Gun Owners Are Being Othered, And We’re Letting It Happen

 

In the wake of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, “bump stocks” became the cause célèbre of the gun control crowd. A bump stock, to be honest, is a rather silly device that attaches to the back of a rifle which allows you to rapidly increase the rate of fire of the gun, letting it mimic the effect of a fully-automatic rifle. Bump stocks specifically designed to get around the restrictions on civilian ownership of fully-automatic firearm that were imposed by the passage the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives decided (at President Trump’s urging) that they made a mistake back in 2010, and such things shouldn’t be in civilian hands.

The fact that you can replicate automatic fire with training and practice, (or even with something as prosaic as a belt loop) seems to be lost on the BATFE, but that’s a topic for another time.

This ban on bump stocks didn’t happen in a vacuum, it happened because no one outside of a small group of gun owners thought bump stocks were a good idea in the first place. We gun owners seem utterly incapable of explaining how the right to keep and bear arms affects everyone, not just ourselves.

Let’s begin with the obvious: Safe, responsible concealed carry is a herd immunity against crime. Dr. John Lott made this abundantly clear in his seminal work, “More Guns, Less Crime,” and it’s time for gun owners to take up the charge and come out of the shadows.

It’s no secret that the forces of gun control are using the same tactics that made smoking unpopular in order to make guns unpopular, but the problem with that argument is that the societal benefits of smoking are pretty much non-existent, but the societal benefits of concealed carry is less crime and safer neighborhoods. That should (should) be an easy argument to make, but for some reason, we chose to yell about “My rights!” and ignore the positive effect of those rights on the people around us. In response, some of the leading lights in gun rights have suggested that we should follow the same course that the gay rights movement, and I think there is merit in their argument because, in just a few short years, homosexuality became accepted in American culture. How did this happen, and what can we learn from it?*

First off, it wasn’t outlandish marches in the Castro District that made homosexuality accepted in American culture, it was normal (gay) people acting normal in normal ways. An anecdote: Back when I was a photographer, I worked with an art director named Jim who was a former NYC firefighter. He was unpretentious, laid back and easy to work with. He liked golf, had a great creative eye, was into indie music, and we got along famously.

And then we threw a Christmas party at the studio, and Jim brought his boyfriend.

Jim did more to change my mind about homosexuality’s place in our society than 10,000 people marching through the Castro District shouting “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away!” ever could. What changed my mind wasn’t a freak show of loud and proud activists, what changed my mind was someone who looked like me and acted like me and was like me in every way, except with who he chose to snuggle up with at night.

Secondly, the gay rights movement made an appeal to the common feeling of love that pretty much everyone on the planet has. The movement framed itself as a movement based on the universal emotion of romantic love and voilá, gays were accepted in society. This should be an easy argument for gun owners to make, because while we may yell about “Our rights to keep and bear arms!” at a political demonstration, the fact is, there is a reason why that right is important that goes beyond the right itself. That right to armed self-defense is important is because there are something things in this world that are worth defending to the utmost extreme. Make your cause about the goal, not the means, and people will join you in your quest for that goal. The gay rights / civil rights movement worked because it was presented as being about the universal feeling of love for another person. It wasn’t necessarily love for your fellow man (literally!) it was about the idea that you should love who you should love.

Here’s the brutal truth: Nobody cares about your rights. They care about their rights, and pretty much every gun group out there has done a spectacularly poor job of explaining how expanding gun rights helps society as a whole.

Before the ACLU morphed itself into a lobby group for progressive causes, it successfully tied protecting the free speech of Nazis into protecting everyone’s right to speak their mind. The ACLU took an unpopular idea (absolute free speech) and made it popular by showing how free speech was for everyone. Gun owners need to follow that model and start thinking of gun rights in terms of other people, not just ourselves.

We are compromising about how much we are willing to give up. It’s time to make the other side compromise their values instead. It’s time to stop playing defense, and time to expand our gun rights by bringing in other people into our cause. We are not going to win the war on guns by circling the wagons and playing defense. We are going to win the war by opening up a second front and force the other side to start playing defense. We are compromising about how much we are willing to give up. It’s time to make the other side compromise their values instead.

