How YOU can Help End Firearm Fear


PDA






zminer
November 9, 2008, 12:53 PM
I have a suggestion for something people can do on their own to help the debate over firearms become more reasonable. I suggest that you show someone who is anti-gun, or a fence-sitter, how guns work.

Seriously.

What many people don't realize is that if you don't grow up around guns, you have no idea how they work. So, where do you get your information about firearms? From television, from movies, and from other people who have the same sources of information you do. No wonder there is so much misinformation floating around about "assault" weapons, and the like. And, in this case, misinformation breeds fear.

Many people who are against firearms have never even seen a real gun up close - much less tried to understand how it works - or had someone explain to them something as simple as how a bullet fires. When you understand something, it's a lot less scary and you're more likely to have an even-tempered view of it.

I'll give an example - there was a debate on the radio here a few months back about microstamping, and the host kept having to stop the gunnie to get him to explain how firearms work, how rounds are constructed, etc. It was clear he had never even thought about how guns operate, so he was fully prepared to go ahead with his view of, "guns are bad, legislation restricting guns must be good."

If everyone could find at least one person - a co-worker, a relative, a friend, etc. - who knows nothing about guns, and just offer to show them how they work, things would be going in the right direction. Some people are interested in a trip to the range, and that's fine, but some people might be scared by that. So offer to come over to their house - or have them over to yours - and show them (without firing) how a gun works. Some might be much more likely to agree if you tell them, "We won't shoot them - I won't even bring any bullets. It'll be totally safe. I'll just show you how the gun operates." Then, if they're interested, you can offer to give them the next lesson, and/or take them shooting sometime.

The best part about this is that you don't have to be a teacher, or a public speaker, or someone with a political agenda, to do it. You just need to be willing to share your knowledge with someone else and help them understand something they have no experience with. Teach them the Four Rules, tell them the differences among types of firearms, show them the major parts of the firearm, show them how they all work ... whatever you like, and are comfortable with.

I really think that this can help, on a very grassroots level. If people start to understand that guns are not inherently evil, that they're not going to "just go off," that they can't leap up out of your hands and shoot someone ... they'll be more likely to have sensible views about firearms legislation. And, as a bonus, they'll realize that people who enjoy guns are just that - regular people, with an interest in something.

So, who's in to talk to just one person? It's up to you whether you do one per year, per month, per day... ;)

Post here once you've talked to someone, and how it went! I'm going to look around my department this week and find someone who seems like they might be interested.

If you enjoyed reading about "How YOU can Help End Firearm Fear" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
fastattack
November 9, 2008, 01:40 PM
I wish this were true, but I have not found it to be effective. My circle of anti's are simply irrational. I know one person who is so afraid that she can't be in a room with a firearm. My wife and I both have invited her to shoot at the range with us and she won't. I can explain but in the end it is for not. In one case, a friend who I managed to get to the range shot my 38 spl with very mild reloads couldn't get over how powerful it was and couldn't continue.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up. I think education is at the heart of the matter. At a minimum, these people all see that a sane, reasonable person (myself) is a responsible gun owner. That in itself breaks the stereotype in most minds but it doesn't change minds.

Archie
November 9, 2008, 01:52 PM
Getting people to understand guns are mechanical devices is the place to start. However, it is a major uphill struggle, especially in the cities were guns are vilified at every turn.

Perhaps a bumper sticker along the lines of "Guns are Machines like Cars, Except Smaller". That's about as much reasoning as most of us will get a non-firearms owner to grasp in the first conversation.

As part of my retirement planning, I'm working on a basic "This is a Firearm" lecture. Most of the lecture is historical, demonstrating the mechanical development of firearms and the effect on Western Civilization. Colorful pictures of Middle Age Europe, the American Revolution, Cowboys and such. Perhaps I can infiltrate some public organizations and even schools with real information. I'm not holding my breath over it, but it is at least an attempt.

For those (including me) who invite non-shooters, I would suggest older type weapons as a starting place. The 'guns of Davy Crockett' are historical and less 'evil' than an AR 15 - in the common mind. Likewise, a double action revolver of the Elliot Ness era is more acceptable than a modern, plastic multishooter.

Finally, getting people to overcome fears - especially irrational fears - is an art form. It takes time and patience and attention to the individual. Try not to rush it.

Just a couple thoughts for the overall program.

Majic
November 9, 2008, 03:27 PM
Many people drive cars and trucks. Do you think they care about how they work other than put in gas, turn key, and drive down the road. How do you think explaining the workings of a firearm would gain their attention when they drive that car everyday but are never around a firearm?

devilc
November 9, 2008, 05:05 PM
Sadly, as America becomes more urbanized fewer and fewer will see or own guns.
Just as the majority of 10 year olds in DC could not pick a cow, horse, or a chicken out of a line-up -- the same urbanites see guns as tools of the cops and of the gang-bangers.
This is a no-win situation in the 50-100 year race.

zminer
November 9, 2008, 10:04 PM
At a minimum, these people all see that a sane, reasonable person (myself) is a responsible gun owner. That in itself breaks the stereotype in most minds but it doesn't change minds.

