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Gladiator / Gladiator

By: Kevin Van Dam

This isn’t working. It’s not you. It’s me. I must be the only one who thinks, despite repelling the barbarian hordes after Newtown like Russell Crowe in Gladiator, we are not gaining (or more importantly, holding) more ground on the battlefield of public opinion. I speak in particular those who would be swayed by emotional arguments against firearms. I think there remains an impediment to informing more people in a more convincing way: our old, tired arguments . . .

We need to change our approach, or at least involve a different one. We need to use what has always been used against us: emotion. We need to turn this cereal box upside down and open it from the bottom to get the prize without having to dig through a forearm’s worth of Cap’n Crunch. Besides, that’s my favorite cereal and I don’t want your Hoppe’s No.9-stained mitts tainting it while I attempt to develop Type II diabetes each morning.


Use FrogLube instead, that stuff is edible.

“But why, you filthy blasphemer?” I can hear your visceral cries from here, and there’s no need for name-calling. Fortunately for you, myself and my trusty word processor will lay it out. First, repetition – while repetition has its place in cementing things into people’s minds (think of pretty much any news channel), I believe it only truly sticks when it’s linked to something people can relate with. That’s why the opposition uses suicides, inflated child death statistics and grandiose claims to push group-think (90% of Americans want background checks huh?).

“But those aren’t facts,” you say. They are however presented as facts, and repeated as such ad nauseum; their truth is ultimately rendered inconsequential by an amount of repetition we can never compete with, unless someone hands me the keys to CNN. This is why “facts” are not our most effective argument. Truthiness (thanks Stephen Colbert) is not what wins in reality.

The need for a personal connection is doubly true with those on the fence about guns. The uninitiated have sympathy for someone’s loss from a suicide or mass shooting; they are not swayed by arguments of logic concerning how inanimate objects are used, especially when that object is linked with sadness (a feeling everyone has experienced). The things we reiterate need to have a way to connect emotionally, to make people inject that feeling into their own minds, and invite them to consider things critically.

I think it’s fortunate that some people DON’T think critically or we could easily paint ourselves into a corner. For instance, the oft-repeated meme that a Mini-14 is no more or less deadly than an AR-15, but it isn’t the object of legislation banning “assault weapon features.” I cringe every time this is brought up, just waiting for a Demanding Mom or the Brady Bunch to seize it. “Well if a Mini-14 is as deadly as an AR-15, we need to ban those too.” That argument cuts both ways. Firearms are firearms, and we shouldn’t have to justify each mechanical part they are comprised of. I do not want to get dragged down into regulatory hell because we got suckered into a framework of minutia like bayonet lugs and flash hiders. When we play their game, it never works in our favor.

Two regulatory hells…and a cheap shot at Chris Christie to represent New Jersey

So how do we make the connection? How do we make it personal? It needs to be, at its core, about personal choice and the freedom to make those choices. Frame guns like the issues a typical anti-gun person would take to the streets for: abortion, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, illegal immigrants. These issues are framed as a personal choice that should be legal or at least not punishable. Getting an abortion, marrying a same-sex partner, smoking weed at a Ben Harper concert, and pursing opportunity in the United States are all choices. I’d also like to point out that all of these choices are not enumerated in the Bill of Rights, which skirts the “Patriot fanatic who uses the Constitution as a weapon” construct. However, it’s easy to connect and normalize the 2nd Amendment to undecided listeners in the same way the above issues have been less stigmatized and thus accepted.

Second, in addition to choice, we need to frame the discussion as one about personal freedom. The NSA spying on citizens phones, secret drone strikes, IRS targeting, Bureau of Land Management aggression in Nevada (and the important side-effect of showing the American people how militarized government agencies are), the FCC trying to inject control over the internet (net neutrality), and even the FDA going to court over raw milk (coming back to the choice of what we put into our own bodies) – all of these things compound on each other and give context to what we’ve really been fighting for all along: we want to be left alone by the government to enjoy the freedoms we naturally possess as human beings – the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights. I personally think the Founders codified them because they had dealt with intransigent abusers of power, and knew these days may come.

Intransigent abusers of power, one of whom looks like he’s probably been chilling with Chris Christie

So why frame the discussion this way at all? There’s a feeling that I feel (that’s what you do with feelings, right?) is experiencing a resurgence in the United States; that is a resistance to government intrusion, regulation, and lack of transparency. There was massive support for Rand Paul’s filibuster on drone strikes, public opinion against the BLM, and there is pushback against the FCC injecting itself into internet regulation. In short, people are starting to realize that they want less government in their lives for all of the instances listed above and certainly many more (Obamacare anyone?). At the root of all this is personal, individual choices and the freedom to make them (and not the amorphous ‘Murica/Corvette doing burnouts/Reagan-shooting-commies-on-a-velociraptor kind of freedom).

You have to admit this is awesome, though…and I wanted another sweet picture

In short, we need to think critically about how to approach people with ideas that influence their decision making, seize the initiative of the burgeoning realization that government may not be the answer to problems, and shift the burden of proof back to where it belongs: on those who would seek to limit freedom, not those enjoying it responsibly…like a cold, delicious Coors Light.

Because beer. ‘Murica!

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  1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The facts are on our side. Appeals to emotion and better PR is definitely something the gun rights crowd needs to work on, but don’t toss out factual arguments.