* Please leave the debate about whether or not that’s a good thing for another time and another place. We’re talking about gun rights here, and those rights belong to everyone, no matter who they consider to be attractive.

There are 18 comments.

  1. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Kevin, I completely agree with your overall point. However, the differences between areas of the country and even adjacent regions within a state can be profound. Here in rural Texas I don’t need to explain it to anyone. Around here even dirty hippies own AK’s and are like to get a carry permit. In my local school district (I’m a trustee) we are in the early stages of deciding how to implement the state guardian program (armed staff), and the community is solidly on board. Yet 40 miles away in San Antonio another school board has parents upset and staff members threatening to resign if other staff members are armed. That difference is so profound that I’m not sure the gap can be bridged. 

    Then you have pro firearms activists who seem determined to provoke and disturb the public at any opportunity. You know who I mean – the guys doing “audits” of local law enforcement. They are the equivalent of your obnoxious marchers rather than the seemingly normal person who can actually persuade someone that armed citizens aren’t all wannabe anarchists. 

    The responsible person will carry concealed for the most part and no one will ever know that they are out there carrying on business as usual. It’s a dilemma, for sure.

    • #1
    • December 26, 2018, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    @kevincreighton,

    What surprises me about pro-gun talking points is that there’s so little talk about the falling crime rate from the mid-nineties, up to the early 2010s. The decline meshes almost perfectly with the concealed (and open) carry movement, not to mention the rising number of guns, and the explosion of interest in scary black rifles.

    • #2
    • December 26, 2018, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Kevin Creighton: Here’s the brutal truth: Nobody cares about your rights. They care about their rights…

    This is sad but true, even among gun owners. It disgusts me when I hear someone say that of course they have a right to their shotgun so they can go duck hunting, but nobody needs a pistol so they should probably be outlawed. Or my deer rifle is fine, but nobody needs an AR-15. When you can’t even get all gun owners to support their own right to own guns they have no interest in, you’ve got an uphill climb.

    And then there are some wealthy left-leaning gun owners who reckon we should have incredibly high taxes on firearms because they don’t want them outlawed, they just don’t think the lower classes can be trusted with them, so let’s price them out of the market. You’re fighting the good fight, Kevin.

     

    • #3
    • December 26, 2018, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Skyler Coolidge

    Well put, Kevin, but who is going to bell the cat? A sentiment without a plan is not going to get us anywhere.

    So far NRA has a whole lot of sentiment that they use to suck up people’s money, while they support the bump stock ban, didn’t support Heller, and have never ever even suggested working to repeal the NFA and the GCA.

    The first step in any effort to do as you suggest is to kick NRA to the curb and support other gun organizations, most apt would be the Gunowners of America.

    • #4
    • January 1, 2019, at 5:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Guruforhire Member

    As soon as John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy gave into leftist power/pressure politics on Obamacare and gay marriage the die was cast on how politics was going to be waged, and probably made the republic untenable.

    The conversation is already over. You will be deplatformed and unpersoned.

    • #5
    • January 1, 2019, at 6:00 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Well put, Kevin, but who is going to bell the cat? A sentiment without a plan is not going to get us anywhere.

    So far NRA has a whole lot of sentiment that they use to suck up people’s money, while they support the bump stock ban, didn’t support Heller, and have never ever even suggested working to repeal the NFA and the GCA.

    The first step in any effort to do as you suggest is to kick NRA to the curb and support other gun organizations, most apt would be the Gunowners of America.

    Why does the cat need a bell? 

    Go back and read my article… Was it GLAAD that changed my mind?

    No. It was a normal (gay) person acting normally. Expecting the NRA or GOA or anyone else to lead the charge is what got us into this problem. We need normal (gun owning) people to act normally, and that starts with us. 

    Back in the late 70’s, I read a comic book version of “The Gospel Blimp,” where a man goes to outrageous lengths to reach out to his next door neighbor and get him to go to church, when in reality, all it took was just walking over there and inviting him to a barbecue.

