Reader Peter S. writes:
I’ve been kicking around two ideas this morning. First, I think that the best moniker for pro-gun philosophy and goals has yet to be coined. Terms like “RKBA”, “pro-Second Amendment”, “gun rights”, “pro civil rights”, and the “natural, civil and constitutionally-protected RKBA” are all accurate descriptions of our cause. However, none of them are plain, impactful, and concise. The goal must be to describe our cause in a way that is positive, conveys as much meaning as possible, and appeals to people on a basic level . . .
After a lot of consideration of this issue over many years, I’m thinking that the term “self defense rights” strikes a good balance between all of the above factors. How could someone not be “pro self-defense rights?” The term is simple to understand, but avoids words that are inaccessible or polarizing.
Second, I’ve begun to think that maybe we should adopt some of the gun-haters’ more effective tactics. For example, they will generally begin every argument by saying that they respect the 2A. Perhaps we should preface every argument with something like “I’m as anti-violence as anyone else . . . ” Or agree with them that “of course Constitutional rights are not absolute, just look at First Amendment law . . . ” (I know you disagree with this last one).
I think that if pro self-defense people could better engage anti self-defense arguments by appearing to agree with them, we might craft a more effective message.
I prefer “from my cold, dead hands”.
Pro-self-defense reduces the number of victims, and victims are a much-sought-after commodity nowadays.
Which is why the other side constantly parrots the known-to-be-ineffective “Just call 911!” solution; it still gives them a victim to use later for leverage and media appeals.
It’s obvious that these people don’t give a damn about the victims, or they’d embrace the empowerment-by-arming approach that gun owner’s advance.
When these folks tell someone they shouldn’t use a gun, but they should instead CALL someone with a gun, their argument is already sporting severely obvious flaws.
Pro self-defense alienates Fudds and gives lots of fuel to the magazine capacity limiting crowd.
“You can defend yourself in your home with a revolver” they’ll say.
Civil rights are for everyone. Trouble is not everyone appreciates their own rights and some even see an advantage to denying certain rights to certain people.
I tire of having to pussyfoot around the reality or reframe a message to appeal to morons.
You’re absolutely right about the term “pro-self-defense”. I can already hear the chattering of “Nobody needs more than ten bullets to defend themselves!” It might be a good argument for some audiences, but there’s no single set of magic words we can use that will win this fight.
You have to tailor your message to your audience, and what convinces a Fudd that people should have the same right to an AR as a double-barreled shotgun may not be the same argument that wins a suburban housewife over to concealed carry.
I’ve said it before a million times: if you want to convert a fence-sitter, you *might* be able to do so with lots and lots of gassing on about rights and tyranny and crime statistics, but what works much, much better is to just take them shooting. Put a .22 in someone’s hands and point ’em at a spinner target or some rusty cans, and let the magic of gunpowder do the convincing for you. 90% of the time, it works every time…
“Nobody needs more than ten bullets to defend themselves!”
The police do. Our military does. The secret service does. When they downgrade to limited-capacity weapons, I’ll consider doing the same.
I’ll still say ‘nope’, but I’ll consider it.
The fact is that reduced capacity directly damages self defense and empowers attackers. It only takes one bullet for a pack of thugs to kill you, it can easily take more than one for you to defend yourself from the same.
When I lived in Maryland I took many, many non-gun people shooting and the ammo was always on me. Yea they had fun but they liked firearms as much as going to a theme park, strip club, insert random activity you do once in a while out of the ordinary.
They didn’t all of a sudden turn Pro-2A or even ask me what gun to buy. They just returned to their lives like nothing happened and continued to vote for the same statist politicians if they even bothered to vote who ruined the state.
Maybe it is different in other parts of the country but based on my experience just taking a newbie shooting will not turn them into a hardcore 2nd Amendment activist especially when part of that mentality involves rejecting the notion that someone else will protect you or nothing bad will happen to you which has been indoctrinated into the vast majority of the population.
I think each person you talk to might need a totally different approach than the one before. Convincing a hunter that it’s ok to own an AR is way different than convincing a vegan 🙂
One thing I have found works very well is STARTING by asking the person what they are worried about. LISTEN to what they have to say. I know this sounds weird, but no one will listen to you if you don’t listen to them first. Once they tell you what they’re worried about, explain the facts to them, if they don’t know, and then present your side with a smile on your face. Works like a charm.
The right to life, therefore the right to self-defense, and therefore the right to keep and bear arms, is universal and inviolable. It needs no further defense, or glossy PR campaign.
As a separate but related matter, the second amendment exists as a restraint upon (and reminder to) the government, which exists as the sole entity with sufficient potential power to violate the rights of the people. It is not intended directly to protect the right of life/self-defense, but rather is intended to prevent a tyrannical government. (The People, in militia, protect both from external foes and from internal tyranny.)
So, using “feel-good” terms such as “pro-self-defense” really doesn’t sufficiently convey the meaning of the second amendment, or of being “pro-second-amendment”.
And if they don’t like it, well, then: Come, and Take.
“The right to life, therefore the right to self-defense, and therefore the right to keep and bear arms, is universal and inviolable.”
While this is a decently articulated point, it does nothing in terms of explaining to anti-gunners the legal and constitutional framework within which our right to bear arms exists. Because the anti-gun argument is an emotional argument (I know, I’ve been there. It was law school and gaining an understanding of our constitution and how it is implemented and has been shepherded through a jurisprudence over the centuries that brought me to the point where I support gun rights.) you will meet with the same amount of success athiests making an emotional argument meet with when they argue with christians, which is to say none.
Further, your statement that ” It needs no further defense, or glossy PR campaign.” is demonstrably untrue. Without a defense of our right to bear arms or, again demonstrably, the defense of any other right granted to us by the constitution, such rights will be eroded over time. Taking the standpoint of an obstinate jackass and parading your mastery of political history and names of obscure and extreme political viewpoints, as you are wont to do, doesn’t make you more correct on this point, and does nothing to actually make points that defend our rights in any salient way. If the hearts and minds of those who oppose the right to bear arms, or at least support the imposition of heavy restrictions on such rights are not won, then their numbers will continue to grow and our rights will be eroded until they are all but gone. The easier we make it for someone to change their mind, the more likely that mind will be changed. telling someone to fuck off and not tough your shit isn’t going to win any friends or supporters.
“As a separate but related matter, the second amendment exists as a restraint upon (and reminder to) the government, which exists as the sole entity with sufficient potential power to violate the rights of the people. It is not intended directly to protect the right of life/self-defense, but rather is intended to prevent a tyrannical government. (The People, in militia, protect both from external foes and from internal tyranny.)”
While mostly true, this isn’t the argument to use because it makes you look like a nutjob that’s ready to take up arms against the government. Drawing a parallel to freedom of speech and other rights granted to us is more effective. Asking someone how they would feel if the government came in and said “You can’t talk about this going to the beach, because this subject is dangerous. Talking about it will land you in jail. Furthermore, because the beach is dangerous, you can’t travel to the beach.” and then noting that freedom of speech and the right to interstate travel are rights granted to us by the constitution just as the right to bear arms is. All of those rights are sacred and restricting the rights of everyone, even law abiding citizens, generally requires a tremendous threat. The wholesale taking away of fundamental rights because of a few bad apples is what our constitution was, in part, set up to prevent.
That sounds a lot better than “the gubmint wants to take away my guns because they’s dictators!”
Yes, the pro-gun side has a marketing problem, and it’s people like you.
Lighten up Francis. Chip is one of the good guys.
The OP and derpderp each make critical points we must all take seriously. We PotG just aren’t good at marketing; nor politics. That’s not to say that we are bad people because we aren’t good at something; it’s just pretty obviously true. We also haven’t bothered to vigorously defend our 2A throughout most of the 20th century. Had we done so we wouldn’t have had to fight tooth-and-nail to reach 40 Shall-Issue States in the last 25 years.
