Talking to Non-Gun People, Redux

Thanks to social media, we can now all see into each other’s minds, so I have an idea of what non-gun people think about the issues of the day. I see consistent themes. Here’s a few facts I see people get wrong a lot:

Rapid Fire: A meaningless term. If you hear this, try to flesh out whether the person is confusing machine guns. If so, relieve that ignorance. It’s OK to say “machine guns are banned.” They effectively are. A lot of gun spergs will get all ACKCHYUALLY, and that’s not the path to take. Your goal as an ambassador to the gun culture is to relieve ignorance, not to impress your opponent with your knowledge of obscure firearms minutia.

Military grade: What does this mean? Almost all firearms have a military pedigree of some sort. Even Grandpa’s deer rifle likely uses the bolt action invented by Paul Mauser in 1898. The M1911 was developed for the military. Again, this could be a symptom of confusion between machine guns and semi-automatics. This is where your typical explanation of the “assault weapons” issue comes in. The war on AR-15s is nothing more than a war on scary looking rifles and ergonomics. It functions no differently than other common rifles.

Magazines: Most people have no idea it takes only a few seconds to change a magazine. It’s also not completely apparent to someone who hasn’t taken any kind of firearm self-defense course that magazine restrictions benefit attackers over defenders. The attacker has planning on his side, and he can plan around the restriction. As a defender, I’m not going to carry a gym bag full of 10 round magazines around with me all day (as the attacker in Parkland did for the shooting). I’m going to carry what’s in my gun, and I want it to hold what it’s designed to hold. Police feel the same way, which is why they’d fight tooth-and-nail if the restriction applied to them. Your average cop is more likely to need his gun than I am, but the vast majority of police shootings don’t exceed ten rounds.

Firearms are Deadly: We shouldn’t mince words. The AR-15 platform is not designed to wound. That’s one of the biggest pieces of gun lore out there, and it’s not true. The reason the .223 Remington was adopted by the military as the 5.56x45mm because a solider can carry a lot more rounds of it than the .308 and .30-06 ammunition it replaced, and it does the job adequately enough. Yes, as rifles go, the AR is not particularly powerful shot-for-shot. Yes, in many states, you can’t hunt medium sized game like deer with it because it’s not powerful enough. What makes it popular among shooters is also what makes it a choice for some mass killers: it’s an open-source, accessorizable platform with good ergonomics, manageable recoil, and a quick learning curve. There’s nothing remarkable about the AR-15s function that sets it apart from any other magazine fed semi-automatic rifle. I think it’s important for people to understand why it’s a popular platform. While I’ve always thought the term “Modern Sporting Rifle” was a transparent euphemism, the war on so-called assault weapons is a war on modern ergonomics and usability.

Yes, We Care About Children: How many of us have heard this one over the past few weeks? I don’t really take kindly to the use of emotional blackmail, so usually if someone engages in it, I will cut off discussion. But yes, we care about kids. We just don’t agree on solutions.

Arming Teachers: Be realistic about arming teachers. The caricature pushed by the media and gun control proponents is that we want to hand out guns to school staff. No proposal by the NRA or anyone else even comes close to this. My actual opinion on this is that there should be no legal penalties for a person to carry in a school if they are licensed to carry everywhere else. I think local schools should have the option to adopt state prescribed training standards for allowing select personnel to carry. Could be a resource officer, could be retired veterans, could be teachers who are inclined. I don’t really care either way. It should be up to the school district how they want to go about it, or if they want to allow it at all. If a teacher has a license to carry and wants to carry regardless of district policy, they risk their jobs. I don’t see any public benefit to putting them in prison for it.

It’s Just a Hobby: If it was just a hobby, we wouldn’t be at each other’s throats. Skiing is just a hobby, and even though people die skiing, no one argues over it. The fundamental argument at work in the gun issue is what the proper distribution of power in society should be. That’s not a simple topic where there are easy answers. Unfortunately, people very strongly want to believe there are easy answers to complex social problems. I don’t believe popular sovereignty really has any meaning if those in power disarm those without it. Without arms in the hands of the people, it’s a fiction. Also, non-shooters tend to be unaware of the interdependency between the civilian shooting culture and the police and military shooting culture. The truth is when you destroy your civilian gun culture, shit like this is what happens. Many of the training options police and military now have are courtesy of the civilian culture, and vice versa. You can’t destroy one without damaging the others.

Also, I would encourage you to check out Tam’s post on this subject, and add that to your quiver.

31 thoughts on “Talking to Non-Gun People, Redux”

  1. Yeah, couple of the Fudds at work had to get reminded of the “AR-15” the Navy Yard shooter had more than a passing resemblance to their “deer slug guns”.

