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How to Change Someone’s Opinion on Guns

Take them too the range.  In my experience, if you can get them to go, you have a good chance of changing their minds.  You might not make a gun rights activist out of them, but they will at least see both sides of the coin.

6 Responses to “How to Change Someone’s Opinion on Guns”

  1. David Codrea says:

    Sebastian, this is probably one of the most important topics you could have commented on in terms of one-on-one activism/perception modification.

    I recall a time a few years back when I was at a private range at a facility we co-own in the mountains north of Kernville, CA. A hiker came up over the rise–a place he shouldn’t have been, but it was what it was. I could see from a distance he was a intimidated, but I waved him in and put the weapon I was practicing with on the rest and he came down. We conversed and I found out he was from Santa Monica, a bastion of “liberalism” bordering on Bolshevism, and discovered he had never even touched a gun. Once I had him convinced I had no intention of shooting him, I asked him if he’d like to remedy that.

    After going over basics of gun safety with unloaded firearms, which I taught him how to verify, I gave him my spare glasses and some disposable ear plugs I always carry for guests, and started him out on the smallest firearm I had with me, a S&W 640 DA revolver, and loaded it with .38’s. Once he saw it wasn’t going to eat him, I upped the rounds to .357 Magnum to let him see the difference. We moved on to a Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk, .44 Mag, SA w/7.5″ barrel, and once he learned to handle it and the fear factor was gone, he emptied the cylinder and then another–which I had him load.

    I then moved over to the rifle range and put him through an introductory course on my Garand. I gave him a bit of the history on the weapon and taught him how to load it without murdering his thumb. Once he was comfortable firing that, and it didn’t take long, I brought out another gun I have a lot of fun with–one some disdain, but I enjoy the hell out of, a Norinco MAK 90, .762 X 39, with a thumbhole stock and 30-round magazine. He soon found the noise and recoil even less than the M1, and found he could consistently hit the target with iron sights at 200 yards. I congratulated him and told him to be sure to tell all his friends how he’d successfully fired what the media describes as an “assault weapon” with a hard core NRA member and not only survived but had a good time. I purposely did not get more political than that. There was no need to push that envelope.

    Later that day, I was with my kids in the swimming pool at the resort, and he was there with his. He made a point of seeking me out, shaking my hand, and thanking me, letting me know he was grateful for our chance encounter and what he’d learned, and letting me know how much he enjoyed it.

    I have no illusions that this automatically changed his political outlook, but there are a couple things I can assume: there is one less person who will make decisions based on ignorance and prejudice, and he truly did have fun.

    Obviously, the resources to do this one-on-one with everyone are prohibitive, but there’s still a lesson to be learned. Perhaps the answer lies in gun clubs/NRA members councils/ranges, etc. doing routine outreach days–where they offer classes in basic gun safety with range time, all where the tab is picked up–inviting both the general public and the local media. We could do a lot worse than to dispel the perception that we’re anything less than fellow human beings, and that our firearms are not the demonic instruments of terror they’ve been led to assume.

    Just getting people to stick their toes in the shallow end of the pool and realize it won’t engulf them can be a significant achievment. That’s where we all started, and who knows what champion swimmers may end up emerging from the deep end?

  2. Sebastian says:

    There are definitely some people with anti-gun attitudes who won’t ever come to a range. For some reason they are either too afraid, or don’t want to leave their comfort zone to venture out into a world they’ve been told is wrong.

    Most of the new shooters I’ve gotten to the range haven’t had a prejudice against firearms, but a few have. I’ve never taken anyone from anti to gun-nut, but if you can just help them get over the fear, they probably aren’t going to buy into a lot of the hysteria after that.

    I think the idea of having clubs do outreach to new shooters is a good idea, and one I’m hoping to take up with my club I joined several months ago as I get to know more people. We do have events that are open to the public, but they aren’t events that specifically cater to getting new people into the shooting sports.

  3. BadIdeaGuy says:

    I think you’re on the right track. You’re not likely to win over hard-core anti’s (but please tell us if you do!), but there are a lot of folks on the fence who are able to understand why we shoot, and why the rights are vital.

  4. Sebastian says:

    The Other Sebastian took an anti shooting. Not just any anti, a director of a leading Maryland anti-gun group. That’s a hard act to beat.

  5. Dustin says:

    My wife was a bit anti-gun before I took her to the range. She didn’t think anyone with kids should have guns in the home. Now she likes to shoot guns & she’s a rather good shot although she still thinks I like guns “too much” & says I’m on the “gun nut” side of the scale because I am always reading books or magazines about guns & talking to everyone about gun rights issues, not to mention the fact that I always carry one on my hip & have a list of new guns that I want to add to my growing collection.

    I can’t help it, I just love guns & I get fired up when gun grabbers try to restrict access to or the bearing of them in any way. I love to read & talk about guns & gun rights too. I’m thinking about getting her a subscription to “Women & Guns” magazine – maybe she will eventually get fired up about guns too :)

  6. kaveman says:

    For those who wish to see a visual demonstration of why you start out a newbie with a .22 rifle and work your way up….

    enjoy

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=7FCY3_5Bg1M

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