C.B. is settling in for the night. She tucks in her two girls—both elementary school age—turns off the TV, makes sure lunches are prepared and backpacks packed. As a school teacher and with her pilot husband away for work most nights, C.B. must be super organized and asleep early to have herself and her girls ready for school each morning. On a regular, quiet weeknight, in a safe neighborhood full of families, C.B. couldn’t have anticipated what was about to happen.
Suddenly, there is a demanding pounding on the glass French doors in the master bedroom that open onto the deck. A younger guy, probably in his 20s with blood dripping down his face is desperately rattling the doorknob, yelling, “Help me! Help me!” Between the shock and adrenaline, C.B. can’t remember why or how the French doors were opened. He busts in yelling incoherently. Obviously terrified for her and her children’s’ lives, C.B. physically fights and pushes the bloody guy to the front door.
Luckily, C.B. shoves the guy outside, calls the police and he is apprehended within minutes, without anyone being further physically harmed other than the injuries the guy had already sustained previously to barging his way into C.B.’s home.
Turns out, the guy was high on meth and literally believed someone was after him. He was honestly looking for help. C.B. and her husband, being compassionate and sympathetic, were relieved that neither the girls (obviously) or the guy was hurt. Meaning, if there had been a gun in the home, would C.B. have used it? C.B.’s husband, J.B., doesn’t believe it would have been justified—drugs are bad, mmmkay, but addiction doesn’t deserve a death sentence. However, this is J.B.’s thought process in hindsight. When I turned the tables on him, he couldn’t disagree with me. Did he want his baby girls and wife raped, murdered or kidnapped? Or in a split, very harrowing second, would he want C.B. to be able to defend herself and their family? Without knowing the bloody guy’s intentions, and C.B. feeling like three precious lives were in imminent danger, certainly using lethal force would have been warranted. J.B. didn’t say no.
J.B. and C.B. are progressive-minded, as left as Texas-raised liberals can be. They supported Hillary only because Bernie didn’t have a chance, yet both aren’t at all scared of firearms, moreover neither support a ban on AR-15s and other MSRs and both actually thoroughly enjoy shooting when they get a chance. They’re allies.
C.B. and J.B. aren’t alone. There are many politically left-leaning, non-gun owners who support the right to bear arms, especially here in Texas. It is also not uncommon to find Democrat voters who have a handgun or shotgun for home defense or are in the market to purchase one. Why do we not hear more about these pro-Second Amendment and gun-owning folks? Why haven’t they been given a voice?
As gun owners, we know that gun ownership is as much of a melting pot as America is. The NRA attempts to make all gun owners visible, but the mainstream media claim the NRA is an organization employing and exploiting manipulated puppets getting rich off the blood of children. This isn’t the case. NRA spokespeople reflect the diverse members of the organization. Fun fact: In a casual survey of my friends vocal about guns, those who are gun owners and 2A allies are more diverse than my friends who support strict gun control legislation. My gun-owning friends are LGBTQ, Asian, African-American, of mixed ethnicities, Hispanic, men, women, young and old. My anti-gun friends? All white.
Second Amendment allies aren’t given any coverage because it doesn’t fit the gun controllers’ narrative. Keeping the white, Southern, uneducated, racists stereotype of the typical gun owner alive allows the media to continue to vilify firearms and the people who like them, perpetuating a lie that gun ownership is quickly becoming a fringe community that borders on extremism. When, in actuality, a poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 58% of Americans believe a gun in the home makes you safer. (March 2018)
I don’t blame my Dem friends for keeping their mouths shut. The gun rights discourse can be intense. Tempers and emotions flare and their fear of being blacklisted is just as strong as some of my Republican friends’ fears of being labeled a racist, misogynist or a white supremacist if they express their support for President Trump. In fact, Washington Post contributor Aaron Blake found that 47% of Democrats said if they found out a friend supported Trump, it would put a strain on their friendship. (Only 13% of Republicans said a friend’s support of Hillary would strain the relationship.) Our Founding Fathers did not intend for our God-given, natural right to protect ourselves with a firearm to be a partisan issue. Just like how we all embrace the fundamental rights of free speech, the undisturbed pursuit of life, liberty and property and value equal protection under the law.
