Pro-Gun Groups Should Be Recruiting Candidates, Too

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

One of the best ways to defend the Second Amendment is to elect pro-gun candidates to office. That’s easier said than done, though, because some places are outright hostile to gun rights. They believe that our rights are irrelevant and that restricting them will lead to peace and prosperity.

It won’t, but they believe it.

Gun control groups think similarly. They know that the best way to get anti-Second Amendment legislation to pass is by electing candidates who support that legislation. A recent effort seems dedicated to pushing a particular type of candidate, though.

Earlier this year, the gun control group Everytown launched a new program to train its volunteers to run for office. More than 100 people are participating in Demand A Seat this year.

Among them is Mia Livas Porter, who is running for a California Assembly seat, and whose brother, Junior, took his own life with a gun after battling mental illness. She said that for years she felt powerless — but that changed when she joined Moms Demand Action, an arm of Everytown.

“I felt empowered to use my voice as a survivor. And I saw how it could make legislative change,” Livas Porter said.

Training and mentorship

Participants in the Demand a Seat program get training in the nuts and bolts of running a campaign, crafting and delivering a message and fundraising. They also receive instruction and mentorship from current elected officials, including Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, who herself is a former Moms Demand Action volunteer.

“I am a mom, but I’m a mom on a mission. I don’t want anyone else in this country to ever, ever have to suffer from the pain and suffering and the tragic loss that we have suffered,” said McBath, who became an activist after her son, Jordan, was fatally shot in 2012.

In other words, they’re recruiting people who have been impacted by so-called gun violence and who have a story they can share.

Stories are powerful. It’s the ancient way of teaching lessons and sharing information that we’ve never really gotten past as a species. We resonate with stories, so people who claim to be survivors of gun violence are going to have a bit of a leg up in a lot of ways.

We need to do the same.

To be sure, there have been a handful of survivors of such violence who have run on pro-gun tickets with varying degrees of success. However, there hasn’t been a concerted effort to recruit those kinds of people as well as those who have used a gun to protect their own life.

More than that, if such a candidate decides to run, about all they get from pro-gun groups is money.

Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s needed and important. It’s not everything, though.

Running for office is difficult. There’s a lot of things to learn and, as noted in the NPR piece, it’s isolating. We need our gun rights groups to provide mentorship and connections with others to help with that.

We need to get people with their own stories, people who can tell the other side of the coin. Yes, facts should matter more than anecdotes, but we’re hardwired to prefer stories to statistics. Complaining about that won’t change it, either.

Rather than griping, though, we should face reality and use it to our advantage. Otherwise, we’re going to get more gun control sooner or later.