That's more than half the battle, right there. It's really easy to hate something, or someone, or a group of someones, when you have no information about them. But as soon as you meet people who have those views, and get to know them and talk with them, it takes some of the edge off the discussions. Even if you don't think it's doing any good, it's a lot better than nothing.

How do you think explaining the workings of a firearm would gain their attention when they drive that car everyday but are never around a firearm?

You're actually making my point for me here. :) People know what to expect from a car. They add gas to it, they change the oil now and then, and generally it runs well and they move along with their lives. They've grown up with cars so, although there's leeway for personal opinion, they have a basic idea of when people are being safe or dangerous with them. That way it's easier for people to understand what traffic laws make sense and which ones don't.

A lot of people DON'T know much of anything about guns, though, so they have none of the perspective that I talked about above. So what do they know? Every TV show - heck, every news broadcast - tells them that guns are dangerous and the people who use them are criminals. So, guns are bad, and they are NOT machines ... they are machines of death. What better way to get to these people than to slowly introduce them to the idea that guns are not so bad?

In the end - as you've gleaned - the idea is not to show them how the firing pin operates, or how the spring in the mag chambers the next round. The intent is to give them context, which they are sorely lacking. And, as fastattack pointed out, show them that people who own guns are good people.

I really think a lot of pro-RKBA people are so wrapped up in the cause that they don't realize that a lot of people who dislike guns, or vote for anti-gun measures, or support anti-gun organizations just don't know a lot about guns and gun safety. If someone taught them, they might change their views.

I think it's worth a shot (no pun intended).

OcelotZ3
November 10, 2008, 12:10 AM
What many people don't realize is that if you don't grow up around guns, you have no idea how they work.

I would amend that to say "if you don't grow up in a place where someone instructs you about guns".

I grew up around many guns: There was an AR15 behind the door of our (kids) bedroom, there was a full auto M16 in the closet on a shelf (legal), a loaded .45 in my parent's nightstand, and revolvers around the house.

There were >100 military rifles & pistols in the garage and attic. Including a full-auto M14, full-auto M2, and a SBR.

Yet my father never taught any of us (3 kids & wife) how to handle a firearm, how to make sure they aren't loaded, what a safety was, anything. We were just instructed to never touch anything.

zminer
November 10, 2008, 09:05 AM
I would amend that to say "if you don't grow up in a place where someone instructs you about guns".

Good point, and one which can apply not just to people whose parents have guns but don't tell them about them. I grew up in an area where hunting is a way of life, and the father of one of my best friends is a hunter, but I never picked up a gun outside of Boy Scouts, or knew anything about them, really.

So, yes, we need to reach out to all different kinds of people. Maybe I am overly optimistic, but I really think that this individual-to-individual contact will be a lot more effective than any major marketing campaigns which come from the top down.

rjewell
November 11, 2008, 02:28 AM
I try and get all my anti gunner friends out to the range, and pretty much all have changed there mind once they get behind a firearm.. all except my ex who couldent be in the same room as a gun with out having a panic attack.. hence the EX part of it.. lol

-Ry

Sinixstar
November 11, 2008, 02:37 AM
Getting people to understand guns are mechanical devices is the place to start. However, it is a major uphill struggle, especially in the cities were guns are vilified at every turn.

Yea, explaining that "a gun is a tool" has always been most effective for me as well.

The one argument that softened up my (at the time) extremely anti-gun girlfriend's view - was that when I was very young, my family was poor - and that shotgun my dad kept in his closet put food on our table. Later on in life when he was injured and out of work for a time - i got to take that same shotgun and return the favor.
Whether it's by choice, or necessity - there are a number of people who rely on their guns to eat. When you put in terms of basic survival, it's hard to argue against.

Sinixstar
November 11, 2008, 02:42 AM
So, yes, we need to reach out to all different kinds of people. Maybe I am overly optimistic, but I really think that this individual-to-individual contact will be a lot more effective than any major marketing campaigns which come from the top down.