    What does hurt us is talking about the 2nd Amendment like it is as important to fence sitters and even antis. You can say “Shall not be infringed” until you are blue in the face but it is no different than a Christian validating their stance by saying “Because the Bible says so”. There are good, logical, and clear arguments for having the right and means to defend your home and your family. Retreating to “Because! Guns!” is not going to win hearts and minds. So, I agree with you on that point but mostly just pointing that out for those that will disagree.

    In general, a better message, better outreach, and far less eating of our own. We can even frame it like the progs do. “We are not Pro-gun. We are Pro-Freedom!”

    • Personal choice and personal freedom do not win against the standard anti-gun-rights emotional arguments because people who respond to the emotional arguments have already been conditioned to believe that only right-wing gun nuts worry about about loss of freedom and liberties. The left simply responds with “You don’t have a right to own something that can be used to kill, or stolen and then used to kill, children”, or the “It takes a villiage” crap.

      Remember, it’s all about “helping others”, or avoiding someone getting “hurt.” If it hurts others, it’s bad, no matter how many folks use it without hurting others. All those things you listed have been sold to the public, or glossed over as things that can’t/don’t hurt other folks. If no one gets hurt, how can it be bad? Same with helping the “poor immigrants” who are just trying to find a better life (even though they may destroy the working life of some Americans during their pursuit).

      We haven’t been fighting on the emotional front for a reason; the left are experts there, and we don’t have control over the vast majority of the media to “tell the big lie” over and over again to make it seem true.

      The factual arguments we have been using are working, for those who (eventually) respond to facts. Slow progress, done in a morally correct way, for the right reasons, is stronger than temporary lies and catchy slogans.

      I do agree with Rob, above, on one point. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Stay the course, add new arguments when possible, but always default to facts, not emotions.

    • Don’t even have to lie, directly. You can even just repeatedly associate a name or concept with another by proximity. For example:

      “It is categorically untrue that Harry Reid is a pedophile. So, if you hear rumors that Senator Harry Reid is pedophile, you shouldn’t listen. Because those voices that call Harry Reid a pedophile are completely misleading. What? You say that there is no evidence that Harry Reid is a pedophile? Right you are,because we all know, that no matter what his young male interns might whisper among themselves, we should never rush to the judgement that Harry Reid is a pedophile.”

        • You heard someone say Harry Reid is a pedophile? Scandalous rumor! I have no reason to believe that Harry Reid is a pedophile. Pedophile. Harry Reid. Harry Reid. Pedophile. No reason to connect these two words! Pedophile.

    • I think that’s called the Overton Window in practice. Repeat the outrageous long enough and it becomes orthodoxy.

  2. You are either a big fan of Cracked or you write for them.
    Good write up. It was a fun read and a valid point.

    • Yeah, I found myself checking the browser URL while reading this one. Nice presentation.

    • This totally read like a Cracked article. Interestingly enough, Cracked just had one yesterday about the OCT folks. It was surprisingly not filled with liberal BS.

      • …but it was filled with many standard misconceptions and bits of false information – such as the statement that the OCT guys were in a Chipotle with “machine guns” strapped across their chests.

        • You are correct, and in fairness to Cracked, they don’t claim to be a bastion of journalistic rigor. By their own admission, they focus primarily on dick jokes.

    • I am indeed a huge fan of Cracked. I enjoy the way their articles read, and I thought it would be a good format to steal to try and make this article entertaining. Glad you enjoyed it.

      • I used to be a fan of cracked, but they way they have started jumping on the feminist man hating train of late is quite disgusting to me. I avoid the place, even if they actually make an effort to be somewhat neutral or truthful about guns.

        • The Onion is like that to me lately, as well. Except its their writers’/editors’ position on 2A or the prez that seem totally incongruent.

  3. “Frame guns like the issues a typical anti-gun person would take to the streets for: abortion, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, illegal immigrants.”
    “There’s a feeling that I feel (that’s what you do with feelings, right?) is experiencing a resurgence in the United States; that is a resistance to government intrusion, regulation, and lack of transparency.”

    Nice article, worthy thoughts. But people who are very pro-choice about abortion, marriage and drugs single guns out as not a choice because, they say, that choice radiates out from the chooser and touches them. They will say abortion, marriage and drugs are private (they’re wrong, but whatever), and guns are different because your bullet can kill me. That’s why guns will always be different in their minds. To me, the best approach is to highlight the millions of DGUs vs the few mass shootings. You can’t argue with people saved from rape, assault and murder.

    And there may be a feeling of anti-institutionalism among some, but I suspect most Americans’ solution to mistrust of government is to get someone they trust elected — not to minimize government, but to maximize it in a way they want. It’s all about tribes, not competence, not wisdom. A progressive wants to pack statehouses, courts and executive mansions with progressives they trust to stamp down the opposition. Most conservatives want the same. They want “someone they trust.”

    • Great response. You put words around most of the thoughts that were tumbling in my head after reading this article.

    • Your last paragraph made me think of the H.L. Mencken quote: “The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic.”

      And you’re right – the uncritical thinkers on both sides don’t see the government itself as the problem per se, they see it more like a good thing that’s been corrupted by “the other guys”. It often takes a lot of work to break someone’s deeply-ingrained commitment to the false dichotomy of our two-party system and embrace a more libertarian philosophy, because, frankly, real freedom is messy and often a little scary.

    • My thoughts too regarding a personal so-called private freedom versus a freedom that includes the ability to violently reach out and touch another if abused by a bad actor.

      In addition I’m in agreement that the defensive use of firearms must be brought more to the fore. Way too often simply revealing that one is armed is enough to deflect a developing threat or imminent attack. Most often those events go unreported.

