Why Demographic-Specific Outreach Is Important For Expanding Gun Rights

Expanding Gun Rights Diverse LGBT Second Amendment

Armed Equality Memorial Day Social

When I formed Armed Equality I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to take the group in terms of big picture, long term goals. I just knew I needed to do something helpful in response to the Pulse nightclub hate crime and terrorist attack. I started by reaching out to local shops and instructors to feel out who would be the most supportive.

Some were significantly more inclusive and interested in supporting us than others, thus they receive our dollars and retail support. I truly believe the free market is the greatest civil rights progress-facilitating mechanism in existence, and absolutely prefer it to state intervention.

Part of our cause is helping people in non-traditional demographics feel comfortable in 2A community spaces. If this sounds like a foreign or ridiculous concern to you, chances are you’re a non-LGBT white male and that’s okay. None of us has any influence over the gender, sex, or race we came into this world with, as and we all have extremely different life experiences.

Even relatively homogeneous cultures are typically formed through diverse influences from all areas of human life. In my experience and opinion, no single culture will ever be the end-all-be-all best of the best forever and always. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and exist in a constant state of fluctuation and improvement.

Why Bother With Demographic-Specific 2A Outreach?

San Diego County Gun Owners Second Amendment Celebration Dinner, a.k.a. ‘The Gun Prom’

Science has shown — and I think we all know — that we typically feel most comfortable around like-minded individuals who share many of our personal, fundamental, and philosophical tenets. These tenets are usually the foundation of our interpersonal and familial identities and serve many incredibly important functions.

You would be hard-pressed to find a historian who wouldn’t agree that violent conflict most commonly takes place between groups of humans with fundamentally different philosophical tenets. Yet at the same time, we are all human and for the most part seek the same primary goals: life, liberty, property, & happiness.

For those of us who consider ourselves members of the 2A community, we often share some very fundamental philosophical tenets. But we shouldn’t expect that millions of independent, critically-thinking humans will ever be anywhere near homogeneous – nor would we ever want that. One of our primary goals here in the United States is preservation of the right to keep and bear arms. The right to own the tools necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones is a right for which we will always need to fight. In my book it supersedes nearly everything else and should be prioritized accordingly.

Why Bother With Demographic-Specific 2A Outreach?

Carissa (Piper’s partner)

So, if we can agree on that, here comes the difficult part. I’m asking you to consider willingly exposing yourself to some discomfort if that’s what it takes for you to help reach out to some non-traditional 2A demographics. How?

Here are some steps and actions I have taken and continue to improve upon out here in the southwest. Be mindful of how ostracizing hyper-partisan rhetoric can be, and do your best to control, temper, and orient yourself on social media and in person. You might feel that you’re “100% right” (we all often do, even I do in writing this post!) but we truly need to remember that insulting those we have hastily deemed our enemies is not going to be persuasive or effective in accomplishing our goals.

In my groups it’s a ban-able offense to call someone a ‘libtard’ or ‘conservatard’. This type of rhetoric is poison to productive and persuasive discussion, yet emotions are easily inflamed when something that consciously or subconsciously makes up a pillar of your identity is challenged. Please, do your best to take a deep breath, take a break, pour yourself a glass of whiskey; do whatever helps you remain calm, collected, and reasonable even when faced with what you deem unreasonable.

Empathy. It’s something that’s a lot easier for women than men to experience, appreciate, and value – yet I believe it’s the key to peaceable persuasion. This means that for the 2A community, which is undeniably predominantly made up of men, some extra effort is required.

Once again, what I’m asking may not be easy for you, but remember: IT WILL HELP YOU in the long term. Rather than defaulting to a position of labeling someone you disagree with an enemy who must be destroyed, try pausing for a moment and asking them some questions to help you understand where they are coming from. The interaction will be infinitely more likely to end productively.

