The Social Justice Warrior Corps has taken notice of how gun rights activists have been using semantics more effectively to promote our point of view. They don’t like this and here’s why: using proper semantics influences people effectively. It really works.
To this, the UK Guardian published an opinion piece written by California social justice warrior and romance novelist S.E. Smith (pictured above) that claims gun ownership is not a fundamental human right.
As the vicious debate over gun control continues unabated in the United States and the NRA distinguishes itself by constantly coming up with new ways to be terrible, there’s an interesting trend cropping up here and there. I’m noting more and more rhetoric suggesting that gun ownership is a human right…
It’s a creative new argument, and also one that’s very wrong. I can see why people are doing it: there’s a growing sensitivity to human rights, and suggesting that something is an inalienable entitlement makes it seem ironclad. It’s an example of how the right attempts to use the language and tools of the left against it, often highly effectively…
She’s upset that “the NRA” is using “a growing sensitivity to human rights” to “use the language and tools of the left against it, often highly effectively.” Indeed. Then she tries to bamboozle her readers.
A human right has to do with something intrinsic to who you are as a human being, and your most basic needs. Healthcare, food, housing, and water are human rights. They are all critical things that human beings need to stay alive. Access to reproductive health services is a human right. The ability to participate freely in society regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or disability status is a human right. These are things society is supposed to guarantee to us because we are part of society, and these things are integral to our very identities.
I’m hard-pressed to come up with any human right more intrinsic or fundamental than the right to live. Self-defense, or the right to defend your life from an unlawful attack, has everything to do with who you are and your most basic needs. If a person is dead, they don’t need to worry about reproductive health services, healthcare, housing or much of anything else.
Self-defense has been acknowledged as a basic human right for centuries in free nations. Firearms, of course, are the most effective means of self-defense for the common man. Most folks are aware of the old Colt marketing slogan: “God created man, Sam Colt made them Equal.” Most also understand that a gun gives even the weakest, frailest members of society a fighting chance against the biggest, strongest, baddest people with evil in their hearts.
Many non-People of the Gun are confident in the police coming to their aid in times of trouble. They see no need to provide for their own security when someone else will do it for them.
That begins to change when people see or experience civil unrest – especially if it’s “close” to them. That formerly bedrock belief that “the police will protect me” those people carried with them? Firearm ownership and its proven effectiveness at protecting families starts looking more like a sure thing. People soon vote with their wallets, especially when confidence falters in the government’s ability to maintain law and order.
Every time the media publishes pictures of rioters dancing on police squad cars, we win. More people realize law enforcement won’t necessarily be there to save them. And while protection might be parked at the local doughnut shop, a gun in the hand can respond at 1000+ feet per second.
Every time the thin veneer of civilization wears thin and anarchy peeks through, hundreds of thousands of non-gun owning Americans reconsider their earlier beliefs on guns. Some investigate even further and come to understanding that gun ownership is a net benefit to their family’s safety and security.
By using effective semantics like the left does routinely – “their” semantics – we help educate Americans on the proven benefits of gun ownership. We bring people around who might otherwise feel indifferent or lean against gun rights. And from the numbers, we’ve done just that. Just this past week, Gallup published this:
In U.S., Support for Assault Weapons Ban at Record Low
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles. Thirty-six percent now want an assault weapons ban, down from 44% in 2012 and 57% when Gallup first asked the question in 1996.
In just twenty years, gun rights activists have reduced support for banning America’s favorite rifle, the AR-15, and other modern sporting rifles by nearly 50%. Looking deeper in the Gallup statistics, not even a majority of Democrats now support such a ban. We’ve used some the left’s semantic tactics to beat them at their own game. And the social justice warriors don’t like it one bit.
Want to learn more on how to help hoplophobes like S.E. Smith have a bad day? John Ross wrote a fabulous piece, “Why Are You Losing Your Freedoms? The Semantics of Manipulation” some years ago. Here are some highlights on how to better use semantics to promote gun rights:
1) Do not unwittingly repeat inappropriate labels that the other side has floated.
In the game of persuasion, you give weight to the other side’s argument when you use the labels they chose. …And how do you anchor the left’s labels to a bad (or good depending on the word and your purposes) feeling or connotation? By immediately countering deceptive labels with labels of your own. Every time they say “assault weapon”, you say “defense device” or “freedom stick” or “child-protection tool”. Whatever you do, DO NOT REPEAT THE LABELS THEY FLOAT.
2) Understand the impact of the words you use on the electorate…not just the impact that those words have on you.
3) Use already established associations…only later attempt to change those associations.
Psychologists know that a would-be persuader has two choices. 1) attempt to change the associations a person has to certain words or ideas or 2) use already established words and associations to your advantage. Get the order wrong, and you are in big trouble…
EXAMPLE: “Gun control is classist, racist, and sexist. I don’t support those things.”
…“The liberal thing to do would be to support liberty by opposing gun-laws and other government control schemes. We need to progress toward a future of freedom not a system that reenacts past tyrannies.”
4) Length matters.
A) Short, to-the-point assertions should always be countered with short, to-the-point responses.
…Leftist: “Guns are dangerous.” …[P]olitely respond with a counter-phrase; try to make it just as short and to the point as the propaganda that requires your response. “Guns are tools.” or “Guns protect children.”
B) A simplification (even a dumb one) that requires a long response will win in the game of influence.
Here’s a classic: “We license and register cars…why shouldn’t we license and register guns?”
…Here’s a response that works in a lot of situations: “Why are leftists so anti-freedom?”
5) A few shared labels that are mediocre are better than hundreds of words and labels that are great but aren’t shared.
In the mind of a conservative, a hundred good reasons is better than just one or two reasons. Logically, this makes sense. As far as persuasion, however, a hundred different people pushing a hundred different phrases just insures that no one’s message gets through to the electorate. Have you ever noticed that those on the left repeat the same things over and over? “Benefiting the rich and hurting the poor.” “That’s racism.” “I don’t support hate and intolerance.” It seems that no matter what the situation or issue, whether simple or complex, leftists manage to funnel everything into the frames of class-warfare rhetoric and hackneyed socialistic cliches. AND IT WORKS. Why? Because the message gets through.
6) Do not counter a leftist idea in such a way that you support a different leftist idea.
During the Clinton Administration, the NRA (love ‘em or curse ‘em…I can never decide which) fell for this one. When the leftists in Congress attempted to push through a whole batch of new gun laws, the NRA responded with, “We need to support the gun laws that are on the books…this administration won’t even prosecute those criminals who are already breaking the laws we have.” …A better response would have been, “Gun laws are classist, racist, and sexist. Why are leftists such hateful control-freaks?”
7) Seek to influence not convert.
Does all this talk about propaganda, influence, and manipulation make you feel uncomfortable? “I hate it when those on the left simplify things to the point of stupidity…I don’t ever want to be that way.” “I don’t want to manipulate anyone…I want people to understand the truth so we will all be better, smarter citizens.”
…Conservatives far too often try to convince people through logic and reasoning without realizing that only emotion will push them to engage in the study of the issues long enough to be touched by greater truths.
8. You must stand for something…not just be against change.
…In politics, a defensive position is a losing position.
…“What changes do I want to make to more fully take advantage of the ideals voiced in the Constitution and Bill of Rights?”