Question of the Day: What Can Gun Rights Advocates Do to Win Voters’ Hearts?

Until it hits the Supreme Court (again), the battle to defend and extend Americans’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is not about logic, reason or facts. It’s about feelings. After Sandy Hook, tens of Americans no longer feel safe. They weren’t safe in the first place—ipso facto—but that’s the way they felt. And now they’re happy enough to surrender your gun rights so they can return to blissfully ignorance (until the next time innocents are slaughtered). That’s bad. And you don’t have to watch the above PSA from CAGV (click here for their scary ass agenda) or the Sandy Hook Elementary School choir singing at the Superbowl to know that gun rights advocates are getting hammered by the “feelings gap.” What can the pro-gun side do to win the hearts—not the minds—of the middle-of-the-road political mainstream? Whatever it is, someone needs to do it fast.

avatar

About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

41 Responses to Question of the Day: What Can Gun Rights Advocates Do to Win Voters’ Hearts?

  1. avatarHal J. says:

    Frankly, I don’t know if we can win this debate on the emotional level. The facts are on our side, but there are an awful lot of people who don’t think rationally.

    • avatarSammy says:

      Not to mention the misinformed and people with prejudices about guns and their owners.

      • avatarHal J. says:

        I’ve seen polls that say that half of the public thinks the Constitution goes “too far” when protecting free speech. Pro-freedom arguments simply won’t work with such people; it contradicts their worldview.

    • avatarpat says:

      We must give up our firearms and become pelvic ashtrays……in the name of the “children”.

  2. avatarS.CROCK says:

    Whatever happened to i want to be a firefighter or a police man? i want to be a animal rights activist or stop global warming. i feel sick. the brain washing is starting way to young.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      One wanted to be a hockey player, one a guitar player. Nothing wrong with that. A soccer player? Bleeeeh.

      Take a kid fishing. Bring the Second Amendment up at an opportune time, if such exists.

  3. avatarTex74 says:

    They need well produced first hand accounts from people who’s lives have been saved by private gun ownership. They can be produced to be just as feel good as any other psa.

    • avatarBrian says:

      Exactly right. The Pro-2A crowd needs to get real honest stories of people who have used guns to save their lives and the lives of others in front of people, and not just as a defensive move.

      We need to get women who weren’t raped, kids who weren’t abducted, men who weren’t beaten or knifed to death because of the lawful use of firearms in the faces of the gun banners, asking why they think it is ok to deny regular citizens the right to defend themselves.

  4. avatarDAS says:

    FYI, their website has a contact feature. I went ahead and contacted them, politely, about their misinformation. I think an overwhelming influx of emails telling them, in a respectful manner, how wrong they are might at least be annoying to someone. Makes me feel better at any rate. http://www.marchforchange.org/page10/contact-form/index.php

  5. avatarBill says:

    I’ve read through their “scary ass agenda” and absolutely nothing on it would have prevented the tragedy in CT. Come on people, if you’re going to do something, do something that will make a difference!

  6. avatarORGO says:

    Simple. Stop talking about gun RIGHTS and start talking about the steps that need to be taken to reduce gun VIOLENCE.

    Immediately denounce every murder, especially any where a firearm is involved. Beg and plead for all gun owners to be more responsible about locking up their weapons so they cannot be stolen and used in crimes (600,000 guns stolen in 2011). STOLEN guns were used at Sandy Hook and the Clackamas Mall, and that’s just two examples. If you can, get the word out that NO responsible gun owner condones gun violence.

    And, get involved politically. I know many gun owners who are afraid to. That’s what the politicians want. Do NOT be the gun owners that come back after bad gun laws are passed and wish you had said something beforehand. Gun owners in NY State are sick right now because most of them said nothing as the SAFE Act got rammed through.

    We as a nation are not demanding nearly enough from our elected officials. We should be DEMANDING better prosecutions for gun crimes, DEMANDING better law enforcement for existing gun laws, DEMANDING better protection for everyones children. And, DEMANDING that the elected officials fight FOR everyones Constitutional rights instead of passing bad laws.

    Too many gun owners are still sitting this one out. And trust me, that’s just what the politicians are counting on.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Simple. Stop talking about gun RIGHTS and start talking about the steps that need to be taken to reduce gun VIOLENCE.

      Fsck that approach. With a flaming chainsaw.

      I think you have some ideas worth considering, but your basic approach of letting the confiscators define the terms of the debate puts us permanently on the defensive. Worse, every engagement is then defined in terms of the actions of criminals instead of the law-abiding majority.

