“There is a segment of the American population who believes passionately that guns are critical for personal protection against both violent individuals and governmental intrusion,” qz.com opines, correctly. “They believe nothing should prevent them from getting the guns they need to do that.” Amen. And then . . .
There is another, larger group of Americans who believes passionately that we have created an environment that makes it far too easy for those who intend to kill to have access to all the firepower they want.
Assuming that authors Ann Christiano (Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications, University of Florida) and Annie Neiman (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, University of Florida) are suggesting that more Americans support gun control than not, wrong. abcnews.com, January 2016:
Support for gun control in general has diminished lately in other measures. In an ABC/Post poll in October, the public divided almost exactly evenly between giving a higher priority to protecting gun ownership rights or enacting new gun control laws, 47-46 percent. That marked a shift from early 2013, when we found a 12-point preference for new gun control laws.
Researchers have discovered that people who are more liberal tend to support solutions framed with language of equality and protection from harm.
People who are more conservative tend to support solutions when they are presented in the context of protection for themselves and their families, respect for authority and preserving what is sacred.
Sounds about right to me. According to the Sunshine State activist authors, “here’s an example of how one cause got it right:”
When Brian Sheehan, director of Ireland’s Gay Lesbian Equality Network, developed a strategy that led Ireland to be the first country to support marriage equality, he and his team didn’t root their message in the values of the people who already supported the issue–values like equality, fairness and social justice.
Instead, they built a campaign for a particular audience that would be fundamental to passing the marriage equality referendum: middle-aged, straight men. They crafted a message centered in this particular group’s values of equal citizenship and family. Last May, Irish voters passed marriage equality by nearly two to one, making marriage equality real in a country where–just a decade earlier–it was a crime.
So . . . tell me what you want what you really, really want . . .
Imagine what the world could be like if we approached change by understanding the mindset of those who we hope to affect and engaged them by talking about what matters to them. Could such an approach allow us to move forward as a society on the issues that will define us–even one as controversial and emotional as gun control?
Unfortunately/fortunately, neither Ms. Christiano nor Ms. Neiman can mark us down as ripe for their strategy. They have no suggestions for convincing half of America to set aside the constitutional amendment prohibiting government infringement of Americans’ individual right to keep and bear arms.
Is there such a strategy? There is! Wave the bloody shirt! Make people believe that they and their families will be safer with gun control than without it. Which isn’t true, and right-thinking Americans — especially those with guns — aren’t about to buy it.
But point taken. The pro-gun rights side should keep hammering home the message that society is safer with gun rights than without. Which it is. And that gun rights are equal rights; for the LGBT community, for African Americans for everyone. Are you listening NRA?