But somehow, along the way, guns and gun ownership became a pick-a-side issue, much like one would argue at what point a cell becomes a life.
We need to give this silenced group a voice. We can turn our allies into advocates by helping them become more comfortable with firearms and firearm ownership, and by making them feel more confident to open up about their support of the Second Amendment to other Democrats, anti-gunners and those who sit on the fence. So, how do we do that? These five ways are a good start.
1. Find Common Ground
We can all agree that the murder of innocent people is horrible and we all wish it would never happen. Our main priority is figuring out a way to prevent these tragic events from ever occurring. Talking gives you a chance to find common ground and ask why they feel the way they do. A convincing argument for the right to firearm ownership is self-preservation—nothing is more instinctual than our will to survive. We all want to feel safe. Having a firearm in the home greatly increases our chances of protecting ourselves and our loved ones from harm. The Federalist contributor, Meredith Drake-O’Connor writes, “Part of having liberty is personal safety from harm. Outside of the grace of God, I am the one primarily responsible for my safety, because I am able to be responsible for my safety…Further, because I am able to be responsible for my safety, I have a duty as a good citizen to be prepared to protect others who cannot protect themselves. This is part of liberty. And the primary way I can ensure my liberty is by owning a firearm.”
Inform your allies that there are more than several Federal laws—and countless separate state laws—that restrict firearm ownership. Arm yourself with the facts and hopefully, your ally will agree—it’s not the gun.
- The Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) did nothing to change the murder rate in our country. Gun rights advocate, political commentator, and economist, John Lott reports after a 29-year study that gun murders increased 20% during the AWB.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, firearm deaths account for only 1.3% of all deaths in America. You are more likely to die of poisoning than by being shot.
- States that have enacted concealed carry laws, multiple-death shootings dropped 84%!
- The U.S. Department of Justice reports that only 2% of gun crimes are performed with a long-gun. Criminals prefer handguns and only 3% of those who use handguns in crimes obtained their firearm through legal channels.
You may not see eye to eye on everything, but at least you’re working together and that is the first step in developing a unified front.
2. Shut up and Listen
Now, you aren’t going to agree on every point. Some of your allies will probably support some sort of gun control that isn’t already on the books. For example, Second Amendment allies I know—even the ones who own firearms— have stated they believe the government should restrict the number of Modern Sporting Rifles one can own, support another “assault weapons ban” and think there should be a national registration of firearm owners. Arguing or trying to convince them to see your side will only alienate them. They believe they are right and you believe you are right. Calmly agree to disagree and focus on what’s important—growing the number of Second Amendment allies. You never want to give them a reason to side with the other guys and think you’re a “crazed gun nut.” Your new ally has a lot to say. Hear them out. Their voice has been lost. You’re providing the #SafeSpace for them to be unapologetically pro-gun. Gun owner, Second Amendment advocate and frontman for the band All That Remains Phil Labonte says, “The debate’s frustrating, at least on the internet, because you’ve got people that don’t know what they’re talking about saying, ‘Do something.’ Well, what is that ‘something?’” (Ballistic magazine)
Pop open a cold one and ask your ally, “without adding any more laws to the books, what is this ‘something’ we can do to prevent mass shootings?” Opening a civil conversation is half the battle. You can work on steps three, four and five later.
3. Stress Safety
Some parents are reluctant to keep a firearm in the home because of small children; however, accidental shootings are 100% preventable with simple, proper storage of firearms. Teach children a healthy respect for firearms by participating in the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s campaign Project ChildSafe or the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. There are a wide variety of ways to keep a firearm secure and away from unauthorized users. A gun locked inside a biometric safe is only accessible to those who are given authorization by way of fingerprints recognition. Gun owners who are proactive in participating in gun safety programs are helping prevent accidental shootings. With a $2.4 million federal grant, the National Shooting Sports Foundation Project ChildSafe has passed out over 37 million free gun locks. During the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Safety Council, firearm accidents dropped nearly 24%, constituting less than one 1% of accidents in the country.