      I’m not sure if you’re unclear on how civil rights battles work, or if you’re possibly the most nuanced concern troll in recent memory.

  7. avatarPyratemime says:

    The way to win the emotional argument is to redefine the terms of the argument. In rhetoric there is the concept of the common ground, something that when mentioned everyone can conjure up a mental image or reference for. Going a step further there is the toxic common ground, something everyone can identify but that no one wants to identify with. Terms like assault weapon and large capacity magazine are toxic common grounds for anyone who doesn’t actually understand the terms for the fallacy that they are.

    Therefore the way to win the emotional argument is to get away from the emotionally loaded terms. They are not assault weapons (which along with being a rhetorically toxic term also has linguistic baggage) they are modern sporting rifles. Why? Because everyone wants to be thought of as modern and “with it”, because sports puts the rifle in line with footballs, golf clubs, and baseball mitts, and because a rifle is what people know grandpa went hunting with and grandpa wasn’t a bad man.

    Likewise, they are not large capacity magazines they are standard capacity magazines and the artificially ten or less round magazines are low- or restricted capacity. Why? Because who can argue against you having something that comes standard? If it wasn’t ok to have it wouldn’t be standard! Low- or restricted-capacity magazines show that to force these on the firearms community is taking something away as opposed to normalizing magazines size.

    We must come to control the terms of the debate if we are to win the debate at the emotional level. Right now we as a community are forced to try and defend terms that have become culturally laden and put us on the defensive from the very beginning. If we can change the terms we can change the tone and put the antis on the defensive from the beginning of the discussion.

    • avatarJim R says:

      The totalitarian types have ALWAYS used the language to frame the debate. If you can define the terms and change the language, you can stack the deck in your favor and win just about any argument simply by changing the definitions.

      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If they’re going to jockey with the lingo, we’d better do the same if we want to stay on even footing. Sad to say but they’ve got the upper hand on us and basically always have. They KNOW how to organize. Collectivism is part of their worldview most of the time, so organizing and delegating are things they are VERY skilled at doing. Those of us who stand for individuality and personal responsibility are not so skilled at organizing because we’re used to taking care of things ourselves without much help from anyone else.

      We need to take that page out of their book as well. There’s nothing wrong with getting together to achieve a common goal. So I’m telling you to get your gun buddies together and try to get something going. And I mean ALL of them–the FUDDs, the tacti-cools, the FPS fanboys, the plinkers, the CCWs, whoever–and drive the point home that THEY are going to strip all of US of what we hold dear if we let them. That it IS as bad as we think it is and they ARE coming sooner or later.

  8. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    1) there silly little march is on a weekday – parents won’t pull kids out of school for this

    2) kids are gonna parrot their parents and I don’t give these kids a lot of credence. sorry – mine shoot and know how to clean my guns. They are 5 and 7 – let’s feature them in a video in a weaver stance hitting a target at 10 yrds.

    3) we need to counter with kids who were saved from active shooters or a mugger or carjacker by someone with a gun. if they want emotion, then that’s what they get.

  9. avatarblehtastic says:

    Honestly, we need to start making the same kinds of propaganda they do. Except ours would be better as it would make more sense. Maybe some sort of movie about a serial killer where each villain was liberally self disarmed, but the last few victims had guns in the home. The first of the final three victims would have a hunting rifle locked in a safe with no ammo in the home, would get to it, realize how useless it was, and prepare to use it as a club against the killer as he was shot dead, the second to last victim would have a lot of “tactical” toys in his safe, but would die just as he was getting the safe open, and the last prospective victim would be the cop’s wife that was trying to catch this serial killer. She would be practicing house (concealed) carry after an emotional flashback conversation inspired by a case the cop had a few years ago, and in the final scenes the serial killer would be threatening their child, and at an opportune time as the serial killer was explaining his perverted predilictions he would place the kid on the floor for just a moment and she would shoot him and grab the kid, the climactic scenes requiring all 19 bullets an XDm or Glock 17 with mag extendor as she was chased with the kid throughout the house, continuing to shoot him until he finally couldn’t take anymore blood loss and collapsed as she was hiding in the crawlspace or attic.

    The cop assigned to the case would be tied up in a lead that he thought was going somewhere, but not expecting to actually catch the guy immediately, and due to communication blackout wouldn’t show up to console his wife and family until at least 6 hours after the fact.

  10. avatarMerits says:

    Fight fire with fire. They say guns are dangerous evil-creating objects that kill kids. Show, verbalize and make visible the historical evidence of citizen disarmament and how unsafe that ends (and dead kids). It’s not persuasive to everyone, as some believe anything that happened more than 5 years ago can never happen again, but you can only lead the horse to water.