      I personally experienced such an event that was clearly deflected by my being armed with an off duty weapon. It was on an isolated forest road *before* the advent of cell phones and the threat evaporated with the departure of the car full of bad actors. Of course I didn’t interrupt the outing with my young daughter by devoting energy and time to reporting an event that never developed into an overt act.

      These days with cell phone communications I would have called in a description even if the likelihood of a unit intercepting the suspect vehicle and its occupants was remote. I expect though many others would not, for various reasons.

      There must be some way to get those kinds of first hand DGU experiences out for public consumption.

  4. any one who thinks we are not winning needs to look harder we are winning in every way yankee marshal did a good video on it

    • Yes. We are winning the war, but we have lost some major battles too (CT, NJ, CA, MD, NY SAFE Act, etc.). Also in some of the battles we won, we didn’t gain any territory, only kept what we had (defeating the UBC and AWB bills in the US Senate). This war is going to be long and difficult.

  5. Just because the media blows up every little incident that fits their narrative into some huge thing doesn’t mean we’re losing.

    The only metric that matters is how many new gun owners there are per year. I don’t know what that number is but we should constantly be working to increase it. That’s the way to win.

    • I think there are other metrics that matter too. Like how many states responded to Sandy Hook by massively curtailing freedom.

      Or maybe I am just butthurt here in the UnConstitution State.

      • Even by that metric, we’re winning. A few states got stupider after Sandy Hook, but in the two years since that event, more states have loosened gun laws than have tightened them. Even in Colorado, one of the states that went full retard, some of the legislators responsible for it have been recalled, and I think we can expect more to lose their jobs in November.

  6. +10000000…give this guy a gun. I believe we need to hammer the bad guys-just like the gay rights bunch. This is a pretty stupid country. They elected Barry twice despite evidence he was EASILY the worst president ever. The sheep only seem to understand emotion. Let’s give ’em a tidlewave. They don’t get the “shall not be infringed” or “unalienable rights”.

    • In addition to the sheep being susceptible to emotion, they are also addicted to “free” handouts from government.

  7. I’d rather hear his thoughts on spinnerbaits vs lipless crankbaits when searching for bass.

  8. [art director mode ON]

    How about a series of black and white photo portraits, full-page magazine ads, featuring Americans with their guns, talking about their freedom and their suspicion of politicians who would shave thin slices off those freedoms? Yes, this would cost serious money, but I think it’s the kind of image that ought to be projected by the NRA et al. I mean, rather than having the NRA send me junk mail for life insurance and wine clubs, I’d rather see some serious public relations work done.

    [art director mode OFF]

    I’m weary of the cartoon version of the US “gun nut” – bristling with weapons, fat, screaming at some ‘sane’ gun grabbing character with the implication that guns somehow magically, on their own, shoot up schools?

  9. Although I’m sure this entry was written before the Everytown Demanding Moms’ “74 school shootings” map (because contest entry deadline), it nevertheless is timely. The Demanding Moms are responding to CNN’s piece debunking the “74” number by saying, “CNN says these deaths don’t matter! Tell that to this grieving mom! LOOK AT THIS BABY!”

    We have facts on our side, but LOOK AT THIS BABY diverts attention from the facts. I think the OP is absolutely right – we all need to do what many gun owners on my side of the political divide have been doing: equate RKBA to rights and causes liberals hold dear. Marriage equality? Yep. Women’s bodily freedom? Yep. Right to vote? Yep. RKBA? Yep!!!

    • “Although I’m sure this entry was written before the Everytown Demanding Moms’ ’74 school shootings’ map…”

      It was. Still working on the entries received on the 29th. Progress!

    • I think your right… I also think we should remind them to remember all of those babies THEY sent to go die on the other side of the world so the could have Cheaper OIL!!! But that doesn’t seam to matter to anyone but the families and friends. The loss of a number and box draped with a flag is just a box draped with a flag, not a child that was to young to die for their own greed and desire to control the masses… I have paid for the right to talk about my brothers and their families… They (Zealots of mom demand, bloomberg, obama, and dozens of other near sighted organization) don’t really care about anything say their own fear…

      Though I still agree with your point about the emotional aspect of how we should bring to the side about freedom and minimizing the say in our personal lives the government has….

    • I saw an article that kind of made a similar argument, but from a bit more even-hand perspective–basically that the problems run deeper than just guns and schools. But consider this–by using facts, someone has put Shannon in the position of calling CNN—CNN!!!—a bunch of heartless tools of the gun lobby. Now seriously, how credible does that make her look?

    • Hmmm…maybe something along the lines of the SQUIRREL! meme to put paid to he hypocrisy? Comedy can be just as effective as an emotional appeal.

  10. It may seem like that, but we are winning and easily.

    Look at this poll

    Support for gun control has dropped considerably over the decades. You go back to the 60s, and a majority of people supported banning handguns. Now, that support is under 25%.

    The only time that more restrictive gun control even breaks 50% support is right after a major mass murder attack such as Sandy Hook, then it drops back down quickly.

    If we were not winning by an huge margin, Bloomberg wouldn’t have to count a BB gun being fired at a school as a mini-newton.

    Want to use the emotional argument, tie that in. The anti-gun side WANTS more deaths in mass attacks, it’s the only way they can sway opinion, however temporary, to their position. Some of them literally sit there and hope for more such deaths, because they do not care about people getting killed, they care about their political stance.

    Or use DC as an example. Look at how the homicide rate dropped immediately after people could legally purchase firearms, not that many actually could, but that doesn’t matter. Literally, there are over 100 fewer people murdered in DC than would have been the case had the law not changed. You see an immediate and sudden drop, that is not reflected in a national decline, surrounding area decline, and is way beyond the decline that DC had seen before.

