COUNTERING THE EMOTIONAL APPEAL
Anti-Gunners Have An Effective Weapon – How Can We Counter It?
By Harold Hutchison
A POWERFUL WEAPON
With the news that former Representative Gabrielle Giffords is starting a gun-control group, it is time to face the facts. Anti-gunners have a powerful weapon in their crusade to take away your gun rights – and it is often the stories about victims of thugs and nutcases who have misused firearms. In a sense, it has motivated many of the most prominent anti-gunners.
The Kennedy family has been very willing to restrict our Second Amendment rights due to the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Sarah Brady was propelled to support gun control after her husband was wounded in the attempted assassination of President Reagan. Carolyn McCarthy ran for Congress as a gun-grabber after her husband was killed and her son wounded in the Long Island Railroad shooting. There are many others, as well – and we even see them call for legislation on ads from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Their very real heartache is often used to push for any gun restriction under the sun – even if it would not have prevented the attack in question. So, how do we handle this? This is perhaps the trickiest part of being a supporter of the Second Amendment, but one that we must deal with to protect our rights. Mess up, and the anti-gunners will be able to play on the sympathy of your fellow Americans to vote out pro-Second Amendment lawmakers, and will support gun-grabbers.
TRUMPING THE FACTS
Those who have had loved ones killed or wounded by someone who has misused a firearm due to malice, insanity, negligence, or sheer stupidity deserve our compassion. All too often, some Second Amendment activists have fired off nasty invective towards the gun grabbers out of anger that they are being punished for the actions of a nutcase. While indulging the righteous anger due may be briefly satisfying, it can harm our efforts to protect our rights.
Emotion can overcome facts – the person whose child has been killed in a school shooting wants that death to mean something, and their emotional pain will blind them to the facts about concealed carry. When the shooter has killed themselves, they will instead focus on the gun. As such, the measures they support will wind up penalizing hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of law-abiding citizens who had nothing to do with the attack.
It’s easy to be angry at them for pushing gun control. I know I have, at times, wanted to ask someone like Sarah Brady or Carolyn McCarthy, “What part of ‘I didn’t shoot your husband’ don’t you understand?” But to do so would give an anti-gun mainstream media ammo to portray us as insensitive bullies of people who suffered an unimaginable loss. That helps them turn other Americans against us. So, what is to be done?
NEEDED: EMTOIONAL JIUJITSU
It would not hurt if we had family members of victims on our side of the issue. In the wake of the Columbine shooting, the father of Rachel Scott’s speech before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime went a long way towards defusing the emotional high after Columbine. Susanna Gratia Hupp’s story about leaving her gun in the car at Luby’s and losing her parents in the mass shooting there was arguably instrumental in passing “shall issue” concealed carry laws in many states during the 1990s. But it may be few and far between. Counting on that is not a smart course of action. Instead, we need to know how not to look bad for the media.
The first step is to acknowledge their loss. I cannot think of any Second Amendment supporter who would not have wanted to prevent the shooting of Gabby Giffords if it had been in their power to do so. We need to make that part clear – we are sorry. That said, when the family member as asking why, we need to be polite, but firm. If we were to say, “I’m sorry about your son, but taking my gun rights away will not bring him back, and it won’t stop the next nutcase,” it does make the same point, but it shows compassion.
Also, if there is an opening, bring up the fact that some victims showed amazing courage. Acknowledge it, and express your sorrow that they did not have the tools to stop the shooter sooner. Outline where the killer could have been stopped long before the incident – especially if he was out on parole, charges were dropped, or if there were signs of serious mental illness.
THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
Staying calm, and sticking to the facts is critical. Remember when Tom Selleck was ambushed by Rosie O’Donnell after Columbine? His handling of that ambush made O’Donnell look like a bully, and helped stop the push for anti-gun laws in Congress that year. Find that interview on Youtube, and watch it. If you remain calm and rational, and your opponent goes into hysteria or starts to bully you, you win. By contrast, Alex Jones did not help the Second Amendment any with his appearance on Piers Morgan’s program on CNN.
Anti-gunners are waging an emotional fight because they cannot win when the facts are presented. How you handle this very potent weapon that anti-gunners and the main stream media use will be critical. Learn the facts, and get a good spokesman for your gun club who has media training. The NRA-ILA may be able to help in this area.
You also need to get involved. How you handle the upcoming media ambushes may determine the future of your Second Amendment rights. Go to http://membership.nrahq.org/ to join the NRA. Then go to https://www.nraila.org/get-involved-locally/forms/secure/frontlines.aspx to become part of NRA-ILA’s Frontlines to help fight the anti-gun extremists.