A friend recently posited a question. She asked, “why don’t pro-gun people ever go on the offensive? I mean, it’s been proven over and over that gun restrictions, gun free zones, and the like don’t work, so why isn’t there much push-back to the anti-gunners?”
Her question is a valid one that caused me to think of typical gun control arguments and what push-back might look like. Fortunately, there is a source of science and reason on the side of gun owners. John Lott and his Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) offer the only consistently clear views of gun-related crime data that’s not colored by the influence of those who would like to see guns eradicated from the planet, or at least the US citizenry. This voice in the wilderness is too often ignored when emotional debates play out in the news.
Based in part on CRPC’s input, here are three suggestions for pushing back against calls for broader gun control:
1. Make ATF improve its background check process or abandon it.
Gun control advocates like Hilary Clinton are fond of saying that background checks have stopped more than 2.4 million gun sales to unworthy persons. CRPC explains that 96 percent of those are initial denials, because ATF screening is done according to names—even similar but inexact matches—and nothing else. So John Andersson the convicted felon’s name might delay Jon Anderson the squirrel hunter from purchasing a .22 rifle. Guns.com has often reported on ATF’s inadequate records systems. In an age when a basement-run internet business can remember a customer’s name, shipping and billing address, credit card information, and order history, there’s no excuse for ATF “making like the 70s.”
2. Require businesses and units of government that ban firearms on their premises to be responsible for deaths, losses, and injuries associated with crime.
In 2016, Tennessee led by example in passing SB 1736, which saddles business owners with the “duty of care” for any concealed carry permit holder who is injured by natural or human-caused defensible events while legally disarmed on their premises. If they can do it, other states and municipalities can as well. After all, the implementation of a no-guns rule implies that the property overseer has fully insured the safety of all on the premises.
3) Make better use of media messaging.
Opponents of social justice usually have a tough time stomaching straw man arguments like the suit against Bushmaster’s advertising as a cause of the Sandy Hook massacre. Gun fans enjoy collegial railing against the hypocrisy of Hollywood actors who rake in millions playing gun-wielding action heroes, yet show up at anti-gun rallies spewing anti-gun prejudice. Armed citizen accounts put forth by NRA and many other outlets provide gun owners with plenty of information to chest-beat about, yet these daily incidents are rarely seen on the news.
It is time for gun advocates to step out of traditional comfort zones and get creative about guns and media. Using federally-mandated public service announcements to get the word out about successful defensive gun uses is an untapped resource by firearm-related non-profits, as far as I can tell. Although gun industry leaders and gun owners tend to shy away from concepts like “mandates,” incentives for promoting lawful gun defense stories are a vast untapped ocean of awareness and future support for gun ownership and the health of the industry.
Industry leaders should create guilds to support movies and video games that paint guns in a new light. With financial and celebrity backing, such groups could create attractive alternatives to the glorification of criminal violence that grooms erroneous and skewed cultural assumptions about firearms. And yes, this is the flip side of the Bushmaster suit straw man argument referenced earlier. Rather than deny that media has some effect on behavior and beliefs, the gun community should be re-shaping media itself.
These suggestions may seem far-out to some. But when ignorance is on parade in the media (remember “a shoulder thing that goes up,” and other greatest hits?), when lives are put at risk because a property owner is hoplophobic, and when good citizens are prevented from engaging in commerce because a government entity embraces antiquity and the grasping of low-hanging fruit to get its brownie points, gun owners and industry leaders need to do something different.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.
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