    Let them explain why they are supporting a policy that means more dead Black kids in DC.

    That is both factual and emotional, because they really are supporting policies that equal more dead children, and they deserve to be called out on it.

    • “Support for gun control has dropped considerably over the decades. You go back to the 60s, and a majority of people supported banning handguns. Now, that support is under 25%.”

      You only need 23% of a population to control the remaining citizens. Germany, Japan, Cambodia. Iraq,…that bit folks keep forgetting.

      Completely correct on anti’s wanting more dead people, they say they don’t and murders continues. All the while pushing citizens, legislators to prevent lawful self defense.

      Yes I’m a broken recording, but hammering on this one issue will do more to stop the killing of, robbery of, and raping of our citizens.

      The inverse is WE can control the country, if we got off our asses and voted.

      • Sadly, the first thing that comes to mind is “don’t give them any ideas”.

        I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that many in the anti camp are of the “end justifies means” ilk. They are demonstrably willing to lie, repeatedly and then go on to reach others to lie.

        I don’t see staged school-shootings as beyond the pale for them.

        • It’s hard to think the antis could sink any lower than they already have, parading sympathetic victims around in public using them for political gain.

  11. Agreed, like I just complimented a department of LOE’s for helping a legal open carrier not harassing him. I boils all down to Choice, choice be free from repression, also to be free Americans not the subjects of the government who believes we are here to serve and pay for their pet projects and their personal pocket book…

    Sorry I am bitter, bitter about the way this countries Government is going.. On this course I personally believe that we would be living in a police state no different then N. Korea and would effectively be living at the sufferance of a king, CEO, president, Dictator, or what ever name you wish to give it. I served for 14yrs before I was hurt; I would still be serving had that not happened but that was for the county, the people, my family, NOT for some ONE, or COVEN of rich men and their politic’s. Though I served for the people I’ll be honest, I don’t give one grain of sand for one of bloomberg’s zealot’s, which is just another rich man trying to control his subjects with his dilutions of grander…

    After all, I’m now just another subject for the rich to control… WHAT!!! Sorry, had a moment of despair…

  12. I agree that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I agree that packaging is as important as substance, generally, in making the sale. I see some valid points here. But truthfully, with the exception of some already lost causes, I don’t see how we are losing so badly. Despite the media’s best efforts in publicizing selected shootings, and heavily slanting that publicity, ever since Sandy Hook; despite the incredibly corrupted feeding frenzy over Zimmerman and Martin; despite Bloomberg’s billions and his media-created rock-star “accidental activist” gun-control Barbie “mom” and her cohort of “news outlet” suck-ups, the only traction the grabbers are getting, legislation-wise, is in neo-socialist hellholes like Cali and NJ, and parts of their colonies like Colorado–even as other areas are expanding their interpretations of 2A rights. The old national AWB is gone, and even the frenzy over Newtown couldn’t resurrect it. DiFi’s attempt to nationalize Cali’s proposed “restraining order” abomination looks like it stalled at the starting gate. I think the fact that the grabbers haven’t tried to ban the Mini-14 yet, using our own logic as the author here suggests (I still cringe myself, truthfully) is telling: they realize their only hope is to pick the low hanging fruit of faux “machine guns” that “nobody needs”. And at the moment, they aren’t even getting that except in places they have been in control of for decades. Am I wrong here?

  13. I think the idea of using emotional impact is a valid one, but I believe it would be better used in a different way. Use it as a direct counter to their catchphrases. When they use the, “If it saves just one life…” shtick, respond with a selection of people saved by a DGU. When they trot out, “For the children,” come back with mothers who were home alone with their kids when a bad guy kicked down the door. Find these people and put their faces out there. Make the face of personal defense a human one. What about the victims’ of shootings right to life? Well, there “right” to not be shot doesn’t trump the rights of all the people who are still alive BECAUSE of guns.

    • Why is it that “if it saves one life” does not apply to arming school staff? I mean, the wingnuts should support arming staff if it saves one life, no? Or are the wingnuts just FOS?

      All rhetorical questions.

  14. Another part of the problem is our side often has to argue what didn’t happen, which isn’t as powerful. So, if there’s a shooting at a “gun-free” zone and a dozen people are killed, our side is arguing that if guns hadn’t been banned, many fewer people would have died. The antis just get to dance in the blood. Or if there’s a shooting, and someone with a gun on site responds in less than a minute, and there is only one death. Our side argues the presence of the good guy with the gun saved lives. The antis just dance in the blood.

    The same applies to DGUs. In the vast majority, it’s like nothing happened. The intended victims will never forget, but no shots are fired, no reports are filed, and no accounts appear in the media. These are all people who would have likely been beaten, robbed, raped, murdered, or otherwise violated if not for the gun. But it’s invisible, while on the other side, they can point to people who have been shot, talk to ER doctors, roll out grieving families. It doesn’t matter that the first group, the people who are still intact because of guns, is much larger than the second, those harmed by them.

  15. Long story, short, seen from here(long way, Europe, a sickening socialist continent): USA, aka New World, is under an ideological attack out in the open.

    Your enemy is way more experienced. It is also known as the Old World establishment.

    Well, without wanting to offend, in spite of their courage and determination, most good Americans have little to no experience with such devious monster. Take into account one simple aspect: all that is happening now, out in the open, are things for which the foundations were “put into place” some serious decades ago. Many aspects of those foundations were laid with quite some applause from the majority of the American people, of good and trustworthy Americans, happy for reforms, progressive ideas, etc. Some of those were good things, but some were just poisoned gifts. They had no clue where those “good things” will lead. A pure case of lack of experience.