    1. People need to understand that for better or worse, we are a subculture, and increasingly a poorly understood one to people outside it. Throwing each other out isn’t going to fix anything.

      1. Indeed. It’s just another example of how balkanized and tribal America is becoming as a whole.

  2. The point about magazine size being more important for a defender than an attacker is an important one. And, first thing out of your mouth please don’t tell an anti-gun person how quickly you can swap out ‘low capacity’ magazines – this either convinces them that common capacity mags are unnecessary or that detachable magazines should banned.

    I try to explain (gently as possible) that when someone is shooting unarmed people trapped in a room magazine capacity is largely immaterial. But not so, if a couple of guys with say Glock 17s are trying to pull a home invasion.

    1. The point I try to keep hammering home again and again to anyone who will listen, is that magazine size, and/or action type is completely irrelevant to mass murder shootings.

      Any decent breech loading cartridge firearm is adequate for mass murder, even a single shot shotgun, when an armed murderer is attacking a group of surprised defenseless victims.

      I’ve been trying to make that point ever since December 2012.

      1. Heck, substitute “knife” instead of “firearm”, and the surprised, defenseless victims really aren’t any better off. Doubly-so in close, closed quarters (like, say, a school classroom). Google “China mass stabbing attacks”. Some incidents have up to 40 or 50 victims, from an attacker with a knife, in a country where guns aren’t allowed.

        The only thing bladed weapons lack is the ear-splitting concussive blast, which eliminates some of the shock for the victims, but mostly works in favor of the attacker; police response is delayed when they can’t “run toward the sound of gunfire”. Blades also NEVER “run out of ammo”, and the wounds are far more brutal, IMHO.

        Just my $0.02.

      2. True. This is arcane esoterica that’s way off in the weeds, but WWI British soldiers could put out a huge amount of aimed fire with A 5-round capacity bolt rifle during a “Mad Minute,” so much that captured German soldiers inquired as to where all the British machine guns were.

        “In the land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King” is a concept that the political left is unable – or unwilling – to grasp.

        1. Lee Enfields have 10 round detachable magazines. The magazine was typically left fixed and reloaded rapidly with two 5 round charger clips. Training required a minimum of 12-15 aimed shots per minute while under command for “rapid fire” also known as the ‘Mad Minute’. Skilled rifleman routinely shot 30 rounds a minutes with the record being 36.

          British infantry had three double pouches per suspender (10 rounds per pouch 6 pouches), plus another 6 pouches on their belts, and sometimes a bandolier of 5 additional pouches. That was 170 rounds, plus 10 in the gun for a full combat load of 180 rounds. That allowed for six minutes of sustained fire much to the dismay of the Imperial German Army.

          I would not consider anyone armed with a Lee Enfield poorly armed even against modern autoloading or automatic rifles at the right distance. At ranges greater than 300 yards those rifles are going to hold their own. Closer in they will be at a disadvantage.

  3. RE: “Arming teachers”

    Part of the reason for the caricature is the use of the phrase “arming teachers”. The very syntax suggests giving guns to teachers who don’t have them (and may not want them).

    That’s exactly why the antis continue to use it.

    And it’s exactly why we shouldn’t.

    I’ve heard it proposed, and I agree, that instead of saying “arm teachers”, we should say something along the lines of “remove penalties for school staff trained and licensed to carry”, or “allow school staff who are trained and licensed to carry to do so”.

    “Arm teachers” implies a mandate, and an unwelcome one at that. “Removing penalties” or “allowing”, on the other hand, sounds more reasonable and much more accurately states what proponents are actually proposing.

    As usual, we can’t let the antis control the language or shift the goalposts. They’ll always win that way.

    1. How about an enhanced CCW like several states have that allows people to carry in schools. Make the shooting qualification test fit the state POST standards. Since cops get to carry in schools anything more would be excessive. Anything less would give the uniformed the vapors.

      1. In bluer states, the “enhanced CCW” idea might get more traction, especially with those uninformed folks you mention. I’m not totally against the idea, but I really don’t see the need.

        I’m from Oregon, and as blue as Oregon is, CHL holders have been exempted from the state’s “gun free school zones” law for as long as I’ve been aware. It’s never been a problem, even with the “lax” training requirements for an Oregon CHL (3-4 hour classroom course covering basic firearm safety and self-defense laws).

        It’s a shock, I know, but our collective experience shows that people who care enough to take time and go through the class, pay the fees, get fingerprinted and background-checked, pay more fees, and get the license to carry a firearm in public, tend to keep their proficiency up whether or not state law requires it.

        Why, it’s almost as if it involves life-or-death, or something! [/sarcasm]

        1. I don’t disagree with your logic but we are talking politics here. We need to get defenders into the schools and other GFZs. I think that enhanced permits were pioneered by ID which is about as red as it gets.