Most Second Amendment allies aren’t worried about the people they know that already own firearms. It’s the potentially dangerous people that don’t have them yet but are able to get them that worries them the most.
4. Educate and Inform
In my experience, most folks who are anti-gun are misinformed on how firearms function. I’ve witnessed firsthand tunes changing when I’ve explained that the AR-15 operates just like a semi-automatic handgun. The lack of factual information disseminated in the mainstream media is more than exasperating, I know, but a lot of people get all their information that way. They have been misled by anti-gun politicians on our country’s gun laws, as well as shown heavily edited and vetted interviews of ‘gun experts,’ parents and others who claim authority on the issue. This is not their fault. If you didn’t know any better, a lot of it would sound legit and certainly scary. Casually bring up some incorrect information you read or heard on the radio as a lead-in to the conservation. Talking about it works, but the best way to educate an ally is by teaching them the proper safe handling and use of a firearm if they are willing. Offer to take them to the range—buy their ammo and range fees and show them how safe shooting is and how fun and challenging it can be.
This video below is the perfect example of how “experts” spread wildly false information. (The bullet button is a block that replaces the magazine release on a semi-automatic rifle forcing the operator to remove the gun’s magazine with a tool instead of their fingers.)
5. Keep it Fun
Though respecting the power of the firearm is serious, shooting sports themselves are really fun! Show a beginner all the different facets of shooting sports—from .22 LR plinking to long-range precision shooting. There are so many ways people can get into the sport—trap and skeet, 3-Gun, tactical training, Project Appleseed, Cowboy Action shooting, rimfire leagues, F-Class and Benchrest competitions, hunting and even challenging your friends to informal ‘games’ with specialized targets. Don’t just focus on the self-defense aspect of firearm ownership. Demonstrating all the ways one can enjoy shooting sports highlights the importance of all the different types of firearms needed, as examples, a lever-action .30-30 can’t be used in F-Class or for self-defense, a shotgun can be can’t used at a Project Appleseed event or in a rimfire league, and an AR-15 can’t be used in Cowboy Action shooting or for shooting clays. At this stage, you want your friend, family member or co-worker to realize firearm ownership is not only extremely safe but a legit form of recreation, as well.
I don’t know anyone who supports 100% everything their affiliated political party does. There are Libertarians who don’t agree with legalizing pot. There are Democrats who are pro-life and there are Republicans who believe America should have open borders. It’s dangerous when we start putting our fellow Patriots into little boxes. We can change the tune and the tone of this discussion. When asked about how to open up a dialogue, C.B. responds, “Encouraging questions and not belittling and not making it blatantly partisan is the only way to foster more support. I can’t stress how many times I’ve been pushed back from my Second Amendment rights views by people bashing my other political views.” It is our responsibility to spread the message that firearm ownership and the Second Amendment isn’t a party-line issue—it’s a rights issue—and that’s as inclusive as it gets.
Do you have Second Amendment allies in your life? How do you encourage them? Talk to me about it in the comment section.
For more resources and further reading on Second Amendment allies, see the following websites and blog articles:
You Are Not Alone:
- Liberal Gun Club
- Pink Pistols
- National African American Gun Association
- Redneck Revolt
- Armed Equality
- Operation Blazing Sword
- The Loneliness of the Liberal Gun Lover, Felix Sanchez Politico Magazine
- It’s About Love, Kathy Jackson The Cornered Cat
- The Federal Assault Weapons Ban: 10 Years After, Suzanne Wiley The Shooter’s Log
- The Left Has the Stronger Case for Gun Ownership, Grayson Quay The American Conservative:
- A Progressive View on Firearms
- Discoveries of an Anti-Gunner: My Conversion to the Other Side, A Girl & A Gun, Robyn Sandoval A Girl & A Gun