    Now, seen from here, all the gun ban/restrictive firearms regulations/intentions, look more like a thing meant to check much ample aspects. It is not about guns. It’s about how much and how easy nowadays Americans can relinquish some principles. It’s just a way for “testing the waters”. Nonetheless, make no mistake: they will ban/restrict/etc without hesitation. It’s not just a drill. It can easily be a loose/loose for Americans: if you don’t pay attention to the gun problem, they take them and you loose some basic rights. If you pay attention, they take advantage of that, and use it to reduce your rights from another angle, while you were looking elsewhere.
    Otherwise said, the main problem and the area where your system, as any system, gained a substantial advantage, is the mind of the people: think about the average American. I doubt that is any different that the average European. Either one of them, is a “zombie”. No thoughts, well trained to submit, words like “Constitution”, “law”, “rights”, “history”, etc., gives him a headache. They are utterly unable to comprehend firearms as tools. He/she eats pre-cut food, ready-made food, cannot assume responsibility even for the size of a slice of bread.
    Now, this people form a majority or they are very close to being a majority. Here, they are. Since some few hundred years they are a majority, therefore Europe is well established in a certain “order of things”.
    So, these people form a significant part of a nation. What is the problem? Well, they are quite parallel with any of the firearms related problems. They just don’t care and all they know about them is from school, gossip, fantasies, media, movies and the politicians. Why? Because they have nothing to do with anything that relates to firearms. Their lifestyle is on completely different direction.

    As I see it, the main problem is the paradigmatic shift within the American society. A problem that the system is encouraging and pampering, but, nonetheless, your problem is with the change in Americans lifestyle. A “zombie” like lifestyle, present, consolidated and real. That is you problem, as I see it. The rest are merely symptoms of it, but no less dangerous, no less “lethal”, no less important.

    Question is: can America be reminded what America stands for? I have no idea if you can, I have no idea if it possible, I have no idea if it is probable. It remains to be seen if America, as a nation, cares enough about what America stood and can stand for. For now, all that can be said is that some of the Americans care and still know for what America stood for. “Some” not being the same with “all”.

    • D.G. Cornelius,

      Very important points that illustrate the larger context of our current condition in the U.S. Thank you for your insights … I did not take any offense whatsoever at your comments.

      • Thank you too for your time and patience to read my rather long comment!
        Maybe I should have mentioned that I had no intent, whatsoever, to offend in any way. I was merely stating how things look from here and tried my best to put my own experience an understanding of things into good use. I’m glad it was understood as it was meant.

        • @ D.G.
          Your insight is spot on.

          What you describe is exactly the problem we face with regard gun rights / protections / freedoms and other issues as well.

          Absent some cataclysmic event, I’m not sure how it will be possible to awaken the sleeping “sheeple” low information voters in our society since they are hypnotized by the predominantly leftist national media and politicians. These multitudes of apathetic sheeple might not even understand the danger were they to be awoken to it.

  16. Just thought of something else: wasn’t it just a couple of days ago that some stone gun-grabber at The Daily Beast was lamenting that his side was losing and what they have been doing up til now “isn’t working”? So who’s right?

    • We are being beaten by hype. There isn’t growing opinion against gun ownership. The media just wants us to think there is so we stop fighting.

      • “The media just wants us to think there is so we stop fighting.”

        That’s a terrible strategy, then… How many people who are passionate about a cause stop fighting when they think the odds are against them? Most would double down and fight harder if they thought they were backed into a corner.

        • “…backed into a corner.”

          Which in more than a few places we are:
          Washington DC, CA, NY, NYC, Chicago, CT, NJ, MD…need I go on.

          Double down and fighting back? Absolutely!

          You bet we are in CA! I expect others are elsewhere, too!

  17. Your initial assessment of the “battlefield” is wrong. You have associated “not gaining ground” with “losing ground”. This “war for hearts and minds” is not a Desert Storm type fast moving war. We are right back in the World War One trenches. The pro gun side isn’t “gaining ground” but nether is the anti gun side. Right now the field is at a stalemate. And while it’s not what anyone would prefer, I will take it. Any day I turn on the news and don’t see threats of new bans is a good day. Everyday I don’t see some politician on the news expounding on the tragedy of gun ownership is a good day. Everyday I don’t see some democrat senator say, “Don’t worry about owning guns to protect yourselves from government tyranny because nothing can stop what the federal government has” is a good day.
    Don’t by into the media hype. The pro gun position isn’t eroding like CNN wants you to believe. They are counting on being able to yell that it is loud enough that we start to believe it. It’s not. The front is just quiet for now. And I will take quiet.

    • When it’s silence, one should be worried; a stalemate is worrying. Don’t underestimate the variety of ways that can get the other to the results wanted.
      As I said, what USA is facing is far more than just a dispute over firearms regulations.

    • A samurai, I disagree.

      The pro-gun/pro-gun-rights side IS gaining ground, but it’s hard to tell because the opposition has redoubled their efforts to scream and dance in the blood of innocents every chance they get.

