Are you willing to fight for gun rights? We are in a long-term nationwide fur ball over gun policy at every level of government. Our opposition is motivated, funded and organized and tends to dominate the press narrative and social media discussion. It is tempting, in the face of that opposition, to at least rhetorically jump to the extreme options of threatening or suggesting civil (or even uncivil) disobedience. The gun community is fraught with symbols on bumper stickers, tattoos and hats to that effect, and that very imagery gets used against us.
I offer that before you bury your beloved AR under your rose bushes or “lose” your standard-capacity magazines in a tragic boating accident — and certainly before you go full-scale armed siege with the ATF — perhaps you should honor the incredible work of our Founding Fathers and participate in this grand representative democracy by doing some of that “citizen” stuff. That includes voting. It includes petitions, assembly and public advocacy. It includes belonging to, and donating to, political advocacy groups that will advance your interests. You will tend to have the most influence at the local level — through, say, personal connections at your favorite Waffle House or on social media.
When you pledged allegiance to the republic for which our flag stands, this was part of it. Guns are an insurance policy on our rule of law, but we should be working to strengthen that rule of law rather than even joke about threatening it if it “treads” on us. The people trying to place restrictions on your guns are a lot more scared of your voice and your vote than your modern sporting rifle, and the constitutional election cycle provides for a continuous and peaceful revolution. You have to be armed and prepared for that war of words and ideas along with your readiness to shoot bad guys.
When trying to change other people’s minds, ticking off the other guys is not a sign of success.
We, the gun-rights community, need you, as a passionate gun owner, to be a positive ambassador and effective advocate for us. That means more than just bashing people who are wrong on the internet. You have to make a case with power and precision. You have to advance our brand and our side of the story with people who are unsure or even actively hostile to us. That’s hard, and I’ve personally stumbled while trying to do so. When trying to change other people’s minds, ticking off the other guys is not a sign of success. That doesn’t mean we have to concede ground or accept their BS arguments, but we have to be charismatic and respectful while we counter them — even if it hurts.
This is why I have partnered with Concealed Carry Magazine to present you a series of articles called “Return Fire.” This series is meant to help arm you so that you can wade into debates even with very experienced or agile gun-control advocates, disable their most common talking points, paralyze their momentum and make actual progress in the cause of advancing gun rights.
This is tricky business sometimes. Debating is a craft, and not everyone has a talent for it. There are lots of pitfalls that make us easy to marginalize and vilify, and some of our traditional talking points hurt our cause more than they help.
That isn’t to say I have a monopoly on good gun-rights advocacy. There are a lot of folks out there taking a stand and rolling back the gun-control crowd, like Sarah Cade of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and Erin Palette of Operation Blazing Sword. I am not a professional writer or lobbyist. I am just a guy who cares a lot about gun rights and protecting my family. I have a background in military aviation and close air support. I shoot recreationally, and I carry concealed whenever I can. I have a master’s degree in military operational arts and, in my spare time, I help produce content for TacticalTangents.com.
We as a community have to get this stuff right if we want to protect gun rights, so if I have it wrong, I expect you to tell me and make a solid case for a better approach.
In this series, we will hit common gun-debate topics, such as addressing violent-crime statistics, answering the question, “Why do you even need a gun like that?” closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” explaining those nasty “assault weapons,” challenging the social media narrative, figuring out whether or not they’re coming for our guns and clarifying whether we care more about guns than our children. It is going to be an epic journey, so strap in and hang on.
It is also going to be a dialogue. We as a community have to get this stuff right if we want to protect gun rights, so if I have it wrong, I expect you to tell me and make a solid case for a better approach. We are stronger together, and we have to stop handing over the moral and intellectual high ground to wrong-headed people who want to trade our rights for a false sense of security.
Jim is a concerned citizen and gun-rights advocate. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of this or any other agency. References and links to other gun-advocacy sites do not imply endorsement of those organizations. He can be reached at [email protected].