Absolutely. People are over-marketed to these days. Big marketing campaigns tend to work on unaware/on-the-fence positions. In this day and age, most people have an opinion one way or the other on gun issues. Even if that opinion is "no opinion". I think there's a sizable part of the population, who frankly is just apathetic. They're not into guns, but they're not against guns either. Since they're not into it - they don't care if it goes away, but they're also not purposefully trying to take it away. Marketing isn't going to work - since as they don't care, they're not going to pay attention to it anyways.
These are the people who are most easily converted with just a little conservation and/or activity. The "anti" crowd tends to take more effort, but is also much more rewarding. :)

SoCalShooter
November 11, 2008, 01:14 PM
Myself and another gunnie like me are taking a large group of non gunnies out to the desert to shoot on friday and familiarize them with weapons and generally have fun.

hso
November 11, 2008, 01:48 PM
More than showing folks that a gun is just a machine like a stapler I'd suggest following SoCalShooter's approach and take folks shooting. Make it as non-threatening, safe and fun as possible.

ajohnny50
November 11, 2008, 02:08 PM
I seem to run into far more people who cant get past the "But why do you need one?" question, as opposed to people who are just scared of guns in general.

I have several good friends who come from hunting families, who have rifles and shotguns in the household and have grown up with them, even target shoot with them occasionally. But when it comes to pistols and CCW, they inevitably say something like "I just don't see why you think its necessary to carry one if you have gotten by your entire life without needing one yet?"

Its not necessarily a vilification of firearms in general, but getting past the hump between long arms - which are seen as a part of the rural lifestyle, target shooting, bringing food to the table, and handguns - which are seen as purely weapons to kill other people, although in reality they can also function much as the above.

SoCalShooter
November 11, 2008, 02:18 PM
Its a little program I run here at where I work, I try and get several new co works into the sport every time, I tell them figure 100 bucks for ammo and I will supply the guns. I always implore people if they have family members who have guns to bring them.

Having people shoot in groups like that is definitely dynamic especially if they bring the girlfriend or family member I have to admit I play a little off of the peer pressure but only gently.

Taking people to a range works great also but sometimes the STRICT range rules can hinder the experience, I also get people to bring out dead electronics and other stuff that they want to shoot. Its fun to shoot hard drives and pumpkins or squash or watermelons and other stuff, it also helps them realize that what they see in hollywood is crap.

zminer
November 11, 2008, 07:10 PM
More than showing folks that a gun is just a machine like a stapler I'd suggest following SoCalShooter's approach and take folks shooting. Make it as non-threatening, safe and fun as possible.

I agree that taking people shooting is the best way, if that's what they're comfortable with. Some people just aren't there yet, though. They're still stuck on the idea that guns are inherently dangerous, and that if they even so much as hold one, it could do something bad.

So, maybe if you suggest that they come shooting and they seem interested, but say no, offer to come over (or have them over) for a "safety session" first. It'll show your commitment to safety, and give them less room to argue about it. Foot-in-the-door technique: if you get them to agree to a safety meeting, they're obviously interested, and are then more likely to agree to come shooting on a second invitation. And who doesn't enjoy shooting? ;)

Picard
November 14, 2008, 01:24 PM
I've shown at least 10 people how to use guns in the 8 or so months that I have become interested in them. I'm teaching others are every opportunity. That's the best way to preserve the 2nd Amendment.

OcelotZ3
November 15, 2008, 01:25 AM
We've been very successful (in our work group) by having an annual "Pizza and Guns" party. It seems to have been pretty successful.

Wedge
November 15, 2008, 10:28 AM
Only way I have found effective is to take a new shooter out on private property, fill a milk jug with water. Shoot with .454 Casull, .44 Mag, Ruger only .45 Colt or a rifle. That sets the tone for this is serious but fun.

The load up a semi-auto .22 and row of cans, make sure they keep the gun in a safe direction (4 rules) and tell 'em to have at it. Biggest problem is running out of ammo at that point.

Has worked every time.

The Foo
November 15, 2008, 12:10 PM
The first time I took my girlfriend shooting (whose rarely been around firearms)...she was surprised there was recoil.

Her first question was..."How come in the movies the gun never moves?"

I knew this was coming so I was prepared with a logical answer explaining the physics of a firearm.

She enjoys shooting now.

mljdeckard
November 15, 2008, 01:23 PM
You are absolutely correct. Maybe every person you take shooting won't buy an arsenal the next day, but you can acquaint them with guns, and nudge them in the direction that they won't believe everything the antis tell them. Do what you can, when you can.

Monkeyleg
November 15, 2008, 06:46 PM
Perhaps someone can explain how to talk to my brother. He's 64 now, and has been hunting since his mid-teens. He has a nice collection of rifles.

He's afraid of handguns, though. They scare the hell out of him. Given that a .30-06 is a lot more deadly than my .45 ACP, I don't get it.

What makes it worse is that he opposes concealed carry, even though he's very conservative politically as well. He thinks there will be blood in the streets.

Of course, he lives 50 miles from Milwaukee and almost never comes into the city because of fear.

If you enjoyed reading about "How YOU can Help End Firearm Fear" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!