      The only thing you have to look at to know this is true is the production/sales figures for firearms. The anti-side has tried to explain them away by claiming all these guns are being bought by previous gun owners, but that is simply another of their numerous lies. I help-out at a local indoor range, and I see the steady stream of new/first-time gun owners coming in day after day. I assist them with learning the basics, and share their joy when they score that first center-hit bullseye. The range offers a “Ladies-only Night” so females of any age that are new to guns and shooting can come and learn and shoot without the concerns of being oogled or getting hit on. I watch the junior shooters build skills with airguns that they will later apply to rimfires and centerfires for hunting, target shooting, and defense.

      And I feel that we are winning the hearts and minds of a nation — ever-so-slowly, but inexorably.

  18. Emotional arguments, is this, only work because there has been a long term, going on 40 years now, project by the left in general and the anti-gun people in particular to indoctrinate, enculturate, young people into having a negative emotional reaction to guns.

    By placing them into an environment where all the adults view guns in a negative way and express this as normal for all “good” people they pickup this emotional inclination which can then be played upon by the use of emotional arguments later in life. Without the original groundwork that guns are just evil the emotional arguments don’t resonate well.

    The word “violence” has been helpful in this effort as it is used to make aggression and self-defense equivalent. Reacting with negative emotions to violence can be used to get a negative reaction to self-defense which is portrayed as violence.

    To make our own emotional arguments there needs to be some previous, early on, emotional learning that can be used or else the arguments fall flat. Self preservation and defense of loved ones is one main way to do this.

  19. I think our biggest failure is arguing about any facts or statistics or justification at all. Our emotional response to these attacks should be along the lines of:

    1) Who the Hell are you (gun grabber, politician, or bureaucrat) to tell me, a good responsible person who wishes no harm to anyone, what objects I can own and possess?!?!?!?

    2) Who the Hell are you (gun grabber, politician, or bureaucrat) to insist that me or my family is severely beaten or dies defenseless at the hands of violent criminals?!?!?!?

    3) What depravity inspires such a mindset in a gun grabber, politician, or bureaucrat?!?!?!?

    • As a woman, I would add:

      4) Who the Hell are you (gun grabber, politician, or bureaucrat) to tell me that my only defense against violation of my bodily autonomy is to tell men “please don’t rape” and that I have no RIGHT TO CHOOSE (see what I did there?) the self-defense mechanism I find most appropriate?

      • Bingo! I have never been able to understand how the groups who want to expand choices for women, and empower women, are so vehemently against women having the most effective means of self-defense against a larger, stronger criminal. It’s like being challenged to a ditch-digging contest by a 6’6″ 240-lb muscular professional ditch digger, and then insisting on using a shovel instead of a backhoe.

        As an OFWG with arthritis and a fused lower spine, I would also like the choice of using a handgun to cure the disparity of force between myself and one or more young, athletic muggers.

        I guess the Bloomberg/Mommies are part of the War on Women and the Elderly.

      • “(see what I did there?)”
        Yes, I did, and I admire you for doing it! It’s way past time to end the male supremacist paradigm and for women’s self-ownership to be recognized.

        I just came up with a new term: Self-Authority. Can we make that a meme? 🙂

  20. In my mind I feel as though we could turn the emotional battle by propping up the survivors of DGU situations in the same way that anti’s promote the victims. Many mothers and fathers could potentially be swayed if they were to see large groups of women who were saved from rape, or the children saved from a pedophile kidnapper. Why don’t these brave stories get flaunted about with the same enthusiasm as those which the attacker gets his way. Why won’t the NRA or any other pro-freedom organization hold a press conference with these people. Or perhaps a local Sheriff when making a statement allows the would be victim a chance to speak. There are many more pro-freedom sheriffs and other LE officers out there than anti’s, let’s start using this to try to steer the conversation. We have the facts on our side, but we as a society follow emotions before facts because we are nothing more than semi-civilized animals with with base instincts hard wired into our brains.

  21. I propose we’d get further in other ways than in just playing the emotional appeal game.

    First of all, you’re not going to win a “choice” argument on an emotional appeal next to the emotional appeal of a dead body. Not going to happen.

    Second, what we as a group, or large numbers of people in our group, constantly do is put opposition on the defensive. People on the defensive are closed off to rational arguments because they’re being defensive. We do this in a number of ways, most often characterized by name calling and ad hominem attacks and derision for anyone who isn’t in lock step with the group think. We do it within our own ranks as well.

    We should first start by taking politics out of the discussion. Not only are we alienating literally half the country who isn’t conservative by characterizing this as a liberal vs conservative thing, but we’re also ignoring the fact that the GOP would denounce gun owners in a second if they thought the could win an election by doing so. They don’t give a damn about the 2nd amendment any more than the democrat party does. They give a damn about raising funds to win elections, and then actually winning them. You show enough dead kids in a short enough time span, and the GOP will sign away our rights in a NY minute…gleefully.

    We should next stop insulting people who are pro gun control. It serves no purpose other than to be antagonistic. Be better than they are. Just because gun control advocates lie and insult, doesn’t mean we should. Adopting those tactics makes us look like a bunch of 10 year olds…armed and pissed off 10 year olds…which doesn’t do the objective of changing minds to our way of thinking any service.

    We also need to stop grasping onto anything written by someone with a degree as being authoritative data just because it happens to agree with our argument. It isn’t a “study,” no matter who conducted it, if it isn’t peer reviewed and doesn’t contain an explanation of methodologies for data collection and analysis and a link to the raw data. For example…just because it was printed in a publication associated with Harvard…doesn’t make it a “Harvard Study”…especially if that publication is a student run law journal. It’s an opinion paper as far as the rest of the world, and most especially anyone who knows anything about scientific studies, is concerned.