    2. This is something I’m guilty of as well. “Arming teachers” is a bad phrase for the reasons you point out. “Allowing teachers and staff to carry” is much much better.

    3. I saw a question on Quora last night asking “Do people seriously want to arm teachers?” and I wrote an answer that made the case that “arming teachers” was a bad idea — but why are we forbidding teachers who are willing to be armed from being armed at schools?

      I wrote the answer to that question with this comment in mind.

  4. The only one you missed is PLEASE stop lecturing to non-gun people about how it’s a magazine and not a clip. About every war movie we’ve seen calls them clips. My dad said in WWII they called them clips, possibly because the main rifle (Garand) actually did use clips and it was just easier to use the same term for all pre-loaded ammunition carriers.

    All the movies from that era, made by mostly veterans, called them clips. Argue the functionality, not the name.

    1. Good idea. Except the only time I’ve ever witnessed the word “clip” used these days is nearly 100% by antis nearly 100% of the time with the words “WE NEED TO BAN large capacity” to the left of that. With lots of !!!!11eleventy to follow.

      My point is I have never seen informed people (pro- or anti-) use the term in the 21st century. I’m sure you can find a few on YouTube, but it just hasn’t been my experience. And usually “those people” are driven 100% by emotion. See Sebastian’s “Yes, We Care about Children” above. So if anyone knows how to get through to an emotionally unstable individual playing mumbley peg with arguments regarding your constitutional rights, please let me know how to counter that.

      1. There aren’t a lot of “informed” anti-gunners at all, but I’ve certainly seen terms like “assault clip” plenty often (however ridiculous that sounds). 30 round clips, etc. But my point is talk about how it doesn’t matter how many rounds your “clip” holds, not whether it’s a clip or magazine. The first is what matter,s the 2nd is not.

        And while it’s not necessarily bad to correct pro-gun people … the corrections can get a little out of hand.

        1. I think its the manner in which you correct them.

          “YOU IDIOT ITS MAGAZINE NOT CLIP” vs “I understand your point. But the preferred term is magazine, just FYI”

  5. RE: “Just a hobby”

    Also mention skydiving, bungee jumping, cliff diving, motorcycles, whiskey connoisseur-ing, and fast cars.

    Especially whiskey and fast cars.

    Almost everyone appreciates some kind of “adult beverage” occasionally. And almost everyone knows or is related to someone who likes to drop a turbo into his/her car, or does so themselves (or drives a SUV/truck far larger than they “need”).

    Never mind that hundreds of thousands of Americans die every year in auto collisions. Or that “nobody needs” more than X horsepower or torque, or that “nobody needs” the ability drive faster than the speed limit. Your “just a hobby” kills more people than all other non-natural causes of death, combined.

    As an aside, lately I’ve been spit-balling an argument that marathon-running and parkour are “questionable” hobbies that could be in need of “common-sense, reasonable restrictions”. Who “needs” to be able to run more than 5K (or other arbitrary distance) at a time? Who “needs” to be able to creatively and acrobatically overcome physical obstacles? What are you training for, outrunning police? Are you some kind of wannabe criminal practicing your trespassing, escape, and evasion?

    The bottom line is, it’s easy to dismiss it as “just a hobby” when it’s not your hobby. So turn that argument back on them. Find some way a criminal could use their hobby to further their illicit activities, and argue that their hobby should be banned.

    1. I wrote a thing to someone who was spitting the “nobody needs” trope at me.

      I am frequently told by members of the gun control tribe that no one “needs” one kind of gun or another, as if this statement is both true and dispositive. In reality it’s neither of those things, and hence it provokes eye-rolling rather than consideration.

      To understand why this is, think about what you mean by the word “need.” If you’re trying to say that I won’t literally drop dead as a consequence of not having a gun, I’ll grant the point. But it’s an incredibly *trivial* point, insofar as there are countless other items (no small number of which can be dangerous if misused) that satisfy the same criterion. Nearly *everything* in modern society is superfluous to someone’s life-or-death need. Unless you observe vows of poverty you probably own lots of such items, and the mere fact that you won’t die without them is not a remotely persuasive rationale for restricting or banning them.

      If a strict definition of “need” makes the statement trivial, though, a looser one renders it unsupportable. Consider that of the 350 million people in the United States, roughly a quarter of them are willing to admit to pollsters that they own guns. To believe that you possess insight into the individual circumstances of more than 80 million humans, such that you can speak competently (never mind authoritatively) about what does and does not meaningfully enrich their lives, is simply staggering in its arrogance regardless of whether the subject is guns, cars, food, housing, clothing, gardening tools, kitchen appliances, or toothpaste. *At best* you are pontificating from within the bubble of your own knowledge and experience: you are no worthy judge of what belongings other people should value, or why they should value them, any more than some rando is qualified to take, from afar, a moral or utilitarian inventory of *your* existence.

