By Kerry Slone
With over 8 million new firearm owners in 2020 (almost half being women), we have an opportunity to make an impact on elected representatives who push for gun control laws. These new gun owners, regardless of their personal reasons for deciding to purchase a firearm, all have one thing in common: the potential to become fierce advocates for the Second Amendment.
While their reasons for ownership no doubt vary greatly, one factor is most often voiced as the underlying motive: fear.
Fear comes in many forms; whether created by the media, witnessing periods of protests, violence and rioting across America, reading that cities are defunding law enforcement, or simply the fear of the unknown, it has brought millions of people to realize that they alone are responsible for their own safety.
While a large majority of longtime firearms owners understand this, there is a huge disconnect regarding the correlation fundamental to the right of self-defense and gun control legislation, especially among new firearm owners.
Knowing this disconnect exists, enter the Giffords Law Center. As The Truth About Guns has reported, Gabby Giffords and her band of merry gun-grabbers have tried to exploit the lack of a cohesive voice amongst gun owners and has created a new organization: Gun Owners for Safety. This ginned up operation is aimed at new firearm owners and the Fudd community in general. They claim to unite “hunters, sport shooters, and collectors who want commonsense gun laws.”
You may be thinking it’s just another AstroTurf anti-gun group. So what? They aren’t going to take MY guns. I don’t care. But you really should.
From many within the gun community, the only reactions were another round of laughter, eye rolls and fingers pointed at the Fudds and those who incessantly post and comment on social media to the effect that, “No one under 21 needs a Gun” and “If you need 30 rounds, you’re a terrible hunter.”
It has become a predictable game being played in plain view. However, the game is changing and the changes are similar to the differences between checkers and chess. Giffords intends to exploit firearm owners’ resistance to change by leveraging the latest group of gun owners who have not yet been inculcated in the gun community.
With gun control groups being very well funded, well organized, and well versed in their talking points, they playing this new game by not focusing on the “old guard” gun owner. Instead, they have their sights on the back line of the chess board, the 8 million-plus people new to firearm ownership within the past year.
They have already started playing a new version of their game, strategically placing their pieces on the board, while the majority of gun owners have no idea this new organization exists, let alone how they are changing the game.
As a firearm instructor and educator, I inevitably have at least four or five students in every class who believe that there are such things as “good gun control laws” and if you are a law-abiding citizen, there’s no reason not to support them. As a way to help reshape the narrative, I explain how those “good gun control laws” can and will negatively impact them and their rights.
Humans are inherently self-focused. Most people who don’t own guns, or those who have recently purchased their first firearm, are likely looking at gun control in part from the perspective of “what’s best for society” or “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” These are the justifications gun control activists use to justify their abrogation of individuals’ gun rights.
Individuals who are new to gun ownership don’t usually stop to analyze the impacts of how these laws will affect their lives personally. Once they realize that these “good gun control laws” have the potential to impact their ability to defend themselves and their families, it’s amazing to see the paradigm shift.
While that in itself is a success, they frequently still don’t grasp that even if they don’t support gun control laws, they must also look more critically at the politicians they support.
Part of our responsibility as longtime firearm owners is to help these new gun owners understand that the “D” or “R” behind the politician’s name doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t support passing limits on their Second Amendment rights.
As Firearms Policy Coalition recently highlighted, January 2021 set a record for the highest number of firearm background checks initiated through the FBI with 4,317,804…quite remarkable. But how do we begin to reach these new gun owners? We always see the statistic that there are over 100 million gun owners in the United States. But the NRA lists only five million members—what about all the others?
First and foremost, we must get out of our own echo chambers. We can give speeches, and create social media posts all day long about the folly and harm of gun control, but the reality is that we are only speaking to those who agree.
We need to look beyond the “2A community” and find ways to reach the 95 plus percent of gun owners in America who aren’t in the industry, or active in “the community.” So how exactly do we accomplish this?
Here are a few ways to reach new firearm owners. Some are easier than others, but all are effective.
The most often overlooked way, but the one with the highest impact potential, is by creating relationships with your community and using the opportunity to become a resource, not an adversary, about firearms and gun control.
When was the last time you spoke to your neighbors for more than a minute or two? Yes, this takes a willingness to engage and a time commitment, but considering your inalienable right to own firearms is at stake, it’s time well spent. Start by doing some community outreach in crime prevention, education of situational awareness, and fundamental safety — in other words: don’t lead with the gun.
A second approach is to become active in local politics. Your city and county are the best places to prevent small scale attacks on Second Amendment rights, as well as blocking politicians who support gun control from moving into state, or national positions where they are harder to defeat and replace.
Finally, consider becoming a firearms instructor. But don’t solely teach operation and maintenance. Incorporate use of force consequences, de-escalation tactics, conflict avoidance, and rather than focusing solely on current gun laws, emphasize to your students how these laws negatively impact them personally.
As both the number and demographics of firearms ownership continue to change, one of the most positive things to happen in the past year is that we as gun owners and Second Amendment advocates have been presented with an unprecedented, unique opportunity to shift from defense to offense regarding the gun control debate.
Through your commitment to outreach and education, we are in a position to prevent organizations like Giffords Courage and others, from manipulating both new firearm owners and longtime owners who remain unengaged, into supporting laws that will infringe upon their ability to defend themselves and their families. We must also realize that the fight to protect our Second Amendment is a marathon, not a sprint, and success lies in longterm commitment.
We must become comfortable being uncomfortable; making the conscious decision to leave our comfort zones, and reach across party lines while embracing and educating new firearm owners to help them realize these politically motivated and well-funded organizations and politicians do not have their best interests in mind.
The future history of the Second Amendment is up to us…We the People. We must be the change we want to see. We must unite to defend our inalienable right to keep and bear arms that’s guaranteed by the Second Amendment and finally end the debate that has been under constant attack since 1791.
Kerry Slone is the Founder of We The Female, a non-profit organization created to both empower and provide personal security and firearm safety education to women.