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As Lola and I rocked up my Mom’s waterfront idyll, I knew there was going to be trouble. The Lexus 460hl sitting in her driveway told the tale. It’s a $100k+ carcoon powered by a 438 horsepower hybrid gas – electric engine. The 20mpg luxobarge can scoot from zero to sixty in 5.5 seconds. The 460hl’s a hugely expensive, enormously powerful automobile for wealthy owners who want to believe they’re doing their bit for the environment. It is the perfect car for a liberal. Mind you, the good Doctor, his erudite wife, successful son and beautiful daughter-in-law proved to be relatively open-minded. They didn’t sneer once. It was my mother, as usual, who blew me away . . .

I love my mother. As did my father, who only talked politics at the distant reaches of my mother’s limited hearing. And for good reason. Mom is the only person I know who’d fail to grasp the irony of Sean Hannity’s nickname for Barack Obama: “The Anointed One.” If Mom heard Hannity’s not-so-gentle jibe, she’d simply swear sailor-like at the Fox News curmudgeon—not for a moment suspecting that Sean nailed it: she’s deified President Obama.

Mom provides me with excellent insights into the “see no evil on our side” hearts and minds of American liberals. She personifies your basic Kind-Hearted Artistic Intellectuals (Us) vs. Neanderthal Boorish Robber Barons (Them) mindset. I never fail to sup from her splendiferous anti-Bible basher buffet, served as it is with a magnum of champagne socialism.

“Selling” my Mother on gun rights would be a bit like promoting the joys of bee-keeping to someone prone to anaphylactic shock. But her friends and I got into it. Mum felt obliged to, as the Brits say, put her oar in. She did so when the Lexus liberals started talking about high-capacity “clips.”

“There’s no need for those guns that shoot lots of bullets and kill people,” Mom said, miming a fully-automatic firearm.

“Mom, they don’t sell machine guns to civilians,” I corrected.

“Yes they do,” she said, brooking the usual amount of debate. “You can go into a gun store and buy them.”

I didn’t argue. (Hey, what do I know?) Besides, I was grateful for the wake-up call. Mom’s remark reminded me that gun control is high concept; liberals and independents are not “up” on firearms regulations’ real world impact (or lack thereof). “Supporting common sense gun control” is a euphemism for “uninformed and proud of it.”

If you’re debating gun control, never underestimate your opponents’ lack of knowledge on the subject. Before you try to explain the rational basis for your position, make sure liberal-minded gun control advocates and fence-straddlers have a basic understanding of the subject. Here are the three key points you need to cover . . .

American have the right to own guns

What? What part of “the right to keep and bear arms” don’t they understand? The “right to keep and bear arms” bit. True story: millions of people don’t know that gun ownership is a Constitutional right and/or what that means.

Before you can point out the lunacy of “common sense” restrictions on gun ownership, ask your opponents if they’re familiar with the Second Amendment. No really. And then ask why Americans have the right to armed self-defense.

There are still plenty of people who believe that the framers guaranteed the right to own guns solely to maintain a militia (i.e. a volunteer army). They think gun ownership is a collective right.

Disabuse that notion by pointing out that all our constitutional rights are individual rights. And that a “well-regulated militia” is merely a bunch of people (legal term) with an individual right to keep and bear arms getting together for common defense.

If your debatee knows that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, ask if they agree that all our constitutional rights exist to protect us from the government. This they need to know.

Guns are safe

By and large, gun control advocates are urban dwellers who aren’t familiar with or comfortable around firearms. The “logic” they deploy when discussing firearms regulations is colored by personal ignorance and a deep-seated fear of “gun violence.”

[NB: The most liberal person I know—other than my mother—is adamantly, experientially pro-gun: “I want us to have at least the same amount of firepower as the right wing extremists.”]

Pro-gun folk who counter gun control advocates’ fear with stats—proving that guns are safer than prescription meds or swimming pools (true story)—miss the point. The real basis for the antis’ argument: THEY don’t have guns so YOU shouldn’t either. NO ONE SHOULD.

Gun control is not about criminals or gun safety. It’s all about creating a level playing field—making non-gun owners feel more comfortable about not owning a gun.