The OP has the right idea for the reasons explained by derpderp. You don’t have to like it. You can sit on your hands or blog all you like; but, hand-sitting and blogging aren’t going to defend the 2A.
I think that the phrase “self-defense rights” is a good start; if we all put our minds to it, we would probably find more or better phrases that enable open-minded people to construe the RKBA in a new light. We all know the good solid reasons for the RKBA. We know all the reasons why gun-control is futile. That given, why do we waste so many pixels in blogs on ad hominem attacks on the Antis and ranting about the meaning of the word “infringed”?
Tragic as it is, very few voters care enough about Constitutional rights to pay attention to any arguments framed in these terms. We would get more attention if we talked about a mother’s right to defend her children from a mugging in her own neighborhood.
“We PotG just aren’t good at marketing; “
We don’t have a marketing problem.
We have a values problem.
That is…the anti’s value the State, the Collective, more than they value the rights and lives of individual people.
They don’t care about gun violence; they care about controlling people that dare take personal responsibility for their own lives.
No marketing or PR campaign will change that. It is a fundamental, core philosophy of life.
Stop letting them set the narrative. Stop trying to be like them and making this about “marketing” and “PR.”
That’s hogwash, anyway. This isn’t “marketing” a product. It’s about individual liberty.
Fundamentally wrong premise. Our right to keep and bear arms doesn’t exist within a “legal and constitutional framework”; rather, our right exists inherently: natural, and unalienable. The constitution merely recognizes and protects our right against government infringement.
I will not counter a specious, emotional argument with more illogical emotion; rather, I will counter such arguments with logic, reason, and fact.
Perhaps your failure to grasp this point – that the right to keep and bear arms is natural, unalienable, and inherent – explains why it took you such a long time to ferret out agreement on that right, through study of law and history.
There you go again. The constitution does not grant rights; it merely recognizes rights, and protects those rights against government infringement, within the context of the authority the People explicitly enumerated to the government.
Further: rights are not eroded due to lack of glossy PR campaigns; rights are eroded through the atrophy of not exercising them.
Ad hominem aside (remember that part about not engaging in emotional arguments and logical fallacy?), this is true. It is articulating alignment with true principles that makes me correct on this point. The right to life is inherent, natural, and unalienable; therefore, the right to self-defense, and the right to keep and bear arms that derives from that right, is likewise inherent, natural, and unalienable.
Again correct. The way to make points that defend our rights in a salient way is to counter illogical, specious, emotional arguments with logic, reason, and fact – to reclaim sensationalized narrative, to expose their outright lies, and to challenge their specious assertions that “common sense gun control” has, can, or will ever stop violent crime.
If their minds will only be changed by illogical, specious, emotional arguments, then they already demonstrate themselves incapable of thinking for themselves, and nothing I say or do will change either that inability, or their hoplophobic brainwashing.
The logical fallacy is strong with this one. You are erecting a straw man, and attributing to me words and attitude that I myself have not conveyed.
You’re welcome to clutch at pearls; I’m going to stand by ideals of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Sure. Use any and all effective tactics. I have no problem with that one.
A non-trivial amount of the government wants to take away my guns, because they are would-be dictators. Are we supposed to ignore reality, in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of people who are apparently quite happy living under the yoke of government?
The pro-gun side has a strategic problem, and it’s people like you.
See: two can play at this game.
I’m not the problem, marketing or otherwise. I’m a law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying, minding-my-own-business, gun-owning American citizen. I’m not the one trying to trample on anyone else’s rights – and in fact, vehemently defend everyone’s rights. You declare me the problem, for nothing more than lawfully exercising my first and second amendment rights – merely because I refuse to kowtow to politically correct nonsense that will do nothing to further advance our rights.
The root of the problem is people like Bloomberg, and his spokesmouth MDA, who wish to take away rights, in order to exert control over the rest of us. That you would paint me as the problem, instead of them, indicates that you are perfectly willing to do Bloomberg’s job for him, by facilitating a divide-and-conquer strategy against our own side.
Guess what? Winston Churchill was right, and Neville Chamberlain was wrong. The success of the gun-rights movement will follow a similar path, depending on a similarly divergent strategy.
Very well done, Chip. Thank-you for that.
>”Fundamentally wrong premise. Our right to keep and bear arms doesn’t exist within a “legal and constitutional framework”; rather, our right exists inherently: natural, and unalienable. The constitution merely recognizes and protects our right against government infringement.”
Without that recognition, your fundamental right means fuck-all. There are many countries where a number of fundamental are not recognized so, as a practical matter the people of those countries cannot exercise those rights. Having a right without being able to exercise it is tantamount to not having that right.
>“Perhaps your failure to grasp this point – that the right to keep and bear arms is natural, unalienable, and inherent – explains why it took you such a long time to ferret out agreement on that right, through study of law and history.”
You can spend as much time debating constitutional theory as you like. I don’t have time for esoteric discussions that lead to no result. As such, please see my above comment regarding the practicality of the exercise of rights. The constitution is where the rubber hits the road and. Theoretical rhetoric does nothing to convince the people that need convincing.
>“There you go again. The constitution does not grant rights; it merely recognizes rights, and protects those rights against government infringement, within the context of the authority the People explicitly enumerated to the government.”
There you go again, arguing over semantics when there is no functional difference for the purpose of this conversation. The only application it has to this discussion is you being pedantic about it.
>“Further: rights are not eroded due to lack of glossy PR campaigns; rights are eroded through the atrophy of not exercising them.”
Tell that to Bloomberg. He’s managed to have some successes with a glossy PR campaign.
>“Again correct. The way to make points that defend our rights in a salient way is to counter illogical, specious, emotional arguments with logic, reason, and fact – to reclaim sensationalized narrative, to expose their outright lies, and to challenge their specious assertions that “common sense gun control” has, can, or will ever stop violent crime.”
Wait, is this you, you of all people, coming out against sensationalized narrative? That’s rich. The way to win people over to our side is to educate them on the constitution without using phrases that’ll make their eye glaze over and make them stop listening to you. Refusal to acknowledge hundreds of years of jurisprudence that has eroded gun rights and railing against the judicial system and the federal government, as is common in this crowd, takes pretty much anyone that’s on the fence about the issue and shuts down the potential for them to take you seriously.
>“The logical fallacy is strong with this one. You are erecting a straw man, and attributing to me words and attitude that I myself have not conveyed.”
No, there is no attribution of an attitude you didn’t convey here. You yourself said “come, and take”, which is, again, for practical purposes, “fuck off” and in every debate, you respond with lofty rhetoric.
>“A non-trivial amount of the government wants to take away my guns, because they are would-be dictators. Are we supposed to ignore reality, in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of people who are apparently quite happy living under the yoke of government?”
I’ve never advocated ignoring it, I advocate a constructive response. Lofty rhetoric and the not so veiled threat in “molon labe” isn’t a constructive response, it’s playing into the liberal caricature of the conservative that is so right wing that he is incapable of engaging in dialogue beyond “you’ll pry my gun from my cold, dead hands.” which is incredibly damaging to the cause of preserving our rights.
Yes, Chip, you are the problem, because you speak like an extremist. You don’t have to kowtow to politically correct nonsense, but if you want to be effective beyond an audience of people that already support your viewpoint, you’re going to have to learn to talk to them. You’re so entrenched in your view that you can’t recall how you got there or understand the concept that people who don’t share your opinions aren’t idiots, they just haven’t reached the understanding of the issues that you have just yet.
Seek first to understand…
What, in your mind, is the definition of extremist? How does one speak (or not speak) like an extremist?
Given that, in the same paragraph, you have accused me both of being prone to “sensationalized narrative” and of “using phrases that will make their eye [sic] glaze over” – thereby implying that I am at once both melodramatic and mundane – I think it is imperative that I understand what you mean when you use a term such as extremist, in order to respond appropriately.
I do apologize if my “rhetoric” is too “lofty”. I was unaware that using proper grammar and vocabulary were detrimental to good communication. I could type on my phone more, if that would make you happy? I make a plethora of spelling mistakes on the Android keyboard.