  11. avataruncommon_sense says:

    We need to disseminate first hand accounts of citizens who faced a horrifying attack and prevailed because they were armed. The citizen has to convey their feelings during the attack and their feelings about being alive and well today.

    We also need to disseminate first hand accounts of victims who requested help from police who didn’t arrive in time — as is almost always the case since the police cannot be everywhere. Those victims have to share their feeling during the attack, their anguish at the fact that the police didn’t show up in time, and their pain as survivors, especially long term physical and emotional wounds and scars.

    After several years of sharing those two types of events, we need to disseminate first hand accounts of citizens who lived in a country that went from peaceful to violent chaos almost overnight. Sarajevo comes to mind. I read an account of someone who watched in disbelief how police — who were responded to a shooting — were suddenly ambushed themselves and withdrew permanently. When the shooting continued into the next day and beyond with no police response, the witness struggled to grasp what was happening. Our citizens need to know this can and does happen. They need to know how it feels. And they need to know that they don’t have to be totally helpless should something like that ever happen in the U.S. And they need to know how it feels to not be totally helpless.

  12. avatarRalph says:

    We can have all the messages we want — but the enemy controls the media. No media = no message. 2A groups can produce the pro-gun equivalent of “Gone With the Wind” and nobody will see it. Ever.

    We can’t control the dialog — or even influence it. What we can do is sue the bastards to death. Sue them until their eyeballs bleed. And then, just like Chicago, the bastards will have to pay for “our” lawyers.

    I sent in my contribution to the SAF. Did you? I’m also checking out the Cato Institute and any other groups who know how to use the courts.

    • avatarBrian says:

      This is good advice, but the courts are a fickle mistress and unreliable. As to the media/message you are right that the status quo isn’t good, but lets work on changing that. Name and shame the cases of bias that come up (like the NBC video) and send our best at the more fair venues (such as NPR). Facts and logic, and a fair number of emotional anecdotes, are on our side, lets use them.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Dang, Ralph, we need more lawyers like you!

      I’ve contributed a joined the NRA, SAF, and FPC. I also signed the petition against David Gregory, but that sure didn’t amount to much.

      Also, I’ve supported “Assaulted” three times, which still needs financial support:

      http://kck.st/VZmXBM

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Ralph, the winds have shifted in how news stories propagate to the public. It’s not just 3 broadcast networks plus 3 cable news outlets anymore.

      YouTube (and its competitors) in synergy with aggregator/thematic-filter sites are scaring the daylights out of TV producers.

      Wikipedia is, believe it or not, the news source of choice for the under-30 crowd when shit gets real, ie Newtown. My kids were at least as well informed as the TTAG crowd in the hours and days following Newtown because they used Wikipedia as a crowd-sourced, real-time-peer-reviewed source for the best available info.

      I know you deeply distrust the major media outlets. I get that. Good thing for us that they are no longer the sole arbiters of The Truth, because we have the means to get our message out without them. Even better, they’re so scared of missing anything important that if our message gets enough traction online, they pick up the story and run it so all of the old-school news program watchers see it too.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Wikipedia is turning into a very powerful thing. It’s detractors are not totally wrong — bad info does sometimes sneak in — but it never lasts for long before it’s fixed. And citations are your friend. Trust, but verify.

  13. avatarIn Memphis says:

    RF and company, y’all should make a youtube PSA of the “I am a Gun Owner” series. They already show diversity amongst gun owners, that we aren’t all toothless rednecks and conservative extremists or all white men. I will consent to you guys using my photo.

  14. avatarTotenglocke says:

    Use rape statistics and DGU’s. Put up billboards with a college aged girl’s face and something about “X # of college aged girls will used a gun to prevent themselves from being raped last year”. We can also do TV and internet ads with women about how they stopped a rapist or protected their children using a gun.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Excellent idea. Emotional stories of women using a firearm to defend their lives or the lives of their children. Single Moms, Dads away on business or war, etc.

      I can see it now “He was twice my size, There was no other way I could have fought him off, He tried to …”

  15. avatarLance says:

    1st dont bother watching the dumb Super Bowl its all a Obama propaganda speech with Newtown Choir being there. How sick that jerk is to use kids for his Fascist agenda. 2 Biggest thing is to educate people on guns and what the 2A is about.