The best way to make a gun grabber feel safe enough to let them let you own/carry a gun: range time. If you’re careful, a hands-on demo with an unloaded carry piece can be equally transformative. You’d be amazed how five minutes’ familiarization changes the tone of the debate.

Short of that, ask them how many gun owners there are in America. Tell them it’s around 80 million. Ask them if they’d consider privately held guns safe if .01 percent (one tenth of one percent) of these firearms owners were involved in some kind of fatal shooting.

Tell them that in 2007, less than one-half of .01 percent of American firearms owners were involved in a shooting. Half of those deaths were suicides. Most of the remaining deaths involved guns held illegally by previously convicted criminals. Are cars that safe?

Machine guns are illegal

When gun control advocates popularized the term “assault rifle,” they did more to harm gun rights than any other of our opponents’ Machiavellian maneuvers. Vast swathes of America believe that commonly available “assault rifles” are fully-automatic rifles.

The obvious cure (again) take the ballistically misinformed down to the gun range and show them what’s what. Unfortunately, most liberals would rather attend a Bush barbecue (roast pork, not politician) than shoot a gun.

Meanwhile and in any case, remind our loyal opposition the difference between semi and fully-automatic weapons, and that bad guys can’t buy machine guns at a gun store.

I know: what the hell difference does that make? American citizens should be able to buy fully-automatic rifles to defend themselves or just because of the “shall not infringe” part of the Second Amendment. But a good poker player doesn’t reveal his or her cards until they have to. And maybe not even then.

Just as gun control advocates wrap their gun banning hopes and dreams in the mantle of crime prevention, gun rights guys need to appear politically palatable to liberals who see them as “gun nuts.” Begin by not being unpalatable. Tell them machine guns are illegal.

And there you have it: three basic concepts to move the ball forward. Just remember to wipe your feet before you enter the house or my mother will have you, mate.

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  1. Machine guns aren’t illegal at a federal level. Local and state laws vary, but in states which don’t have supplemental bans all you have to do is find a (outrageously expensive) pre-1986 registered gun, pay your $200 tax stamp, wait, and enjoy your happy switch.

    They’re treated like any other NFA item.

    • Yes, and thanks to Ronald Regan – a conservative republican – who signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 into law, I’ll probably never own a machine gun.

      The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 made select-fire guns astronomically expensive by creating artificial scarcity. Machine guns are now an exclusive playground for the wealthy, unless your forefathers were savvy enough to buy low, negotiate the bureaucracy and refuse to sell very, very high.

      ‘Anyone’ can buy a select-fire AR-15, as long as you’re able to come up with cash equivalent to buying a new SUV or paying for college tuition. The FOPA is nothing short of a money test for owning a select-fire gun.

      Thanks, Ronnie. Thanks, conservatives.

      • Wrong.

        Not anyone could get a machine gun even before 1986 and FOPA. Since NFA 1934, you still had to get the chief LEO in your area to sign off that you’re a person of good character. That’s a much higher hurdle to clear than a NICS check.

        Also, you misunderstand the history of FOPA. Democrat William Hughes offered the amendment that banned civilian ownership of machineguns manufactured after enactment of FOPA. There is some controversy, but some say Democrat Charlie Rangel, presiding over the committee meeting, rigged the vote for the Hughes amendment. A video of the proceedings from CSPAN has surfaced, but I had a hard time telling what was going on. Even after the amendment was added, the NRA continued to support the bill’s passage and signing by the president because the other things in FOPA were so important and they figured they could challenge the Hughes amendment in court.

        If you want to blame Reagan for something, blame him for the Brady bill. After his presidency, he publicly supported it and his lobbying of congress was instrumental in its passage.

  2. Step Zero: Ask them “Have you seen a gun in the past year? Do you know what a “clip” is? No? Would you like to go shooting so you can learn from experience and be more informed about what guns can do?”

