. They have to do it for themselves. And because there’s nothing that can change someone’s mind like real-world, hands-on experience, your one and only job in this matter is to do what you promised them you’d do.
If they take you up on your offer to join you at the range, do your very best to make sure they have a positive experience. Take them when the range is emptier than normal; double up on the ear protection (foam plugs and muffs) to cut down on the noise, which is likely to be much more shocking to them than the recoil. Don’t start them on your bigass AR-15 chambered in .308 Lapua–start them with something small and easy to control, like a long-barreled .22 pistol or .17HMR rifle. Do your best to avoid dropping political commentary on them while they’re trying to learn. (I know, I know. The urge to say, “Look, that pistol hasn’t jumped up and made you murder someone yet, hurr hurr” is damn near overwhelming because I have personally experienced it and my tongue still bears the scar.)
And then, on your way out, tell them that you’ll take them back anytime they want…but next time, they’re buying the ammo. You might be surprised with a new range buddy soon.
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