Rights are not granted to us via the constitution. We were born with the rights. The constitution is a restraint on government powers over our god given rights. I have the right to arms and the 2nd prevents the government from taking them.
Correction. The constitution grants no rights. It guarantees protection of rights that pre-existed the constitution. This may seem a minor point, but it is not. If rights can be granted, they can also be taken away.
The problem is, we don’t market our side because it is supposed to be the state of being. The argument was settled over 200 years ago. The other side has had to come up with slick marketing, and by slick, I mean outright lies.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Conservative Democrat at work a couple years ago. This fellow I consider a friend as well as a coworker and I were having a debate over why black people with all the Conservative values still vote for Democrats. I will mention he is black for the sake of context. These are his exact words:
“Mike, if you guys want to win elections, you gotta start lying to the people.”
It’s been said a few times over already, but it isn’t a marketing problem or a message problem; there are two sides with irreconcilable differences, two different world views that cannot exist together. On one side is truth and freedom. On the other only lies and coddling. You can’t compromise a truth and a lie. You can’t have freedom in a nanny state. You’re not going to win those people over until they’re ready to accept the truth and responsibility of freedom. For some people that will never happen.
The pro-2A movement has a lot of (inaccurate) folderol associated with it, in that everyone equates gun ownership with being a “hick” or a backwoods yokel. There’s commentators and Youtube stars like Noir who have made huge strides in changing that, but more work is needed. Also, the pro-2A movement needs to saturate the social channels with a positive message to reach the younger people.
Hey now, don’t be so quick to disparage us hicks and backwoods yokels.
What about us frontwoods yokels? We have feelings too y’know.
Pod, I agree. I think trying to win the marketing game by renaming our fight for our rights is fine but it’s not the whole answer. Winning the hearts and minds is key and appealing to youth is the most effective way in the long term. The left already knows this and they practice indoctrination daily in public schools. They are winning hearts and minds on a long term basis. We need to up our game.
The schools are awash in anti-2A propaganda. Just crack a textbook in the local school library. Stuff like “Guns are only for the police and military” are common. Since it’s a bitch to change textbooks, we need to get to the kids via the place where they hang out the most, which is social media. Find a bunch of young kids who are into firearms and turn them loose representing the NRA, 2AF, ASA, and so on. Hammer away via Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Brabble, and Twitter. Get creative and informative. Create gun memes, have Grumpy Cat work an AR, etc..
Grumpy cat working an AR, perfect!
This is a good point; but, it can be turned-on-its-head. Half the youth is male and most of that half loves violent video games. (Of those males that are not interest, they might be largely offset by females that like violent video games.) The more teachers preach against the evil of guns the more this segment of our youth is apt to question the “received wisdom” of their authority figures. We’ve all heard the joke of: “Try not to think about an elephant for the next 2 minutes”. OK, well, tell a teenage video game player: “Try not to think about a gun for the next 2 minutes”. If we play the game smart, the Educational Establishment will never overcome the lure of the gun.
We ought to be looking for ways to re-direct our nation’s youth toward a positive experience of guns. Boy-scouts is ideal. We ought to be looking for ways to spread this sort of exposure elsewhere. E.g., American Legion posts offering regular gun-safety training in their neighborhoods. Gun clubs offering excursions to local ranges. Hand-out sheets with web sites. Bring in some military recruiters and sympathetic members of the police departments.
For younger kids we can talk about responsible play with toy guns. Teach kids trigger and muzzle discipline. Explain to them how important it is to have their toys clearly marked either by coloring or orange tape on the muzzle. Get them to understand how to distinguish their cops-&-robber’s play from equally innocent behavior that could be mis-interpreted by adults. (An adult watching 3 or 5 little kids at play in a back-yard will readily recognize their behavior as play. Conversely, a lone kid walking through a park waiving a toy gun might provoke an ignorant adult into jumping to a mistaken conclusion.)
We PotG are abandoning the playing field of youth to the Antis who are their State-employed teachers. If we found ways to meet the kids on the playing field of their lives the Anti’s wouldn’t have a chance of prevailing.
“Since it’s a bitch to change textbooks, we need to get to the kids via the place where they hang out the most, which is social media.”
No it’s not a bitch to change textbooks or have them where they are learning what you want taught.
Get your kid out of Public School and use the books YOU want them to learn from. Problem solved.
Oh…wait, I know, I know. If I homeschool, I might have to sacrifice one working parent’s salary and not have the 4500 sq ft house that’s expensive to own. Or…I might actually have to get off my a$$ and DO SOMETHING to teach them instead of watching football for 6+ hours every Sunday for half the year. Or…well, you get the idea.
These “problems” have solutions…it’s called PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for a reason.
Half “our side” moans the Statist viewpoint we live under, then fuels that stinking system by participating in it and claiming it’s “normal.”
And there are way too many “POTG” who are more than happy to confirm the racist, homophobic, OFWG stereotype. While they beat their chests with pride at their ignorance and bigotry, it pushes away potential future pro-gunners who don’t quite appreciate the social-con bullshit. And those are the people we need to help in the fight to preserve and maybe even gain back what little gun freedoms we have. Instead, these morons keep moving further and further to the right, for some reason thinking they need an echo chamber of right-wing extremism to recruit more already pro-gun right-wingers. It’s self-destructive.
Yes times 100. The OFWGs sometimes get a little too bent out of shape about restricting other freedoms, which in turn backfires on them when it comes to pro-2A issues. An OFWG will want to restrict marriage rights, and then the liberal gays will turn around and play the media game to restrict firearms rights. I don’t care whom anyone marries, since their marriage decisions don’t affect my life. All I ask of anyone, or any government, is to mind their own business. If I need help with something, I’ll ask for it. I’ll carry what I want, marry whomever I want, and smoke whatever I want.
2A supporters should embrace the Libertarian ideal, even if they are OFWGs. If minorities, gays, lesbians, and other groups get in on the pro-2A stance, nothing can stop us. The liberals wouldn’t dare restrict a right that is embraced by a whole spectrum of people. “What, you want to deny homosexuals the right to defend themselves from gay bashing?”
Boom, the anti-2A movement would be dead in a month.
Like it or not, this response is correct. Conflating the 2A with highly directional wedge issues (anti-gay, anti-abortion, etc.) gives the urban elites a reason to oppose the 2A philosophy and use its (unfortunately) greater population base in the large cities (where firearms have been associated ONLY with criminals or police for at least 200 years) against us. Most of the writers to this site are male, but the fact is, we need female engagement. Most of the anti sentiment is being pushed by spokeswomen even if the funding is coming from certain male quarters in NYC and the like; some of them are true believers in their cause but many have been sucked in because they have not ever heard the other side of the argument. Somehow we need to craft a message, yes, a message, about gun ownership as female empowerment; anti-crime; and frankly, anti-wife beater. So many female victims that the police cannot possibly help, because they cannot and should not be in all places at once. We are not successful in getting that message across. I am not sure how to do this, but the NRA, GOA, and other pro 2A organizations would be wise to spend some of their money on figuring it out. Women never were considered truck and Jeep buyers until they were. But it did not happen until the manufacturers made the trucks and Jeeps friendly to women. The Jeep my daughter has never driven off-road is not the Jeep Tommy Lee Jones drove up the pile of tailings in Coal Miners Daughter. What does the firearms world need to do to become attractive to women? Pink grips, maybe. But how about an ergonomic analysis of women’s hands to determine a better grip and slide design to reduce recoil? Perhaps more ranges investing in better lighting and a bit softer ambience? Sportsmen’s (and women’s) organizations lobbying for flush toilets at National Forest Service ranges. Better instruction manuals on disassembly and maintenance coming with a new gun . An end to bashing off-body carry and small caliber handguns on these forums and instead figuring out how to make these situations work better for women. Explaining why Open Carry would radically empower women and engaging women gun owners in the Open Carry debate. The list of changes in the firearms world that would make it more attractive to women is endless. As a matter of fact, these changes would be positive for male firearms owners as well.