    This places them in a quandary, because the foundational cornerstone of modern liberal fascism is that the smarter the person is, the more capable they are of leading the masses out of misery and into the modern, “rational” society so craved by Progressives. To turn down an opportunity to learn and therefore become more informed is not to be missed (as it makes them more capable of leading others), but on the other hand, it’s a GUN and guns are evil (How an inanimate object can possess a moral quality is a question that never enters their minds…).

    Take a liberal shooting, and they may find out for themselves that firearms ownership is the gateway drug to liberty.

    • Kevin, what a truly great line; “firearms ownership is the gateway drug to liberty”. That one is definitely a keeper for my tool box.

    • Arrrrgh! Okay, I have to say it: it a “magazine”, not a “clip”. A clip helps you to load a gun. A magazine holds the ammo and feeds it into a gun.

      • Rebecca, I think that is why ExurbanKevin used quotation marks for the word “clip”. Personally, people not understanding the difference between “clips” and “magazines” is one of my pet peeves too. For example, my SKS uses stripper clips to load the rifles’ magazine, I’ve used this simple example to clarify the difference for many people. I mean, what would availability of high capacity clips matter? You could still only load what fits in the magazine, hehehe 🙂

        Anyway, I digress. Very well said ExurbanKevin, this is a tactic I’ve used myself, expose their ignorance and give them an opportunity to correct it by experiencing the guns, and gun owners that they so fear (expose their ignorance politely, and take them shooting in a controlled environment of course). It works amazingly well. Even the most rabid of anti-gunners will often take the bait (for reasons you’ve given), even if they are only doing so in their mind in hopes of experiencing something that allows them to further demonize guns, it (almost) always backfires (NO pun intended) on them. Also a great line you’ve coined there, love it. “Gateway drug to liberty”…Cheers!

  3. Good points made. I make it a point to bring a Lib noob to the range whenever possible. Not to preach, but to simply show that guns aren’t scary. It’s amazing to see the fear leave a person’s face with each shot they make on target.

  4. Seriously, what is the “perfect car for a liberal?” This is probably one of the more assinine statements I’ve read on this forum – and no, I do not or ever will, own that car. I’m pretty sure I’m what most of the folks on this forum would call a liberal. I am also currently looking at 6 guns on my living room floor (cleaning day!) and my daughter just brought my truck home. I agree with 99% of your article but JHC, grow up.

    • Ditto. I’m a “liberal”. I voted for Obama. I don’t believe he is annointed, nor infallible. I am serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, and own guns. People need to stop dividing issues into liberal vs. conservative. No one group owns a particular viewpoint.

      • “I don’t believe he is * * * infallible.”

        Now thats an understatement.

        Thanks for your service. But please don’t vote next time around. 🙂

        • All that needs to happen for Obama to be a one-termer is for GOPers to nominate a sane and credible alternative. Oh well, better luck in 2016 guys. 🙂

        • Yes, thank you for your service! Please stay safe over there. Airborne!

      • heavydrop. Thanks for your service. Remember the oath is to the Constitution not one party or person. And vote. I do not care who you vote for as long as you vote. I use to love talking to someone on a night shift about things and when I would asked them if they voted they would say. No. If you do not vote you are part of the problem. This nation would be a lot better of if there was 70 to 80 % voting

      • Amen. If it were true that you can divide issues into “liberal v conservative”, how could my partner and I even dream of owning guns?

        Let me add my thanks as well: thank you very much for your service!

      • Why is heavydrop being thanked for his “service”? Would we do the same for an ATF agent? How about a tax-man with the IRS? Let’s all thank the next TSA agent that molests your wife or daughter for their “service” too! As a military member, the only thanks we should get is when we stand on our principles in support of our oath here at home… not for supporting and engaging in numerous illegal foreign wars!

      • Why would you vote for a committed marxist, if you ARE in the military? Our founders established that the pre-esisting individual rights are to be protected and socilism/marxism/communism/ are all incompatible with individual liberty.

        Which social contract do you honor? The one espoused by the founders–that of John Locke, or that espoused by modern liberals, that of Thomas Hobbes?

        Capitalism is consistent with the founders’ world view; socialism/marxism/communism are not.

        One must subordinate the individual to the state unders socialism/marxism/communism.