Even if you end up helping them become 10% more 2A supportive, that’s a lot better than being responsible for pushing them to be 30% more anti-gun rights. At the same time, keep doing what you’re doing in terms of financial support of 2A organizations and being politically involved in whatever way you believe is truly the most effective.

Why Bother With Demographic-Specific 2A Outreach?

Armed Equality Pistol Event

When you ask questions you can learn a lot. You learn where someone is coming from, what motivates them, how to tailor your arguments – and you just might learn that your Bernie-supporting neighbor isn’t actually Satan incarnate. You might even learn that they’re a gun owner who would be happy to come to your next barbecue.

Hearts and minds are never won in the long term through force, insults, and ego clashes (see cognitive dissonance, fatal attribution error, confirmation bias, rationalization, and logical fallacies). We win the big picture, in the long term, by being shining examples of what we know we are: peaceful, protective, law-abiding, liberty-loving Americans. When we make it incredibly difficult for the anti-2A folk to locate firearm owners who are anything other than admirable, responsible, stand-up guys and gals…we win.

Piper Smith is the founder & executive director of Armed Equality.

Armed Equality National Discussion Group

Armed Equality SoCal Training Group

comments

  1. avatar Wyatt in Oregon says:

    “I truly believe the free market is the greatest civil rights progress-facilitating mechanism in existence, and absolutely prefer it to state intervention.”

    Did “all welcome” restaurants out-compete “whites only” establishments, thus forcing the latter to change?

    Did markets have any measurable effects on expanding the definition of “We the people”, or we really just talking about edge cases in the Internet era of outrage?

    Good points on promoting big-tent gun politics otherwise.

    1. avatar drunkEODguy says:

      the point is voting with dollars has as much impact, if not more, than voting with a ballot. She’s absolutely right about it too.

      1. avatar Jane Galt says:

        Drunk EOD guys are the best

    2. avatar Jimmy Bobby says:

      Jim Crow laws… were laws. Business didn’t have a choice to integrate without breaking the law.

      1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

        According to the Libertarians, black people can be refused service because of their race. They also say a christian baker must be threatened with guns and be forced to bake a homosexual wedding cake.

        I have no problem with a firearms business refusing service to anyone. This was widely supported by TTAG commentators.

        “Arizona Gun Store: No Obama Voters Allowed”

        https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/arizona-gun-store-no-obama-voters-allowed

  2. avatar Arandom Dude says:

    Demographic-specific outreach is vital to the future of the 2nd Amendment, not only regarding people of non-standard sexuality, but regarding non whites. The reality is that Asians and Hispanics are increasing in number, and combined with African Americans, they will soon outnumber us white folks. If they remain firmly in the Democratic coalition, we are screwed. We must convince a significant number of them to join us. If we can do that, the Democrats will either have to give up gun control, or we will be able to reliably elect pro-2A Republicans in currently purple areas.

  3. avatar New Continental Army says:

    I personally don’t care what color or sexual orientation is in the least bit, and never have. But the past few years, I’ve found it damn near impossible to accept anyone who’s far left wing in their politics. They always get hyper emotional, rageful, insulting, and even violent, simply because I’m not a liberal as well. They always, always have to inject their left wing beliefs into whatever it is we’re doing or talking about, often in a backhanded way. Also, I’ve come to notice that most of the far left people I’ve known really do have some kind of mental or emotional disorder. That’s not just me saying “oh all the libturds are crazy.” I mean they’ve actually told me they’re manic depressive, or have a substance abuse problem. Or something else. I’ve seen it enough to the point now where I just get suspect of anyone who’s overtly far left wing.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      Patience doesn’t lose ground. Sure, it’s frustrating to interact with someone that seems beyond hope. But at least make a brief attempt to do so and keep your cool.

      Sometimes a well-placed question can bounce around their head for years. It could be the last straw that gets them to abandon their need to tell you what to do.

      My friend told me once that the strongest supporters of any movement are their former opponents. When they get disillusioned and switch sides, they are not only more psychologically motivated, but also more knowledgable about the other side and can accomplish more.