    Want a better world for gun rights? Make it yourself, and don’t expect anyone else to do it for you. 

    • #6
    • January 1, 2019, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Michael Minnott Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Well put, Kevin, but who is going to bell the cat? A sentiment without a plan is not going to get us anywhere.

    So far NRA has a whole lot of sentiment that they use to suck up people’s money, while they support the bump stock ban, didn’t support Heller, and have never ever even suggested working to repeal the NFA and the GCA.

    The first step in any effort to do as you suggest is to kick NRA to the curb and support other gun organizations, most apt would be the Gunowners of America.

    I second this and suggest adding the Second Amendment Foundation as well. I recently joined both. You should also consider joining similar groups in your state. I also recently joined the Gunowners of California.

    The NRA can go pound sand.

    • #7
    • January 1, 2019, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Skyler Coolidge

    Kevin Creighton (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Well put, Kevin, but who is going to bell the cat? A sentiment without a plan is not going to get us anywhere.

    So far NRA has a whole lot of sentiment that they use to suck up people’s money, while they support the bump stock ban, didn’t support Heller, and have never ever even suggested working to repeal the NFA and the GCA.

    The first step in any effort to do as you suggest is to kick NRA to the curb and support other gun organizations, most apt would be the Gunowners of America.

    Why does the cat need a bell?

    Go back and read my article… Was it GLAAD that changed my mind?

    No. It was a normal (gay) person acting normally. Expecting the NRA or GOA or anyone else to lead the charge is what got us into this problem. We need normal (gun owning) people to act normally, and that starts with us.

    Back in the late 70’s, I read a comic book version of “The Gospel Blimp,” where a man goes to outrageous lengths to reach out to his next door neighbor and get him to go to church, when in reality, all it took was just walking over there and inviting him to a barbecue.

    Want a better world for gun rights? Make it yourself, and don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

    Fair enough if you only want to convince your neighbor. However, we need to “convince” politicians and judges, both of whom do whatever they want regardless of what we and our neighbors (or the law) want.

    • #8
    • January 1, 2019, at 9:41 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Kevin Creighton (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Well put, Kevin, but who is going to bell the cat? A sentiment without a plan is not going to get us anywhere.

    So far NRA has a whole lot of sentiment that they use to suck up people’s money, while they support the bump stock ban, didn’t support Heller, and have never ever even suggested working to repeal the NFA and the GCA.

    The first step in any effort to do as you suggest is to kick NRA to the curb and support other gun organizations, most apt would be the Gunowners of America.

    Why does the cat need a bell?

    Go back and read my article… Was it GLAAD that changed my mind?

    No. It was a normal (gay) person acting normally. Expecting the NRA or GOA or anyone else to lead the charge is what got us into this problem. We need normal (gun owning) people to act normally, and that starts with us.

    Back in the late 70’s, I read a comic book version of “The Gospel Blimp,” where a man goes to outrageous lengths to reach out to his next door neighbor and get him to go to church, when in reality, all it took was just walking over there and inviting him to a barbecue.

    Want a better world for gun rights? Make it yourself, and don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

    Fair enough if you only want to convince your neighbor. However, we need to “convince” politicians and judges, both of whom do whatever they want regardless of what we and our neighbors want.

    Neighbors vote, and neighbors influence elections. It’s called grassroots campaigning, and the NRA used to be good at it. 

    It’s time for the grassroots to start at the grassroots. 

     

    • #9
    • January 1, 2019, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Skyler Coolidge

    Furthermore, everywhere homosexual marriage was voted on (perhaps there is an exception), it had never passed. It was judges that created homosexual marriage despite clear majorities opposing it. No matter how many neighbors are convinced of the benefits and propriety of guns and the second amendment, judges and politicians will do whatever they want anyway. Your neighbor is a good person to convince, but that method takes a very long time to effect change. Look at drug legalization. Prohibition has never been legal, and for a very long time majorities have favored repealing laws to make marijuana illegal. Some states have taken steps, but it is still illegal everywhere in the country by federal law.