    The fact is…we’re outnumbered. Even by the most optimistic polls on gun ownership and ignoring the fact that just because you own a gun doesn’t mean you’re not for gun control, we are in the minority in this country. That means that in order to win this argument and keep the rights we have from being infringed upon, we need to change people’s minds. You can’t do that very effectively by constantly being antagonistic and rude to people who don’t believe as you do, whether it be about guns or abortion or gay marriage or whether or not the Iraq war was a good idea or not. You can’t do it effectively by walking around on private property with loaded rifles and scaring the bejesus out of ignorant people who’ve been conditioned for 30 years to be scared of such things. You can’t do it by alienating people who agree with you because they don’t agree with everything exactly the same way.

    Turning it into an argument about choice isn’t going to do it either…not alone.

    • You know, gun owners didn’t have a big meeting once and decide, “Hey, we’re gonna make 2A respect a “conservative” issue, and call “gun control” a liberal stance”. They came to be labeled that way because liberal Democrats uniformly propose, vote for, and enact gun control laws, and conservative Republicans uniformly oppose such. And at this point liberal Dems control the party at large. (And yes, there are individual exceptions on both sides, and yes, the exceptions are uniformly forced to toe (not tow) the party line). To say we have to take politics out of the issue of what kind of laws will and will not be enacted does not make sense to me, given that those laws are enacted by politicians.

  22. When ever I slog off into the comment sections of news articles, whether it’s the local newspaper, or mother jones, I don’t go to debate the pro-gun-control advocates, I go in with the idea that my audience is the 20 people who wonder what other people think. So my dialog is to educate, expose the misleading lies, and expose the insanity of the other side. It’s so much easier when the facts are on our side, and the other side mostly resort to insults and twist’s of figures (that are getting easier and easier to expose).

    So I do agree with one aspect of the article; need to talk to your audience in a way that connects with them. And with things like the “74 school shootings” and “Boston Marathon Bomber was a gun-violence victim”, mixed in with some “that’s worse than an “as seen on TV infocomercial”, is effective.

  23. I agree with your premise!

    I recently engaged in a conversation on this topic with a Gay acquaintance, when he mentioned how much he supported ‘gun control’ (along with a derogatory stereotype comment about gun owners, not knowing I was one) and think I was able to get him to look at the issue differently!

    I stated to him that:

    ‘While I don’t particularly like homosexuality, I fully support your individual liberties and all of your rights to be homosexual. That is your individual freedom and I have no right to ever attempt to take away your freedoms or discriminate against you because of your sexuality.

    While I don’t like abortion, I fully support a woman’s right to make the choices pertaining to her body. It is her right and I cannot discriminate against her for taking such actions, or ever attempt to try to take her civil liberties away from her. Even as much as abortion is offensive to me. It’s her individual liberty that I hold sacred.

    So why is it that you feel you have the right to take away my civil liberties to keep and bear arms, to collect firearms? How do you feel that you have the right to discriminate against me because I am a gun owner? I’ve always supported your rights. I’ve never discriminated against you or otherwise belittled and derided upon you because of your homosexuality. What right do you have to mock me and call me a ‘gun loon’ and to try to take away my freedoms?

    I think it got through, because he lived many years where Gays did not have their rights and were mocked and ridiculed.

    That’s the only time I think I’ve been able to sway someone’s opinion on the topic.

  24. Americans are fools, but not damn fools. They can see what’s happening at the border. They can see what’s happening in Iraq. They can see that the “Progressive” agenda is a disease. The current regime is busy tearing itself and the country apart and the chaos and dishonesty engendered by this regime can’t be ignored.

    Because of the dishonesty and ineptness of Obama and his cultists, there is a substantial likelihood that the next election will be a sea change the likes of which we haven’t seen since the glorious trampling of the Jackass Party in 1994.

    PR is fine. PR is great. But if we really want our rights, we have to take back our country, starting in November.

    • I was thinking to myself the other day that this whole ‘school shooting obsession’ thing feels to me kind of like my wife crying and whining that she’s bored and she wants to redecorate the kitchen – meanwhile the roof is leaking, termites are eating through the walls, we’re 100k in debt and there’s a huge F5 tornado bearing down on the house.

      I’m not so sure the obsessed liberal gun control crowd is capable of looking outside the window to see what’s actually going on and putting things in perspective…

      • It’s hard to ignore it when the roof caves in. And the roof is caving in on this outlaw regime. Obama is now the lamest of lame ducks and the Democrats in Washington who bound themselves to his idiot ideas are feeling the heat back home.

        When Iraq falls — which it will, either to ISIS or to Iran — POTUS will not only be irrelevant, he will be despised. And there goes the whole damn Progressive program.

        • It’s a damn shame it’s come to this. I sure hope they still don’t try to cover up their eyes and ears and hide in the basement of denial.

        • Ralph, an article on Real Clear Politics allready has a Progressive laying the blame for the collapse of Iraq on… You guessed it! Bush!!!

  25. Here’s an argument I’ve used both in polite conversation and in heated debates which seems to be effective in getting people to stop and think. I go to this whenever I see that other arguments aren’t going to have any impact.

    the number of Americans murdered with guns in recent years is about 8,500 (FBI)
    the number of Americans who die from alcohol-related disease and accidents is 75,000 (CDC)
    the number of Americans who die from tobacco is 443,000 (CDC).

    If the goal really is to prevent deaths, why aren’t we discussing assault beverages? Why shouldn’t we have background checks before buying a six pack?

    It’s only common sense that we should screen alcohol buyers for a history of DUI, drug abuse, and domestic violence. Everyone should have a note from his/her doctor saying that he/she has been deemed fit to buy alcohol. The quantity and type of alcohol should be limited to common sense guidelines.