  16. avatarBrian says:

    A big thing we need to do is take on the role of “witnesses” in the religious sense. We need to let our friends and loved ones know we are gun owners, invite them to ask us question and express their concerns, and do our best to answer them in as convincing and compassionate a way as possible (no saying “my rights” and stamping our feet). This way we undercut the anti-gun monopoly on setting the debate because our friends, and those around us who see how we conduct ourselves, will see that gun owners aren’t just fat racists but rather are thoughtful, educated, concerned members of society with the same values they have. Once they realize they have been lied to by the grabbers they may come over to our side, or at least not take a side, and may be open to being converted later.

  17. avatarAccur81 says:

    This is very similar to Totenglocke’s idea, but I suggest a YouTube series titled “A Firearm Saved My Life.”. It would have a style somewhat similar to “Demand a Plan,” but would feature men and women who lawfully used a firearm to defend themselves or loved ones. Take excerpts of their true DGU stories and intertwine the interviews.

    “and then I heard breaking glass”
    “he swung the knife at me”
    “I didn’t want to be a victim”

    You would need 8-10 good people with legit DGU’s and some decent editing, but this could make a great emotional video, particularly in the case of moms protecting their kids or ladies walking at night.

    I’d go on video for that.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      This. Reasonable people, no scary looking Yeager freaks, just regular folks keeping themselves and their families safe through lawful gun ownership and responsible usage.

      I would be shocked of it were difficult at all to find CCW citizens who have prevented crimes against themselves and their families via DGU. Every CCW citizen must know by now that our 2A rights are under ceaseless assault.

  18. avatarBob says:

    Make a PSA that goes something like this:
    “My little brother…
    Our son, was murdered in Sandy Hook Elementary School by a deranged mental patient. The teachers and staff did everything they could to save his life that day, but the law prevented them from doing the one thing that could have saved him. The law made it illegal for the teachers to shoot the killer before he could brutally murder 20 children and 6 staff members. Someone in Washington decided that my (and your) children should be left defenseless against a madman bent on killing them! Can you believe that?”
    Announcer’s voice: “Hard to believe, but it’s completely true. Tell your Congressman and Senator to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act. You can help prevent another tragedy like the Newtown Massacre.”

  19. avatarpat says:

    Shameless commies using children and soft music to get us into fake showers to sniff the fragrant fumes of Zyklon-B. All you who voted for Barry, how does it smell.
    Stupid libtards.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Do you ever leave a comment without either or both of the terms “pelvic ashtray” and “Zyklon-B?” You’re getting tiresome, and further, you’re not helping.

      • avatarpat says:

        Um…..no. Maybe Anthrax spores or Nerve gas would be a more contemporary (and effective) metaphor to stoke the fires of anger and rage. I want pro-gunners mad dog insane (to go with the logic we got already) to do battle with the evil libtards who use only emotion. Logic aint enough. The emperor in Star Wars was correct. The Republic (potentially) is at stake. Pelvic Ashtray (as a symbol on a flag, perhaps)?

  20. avatarPrisoner of New York says:

    In addition to the good ideas above we need to take people shooting. The vast majority of people are ambivalent on the subject of guns. However shooting is fun and appeals to the human spirit. I think most people taken shooting will become pro gun people. We need to bring back High School Shooting Teams. We need to support boy scouts going for their riflery badges. We need to take young women shooting because young women become moms who have a big say in their family’s hobbies. We need to take young women shooting because it will change the stereotypical demographic of the shooting activity and this will make shooting a cool, hip and accepted hobby (Do people still say “cool and hip”?) Because if young girls can shoot how scary can it be?.

  21. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    We are dealing with people who have been brainwashed into believing their lives aren’t worth anything. Their told a criminal is a very special person & s brady says can never be harmed under “any” circumstance. The answer, saturation advertising that convinces the gun haters that they are good people that don’t deserve to die & criminals that would kill them & their families do. Make them understand that obama stands shoulder to shoulder with criminals & I think lots of people are waking up to this already, Randy

  22. avatarYe5 I 5aid t4at says:

    We need to get out of the echo chambers.
    Get on Facebook and Twitter but conduct yourself in a way that does not scare off the gun-skittish.
    Be positive and avoid extreme rhetoric.

  23. avatarSilver says:

    We can’t. Americans have, for decades, been brainwashed into statist, lazy, dependent morons who have been taught to loathe logic and embrace emotion. Our “fellow Americans” are our greatest enemies.

    Forget trying to win people. It’s never going to happen in any large-scale way. All we can do is crush and defeat them.

  24. avatarDrVino says:

    What about my collection of AK variants?
    Is it a collection of evil assault rifles?
    Is it a collection of personal defense rifles?
    Is it a collection of modern sporting rifles?….
    How can I succinctly and effectively protect my property and the right to own and use it?

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.