Anything that persuades one additional person is good. We all are persuaded by different messages, so doubt there is a one-size-fits-all strategy here. Diversity is key.
Generally I like your suggestion to start off an argument about being anti-violence. I am totally anti-violence, I just happen to place a lot of value on deterrence – because while I myself am anti-violence, people who do not value life and are not afraid of jail are probably not opposed to using violence. The latter is crucial – jails have become less a punishment, and more a college for the criminally minded.
As for your suggestion about being an absolutist about civil rights, I do not think we need to concede here. It is a myth that there is a tradeoff between public safety and civil rights. Dallas has less than 120 murders, to Baltimore’s 200+. Economic opportunity generally follows freedom, and it’s economic opportunity drives most crime. Repeat early and often: there is no tradeoff, you can have your rights and enjoy safety.
I’d like to see a commercial for the NRA on a non-outdoor themed channel. Being an evil corporate mega-lobby and all, you’d think they could buy adspace on a major cable network.
The NRA can afford it. I am pretty confident that most networks will not accept their ads.
I’m pretty sure I remember the NRA being turned down for a Super Bowl ad purchase, a few years ago.
Ad bomb The Daily Show like the Koch Bros. did.
None of them will even take the NRA’s money.
Do not fall down the politically correct slope. Good perception will come from exposing at every turn the lies , distortions and false data put up by dis-armists. Like ” Climate-gate”
and NBC , show them for the chicken little joke they are. WE are winning.
I’d be careful to relax and rely on that phrase I hear a lot lately, “we are winning”. If we take that for granted too much, we won’t be.
In the words of John Philpot Curran: The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.
“We are winning”
…we are, at best, stalemated.
Our “Supreme Court victories” did not do squat especially when states after the Sandy Hook shooting put in new laws and many courts across the country still decide in favor of anti-gunners. The only victories have been carry victories but only in a few jurisdictions.
Wake me up when the import restrictions, sporting purpose, Hughes Amendment, AP pistol ammo ban, Gun Control Act, and NFA are gone.
We do not have a marketing problem. We have a media problem. We do not get a fair shake in the MSM. Rather, we get op-eds telling us how we’re crazy, deluded, or lacking in manhood. The fact that we’re making strides at all verifies that we’re in the right. We can strike as conciliatory tone as we want. NBC and the NYT will walk past Billy Johnson and Colion Noir and find Kory Watkins.
A lot of truth in that statement.
And no quick/easy solution for this problem.
Agreed. The problem is anti-gun rights prejudice in the Mass Media, particularly Television (including Cable). If you cannot get your message out via Television Ads and PSA’s in programming large numbers of people are actually watching, you cannot effectively change minds. Get a Pro Gun Rights ad into Primetime on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC every night, and major sporting events, you might make an impact. OTOH, go buy a Lottery Ticket because the odds are better of winning a Lottery than getting those Ads on the major TV Networks, except maybe Fox.
Dan Baum inadvertently highlights this as well. Every single accidental shooting gets wide play in the media, yet accidental deaths from all sorts of other sources, many of which are responsible for many times more fatalities per year than firearms hardly ever make the news and almost never national news. However, he chooses to focus on gun owners somehow all policing each other and somehow eliminating all accidents ever.
I do think there is a lot of behavior within the pro-2a community that fairly earns us a few of our labels. Self-policing and reimagining would really help our reputation. There really are some ignorant, loudmouthed jerks with guns out there – they hinder us more than they help. I feel a more streamlined, family-friendly message while trying to separate our image from these blowhards would really, really help.
Gun rights, and the NRA specifically, need a PR facelift. Big time.
Agreed. It’d help to tone down the OFWGs doing press conferences and blaming video games for mass shootings too.
La Pierre alienated me so badly after Sandy Hook I won’t give another dime to the NRA until he is gone.
“There really are some ignorant, loudmouthed jerks with guns out there – they hinder us more than they help.”
Look, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but the reason there are loudmouth jerks with guns out there is because there are loudmouth jerks out there.
You are playing into the anti’s rules of the game by making that statement as clearly as if you were saying “I support the Second Amendment, but….”
The problem is gun owners represent all walks of life, all body types, all sexual orientations, both sexes, all races..and what do we have on our side?
The so-called “pro-personal freedom” group trying to tell everyone else in that group how to act to be properly ‘accepted’ by the group.
Better not OC!
Better not have a beer belly!
Better not let a White Guy ™ speak about gun rights, especially if he’s “old.”
Oh yes, exactly what we need in our ‘fight’ for restoration of individual liberties is more making things about race, gender, age or a whole other set of nonsense that has NOTHING to do with…individual liberty.
The hardest thing about liberty is letting the other guy be as free as you want to be, even if that means he’s uncouth, fat, white or whatever.
Yep like the one’s already throwing Kory Watkins under the bus when he has done more than a lot of others have done in this fight. At least he had the courage to speak his mind and not try to appease anti’s who DGAF about how polite, well-dressed, or well-spoken you are they will hate you no matter what.
I prefer Human Rights Organization. With proper tools for self defense, all your other rights as a human are secured.
Honestly, how do you market to people that hate you, hate your possessions, hate your culture, and hate where you come from?
I don’t market to the other side. I tolerate them. They don’t tolerate me and try to propose legislation. That’s how it works. That’s how it has been working for the last hundred or so years.
The best marketing to the non-brainwashed is range time and a day of fun. That’s it. I’m not here to negotiate or compromise my rights, or provide feel-good catch phrases to win over the fear-mongering freedom-hating statists who p!ss themselves every time they see a firearm.
You don’t market to them. You market to fence sitters (yes, they do exist) or the ‘lightly convinced’ who have the people you mentioned shouting propaganda at them loudly and with perceived authority.
An absolutely spot-on comment. We will never win over the wingnuts and trying is a waste of time and energy. I got the impression, though, that Peter S. was addressing our marketing to win over the uncommitted and the fence sitters, which is a different kettle of fish. Or two.
Hey A – You’re wrong. They don’t hate you or your possessions. The problem with their kind is they hate themselves. They project their self loathing on other people and things as a coping mechanism. And that is why they can’t be fixed. They are defective. Unfortunately, they are allowed to multiply and in the long term will dilute the gene pool past the tipping point. And the saddest thing is that the uninformed masses, the ones most hurt by their policies, actually believe their delusion and continue to support them. Again, because they control the narrative. They are so good at it. If you are pro-life they say war on women; you lose.
This guy, this guy right here is the problem this article is addressing.
What does insulting people of a different opinion gain other than a feeling of inflated superiority for yourself and maybe a few attaboys from the echo chamber? We, as POTG, gain *nothing* from this sort of tirade and only further pushes away potential POTG.
So give yourself a pat on the back, you big brave hero you.
You’re operating under the assumption that there are *only* two sides. People are not “either/or”.
There are always three sides to an argument: for, against, and the spectators. If you’re on for or against, your chances of convincing your opposite number are very, very low. Don’t completely give up hope, but remember that you’re really arguing to the third side. What impact will your arguments have on them? How effective is your presentation from their perspective? I think our side could do better from that point of view.
Of course! It’s the usual problem for libertarians. We anticipate truth winning out– no need to lie about the issues, or play to emotion.
But this doesn’t work on the sheep. They have minimal logic and reasoning skills, and are easily swayed by lies and emotional manipulation.
It’s admittedly tough to compete with organizations that have almost every aspect of modern media on their side. TV, radio, print, film and a large portion of the Internet are all against you, that’s going to be a tough sell.
I agree with the author, and some of the commenters, that the POTG can do a better job of marketing ourselves- and IMHO the first place to start is with ourselves- stop deriding one another as FUDDs or COD game boys, and so on, and speak to what we can all agree on-
and dont get caught up in the details or semantics. There is a bit of OCD in gun forums which comes in handy for debates on The One True Caliber for Self Defense (is the 40 S&W, btw)
but gets in the way of inclusiveness, the big tent, and drawing more of the newly curious about guns into the fold, when we get hung up on peripheral topics and go OT on abortion, gay rights, islamofascism,
etc etc etc-
Stick to the interesting gun stuff, and the debate on 2A in the culture- we are winning there.