    Many anti-gunners drink, but they probably would not wish to give up their freedom to drink in an attempt to save lives, even if “taking on the alcohol lobby” would save a lot of lives.

    I’m not advocating for prohibition, but this argument calls out the hypocrisy contained in phrases such as “no one needs an assault weapon.” Instead of arguing about why someone might need a semi-automatic rifle, suggest instead that no one needs a beer, and then ask why one person’s right to drink is more important than your right to own a gun.

    • perfect! i was delighted when stroh’s was first with the thirty pack and benson & hedges grew a silly millimeter longer. i was then able to run into schools and churches filled with children and force more of them to develop nasty habits that support the sintaxes. and thirty round clipazines- i can shoot myself over and over now.

      • “benson & hedges grew a silly millimeter longer.”

        Actually, B&H was the first 100 mm. Then everybody jumped on the 100 mm bandwagon, then Chesterfield came up with the silly millimeter.

  26. I think appeals to emotion to support our stance is a very poor idea. The antis appeal to emotion because they don’t have a leg to stand on, so they go for broke, and in the eyes of any parent and even those that are childless who can deny the importance of a child’s life? How do you appeal to emotion and try to counter something like that? You have to make an appeal that is more or equally important than the life of a child, something you’d be hard pressed to find. You tell a parent how important freedom is in this argument and you’re inadvertently comparing it to the life of a child– and what *wouldn’t* a parent give up, even freedom, to save the life of their own child?

    We counter this emotional argument with facts. You believe, rightfully so, that a child’s life is important? So do I. Now we come to their objective of banning firearms, something seated firmly in reality, far more than emotion (an abstract concept that in and of itself is hard to define).That’s the rub: at the end of the day they HAVE to play on our terms in reality, and in reality we have facts. Every last bit of our facts substantiate evidence that restricting or banning firearms will do the exact opposite of saving children’s lives.

    They don’t have a leg to stand on. They resort to the last tool in their repertoire, the one that only works as long as they scream, shout and drown out the opposition with their noise pollution. And you propose we do the same? No thanks.

    The problem isn’t that their argument IS working: it’s not. The problem is that “credible” media outlets pander to these people. But Americans don’t want any of it, and we’ve made that known time and again. They don’t give up though, they never will. We are slowly, but surely, gaining ground. It’s an uphill battle for us, but we are getting there. Our support is overwhelming compared to their’s. Our lobbies spend a handful relative to our opposition. We have the internet to voice our opinion: they get primetime attention on major news networks. We can lobby thousands and thousands of people in various cities across the country to come together and oppose them, while they’re lucky if they can get close to 20 people in one spot.

    OK, I am ranting now. I’ll stop. But seriously… “Let’s do what they’re doing?” yeah, let’s look at that approach when we are given the same amount of airtime, attention, respect and funds that they are. In the meantime everything we have done so far has been effective against their bullish efforts, and we have stopped the litigation they have rallied for. You want another problem? We have very, very little, if any, litigation we are pushing for our cause.

    Alright, now I’ll stop, I promise.

  27. The Constitution IS a weapon. It is the bulwark against government tyranny. Second, my RIGHTS are not up for a vote….They do not depend on public opinion to exist, and they are not granted by the government. The second amendment ends”Shall Not Be Infringed PERIOD”

  28. Too jokey and dismissive of reality. As poll after ephemeral poll shows, the overwrought emotional crowd only supports the gun grabbing agenda temporarily, only after a shocking shooting spree, and only after being whipped into a frenzy by the manic media. Their passion cools quickly, though, which is great in that it cannot for long fuel legislative changes. However, that cuts both ways. The so-called fence sitters are fleeting adversaries, but are similarly so as would-be allies. Re-orienting our approach toward pleasing and receiving them would mean a never ending, constant courtship with Bridezilla that never gets to the alter; while more deserving, enduring bonds with bridesmaids go unrealized.

    It’s much better to convert non-gun owners into gun owners, and let the roots of that reality grow and reach deeply into their core principles permanently, than perpetually trying to persuade fickle, feckless so-called fence sitters every day with opportunistic and exploitative appeals to emotion.

  29. Keeping and bearing arms is a civil right. Call it a civil right. Explain that those against the right to keep and bear arms are anti-civil rights.

    • Keeping and bearing arms is not a civil right. It is, as Rich Grise correctly said, a human right.

      Human rights (like RKBA) are ours by virtue of our humanity. Even in a foreign nation you (should) have the right to defend yourself, and carry a firearm to do it.

      Civil rights (like voting) depend on our membership in a group. Being in Prague for vacation doesn’t give you a right to vote in their municipal elections. But you should still enjoy the right to carry a firearm. (Just don’t hold your breath, waiting for that to happen.)

  30. Kevin,

    I think you’re half-right. We can win on emotional appeal, if we do it the same way the gun-banners do. That is, by bringing out examples of victims, or potential victims, of violent crime. A perfect example is Amanda Collins, who had a permit to carry, but was forcibly raped on a college campus (where her gun was not allowed). We can also use the stories of those who’ve successfully defended themselves with firearms. And when I say stories, I mean stories; not numbers. Or, rather, stories AND numbers.

    The “but freedom!” argument has some usefulness, but it’s more abstract, especially to those who don’t own guns, and aren’t planning to. On the other hand, the same-sex marriage movement has traded pretty well on that currency, among heterosexuals, so I won’t say it’s entirely useless.

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