Let’s be honest. Anti-gunners aren’t likely to change their positions. We’re not likely to either. As a result, our battles are really for the middle grounders, the people who don’t have an opinion or, if they do, they’re not True Believers. They’re willing to talk, to listen, and to try new things to get another side of the story.
Yes, those people really exist.
On a related note, there’s been a fair bit of talk recently about outreach. I had this discussion on Facebook recently with regard to Operation Blazing Sword. Then there was this at The Daily Caller‘s gun section on the topic.
Let’s be honest. Shooting a firearm can be intimidating to the uninitiated. The range is loud, the guns can feel heavy, the recoil jarring and the rules deadly serious – for a reason. What people need is a friendly invite, a guide into the mysterious world and a little welcome advice to take their own shot at the shooting sports.
Here’s the added benefit. When you invite someone to shoot, you’re inviting them into your world. You’re introducing them into the gun culture. That’s what we’re trying to do at NSSF. That means we’re reaching out to those who might not have considered shooting before and asking them to challenge their own views and beliefs to find out who we are as members of the firearms industry and as gun owners.
We recently had the unique chance to work with several professional 3-gun competition shooters from The D.C. Project and teamed them up with journalists, including Elizabeth MacBride from Forbes magazine. Elizabeth covers the firearms business for Forbes.com, but like most mainstream media these days has little up-close familiarity with firearms. I asked her to join us on the range so she could find out that more and more gun owners don’t quite look like me – a 45-year-old white man sporting a retired-military beard.
Changing Views Starts With Talking
We didn’t change the world on the range that day, but we opened this writer’s views of who makes up the gun industry. She’s learned that, despite her anticipation, we’re fairly open-minded and willing to talk – even about the tough issues. Dianna Muller began The D.C. Project with the notion of starting a conversation with lawmakers who might disagree with her own view on firearms. Dianna shows we can even do that in a way that doesn’t denigrate the concerns of non-gun owners or those who advocate for gun control.
Now, I’m not great at outreach. I’m too much of an introvert, though I do try.
However, we have a lot of extroverts out there who would be great at this.
The truth is, we need to reach out to these people. We need to reach out to minorities and the LGBT community as well. Why? Because they vote and they have a good chunk of control over the political party most likely to enact gun control.
If you can turn them into gun owners, help them see the value of private gun ownership to their demographic, and show them that it’s a hell of a lot of fun to boot, guess what happens to the support for gun control? Theoretically, we can turn the tides so that the term “gun control” becomes synonymous with “white privilege.”
Of course, it already should be. After all, who else except a privileged individual would think the police would be sitting nearby just waiting for a 9-1-1 call to come through so that they can swoop in to be the heroes to that particular individual? It’s not the guy realistic enough to understand that when seconds count, the police are just how far away again?
If outreach is successful, that becomes a reality. You start shaping the nature of the gun community until it’s too large to be a single gun community anymore. That’s ultimately a good thing.
As a result, I’ll be offering to take people shooting. How about you?