And dont forget the blogosphere has risen to meet an unfulfilled need for news and opinion, just as did conservative talk radio. With MSM credibility in the tank, and broadcast Nielson numbers, ad revenues, and programming failing at CNN, MSNBC, and now NBC shooting itself in the foot,
that is parallelling the truth seen in subscriptions, revenues, stock price, dropping off the cliff for the Reliable Parety Organs like NYT, WAPO, and LATimes.
We dont need to go to the gutter to fight propaganda- we keep speaking the truth, responding with dignity and facts, and the contrast draws more people to us POTG.
“Clean, well lit room”. ~ Hemingway
No the problem is this PC campus nit picking, and constantly worrying how others perceive us.
My human rights don’t have to appeal to “the masses”, nor do I have to be conscience of their delicate sensibilities when it comes to my right to self defense. Stop caring what the interlopers think, most of them are uninformed, and the rest are liars and potentates with an agenda.
If you aren’t gaining ground you’re loosing it. I’d love to see a huge surprise push to repeal the FOPA (Hughes amendment), instead of fighting petty mag capacity restrictions, let’s go after the main foundation of unconstitutional gun control laws. Now is a good time, with PA’s new law making it so you don’t have the burden of proof that you were directly harmed by gun laws. Since the NFA is basically a huge registry and PA expressly forbids such a registry (18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4), it seems like a good time for such a debate anyway.
“No the problem is this PC campus nit picking, and constantly worrying how others perceive us.
My human rights don’t have to appeal to “the masses”, nor do I have to be conscience of their delicate sensibilities when it comes to my right to self defense. Stop caring what the interlopers think, most of them are uninformed, and the rest are liars and potentates with an agenda. “
Absolutely spot on.
We don’t need “Marketing.” That’s fake anyway.
i honestly cant think of any part of the constitution I’m against. So i would be a constitutionalist while my opponents would be anti- constitutionalists
That sounds kinda stuffy and off-putting to me. How about something like “Citizen” vs “servant”, or “peon”, something like that?
I read further. Perhaps “citizen” vs “victim”?
There are at least two Constitutional Amendments I have a problem with, specifically the 16th and 17th.
How about “Take your stinking paws off my guns you damn dirty apes!” Chuck Heston would approve.
PS: I have mentioned this ad nauseum, but for newer readers- on the how to- as a start-
Start with what is working.
Army of Davids, by Glenn Reynolds
The Rise of the AntiMedia.
the best $20 bucks you will spend, if you want to know what works-
available on Amazon, to read on your PC with a free kindle reader.
Then read the many many good gun writers, here and elsewhere, and spread the word, generously,
to friends, family, and ask them to pass it on…
wax on, wax off…
I have had fair success amongst some fairly strong antis with the self-description of “civil rights activist”. They can modify it somewhat, but when I’m consistent concerning protecting civil rights (speech, religion, etc.) against government interference, it helps. It doesn’t necessarily change their minds, but they then tend to allow the point to be made: a small gain in the media wars.
Another accurate description is that I favor “empowering the oppressed”, which is a modern-day equivalent to “Abe Lincoln freed all men; Sam Colt made them equal.” A variation, “empowering freedom for the oppressed” also can be applicable.
When discussion of regulatory barriers arise, or requirements like “microstamping”, I ask why they favor discrimination against the poor. Since their proposals almost always involve increasing the effective price of firearms, the proposals make it more difficult for poorer people to acquire them.
When someone is being particularly nasty and irrational, one can ask them why they favor making it easier for rapists. After all, they favor allowing a stronger man to rape a weaker woman without fear of her using a firearm to defend herself. (This is an argument to be kept in reserve, and not brought out first thing.)
In many cases, listen to what an “anti” is saying. Almost always, the same phrases can be modified to to support civil rights. Most “antis” come from a subculture which puts a lot of stock in melifluous phrases (e.g., the stereotypical “for the children”) which value freedom, even while trying to restrict freedom. This is a form of Alinsky’s 4th rule: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” (No surprise: the concept of liberty — classical liberalism — is truly radical in its own right: much of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” are really better rules for those who support liberty.)
” Since their proposals almost always involve increasing the effective price of firearms, the proposals make it more difficult for poorer people to acquire them.”
Bet that’s an accident, huh? Or just a continuation of the Dem version of slavery, “keep ’em in their place”, all must be dependent on the government, for everything, food, drugs, health care, protection from evil, decision making, we will take care of you, you just need to vote for us. Of course you can’t afford anything bad for us, uh, I mean YOU, of course, we are keeping you safe from yourself.
The biggest problem is the narrative. The left owns the narrative. Gun Safety is their term distorted from Gun Control. Assault Rifle is their term. Large Capacity Magazine (Clips) is their term. Common Sense is their term. We all know these are manufactured terms. But they use them so well. Of course 90% (uh 34%) of Americans support common sense gun background checks to keep guns away from criminals. The marketing problem is allowing their narrative to continue. And we need a face. One face. The one face respected by all. You know, like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman. The kind of face that when it walks into the room all eyes are on an all voices quiet. When you are fighting a Billionaire, you better not show up to the gunfight with a wet noodle. I’m not saying Wayne is a wet noodle, but he’s no match for Bloomberg and his lackeys. Charlton was good and we need another like him. John Lott has the brains, but listening to him talk is like enduring fingernails on a chalkboard. Colion Noir could be that face, but he hasn’t got the national recognition. And of course, who is going to spearhead the fight with money? Putting the NRA up as backer would possibly undermine the cause. Perhaps crowd sourcing. Yes, yes, let the people speak…
Interesting. I refuse to equivocate, though. That’s political horse plop. We can do without that.
I am super pro self defense, though. And anti-violence. 🙂
That’s why I call it a “basic human right.”
Whoever mentioned “fence sitters” above is on point. Those are the people that should be the target. It is the exact same thing when elections roll around. Political ads are targeted towards swing voters, not towards their core group.
If you can pull some of the people from the middle to your side to stand with you that’s a victory. You aren’t going to gain any additional traction backpatting people who already fight for your cause.
“A proud member of the Anti-Victimization Movement” has a nice ring to it. The “AVM”.
That’s a contender right there !! Empowering !
This guy gets it.
“Political ads are targeted towards swing voters, not towards their core group.”
But that hasn’t worked in nearly a decade? When you run a moderate campaign, you display a lack of conviction. “Swing voters”, “undecideds”, I like to call them uneducated or uninformed, need the clear message.
Continuing with the political analogy, the reason the right loses to the left isn’t because the right stays home. It is because the center can’t distinguish between the two so they abstain or go with the left that makes unrealistic promises.
We don’t need a John McCain of Gun Rights. We need a Thomas Jefferson. Can you imagine the vitriol Mr. Jefferson would get from many on this very forum if he were to march on Capital Hill, musket at his side, and recite from his own words of yore?
What say you John in Ohio?
There’s a lot of data out there regarding political campaigning and ad effectiveness.
One of the themes is that they all tend to go for the low hanging fruit. Money is spent where the numbers can be skewed in the candidate’s favor. It makes no sense to market to “mostly sure things” according to campaign managers. That’s not to say they don’t do their homework (as they don’t want to do anything to jeopardize their core) but for the most part they want to get a bigger share of the voting. This is why the news stations and campaigns always go nuts over “swing states”.
Here’s a scatter plot as an example:
Methods like this are used to get more people on their side and ultimately get elected.
To get back to the topic at hand looking more moderate may help de-program centrists who have bought into the “demonization” that’s been pounded into their heads for so many years. You don’t even have to change any of your values- just how they are presented. Look at it this way- women are a target market for gun companies now more than ever. One of the ways they were drawn in was via colorful stocks, grips, etc. That AR is still a freaking AR, it’s just appears to be less threatening.
