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Going Viral: Taking Back the Social Media Narrative

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Most of the time, I welcome the gun debate and look forward to educating others on the history of the issues, the laws as written, the mechanics and language of guns, and the practical impacts of policy ideas. Most of my political sparring partners are great Americans who are trying to get it right, trying to educate me and trying to figure out how to make the country safer for their kids. I respect that, and I respect them for it. I go into every debate trying hard to give the intellectual and ethical benefit of the doubt to my counterpart.

Illustration by: Brian Fairrington

But sometimes the other person is being a twit and knowingly arguing in bad faith. To be more than honest, I’m running out of patience with the standardized talking points. I want to help you stop them in their tracks. Self-righteous anti-gunners use these points to shotgun arguments, signal virtue and try to get that dopamine-fix “mic drop” moment. It is time to challenge those points. It is time to take back the narrative. Here’s how I respond to the BS anti-gun catchphrases, and I encourage you to use this as a jumping-off point for adapting into your own discussions.

‘It is Time to Have a Discussion About Gun Violence.’

Answer: I am right here. Let’s talk. And while we are having this discussion, do you really think it is helpful to start this blitz immediately after an attack? The victims are literally still bleeding, and here you are, ghoulishly trying to run up a political score. Let’s talk about how callous that is. What policy ideas do you have? How exactly would they have helped stop this attack? How would you keep a potential mass murderer from side-stepping that policy?

‘The Founding Fathers Were Talking About Muskets.’

Answer: Could you imagine applying 1791 standards to the rest of the Bill of Rights? Are we really going to say the First Amendment only protects the moveable-type printing press? Oh, we could apply 1791 standards to the Eighth Amendment: I think it would certainly bring down gun crime to hang people in the town square. I am happy to have a discussion, but this is nonsense. The Constitution doesn’t just go away because technology evolves. If you think it needs an update, do the work to amend it.

‘The Second Amendment Was for Militias.’

Answer: That isn’t what the Supreme Court determined the plain meaning of the text of the Second Amendment to be in the Heller or McDonald decision. Even if you were right about the plain text of the amendment — and you are not — under U.S. law, the “militia” is basically all able-bodied men ages 17 to 45 and women who are in the National Guard — 10 US Code Section 246. Look it up and stop wasting our time with this drivel.

‘These Are Weapons of War that Have No Place on Our Streets!’

Answer: All you’re telling us is that you don’t know anything about guns or war. Some of these guns are meant to fight with, but that doesn’t give you grounds to ban them. I want to be able to fight if I am left with no other viable alternative. Guns give me a choice and a chance. Even the actually automatic military versions of these rifles are fundamentally defensive. Militaries conduct offensive campaigns with airstrikes and artillery.

‘I Wonder What the NRA Will Say About This Last Shooting.’

Answer: I don’t know. I don’t speak for the whole NRA and its millions of members. I do know that it isn’t their duty to answer for every horrible act. It might feel good to demonize the NRA, but it is made up of millions of people like me who are just trying to protect themselves and their families. So if you want to say something about them, understand you are talking about me. What did I do? What policy initiative do you honestly believe would have prevented this attack?

‘The Pro-Gun Crowd Would Rather See Dead Kids Than Have Their Guns Taken Away.’

Answer: What an awful thing to say. Like you, I am trying to protect people. You don’t have a monopoly on that. Just because I see it differently doesn’t give you license to characterize me as evil. Every major policy initiative I have seen from the gun-control crowd strains credulity. If you have a real solution — a viable one — I would love to hear it. But nothing I have heard from any anti-gun advocate even moves the ball forward to protect potential victims. Stop trying to insult me, and start trying to work with me.

The Bottom Line

The point here isn’t just to jab your counterpart. But some of these talking points have taken on a life of their own. They are often left unanswered. And with certain segments of the population, they’re slowly becoming a baseline of accepted truth in the policy dialogue. The constant battle on social media can be overwhelming. Your social media wall is a modern-day town square and marketplace for ideas. Bad ideas deserve to be challenged, so always remain ready to do so.

Jim is a concerned citizen and gun-rights advocate. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of his or any other agency. References and links to other gun-advocacy sites do not imply endorsement of those organizations. He can be reached at Jim@tacticaltangents.com.

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