A TTAG reader writes:
I’m probably one of your most left-leaning readers. The whole “slave state” stuff is a turn off. Anyway, I’ve been reading for around a year, and decided that once AR parts were reasonably priced again, I’d get my first firearm–a stripped lower, destined for an 18″ SPR. That was back in April. I’ve since realized that the design and use of firearms, particularly the AR pattern, is an incredibly cerebral exercise. It flies in the face of the uneducated and fear-stricken stereotypes. I personally don’t have that problem, as a well-educated former Californian living in Alabama. But I understand that’s not the case for most gun owners. There’s a massive problem in optics in the current debates we aren’t effectively addressing . . .
1) Instead of identifying as a bulwark against overeager authority, we should rebrand ourselves as martial artists. Firearms are situational tools, right? They require continual learning and a focus on basic skills for efficient manipulation. The choice of type, capability, and size is just that–a choice. We’re all students, honing skills with tools that have distinct advantages and disadvantages. It’s a waste of time to defend just the weapons the opposite vilifies. The warrior should not have a favorite weapon. When asked, “Do you really NEED an assault weapon?”, the answer is “Sometimes. Just like sometimes I need a can opener.”
2) I’ve been watching the opposition respond to open carry rallies. It’s just fodder for their ad hominem attacks. It’s a distraction. Why not just wear empty OWB holsters? Force them to focus on the person, not the weapon system. When asked “why aren’t you carrying your gun right now? Aren’t you in constant fear for your life?”, respond with “Of course not, I trust you. I was hoping you would trust me too.” (Of course, they don’t have to know about your concealed carry.) We can build rapport with fear down and force them to recognize us as something other than a single issue voter. Confrontational counter-protests don’t particularly help either. Building a projected duality isn’t going to win the hearts and minds of people on the sidelines. We know that converting non-shooters into shooters works in changing minds. I’m just asking for more effective ambassadorship when out in public.
3) Appropriate their own messaging. Personal safety is a personal responsibility, how you assemble your security portfolio is entirely a personal choice. In that regard, we are Pro-Choice. My friends may choose to live in a ranch-style house and use an AR for home defense, while I choose to sleep at the top of a flight of stairs (a natural fatal funnel) in a loft with a selection of bladed weapons, rather than in the downstairs master bedroom. Firearms may not be right for someone’s particular security portfolio at some point in time and that’s perfectly okay. We’re not out there to decide these for everyone, we simply want everyone to have a choice in what part firearms play in their mix, if at all. So-called “Slave States” should be called “Anti-Choice.”
4) A common taunt I’ve heard from the opposition is “What are you afraid of?” It’s a rhetorical question that makes the supposition that we are paralyzed by fear without a physical object (which is not the intent of Condition Yellow). Reframe it as “My ability to manipulate my firearms to deal with possible violent confrontations gives me a level of confidence. Not certainty, not a guarantee, I’m just recognizing risk and taking proactive measures.” In a way, they want the same thing–confidence that potential scenarios don’t preoccupy their day-to-day lives.
5) Listen, I’m sad to see 100-year old firearms get destroyed too. But they’re inanimate objects. The rightful owner can do whatever they wish with their property. That’s their choice. In fact, make them confront the fact that at least for a moment, they’re also firearms owners, exercising their rights to transport and transfer private property.
6) The hard left like to use terms like “gender shaming” and “body shaming.” Ironically, their ad hominem attacks constitute “gun shaming.” Use that. The MAIG bus tour is about as tasteless as picketing an abortion clinic with pictures of fetuses. Trying to solidify an abstract concept to create guilt and doxxing people can backfire if we’re effective in messaging. For instance, doxxing Heidi Yewman was not a win–she obviously finished her 3-part series from home and not a jail cell It doesn’t sit well with me that someone is attacking a fellow gun owner. We’re free to seek our level and frequency of training on our own, she simply exercised that right.