Does that make sense?
I’m with the “we don’t need to market truth ” camp.
As for your campaign analogy again, it has failed Nationally. The only polls that matter are the exit polls.
They prove Conservatives turned out for moderate candidates but moderates did not.
The problem with the 2nd amendment isn’t marketing. It’s urbanization and indoctrination.
Also, we have to remember that the “idea” that the middle the desirable group is promulgated by the media. Therefore, it is very likely a lie.
Or, as you demonstrated, it is a lie.
If the fence sitters don’t care enough to formulate an opinion on an issue, what good does it do to ‘market’ to them? They are not single issue voters…even we convince them it’s important, the RKBA issue will just get washed into their soup of undecideness.
This whole bit of “marketing” smacks of capitulation-speak to me: appeasement, compromise, ‘give ground to gain ground’ defeatism.
JR, I gotta say that altering one item in their soup of undecidedness from anti-RKBA to pro-RKBA is a win. Far more of a win than catering to the already convinced, or to the never-will-be convinced.
“altering one item in their soup of undecidedness from anti-RKBA to pro-RKBA is a win.”
Only if it changes the way they vote or their general “activism.” I submit that it won’t.
The kind of person that is wishy-washy about making a decision regarding what they stand for in the first place isn’t going to ultimately stand for anything.
That is…they WON’T become “single issue” voters and support 2A Rights. Well, they might, until it clashes with some other thing they are wishy-washy about.
At the end of the day, we gain nothing by changing (or trying to change) who we are to appease them.
So then your solution is to keep marketing towards people who already support the 2A?
No, my solution is to get supreme court justices in there that have a clue what the founders meant when they drafted the Constitution. I don’t believe the 2nd amendment should be a stand alone issue. When we “market” it as such, we are not treating it as the natural right that it is. We need to focus on the entire Constitution and the bill of rights in particular.
If you are worried about OFWG or Chipotle ninjas hurting the cause then you miss the true enemy of the Constitution and that is the Democrat Party and the bloody shirts they wave after a psycho shoots up a GFZ.
Upon further thought, No, don’t market to the supposed 2A supporters. Market to the entire world that Our Constitution is the best foundation for a free society. Without the right to own property and the means to protect our property and life, we will fail.
I am saying tell the truth. Say it loud and say it proud. Say it to everybody. When you change your message to appease your target audience, you lose your vigor, your message, your truth, your Republic.
You’re conflating changing the method of the message with changing the actual meaning of the message. Nobody here is saying we should do that. Having 9 people on our side is nothing if we don’t have at least 150,000,001 people on our side.
No sir you are sadly mistaken. You are describing a Democracy. We live in a Republic. We need 2/3 of the majority in both houses of congress to amend the Constitution.
We need 5 justices of the Supreme Court to correctly rule on the 2nd amendment. That is much less than half the population of the country that you think is necessary.
As far as I’m concerned, the best catch phrase for the RKBA should simply be “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
How about “Patriots of the U.S. Constitution”.
Partiot : noun
1. A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
2. A person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
[EDIT] OR “Protectors of the U.S. Constitution”. Either way it should appeal to the Right, Left and fence sitters. After all this is ‘Murica!
Sorry, but that will NOT appeal to the left…large swaths of them hate America, or more specifically, the Constitution and the idea of Constitutional Republic.
Didn’t Obama run on a platform of reshaping the US? What direction has he pushed during his presidency? Toward the Constitution or away from it? And yes, before someone shouts with butt-hurt indignation, Bush was no better, thus demonstrating we can’t count on the apparent “right” to pledge allegiance to the Constitution, either.
Statism may not be strictly be left-right, but it clearly has found a home in leftist ideology in the US. One need only look to the MSM and Academia for that.
You have some great thoughts, but I feel you’ve come up with a solution that has no problem.
1) Those who are so close-minded they won’t listen to logic regarding second amendment rights won’t be swayed by ANY marketing terms,
2) Those who have ulterior motives for denying second amendment rights won’t be swayed by anything but the second amendment in practice, and
3) Those who will be open-minded and listen to logic don’t need to be marketed to.
You’re very much wrong on #3.
I agree. There are plenty of open-minded people who have not been adequately informed on the subject, mainly because they are not interested enough to search out the information. We need to present that information so that it can be digested without effort, just like the lies of the left are presented.
PETER S, I agree with your idea. “Come and take it” sounds too aggressive. “RKBA” has become a hackneyed phrase. So much of our media stuff focuses on the “I” part of it all. We need a new way of thinking.
“Lawfully armed for our protection.” “Only tyrants need fear the RKBA.” or something similar. It removes the conflict sounding parts, but keeps the meaning. Will get back after thinking some more. Thanks for getting the ball rolling. “Only tyrants need fear the 2A.”
“The second amendment. For when police are minutes away!” “The 2A, for when things go bump in the night.” “2A. The founding fathers antidote to tyranny.” The 2A and tyranny. Checks and balances.” “I’d rather have protection and not need it, than need it and not have it. Support 2A.”
The 2nd amendment is absolute
That depends on who is willing to defend it.
It amazes me how people can not resist introducing shades of gray into what is a truly black or white discussion.
Do you support the Constitution? Yes or No.
Do you support civil rights? Yes or no.
Do you support the 2nd Amendment? Yes or no.
If everyone would stop equivocating, people would find it easier to pick a side. Talking about how to market basic human rights just makes you look as stupid as the politicians.
So all the Fudds, Anti OC, regulation is OK types, you actually don’t support the 2nd, or civil rights, or the constitution You support you own personal, misguided, and slanted interpretation.
So lets not worry about the anti’s, until the pro’s can actually agree to support the 2nd as written, up to and including “shall not be infringed”. Because it is a black or white issue.
Meh…did anyone whining here notice the results of the last election cycle? You’re not going to win over the rabid anti’s. They all need a “come to Jesus moment”( like being robbed or raped). Living in Illinois I can see 3000people showing up in Springfield to protest an anti-2A vote. On a weekday with a few hours notice…Molan Labe.
More than the 2012 election, I am encouraged by the complete disregard of the full frontal assault after Sandy Hook. ALL the big boys fired their biggest guns, and were clearly told to STFU. It’s been a long time since I danced so hard.
Citizens’ freedom movement?
Because we have a deliberately dumbed down culture it’s hard to get them to accept that they have NATURAL rights that are safeguarded NOT “granted” by the CONUS.
Military. CONUS = Continental United States. Is that what you meant?
Just using fewer acronyms and less jargon would be a good starting point.
The POTG spread support for the 2A by exercising their RKBA. Molon labe.
I think one aspect constantly overlooked by many pro-Constitution supporters (pro-2A supporters) are OPTICS.
Every time I see the picture of those 2 mouth-breathers, yucking it up in a Chapotle with there tacticool rifles, in dumpy clothing; standing somewhere in Texas Chipotle… I want to scream. Yes: it is your right to wear whatever the heck you want; good, bad, or indifferent…
Yes, it is your right to carry whatever and however…
Yes, it is your right to look as slovely as you want…
But if the way look fits right into the anti-gun narrative (“All gun-owners are white men just waiting & wanting to kill” etc.), you are using the macho-thrill of the short-term to harm the long-term efforts.
The audience you should be thinking of when you don your firearm, accessories, and when you are carrying them in public; are the people at home who are the typical “I want people to be able to own guns, but we need to do something about crime/violence/etc.”; those that aren’t against the pro2A people, but who are misinformed about the issue.
To crush the anti-gun scourge, we need to put the best image out there as possible; those 2 seconds of you looking like a crased lunatic (when you see someone with a really cool but rare firearm) will be used to frame all gun owners as loons. It is a lot more difficult to do this when all the media has is a group of well dresed and groomed looking people who just happen to have firearms with them.
…is an audience of one: me.
You have two false premises here:
1. Thinking that the other side and the media (but I repeat myself…) will ever present our side in a good light. (Recent case in point: optics don’t match the narrative, because the OC protesters have holstered bananas? No problem; just recycle photographs from a different protest.)