    2. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      I think we know the same people, NCA.

      Elitist progressives who self-destruct when someone does not think the same way they do.

      They all want ‘compromise’ but don’t seem to understand that compromise is give and take. Their version is essentially extortion “give me what I want or else”.

      Over the past few years I’ve seen friends with liberal ideologies (yes friends) go from people I could debate and discuss with, to bi-polar rage machines and have had to sever ties with several of them due to the way they treat those that don’t follow the same creed. The same for some of my wife’s relatives that have seemingly gone off the deep end, barring a few from my home for starting a rage-lecture while guests at my house.

      I will not spare a moment of patience for such behavior, and will not waste my time or concern on them.

      1. avatar Paul from FL says:

        And I’ve seen the same from my far-right friends, sorry to tell you.

    3. avatar Gluteus Maximus says:

      There are plenty of liberals (like me) who look at the far left and shake our heads as well. Don’t give up on all liberals because of the far left and I won’t give up on my conservative friends because of the far right. Deal?

      That being said, there are some things that even a moderate liberal like me will pitch a fit over.

      1. avatar Ryan says:

        The question really is what do you need an entity with the threat of putting people into a cage or death to make others do that you don’t like?

  4. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    Empathy is easier for women than men? Now you exposed a bit of your own prejudice. At least half of my CCW students were women. Not a scientific survey. I arrested many men for the victimization of women. If I didn’t have empathy, it was at least sympathy. I don’t care what you sub-label yourself as, you have the same God given rights as any other human. Be careful though. A wise man and man once said, “There is no room in America for hyphenated Americans.” That was a long time ago. It’s still true today. In the meantime, welcome to the 2A community. Want to keep the other rights? This is the one with the teeth.

    1. avatar Jane Galt says:

      Research has shown time and time again that women are more empathic than men…

  5. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    As I see it, the barrier to making the pro-2A tent bigger is not that we are predominantly white male. It is that we predominantly hold traditional conservative values.

    I’ll teach anyone to shoot. Follow me to the range! I’ll be in the truck with the Trump-Pence bumper sticker. At the range, you’ll see MAGA hats and other signs of our collective ideology. Being pro-2A will mean you’ll be hanging out with people of my ilk.

    Being a pro-2A liberal will require some tough choices. Choose between your gun-hating friends who are fine with open borders and same-sex marriage, or come hang out with us, our Christian definition of marriage and our support for the rule of law, including immigration laws.

    Take yer pick. Just don’t forget that without the Second Amendment, the rest of your rights are every bit as safe as the helplessly disarmed folks in the Pulse Night Club.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      Sharing core values is important for marriage, but not for casual friends.

      Then again, I like to argue in good nature. If you don’t, I can see why that would be a problem.

    2. avatar Porkchop says:

      “Being a pro-2A liberal will require some tough choices. Choose between your gun-hating friends who are fine with open borders and same-sex marriage, or come hang out with us, our Christian definition of marriage and our support for the rule of law, including immigration laws.”

      Sophie’s Choice is not a choice.

    3. avatar Paul from FL says:

      No, it’s not a “tough choice”. And you even insinuating that a choice has to be made is proving the point of this article. I am very pro-2A, and I fully support gay marriage. I have very close friends and family that fall all accross the political spectrum. Making insinuations that I’m either 100% agreement with your world view or I’m an “other” is not going to win any moderate hearts and minds in this country, and moderate hearts and minds are where concrete policies are made. Keep up your insular rhetoric if you want, it is a free country after all, but you’re not doing the 2A any favors by doing so.

      Piper is right:, if anything, this is the perfect time to reach out to the LGBTQ and minority populations in this country. Believe it or not, it’s actually been women, who were traditionally never part of the “men’s club” of gun enthusiasts, that have protected the 2A the most in recent years as the number of female gun owners has been the largest growing demographic. We should recognize that and learn from it.