      You are, of course, entitled to your opinions and preferences. But you should bear firmly in mind that they are *your opinions and preferences*, not universal truths. That you cannot conceive of a respectable case for owning, say, an AR-15 does not mean that there isn’t one, and no one engaged in otherwise-peaceable conduct is required to justify themselves to you, or to the public, in the first place.

  6. Very good post.

    I want RKBA to be treated like an actual right- not a fake one.

    You don’t lose it be being 20 years old.
    You don’t lose it by being outside your home state.
    You don’t lose it by being outside your house.
    The you the right to buy and sell items related to the right.
    The courts don’t immediately laugh at all claims of infringement of the right.

    I don’t know how to get there.

  7. Part of our problem getting the word out to the Public is the “gatekeepers” of the “fourth estate”. I contend that those agenda-setting bastards of the Press actually make up the core lobbying arm of the Gun Control Movement.

    We’ve been fighting the Josh Sugarmann “assault weapon” big-lie scheme , where they bamboozle the Public when it comes to machineguns, for over 30 years now! Why does that big-lie still live on? Why?

    Because the Press deliberately protects and promotes that lie. Because the Press IS the Gun Control Movement.

    I think our bigger PR problem is how should we contend with the Press? Sure some of them aren’t anti-gun. But don’t be easily fooled. Despite his current reputation for fairness even Jake Tapper is a Big Time anti-gun cultist. You just have to go back to his earlier career in the late 1990’s to see how big an anti-gun cultist he was.

    1. The 2nd Amendment and its strong standing today can be owed to the internet, as the anti-gunners and MSM don’t monopolize it…….at least “not yet”. They will get to monopolize the internet if “Net-Neutrality” is ever passed, however, should the Democrat Party take back the reigns of power in D.C.

      We have the internet, and despite our side being more savy on “the web”, being able to better utilize it than the anti-gunners, the tech giants in conjuncture with the Mainstream Media and anti-2nd Amendment figure heads are going all in for internet censorship. Take a look at how Google, Twitter,and Youtube have been censoring 2nd Amendment related material.

      “Net-Neutrality” under a Democrat Presidency/Dictatorship is the ultimate “wet-dream” of the anti-gunners. Notice how you have Democrat Governors like Dannell Malloy calling the NRA a “terrorist” organization? If a Democrat Presidency, say that of Elizabeth Warren, gets “Net-Neutrality” implemented, the first thing she would do is look to stuff the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with anti-gun, door-to-door gun confiscation loving bureaucrats who would then declare 2nd Amendment related material, “material related to the aiding and abetting of terrorism and terrorists”……….

      If Communist-Chinese style Internet Censorship gets institutionalized in this Country through “Net-Neutrality”, than you can kiss both the 1st and 2nd Amendments goodbye all together.

    2. For Thirty freakin years we’ve been trying to combat the lie that ARs and civilian AKs are fully auto. It’s willful ignorance and deliberate deception at this point. I think about other lies which have been sucessfully killed and wonder what the difference is. Like Glocks can circumvent metal detectors. They actually don’t use that one anymore. How did we win that information battle? Is it because so many police departments adopted it? They adopted ARs too. Is it because you can physically hold it and realize “yeah, that slide is metal”. Here I am walking through a metal detector with one, and that beeping sound is it detecting metal. There are countless informative videos out there showing the difference between full auto and semi auto fire too. I guess I can go back to tangibility. You can take the slide off a glock and rap an anti on the head with it and say, “feel that? It’s fucking metal!”

  8. Excellent post with a lot of good points. All firearms are military grade is a great point to make. I’ll be saving this for reference.

  9. Good post but I have one nit to pick. I would not say “machine guns are banned.” but add a qualifier like “machine guns are effectively banned.” or “machine guns are virtually banned.” In online discussions it helps to stop (or at least limit) the ACKCHYUALLY reactions.

    1. You apparently missed that this was a context of talking to non-gun people. If they are so aware of gun culture that they pull an ACKCHYUALLY reaction, then they are not a “non-gun” person. They might be anti-gun, but they clearly know about laws in enough details to know they mean extreme bans or regulations.

  10. Late to the discussion.

    Why,oh,why do we seek to educate our sworn enemies?

    Every time on of these collectivists says “full semi-auto fire” or “military grade” or the “shoulder thing that goes up” is a win for our side.

    If you keep this up, soon the Leftards will be using the correct terms and, thereby give some semblance of credence to their “common sense” proposals, at least to the Sheeple, soccer moms and other nitwits.

    So, to all you NRA instructors & back-from-the- sandbox guys please let them wallow in their ignorance.

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