2. Allowing the lawful exercise of a natural right to be subjected to the preferences or opinions of anyone else.
Every time I see a complaint like yours, running people down as stupid or whatever, because they conducted themselves in a completely legal manner which you have been malleable enough to accept as somehow dangerous, I see that our freedoms are increasingly in danger from effective PR campaigns. How can you be so gullible? Don’t you realize you are being used as a tool? Reexamine after asking yourself who they hurt?
A media campaign flashing between a dozen or more gun owners wouldn’t be a bad thing. Showing some of the political, racial and ethnic diversity that already exists among gun owners.
I’m a stay at home mom, I’m a truck driver, I’m a tech executive, I’m an engineer, I’m a sikh, I’m baptist, I’m a democrat, I’m republican, I’m a libertarian, I’m a hunter, I’m an enthusiast [disassembled firearm on the table in front of him], I’m an equal rights advocate [placards and marching in background], I’m a civil rights activist.
Say in unison: And I’m a gun owner.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a campaign with a “Claim your birthright” campaign either. Again emphasizing the diversity. A big “We’re all Americans” set up, and then each individually reaching to grab firearms (equally diverse- everything from a muzzleloader to an AR).
A six flags-esque montage of the various types of shooting sports might be fun also.
Jesus, Data, what a plan! How about ALL manufacturers/retailers signed on to a marketing blitz of “Reclaim your birthright!” Urging EVERYONE to own a gun, and seek a CCL. Lordy, lordy, isn’t that the kind of thing we are seeking, here?
DAMN, that’s good!
“Reclaim your birthright!”
I think that’s a pretty good one. You’re on to something here.
Beautifully done, Data. I suggest a couple more taglines:
1) “You have an absolute right to defend yourself”, and
2) “The gun is civilization”
Also particularly like marcus (aurelius) paynes’s contribution:
“Self-defense; a basic human right”
You make a couple good points I think. Too bad in the past the NRA has been so amateurish at outreach and PR. (they are getting better in some ways though)
I make pro-gun arguments along the lines of individual self-defense as well. It resonates among those who are on the fence.
“of course our Constitutional rights aren’t absolutes, just look at the first, fourth, and…”
“of course Constitutional rights are not absolute,…”
I just can’t wait to get me some slaves.
Im not a fan of “pro self defense” because… well I want a 30 rounder just because. To use your 2a to the fullest doesn’t require everything revolving around self defense.
Liberal progressives would call it an “Optics Problem”. We tend to wear too much camo and have too many stickers on our car that show crossed firearms and strident historical quotes – in various languages – that dare folks to come and mess with our rights. Don’t get me wrong, I have as many “Molon Labe” morale patches as the next guy, but like it or not – its puts out a vibe that makes for poor PR.
We also jump to ideas like “The second amendment protects the rest” and state our gun rights are there to fight off an oppressive government. True – but a worst case scenario of epic scale. By jumping to an extreme to try and make a point, we end up looking just a degree or two away from the tinfoil hat folks that believe Elvis is alive, but we didn’t walk on the moon. Or that Elvis is on the moon… or something like that.
I prefer to tell stories of people who have saved the lives of their families, friends or complete strangers by exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Explain that police are not there to prevent crime, but enforce law – which clearly implies more of a cleaning up AFTER a crime than actually preventing anything. YOU are your first responder – whether you want to be or not – and NO law can change that. Even if we lived in the most oppressive, police dominated country in the world , where nobody but police are allowed to have guns – when someone comes after us to kill us, the police will not get there and stop it. That world not only cannot exist IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, it is not a world you would want to live in even if it could.
So when they talk about restricting our right to defend ourselves, they are proposing we work toward a world that cannot, by definition, exist. Therefore, if it is really about saving lives and keeping our freedom – the guns need to stay in our hands.
Hail to the king baby.
The problem isn’t marketing. Part of the problem is the opposition wants to disarm us to fundamentally transform America. The other problem is the misunderstanding of the stakes by the majority of the people.
I walked into a conversation between two coworkers arguing over gun ownership. One was arguing against it and the other was arguing for it but they were both wrong. The anti said “I don’t see why anyone needs an assault rifle to hunt”. The semi anti said “But the reason to have guns is for self defense”.
I said “The biggest reason to have guns is to protect us from a tyrannical government”. Both of them looked at me like I had a tin foil hat on. Then the anti said “You believe the United States Government is going to become tyrannical?” I said “Nope because we can fight back”. The semi said “yep, he’s right!” The anti looked puzzled but then said “I never thought about that”,
It’s not marketing. It’s truth.
Like it or not, this is at least partly a marketing problem. Absolutely true. The media is biased against gun owners. It is dominated by urban dwellers whose only frame of reference is “guns are held only by criminals or cops.” I also believe that most politicians and elites are terrified of gun ownership for all the reasons many have noted. And yet it is still a marketing problem. Common Sense was a political piece, as were the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, but they were also marketing of ideas. Without the marketing, there would have been no USA.
The anti-gun movement has done a good job of co-opting the women’s movement, making it out as if firearm restrictions go hand in hand with women’s liberation, or whatever other 60’s mantra they trot out. The pro-2A movement and the firearms/shooting industry as a whole has done a poor job of marketing to women, who could be converted to a firearms friendly point of view. The anti’s have positioned the Mom’s Against crowd as the prototypical, biological nurturer that paradoxically the women’s lib movement railed against; with the gun owner as a rogue wolf outcast from the tribe, hell-bent on murder and mayhem. The pro-2A movement has to figure out how to counter a biological propensity that is not even acknowledged by the Mom’s, but is well exploited by the anti’s.
Like it or not, in a non-rural, non-hunting society, guns have obtained a negative image from urban crime, unless they are in the hands of police. This goes back a good 200 years if the city was around 200 years ago. But up until the last 20 years or so, trucks and SUV’s i.e. Jeeps had an image of farm and construction vehicles. Only farm or ranch women would drive them. Or worse, filthy, dirty, sweaty male construction workers, all closet rapists and wife-beaters. Yet the automobile industry was very successful in transforming the image into one of family safety and comfort for the soccer mom. The pro-2A movement and firearms industry need to figure out how to do the same.
A few suggestions. Pink grips and muddy girl camo patterns sell to some, but what if the industry worked with ergonomic experts, orthopedic surgeons, female cops and soldiers, and designed a woman-friendly grip, slide, trigger? What if they had focus groups with fence-sitters and asked them what would make them less afraid of guns? Is it fear of recoil however misplaced that might be? Is it the look? Is it the piss-poor instructions that come with guns, as if every purchaser had been a Marine Corp armorer and knew all about break-down, cleaning, and lubrication? These are all fixable problems. Is it the relentless bashing of small calibers and off-body carry on blogs like this one? Is it fear that you might have to use the weapon to kill someone? Even if the latter, can that be converted to an understanding of the empowerment that will come from not being afraid of a dark parking lot, or a violent ex-boyfriend? What about cleaner, brighter, more woman-friendly shooting ranges? Where are the spokeswomen in favor of Open Carry? Open Carry would eliminate many of the difficulties women have with concealing handguns and should be understood and embraced by women. We don’t need a tattooed Bubba parading around Kroger with an AR. We need Taylor Swift with a silver and black pistol on a stylish belt and 100 photographers sending the images out over the social media. All of this is modern marketing. And let’s be honest. All this would be good for male gun enthusiasts as well. How many men would like a gun that actually fits them, that they can carry when dressed in a business suit, perhaps trading caliber for a precision, repeatable head shot, perhaps with better engineering not even having to make the trade?