    I don’t mean to shift the topic to drugs. I’m only suggesting that we need to have sympathetic people with the reins of power; sympathetic neighbors make that easier, but are not necessary.

    • #10
    • January 1, 2019, at 9:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    We didn’t fall into this mess overnight, and we ain’t gonna get out of it overnight, either.

    My good friend and mentor Michael Bane sent me this link about gun owners and their YouTube channels, and it got me thinking: Where are the anti gun YouTube channels? If gun control is truly “common sense,” gun control videos should be quite common.

    But they’re not. Why? Because gun control is a top-down movement, and we will lose the battle if we keep fighting a top-down war. We own social media, or at least we did back in 2009. Maybe it’s time to play to OUR strengths and stop fighting the other guy’s war.

    • #11
    • January 1, 2019, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    We don’t have to do much in order to win. We won’t have to sign up people to vote or get judges kicked off of panels or stage a rally at the state capitol.

    All we need to do is take someone who has never shot a gun before or who hasn’t shoot in a long time out to the range, and have them shoot a gun, preferably one of them soooper-scary AR-15s or a modern standard capacity semiautomatic pistol

    That’s it. That’s all we need to do to change the world. Gun owners are being othered because guns are being made to be scary. Once people realize that a) guns are fun and b) gun owners are normal, the OTHER side will get othered, and we’ll win. If every gun owner in America took one, just ONE non-gun owner to the range this year, we’d double the amount of people in America who had a positive impression of guns.

    • #12
    • January 1, 2019, at 11:23 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Pete EE Member

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    The NRA can go pound sand.

    Easy on the pound sand talk. Go ahead and join the other groups. If you need to conserve your money, go ahead and let your NRA membership lapse. But even in the worst case scenario, the NRA is your ally. Remember, Kevin’s goal here is to develop allies, not burn them.

    • #13
    • January 1, 2019, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Pete EE (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    The NRA can go pound sand.

    Easy on the pound sand talk. Go ahead and join the other groups. If you need to conserve your money, go ahead and let your NRA membership lapse. But even in the worst case scenario, the NRA is your ally. Remember, Kevin’s goal here is to develop allies, not burn them.

    Concur. Intramural battles are not helpful in the big picture.

    • #14
    • January 1, 2019, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Michael Minnott Member

    Pete EE (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    The NRA can go pound sand.

    Easy on the pound sand talk. Go ahead and join the other groups. If you need to conserve your money, go ahead and let your NRA membership lapse. But even in the worst case scenario, the NRA is your ally. Remember, Kevin’s goal here is to develop allies, not burn them.

    Fair point. I may have been too harsh, but I do find the NRA to be something of a frenemy when it comes to 2A rights.

    • #15
    • January 1, 2019, at 1:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Michael Minnott Member

    Kevin Creighton (View Comment):

    We don’t have to do much in order to win. We won’t have to sign up people to vote or get judges kicked off of panels or stage a rally at the state capitol.

    All we need to do is take someone who has never shot a gun before or who hasn’t shoot in a long time out to the range, and have them shoot a gun, preferably one of them soooper-scary AR-15s or a modern standard capacity semiautomatic pistol

    That’s it. That’s all we need to do to change the world. Gun owners are being othered because guns are being made to be scary. Once people realize that a) guns are fun and b) gun owners are normal, the OTHER side will get othered, and we’ll win. If every gun owner in America took one, just ONE non-gun owner to the range this year, we’d double the amount of people in America who had a positive impression of guns.

    Good point. I routinely offer friends and family a day at the range. It’s a tough sell however, as many people see firearms as “scary talismans of dark mojo.”

    • #16
    • January 1, 2019, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    I agree with everything that my friend and fellow gunblogger Sebastian has to say here about the current state of gun rights. 

    https://www.pagunblog.com/2019/01/02/happy-2019/ 

    • #17
    • January 3, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Skyler Coolidge

    I don’t think things are as bleak as Sebastian says. 

    • #18
    • January 3, 2019, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • Like