        Where there is economic liberty and respect for private property rights, there is freedom and the subordination of the state to the individual.

        SamAdams1776 III
        also a soldier
        Molon Labe
        No Fort Sumters

  5. That’s a nice post. You make a good point that most non-gun people don’t know enough about it to argue with you. You take advantage of that and throw a little ridicule and generalizing in there, and you’ve got yourselves on the top of the hill.

    What you leave out of the equation is that among gun owners you’ve got the same kind of disparity. You’ve got the passionate serious responsible ones, many of whom comment and post here, and then youve got all the rest, by far the vast majority. Among that group we’ve got lots and lots of problems. We read about them in the paper every day in every city.

    • It’s always an issue with individualists like us.

      Slightly harder to organize than you collectivist freaks. Harder to reach out and organize, because we generally like to be left alone (getting the hint already? I don’t expect you to understand because you are acting on false compassion).

      If you could actually prove they actually did something wrong that is. But I’m not surprised. You think people are guilty until proven innocent – unless they’re from The State and they have magical unicorn kumbaya powers or something.

      Considering you cannot tell truth from falsity, cannot do basic math, and are stupid enough to reveal your endgame…it’s par for the course.

    • Wow Mike’s now up to “He’s one of the good ones.” level of tolerance.

      At least he’s now admitting that there are responsible gun owners, though for the majority of those 80 million in the states to be troublesome… Huh didn’t realize there was 40+ mill incidents. Math is hard!

      Maybe one day Mike’lll get up to the equivalent of “You’re a credit to your race.”

      Then again since he’s all buggered about restricting your rights due to something someone else might do… I have my doubts.

    • Mike said:You’ve got the passionate serious responsible ones, many of whom comment and post here, and then youve got all the rest, by far the vast majority.

      Uhhh… got any actual statistics on that, Mike? I think the equation actually twists the other direction: most gun owners are serious and responsible, and there are a very few out there who are not serious. I’ve been around a lot of gun owners in the last month, on the range and just talking and even in here, and frankly: the wackos are such a small minority that I haven’t met one yet.

  6. Anyone else notice a big age divide on this subject? Most of my family and social circle are quite liberal and the only strong anti-gun sentiment seems to be among the older baby boomers. Sure, younger ones if asked may say they favor “common sense restrictions” but if you press them on it you almost always find it is not an issue they really care about. These are people you might be able to reach with the types of arguments RF laid out above.

  7. When you write an article like this, you’re helping to fracture the 2A cause by alienating a large number of liberal gun owners.

    Newsflash: not all firearms advocates live in red states & drive pick-up trucks. The ‘Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986’ – which further restricted our 2A rights – was signed into law by none other than Ronald Regan, a ‘conservative’ republican.

    As a liberal, atheist, gun owner I often feel like a man without a country.

    • Being a “liberal” (i.e. espousing “left” leaning political thought) is inherently at odds with the sentiment of gun ownership, especially when it comes to the use of firearms as a means of personal protection. Liberals believe in a big centralized government that controls, regulates, and protects the population – often at the expense of personal freedom (except on the issues of drugs and sex – two topics which liberals typically don’t appreciate government intrusion.) Gun owners, on the other hand, typically espouse a type of “rugged individuality” mindset – they don’t need or want much help or “protection” from the government – particularly in situations where that help / protection comes at the expense of personal freedom. We realize that the police are not really there to “protect” you in an individual situation. While their existence in a community certainly provides a deterrent to crime, the police simply can’t be everywhere at the same time.

      Please understand that when you vote for a democrat seeking national office , you are putting a guaranteed nail in the coffin of your gun rights. This can manifest itself in many ways, judicial appointments being perhaps the most important. Consider this: had Kerry had won the 2004 election, he would have been able to chose replacements for Rehnquist and O’Conner. Had one or two liberal justices been chosen instead to Roberts and Alito, it is absolutely certain that Heller would have gone the other way, and you would have no “right” to own or possess any firearm. From past experience, we know that it is very unlikely that even a so-called “pro-gun” democrat would block a democrat President’s Supreme Court nomination. Because both Heller and McDonald are “weak” decisions (Heller was a 5/4 decision, and McDonald ws a 4/1/4 plurality), they could be revisited by a future Court.