Let me suggest there is also a real sociological problem. Many pro-2A groups are also involved with radically anti-woman politics, specifically, anti-abortion politics, but also other radical right wing agendas that can be perceived as anti-woman or anti-children. This gives ammunition to the other side. We especially need women to counter the Mom’s groups. We need a big tent. Have whatever opinion you have on other issues, but don’t put it out there on every gun blog. And do try to take a Libertarian perspective. If you want to stick your nose in a woman’s doctor’s office, you have no right to object to her sticking her nose in your gun safe. Finally, and I am sure some readers will not like this, those who are friendly to the Second Amendment are going to have to figure out a way to reduce domestic violence, and specifically reduce the fear of women that they will be shot by an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend. If we lived in a rational society, a logical trade-off would be a strong mental health code and a California-type law allowing police to confiscate an abuser’s or a nut case’s weapons (with due process and safeguards) in return for dropping magazine limits, “assault weapon” bans, and requiring CCW reciprocity and safe transit of guns between and among the states. Or something similar. Unfortunately, both sides are dug in and refuse to budge. But I really believe that the number one fear driving women into the anti-gun camp is not school shootings. It is fear of the crazed ex, that rogue rabid wolf invading the hunter-gatherer’s camp to kill and maim. If that fear can be understood and then re-channeled from the expectation that the male hunters (cops) will protect her, to a realization that with her own weapon she is more than a huntress – she is the mama bear, or the lioness, that no-one or nothing will dare to mess with, there will be no more Mom’s Against. Only Mom’s For.
I did not see this typo before the edit time ran out. “Libertarian” should be “libertarian”. Philosophy, not another political party.
I’m with you on the ideas to market more to women, and to draw support from female shooters, but one portion of your piece bothers me.
“Many pro-2A groups are also involved with radically anti-woman politics, specifically, anti-abortion politics…If you want to stick your nose in a woman’s doctor’s office, you have no right to object to her sticking her nose in your gun safe.”
This passage reveals a remarkable lack of understanding concerning the abortion issue. You seem to view pro-lifers as people who wish to limit freedom for some, while holding on to their own, when really it’s a (literal) matter of life and death. Most of the people I know who are pro-life (the majority of whom, by the way, are women who don’t feel that being pro-life in any way oppresses them), feel that way because they believe that life begins at conception, and therefore that the intentional ending of that life is tantamount to murder, even though it may be legal. In that regard, one may as well say, “If you want to make laws controlling murder, you have no right complaining about laws controlling guns.”
All this is to say that the reason pro-2A and pro-life are often linked is because the same mindset often underlies both views. As a Christian, I believe all people were made in the image of God, and thus have intrinsic value which should be protected, whether from murderers and rapists or from tyrants. It is these same beliefs that lead me to want to protect an unborn child from unjust execution. While many 2A supporters are not Christian, and may disagree with me as to WHY people have intrinsic value, they still tend to agree that people DO have intrinsic value, and make the same connections to being pro-life. To one who believes unborn children are human beings (as opposed to merely “potential humans”), saying, “Let’s just focus on the 2A issue, and ignore the abortion issue,” is as every bit as silly and hypocritical as saying, “Let’s just focus on the 2A issue, and ignore any 1A issues.”
Now, if you do not believe that life begins at conception, I can understand why you would support 2A and still be pro-abortion. However, I hope this helps explain why so many of us connect the two issues.
“is as every bit as” should be “is every bit as”. Sorry.
Hi Guys – lot’s of great comments here. I want to respond to a couple of points made by several of you.
Some of you have said that marketing is a load of BS, or that you don’t care what anti-gun people think. I have two words for you: “medical marijuana.” The pro-weed movement was able to re-package a socially and politically unpalatable idea – legalizing drugs – into a winner. Under the pretext of helping people stricken with cancer and AIDS, the marijuana legalization machine has convinced much of the country that marijuana is actually a good thing. If they can do that, we can preserve and re-assert our rights.
The message matters very much. Of course we have an absolute right in the Constitution, and I don’t like any restrictions on that right. But there are lots of people who want to take that right away, and it’s theoretically possible that they can pass laws on a federal level that will curtail or destroy the Second Amendment. Some of these people are powerful and wealthy. Consequently, the opinions of voters matter a great deal because we don’t want them voting for elected officials who support limits on the Second Amendment.
Next, while I have proposed the idea of prefacing arguments by appearing to agree with the other side, I do not mean to suggest that anyone should actually agree with them. The idea is to appear to have common ground with them, but then get across the message you really care about. For example, regarding the 2A, the full opening would be: “Of course Constitutional rights are subject to some limits, and in fact, there are myriad laws prohibiting people from buying guns already on the books.” Then, continue on about how strict the existing laws are, and transition into suggesting that some of them are overboard and should be repealed.
Listen, I consider anti-gun people to be treasonous traitors to our country, and I want them to lose in every way. In fact, I want them to lose so much that I’m willing to do almost anything to get there, and that includes using their own tactics against them.
Regarding the message, I understand that saying things like, “you can take my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands” or “molon labe” is fun and makes you feel good. But, I’m in the business of persuading people, and all of my learning on this subject teaches that the most effective message is a positive message. And again, if you think have no obligation to persuade anyone because you have an absolute natural right, remember that even the Constitution can be changed by amendment. We can’t let that happen.
We need to embrace a human story that people can empathize with. Instead of saying that we have an absolute right and it’s in the Constitution, it might be better to tell a story about how America was born as a country. Some people moved here from England and they needed to throw off the yoke of a vicious tyranny. These people had families, worked hard, and just wanted to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Fortunately, they were able to bear arms to rout the oppressors.
One more thing – I think that constantly referring to the 2A and the Constitution is missing a useful premise for our arguments. Every state has on its books a law allowing the use of deadly force in self defense. Such laws are also good basis to argue for gun rights, because they are hollow if people are to be deprived of means to use deadly force in self defense.
We can’t afford to be on the defensive on this issue, and often it seems like that’s where are. In my humble opinion, the best course of action is to go on the offensive with a positive message.
I belong to several National firearm organizations. I see several negative comments about self-defense being a weak counter-productive stand, I firmly disagree. Magazine size argument, so what. Self-defense is part of the pro-firearm issue, so is hunting, so is hobby and collecting , competition and just shooting for fun. The good guy is in the position of surprise, has no idea what’s coming, and having as many rounds available will be to your advantage. Fact is, in a tight spot, even good shooters miss, a lot. Six or ten rounds can be gone in a flash. If you botch a hunting shot at a bear, Elk, Moose, Boar, and that thing is coming at you, you either run 35 mph or have a number of rounds available. And these examples can continue.
The image of the gun owner is wrong. Not the owner, the perception thereof. The tough-guy camouflage military kill-them-all attitude is a serious problem and needs to go away. The patriot sell sounds good to many firearm enthusiasts because we are, but it often doesn’t come off or sell well with those who don’t share our backgrounds. It’s fine if this is who you are and like to be, but not for mass advertising to get people on the firearm side of things. Fear runs people off, we don’t want this effect. Fear is fine, so long as it is a fear of the bad guy and how the good guy, you, Mom and kids are protected with a firearm.
Change the image and perception, push the facts to the edge, spin. Basically, suits, ties, Grandma’s, Mom’s, a white-hat lone ranger attitude. We will never win battles with charts and facts. But grab emotions, touch their hearts, protect the ones you love, shed a tear, insist on and lean toward safety. You could take the anti-firearm commercials and just turn them around, just a bit, and you’d have a pro-firearm ad which pulls at the heartstrings, perfect! Friendly people own firearms.
Self defense is a civil right.
The intricacies of the Second Amendment cannot be pigeon holed into a slogan. Unfortunately. You end up being either too broad or too specific.
I propose a series of slogans (in a more appropriate font):
Guns ARE freedom.
Guns ARE liberty.
Guns ARE life.
Guns ARE safety.
Guns ARE security.
Guns ARE fun.
Guns ARE family.
Run all these, and more, with appropriate background video, and followed by a brief explanation of the highlighted slogan.
Voice of Tom Selleck: “Guns ARE _____. …dramatic pause… Did you know that FACT FACT FACT…”
Hello NRA are you listening?
I like the “Right to Self Defense”. Short and gets the message across in a positive manner IMO.