      I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be able to protect myself and my family with the help of those I don’t 100% agree with then be left disarmed and helpless with people who have the exact same views on everything that I do.

    4. avatar Paul from FL says:

      I’m pro all rights outlined in the Constitution. Worth noting:

      Thomas Jefferson declared in 1787 that  “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  And Founding Father John Adams, one of the key drafters of our Constitution, declared for generations of Americans that “The liberty of the Press is essential to the Security of the State.”  Of course, Jefferson and Adams should be suspect because of them working together on that flaming liberal thing called “The Declaration of Independence,” and in fact all those Founding Father fellas are suspect, too, because they went and put Freedom of the Press right there in the very First Amendment of the Bill of Rights but didn’t get around to mentioning gun rights until the Second Amendment.  They sure had their priorities mixed up, didn’t they.

      Our Founding Fathers put Freedom of the Press right there in the very First Amendment of the Bill of Rights alongside Freedom of Speech because Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech are the same thing.  Anyone who takes away Freedom of the Press is attacking our Freedom of Speech. 

      History has a lesson for us to heed about the use of the accusation of “Lugenpresse” — “lying press” — by political “leaders” in pre-WWII Germany.  Unfortunately, many Germans believed that accusation until they found out too late that the press was right, and Germany and much of the world ended up in ruins.

  6. avatar drunkEODguy says:

    I agree that expanding the 2A to other demographics is essential. It’s also seeding voters too, because I’ve found that when people open up to the idea of taking charge of their own safety, they tend to move toward self-reliance on other subjects.

  7. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    Libtards are still libtards though.

    1. avatar Jane Galt says:

      Thanks for proving Piper’s points.

      1. avatar Chris T from KY says:

        Piper is a Sanders supporter. That truth is one it seems many people want to ignore.

        1. avatar Jane Galt says:

          Piper is a libertarian and definitely not a Sanders supporter… read the article again lol…

  8. avatar Random NYer says:

    I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Being a post-millennial suburban NY resident practically everyone I knew was a gun control nut. I’ve since taken some of them to the range, and granted my own experience is anecdotal, but they’ve since broadened their views on gun rights.
    If TRTKBA is going to survive my generation and the ones following it, we will need as wide a base as possible. I’m really trying to change hearts and minds. Glad I’m not the only one. Kudos, Armed Equality, you may just be my new favorite 2A group.

  9. avatar Maybe Gator says:

    Oh great. Piper has spoken again. She woke. I’m not. Whatever.

    1. avatar CC says:

      She makes some valid arguments and some invalid arguments (specifically she falls into pattern of asserting stereotypes herself).

      Gun owners and Second Amendment advocates fall all over the political belief sets and in all demographics cohorts.

      For example younger persons, even though they average more generally liberal belief sets are less likely to support assault rifle bans than older persons, including older gun owners .

      More among generally liberal persons being idiots about gun control is not the same thing as all liberals being idiots on the issue. And liberals are the best people to advocate among fellow liberals.

      A lot of gun owners, myself included are more libertarian than conservative.

      I will taker her valid points as valid and educational, despite some of her other points being illogical. .

      1. avatar Porkchop says:

        “A lot of gun owners, myself included are more libertarian than conservative.”

        Exactly. There is no necessary connection between being a strong Second Amendment supporter and being against abortion or gay marriage or being desirous of imposing one’s religious beliefs others. One can be a pro-life, pro-gay marriage secularist, all of which are more or less libertarian positions, and still support the Second Amendment.

        1. avatar john says:

          This pretty much hits the nail on the head. The right does not represent me and the left does not represent me. We need a viable third party that combines values from both. However, that will never occur as the two current parties are content with tossing the hot potato and don’t want another sow at the trough.
          The other thing everyone should remember is this is a free country and you trying to impose your will on what others feel is a big no no. Americans will not be under anyone’s thumb. It does not matter if the threat is foreign or domestic………

  10. avatar Fudds McKenzie says:

    I don’t know about specific outreach, just try not to be repulsive and selfish. Gun rights isn’t all about you, it’s not a soapbox for you to proselytyze. It’s natural for everyone to want to shoot, the core concept is good, but the gun culture is alienating.