      When you say that “as a liberal atheist gun owner, [you] often feel like a man without a country,” please understand that your “liberal” politicians are doing everything that they can to make sure that “your country” will be a vastly different place than it is now. Their utopia society does not include guns – rather it is centered around a nanny state that distributes entitlements in exchange for higher taxes.

      And yes, Reagan signed the Firearms Protection Act of 1986, and for many of us, that is a huge black mark on his resume. I have not discovered any research that explains his rationale for doing so. Overall, the Act was a good piece of republican-sponsored legislation, aimed at stopping abuses by the BATF. The Hughes Amendment was a last-minute addition proposed and pushed through by Democrats. It is possible that Reagan and others did not fully understand the implications of the amendment. Or perhaps they thought it would be acceptable to throw enthusiasts of full-auto weapons under the bus in order to get the rest of the bill passed. If anyone has uncovered any more research explaining Reagan’s position on the Hughes Amendment, I’d be curious to read it.

      • Joe, never forget that here we have the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and if need be, the cartridge box for when the first three utterly fail. Liberty can be messy business at times. Should the anti’s ever achieve their totalitarian, gun-free utopia on paper, they would have to back it up with more than pleadings to our good natures. Not a good idea and very messy, if they even had the stones to try. As Mike Vanderboegh has said in his short answer to a reporter’s question about his views on gun control; “If you try to take our firearms, we will kill you”. I have little doubt that many on this forum hold a similar, if not quite as fervent, conviction. Fortunately, most of the good folks in this country are pretty bright, rational and reasonable, even if far too many of our elected officials aren’t. I’m optimistic enough to feel that we aren’t likely to get sucked into that particular hellish vortex anytime soon. Regrettably, there are a few other hellish vorticies that I fear we’ll get sucked into long before that one spins up, that I’m much more concerned about at present. Time will tell.

        • I would like to think that something as unthinkable as mandatory general population-wide gun turn-ins / confiscation would be an issue that sparks a revolution. Fortunately, I too have enough faith in the political process to think it would never need to resort to that.

      • “Liberals believe in a big centralized government that controls, regulates, and protects the population…”

        You’re referring to “collectivists”, the anti-individualists.

        “Left” and “right”, “conservative” and “liberal”, these terms have lost their meaning, else how do you explain John McStain, a ‘conservative’ supporter of endless war and endlessly larger government (a requirement if you’re waging endless war).

        McStain is a ‘conservative collectivist’. If you vote for him because he’s conservative, you get bigger government… and he’s not a liberal.

        Ideas (and the words that support them) have consequences. We are where we are because we haven’t been paying attention to the words.

    • Chris, do you even know what FOPA 1986 did overall, or are you so stuck on machinegun envy that you can’t see past the Hughes (D) amendment?

      Did you know that FFLs used to have to keep a ledger of everyone who bought ammo and that it was impossible to mail-order ammo? Did you know that FOPA creates a means of safe passage for gun owners who travel through nonpermissive states? Without FOPA I would have to drive around Maryland to get from Northern Virginia to Southeastern Pennsylvania without risking a felony conviction. The NRA supported FOPA even after the unfortunate machinegun amendment was attached by the Democrats because overall, FOPA still did more to expand gun rights than to restrict them.

  8. While I might agree with some of the the sentiment in this column, as an independent, I have to point out that you criticize liberals for making ridiculous sweeping generalizations about gun-owners by making ridiculous sweeping generalizations about liberals.

  9. Good piece. I have PDF’d a copy of your post for future use. Also, you have me re-thinking my approach for dealing with libs and progressives on gun control. The following is an example of a response that I wrote to a post-Tucson shooting Op-Ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer in January:

    “Like many Libs, Dick doesn’t bother to do his due diligence with his research. In his Op-Ed, he complains about “rapid fire clips” and “rapid clip magazines”. I can only assume that he thought these sounded more inflammatory than the correct name, high capacity magazines for semi-automatic handguns. He’s probably too busy thinking about the kudos that he’s going to get from his fellow Libs for chastising the pragmatists on their side, than to “Google” the terms that he is using to see if they are correct or even exist. FYI – These terms don’t exist together as a phrase in Google.”

