As Lola and I rocked up my Mom’s waterfront idyll, I knew there was going to be trouble. The Lexus 460hl sitting in her driveway told the tale. It’s a $100k+ carcoon powered by a 438 horsepower hybrid gas – electric engine. The 20mpg luxobarge can scoot from zero to sixty in 5.5 seconds. The 460hl’s a hugely expensive, enormously powerful automobile for wealthy owners who want to believe they’re doing their bit for the environment. It is the perfect car for a liberal. Mind you, the good Doctor, his erudite wife, successful son and beautiful daughter-in-law proved to be relatively open-minded. They didn’t sneer once. It was my mother, as usual, who blew me away . . .
I love my mother. As did my father, who only talked politics at the distant reaches of my mother’s limited hearing. And for good reason. Mom is the only person I know who’d fail to grasp the irony of Sean Hannity’s nickname for Barack Obama: “The Anointed One.” If Mom heard Hannity’s not-so-gentle jibe, she’d simply swear sailor-like at the Fox News curmudgeon—not for a moment suspecting that Sean nailed it: she’s deified President Obama.
Mom provides me with excellent insights into the “see no evil on our side” hearts and minds of American liberals. She personifies your basic Kind-Hearted Artistic Intellectuals (Us) vs. Neanderthal Boorish Robber Barons (Them) mindset. I never fail to sup from her splendiferous anti-Bible basher buffet, served as it is with a magnum of champagne socialism.
“Selling” my Mother on gun rights would be a bit like promoting the joys of bee-keeping to someone prone to anaphylactic shock. But her friends and I got into it. Mum felt obliged to, as the Brits say, put her oar in. She did so when the Lexus liberals started talking about high-capacity “clips.”
“There’s no need for those guns that shoot lots of bullets and kill people,” Mom said, miming a fully-automatic firearm.
“Mom, they don’t sell machine guns to civilians,” I corrected.
“Yes they do,” she said, brooking the usual amount of debate. “You can go into a gun store and buy them.”
I didn’t argue. (Hey, what do I know?) Besides, I was grateful for the wake-up call. Mom’s remark reminded me that gun control is high concept; liberals and independents are not “up” on firearms regulations’ real world impact (or lack thereof). “Supporting common sense gun control” is a euphemism for “uninformed and proud of it.”
If you’re debating gun control, never underestimate your opponents’ lack of knowledge on the subject. Before you try to explain the rational basis for your position, make sure liberal-minded gun control advocates and fence-straddlers have a basic understanding of the subject. Here are the three key points you need to cover . . .
American have the right to own guns
What? What part of “the right to keep and bear arms” don’t they understand? The “right to keep and bear arms” bit. True story: millions of people don’t know that gun ownership is a Constitutional right and/or what that means.
Before you can point out the lunacy of “common sense” restrictions on gun ownership, ask your opponents if they’re familiar with the Second Amendment. No really. And then ask why Americans have the right to armed self-defense.
There are still plenty of people who believe that the framers guaranteed the right to own guns solely to maintain a militia (i.e. a volunteer army). They think gun ownership is a collective right.
Disabuse that notion by pointing out that all our constitutional rights are individual rights. And that a “well-regulated militia” is merely a bunch of people (legal term) with an individual right to keep and bear arms getting together for common defense.
If your debatee knows that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, ask if they agree that all our constitutional rights exist to protect us from the government. This they need to know.
Guns are safe
By and large, gun control advocates are urban dwellers who aren’t familiar with or comfortable around firearms. The “logic” they deploy when discussing firearms regulations is colored by personal ignorance and a deep-seated fear of “gun violence.”
[NB: The most liberal person I know—other than my mother—is adamantly, experientially pro-gun: “I want us to have at least the same amount of firepower as the right wing extremists.”]
Pro-gun folk who counter gun control advocates’ fear with stats—proving that guns are safer than prescription meds or swimming pools (true story)—miss the point. The real basis for the antis’ argument: THEY don’t have guns so YOU shouldn’t either. NO ONE SHOULD.
Gun control is not about criminals or gun safety. It’s all about creating a level playing field—making non-gun owners feel more comfortable about not owning a gun.
The best way to make a gun grabber feel safe enough to let them let you own/carry a gun: range time. If you’re careful, a hands-on demo with an unloaded carry piece can be equally transformative. You’d be amazed how five minutes’ familiarization changes the tone of the debate.
Short of that, ask them how many gun owners there are in America. Tell them it’s around 80 million. Ask them if they’d consider privately held guns safe if .01 percent (one tenth of one percent) of these firearms owners were involved in some kind of fatal shooting.
Tell them that in 2007, less than one-half of .01 percent of American firearms owners were involved in a shooting. Half of those deaths were suicides. Most of the remaining deaths involved guns held illegally by previously convicted criminals. Are cars that safe?
Machine guns are illegal
When gun control advocates popularized the term “assault rifle,” they did more to harm gun rights than any other of our opponents’ Machiavellian maneuvers. Vast swathes of America believe that commonly available “assault rifles” are fully-automatic rifles.
The obvious cure (again) take the ballistically misinformed down to the gun range and show them what’s what. Unfortunately, most liberals would rather attend a Bush barbecue (roast pork, not politician) than shoot a gun.
Meanwhile and in any case, remind our loyal opposition the difference between semi and fully-automatic weapons, and that bad guys can’t buy machine guns at a gun store.
I know: what the hell difference does that make? American citizens should be able to buy fully-automatic rifles to defend themselves or just because of the “shall not infringe” part of the Second Amendment. But a good poker player doesn’t reveal his or her cards until they have to. And maybe not even then.
Just as gun control advocates wrap their gun banning hopes and dreams in the mantle of crime prevention, gun rights guys need to appear politically palatable to liberals who see them as “gun nuts.” Begin by not being unpalatable. Tell them machine guns are illegal.
And there you have it: three basic concepts to move the ball forward. Just remember to wipe your feet before you enter the house or my mother will have you, mate.