  11. This. Our gun rights will only be safe when it ceases to be a left right issue. It may seem counter productive now to get Democrats to favor gun rights if they’re still going to vote democrat, but in the long run, if enough of them favor those rights the democrats will have to take gun control off the list as a party platform.

  12. avatar Ryan says:

    As the old saying goes any government that has the power to give you everything has the power to take it away. The idea you can give that much power to it and not receive some of consequence from it is ridiculous. This is the flaw of every liberal but ideology. The idea that crying Bernie bros will suddenly be ok with the 2A is laughable. Unless said minority is ready to totally accept the idea of total liberty they’re not ready for the responsibility of gun ownership. There is a difference between being for the 2A and simply being pro gun. These new recruits need to understand that difference.

    1. avatar Jane Galt says:

      Ever heard of Liberal Gun Owners and Liberal Gun Club?

      1. avatar Jay S. says:

        The problem is that they still vote liberal, which means they still vote in politicians that want to take our guns.

        1. avatar Fudds McKenzie says:

          Do they? I’m not a fan of Trunp, knew he was no freind of gun rights and that the false victory would be worse than an honest defeat, get you all distracted and complacent. The rest of the platform, pfft, no thanks. But I didn’t vote for Hillary either.

          The fact is you’re looking a gift horse in the mouth. Not everyone joining the gun culture is offering to be conservative political cannon fodder. Sorry, no, not signing up to be a warm body. The nerve right? You should just accept it, it’s the best deal you’ll get.

    2. avatar Fudds McKenzie says:

      You’re conflating liberal and big government. I bet you have a system thought up where small government liberals are something else, call them libertarians, classical libs, social libs. Whatever that system is, rest assured that I don’t care.

      1. avatar Ryan says:

        Any ideology which uses government to infringe on the rights of anyone is bad no matter what “label” you want to give it.

  13. avatar Canon says:

    Welcome Piper, most of us accept all 2A lovers regardless of your shape, size, or caliber.

  14. avatar James T. Quayle III says:

    Everyone has an opinion and loves to share it, but you know what they say about opinions….they are like a-holes. Everyone has one and they all stink.

    Just do you. Don’t worry about what Joe Schmoe thinks about you or your guns. No one is taking my guns from me. Not while I’m breathing anyway. I’d rather go out on my feet than live on my knees.

  15. avatar anarchogunner says:

    Thanks for writing this, Piper. We need more voices like yours in the 2A community.

    Do you have any non-facebook links where one could show support for your efforts?

    1. avatar Jane Galt says:

      Active Armed Equality Fundraiser
      https://www.gofundme.com/armed-equality-pride-2018

  16. avatar Harmon says:

    Piper. Well written, very intelligent and articulately put. Refreshing in this age of hit and run comment or twit writers who think they’re communicating. Excuse my ignorance though, what is 2A? In these comments alone I’ve seen OFWG, EOD, TRTKBA and others I haven’t the time to bother with. Ok, I’d have to be living in spider hole to not know what LGBTQ(C1XYZ?), DOJ, TTAG, MAGA is or sort of about. But, for all I know acronyms in this PM (Post Modern) era, whatever they represent will last only two months. Then be replaced by another set of supposed meaningful shortcuts and obscure or soon to disappear movements and acronyms next year.

    BTW, I’m pro-gun and often Democrat voting. Working in large to huge corporations I’ve constantly dealt with a political spectrum of characters in pursuit of my free market interests (and dealing with out of control elitist hierarchies of acronyms created by those ‘in the know’). Thanks for writing this, I’ll check out the links you’ve provided for more information. Or contact me with more of what Armed Equality is about.

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