    So, I will consider having a more politically palatable tone to my responses and to seem less “gun nut” and more “gun rights” in my future defense of the Second Amendment.

  10. Teaching an anti-freedom wingnut anything about guns or truth is like spraying Bactine on a sucking chest wound. There’s just no point. They’re not coming over from the Dark Side, ever. I prefer to leave wingnuts as profoundly and proudly ignorant as I found them. Besides, why would anyone share intel with the enemy? And don’t kid yourself, they are the enemy, the footsoldiers of the American Gestapo, and they’d sell us all down the river in a New York minute.

  11. My mom borrowed one of my shirts without reading it first. It read in bold letters “GUN CONTROL MEANS HITTING YOUR TARGET” and it had a few 1911’s on it. She came home from the store and said that some young guys kept pointing at her shirt and laughed, so my dad explained what the shirt meant. She has never liked guns, but she likes me so she deals with them.

  12. The striking thing about proponents of gun control is their lack of knowledge about firearms, ammunition, magazines and their capacity and the existing laws about the same. I imagine the same is for those who love their video games and the nonplaying mothers and grandmothers who are interviewed, being shown the worse of the violent ones. Of course they are going to think all are evil. I am not damning those who disagree, just their opposition and fear of things they have no knowledge about.

  13. Small point here but I am not sure that this is right?
    Ask them if they’d consider privately held guns safe if .01 percent (one tenth of one percent) of these firearms owners were involved in some kind of fatal shooting.

    Tell them that in 2007, less than one-half of .01 percent of American firearms owners were involved in a shooting.
    .01 is a hundredth, not a tenth. Which is the correct stat?

    Pat C

  14. Robert: Great article, great point(s). True story:

    In the early ’80s, while stationed at K. I. Sawyer AFB south of Marquette, Michigan, I took a course through Northern Michigan University titled “Guns in American Society”. I cannot recall the professor’s name, but he started the 1st class by telling us he’d never owned a gun, never shot a gun, didn’t like guns, and did not believe people should own guns.
    I immediately challenged him, turning the tables on him by saying that if he were to be the least bit objective, open minded, and honest, it would be my pleasure to take him to the base range, give him proper instruction and supervision, let him safely handle and shoot various firearms (all at my expense and his convenience, of course), and then he could claim objectivity regarding the subject.
    I gave him nowhere to hide, and he couldn’t back down and remain a man.
    By the end of the course (and after several more sessions at the range) he called me to accompany him to the gunshop and advise him on the proper firearm for self defense and general utility. I recommended a nice 4″ .357 S&W revolver, and VOILA! INSTANT CONVERT!
    Also, got an A in the course to boot.
    Moral of the story: Don’t give up on all lefties/liberals too soon. Some of them are actually capable of independent thought and comprehension of factual data, even college professors.

    TSgt B

  15. Math error:
    >> Ask them if they’d consider privately held guns safe if .01 percent (one tenth of one percent) of these firearms owners were involved in some kind of fatal shooting.

    .01 is 1 percent
    .1 is 10 percent
    .01 of 1 percent is one-hundredth of 1 percent
    .1 of 1 percent is one-tenth of 1 percent

    Which one did you mean?

  16. Good article but it is based on the premise that I need to say anything at all. I do not explain myself or the exercise of the rights granted to all people by the hand of God to anyone. I do not relinquish those rights to any man and any man attempting to infringe upon those rights runs the very real risk of dying in the attempt. I do not apologize for my beliefs and certainly do not waste effort to appease those who suffer a lack of education, intellectual honesty, or mental capacity.

  17. Ive had some luck convincing my mom. She hated guns until I tried to buy one… In new jersey. It didn’t take long for her to see the logic that guns aren’t the problem, especially when criminals can get Glocks with 33 round mags in a minuite while I need to go through a 6 month process to get a mosin.

  18. The one thing gun owners need to know :


    Keep those guns handy!


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