I’ve mentioned a time or two before about having several friends and family members who are not fans of firearms. I also know many people who are somewhat okay with the idea of owning guns, but they are not fans of the Second Amendment or concealed carry permit holders. And then there are those who are completely against everything having to do with guns (perhaps they are just blinded by the host of misinformation and lies from social media, TV and movies).
Whatever the case may be, we all know those anti-gun people. They may be at work, at church, in our circle of friends or even within the walls of our own homes. And I have people ask me all the time how to reach those kinds of folks. It’s different in every situation, for sure, and I don’t have all the answers. But there are definitely some things to keep in mind when interacting with someone who may be unsure about — or even against — your 2A beliefs.
- Don’t patronize them, belittle them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Most of us have probably heard the old adage: “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” In other words, we all know that it’s easier to persuade someone with polite requests and a positive attitude than with rude demands and negativity. This is definitely true for the topic of firearms. Others may be more inclined to listen to you and accept — or even adopt — your beliefs if you are considerate and respectful. You can be firm and unwavering, but you don’t have to hammer everyone to get your point across. Be assertive instead of aggressive. And even if the conversation gets you frustrated, take the higher road. Yelling and arguing won’t get you anywhere. And telling a person he or she is stupid, whiny or scared will likely not win anyone over to our side.
- Don’t bring up politics.
You’ll never win that battle. Ever. The parts of the brain that actively engage when dealing with the subject of politics are directly linked to the areas of the brain that help define who we are. That’s how serious people are about their political sway. In fact, “Political beliefs are like religious beliefs in the respect that both are part of who you are and important for the social circle to which you belong,” said Jonas Kaplan, assistant research professor of psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Consequently, with regards to politics, most people are highly unlikely to change their political beliefs, no matter what you do or what you say. And if you challenge them, they are more likely to shut down or become even more convinced that they are right … and you are wrong.
- Expose them to positive firearms images, thoughts, articles and posts.
We’re living in a world full of fake news, internet trolls and out-of-control opinions. That, along with simple, fast and immediate access to social media outlets, has created plenty of bad examples of firearms usage. In addition, there are plenty of organizations out there spreading anti-gun propaganda. Keep away from these negative sources. And if you can’t eliminate them, at least try to balance them or challenge them with good sources. Arm yourself with solid information and research so you can have your facts and statistics straight. Share links to articles about those who have saved lives (even their own) because of guns. Post supportive memes showing safe and responsible gun ownership. As well, I’d highly recommend leaving a copy or two of Concealed Carry Magazine around for folks to check out!
- Take them to the shooting range.
This has worked on numerous occasions for many people. I’ve heard some amazing and wonderful stories of those who had never picked up a gun try their hand at shooting … and love it! Except for the rogue, emotionally charged reporters looking to give guns a bad name, the majority of non-shooters and non-gun owners I have taken to the range have loved their experiences. Just don’t go overboard on the gun or the caliber. You want them to LIKE this, remember? Give them something fun to use and something fun to shoot. Maybe go light with a .22 and let them try a fun game of poker or Battleship. Or try using responsive or reactive targets, from steel plates to colorful balloons. (I’d advise steering away from anything that looks human or animal. Don’t start there. That may negate or destroy your efforts!) And don’t be afraid to extend follow-up invitations and, if they’re receptive, invite them to classes or training groups.
- Be a good 2A role model all the time, even when you think no one is watching.
Always follow the safety rules. Practice what you preach. Continue to live the responsibly armed life. Don’t ever become complacent with firearms. And keep planting — and watering — those seeds. You never know if (or when) they might sprout.