A while back, I wrote a post about the stigmatization of gun owners. In it, I outlined how I see an effort by the anti-gun side to marginalize us as individuals, to push us to the side so that we would be afraid to admit we were gun owners in polite company. Once that happened, we wouldn’t be able to speak up and defend our Second Amendment rights.

That post got a fair bit of attention, and I’ve talked to a number of people about the concept.

I’m sure I wasn’t the first to recognize this. I probably wasn’t the first to write about it either. I was just the first some folks saw talking about it.

However, over at Richocet, an opinion post links to the “othering” I talked about in the previous post concerning the bump stock ban, and it’s something that needs attention.

It’s no secret that the forces of gun control are using the same tactics that made smoking unpopular in order to make guns unpopular, but the problem with that argument is that the societal benefits of smoking are pretty much non-existent, but the societal benefits of concealed carry is less crime and safer neighborhoods. That should (should) be an easy argument to make, but for some reason, we chose to yell about “My rights!” and ignore the positive effect of those rights on the people around us. In response, some of the leading lights in gun rights have suggested that we should follow the same course that the gay rights movement, and I think there is merit in their argument because, in just a few short years, homosexuality became accepted in American culture. How did this happen, and what can we learn from it?*

First off, it wasn’t outlandish marches in the Castro District that made homosexuality accepted in American culture, it was normal (gay) people acting normal in normal ways. An anecdote: Back when I was a photographer, I worked with an art director named Jim who was a former NYC firefighter. He was unpretentious, laid back and easy to work with. He liked golf, had a great creative eye, was into indie music, and we got along famously.

And then we threw a Christmas party at the studio, and Jim brought his boyfriend.

Jim did more to change my mind about homosexuality’s place in our society than 10,000 people marching through the Castro District shouting “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away!” ever could. What changed my mind wasn’t a freak show of loud and proud activists, what changed my mind was someone who looked like me and acted like me and was like me in every way, except with who he chose to snuggle up with at night.

Here’s the brutal truth: Nobody cares about your rights. They care about their rights, and pretty much every gun group out there has done a spectacularly poor job of explaining how expanding gun rights helps society as a whole.

The writer, Kevin Creighton, isn’t wrong. Not at all.

Now, he does point out that the mention of gay acceptance is neither here nor there to this discussion, and I agree. Instead, he points out lessons that can be learned, and again, I agree.

The fact of the matter is that there’s a concerted effort by not just anti-gun activists but also the media in all its forms (I know, I repeat myself) to paint gun ownership as problematic. That’s something that can’t be allowed to stand. It’s imperative that we step forward and make it clear that gun owners aren’t the horrible people that others been conditioned to believe we are. We need to make it clear that we’re not cowards hiding behind the gun but people who understand the reality of violence in our cities.

Frankly, we need to make it clear that it’s better for them if we have guns, too.

No, it’s not an easy approach, but if we can undermine the media’s full court press by making people have to reconcile the image presented in the news with the reality before their own eyes, guess who loses? It won’t be us.

But only if we do it right.