Safe Mode: On
On the issue of gun control advocates... Repost from Nov-20-2009

Stumbled on this a few days ago. I think everyone should read it. Long yes, but it helps to understand our fellow humans who have a fear of firearms. Worth reposting for sure!


Raging Against Self Defense: A Psychiatrist Examines The Anti-Gun Mentality

Raging Against Self Defense:

A Psychiatrist Examines The Anti-Gun Mentality

By Sarah Thompson, M.D.

"You don't need to have a gun; the police will protect you."

"If people carry guns, there will be murders over parking spaces and neighborhood basketball games."

"I'm a pacifist. Enlightened, spiritually aware people shouldn't own guns."

"I'd rather be raped than have some redneck militia type try to rescue me."

How often have you heard these statements from misguided advocates of
victim disarmament, or even woefully uninformed relatives and neighbors?
Why do people cling so tightly to these beliefs, in the face of
incontrovertible evidence that they are wrong? Why do they get so
furiously angry when gun owners point out that their arguments are
factually and logically incorrect?

How can you communicate with these people who seem to be out of touch with reality and rational thought?

One approach to help you deal with anti-gun people is to understand
their psychological processes. Once you understand why these people
behave so irrationally, you can communicate more effectively with them.

Defense Mechanisms


About a year ago I received an e-mail from a member of a local Jewish
organization. The author, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that
people have no right to carry firearms because he didn't want to be
murdered if one of his neighbors had a "bad day". (I don't know that
this person is a "he", but I'm assuming so for the sake of simplicity.) I
responded by asking him why he thought his neighbors wanted to murder
him, and, of course, got no response. The truth is that he's
statistically more likely to be murdered by a neighbor who doesn't
legally carry a firearm1 and more likely to be shot accidentally by a
law enforcement officer.1

How does my correspondent "know" that his neighbors would murder him if
they had guns? He doesn't. What he was really saying was that if he had a
gun, he might murder his neighbors if he had a bad day, or if they took
his parking space, or played their stereos too loud. This is an example
of what mental health professionals call projection – unconsciously
projecting one's own unacceptable feelings onto other people, so that
one doesn't have to own them.3 In some cases, the intolerable feelings
are projected not onto a person, but onto an inanimate object, such as a
gun,4 so that the projector believes the gun itself will murder him.

Projection is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are unconscious
psychological mechanisms that protect us from feelings that we cannot
consciously accept.5 They operate without our awareness, so that we
don't have to deal consciously with "forbidden" feelings and impulses.
Thus, if you asked my e-mail correspondent if he really wanted to murder
his neighbors, he would vehemently deny it, and insist that other
people want to kill him.

Projection is a particularly insidious defense mechanism, because it not
only prevents a person from dealing with his own feelings, it also
creates a world where he perceives everyone else as directing his own
hostile feelings back at him.6

All people have violent, and even homicidal, impulses. For example, it's
common to hear people say "I'd like to kill my boss", or "If you do
that one more time I'm going to kill you." They don't actually mean that
they're going to, or even would, kill anyone; they're simply
acknowledging anger and frustration. All of us suffer from fear and
feelings of helplessness and vulnerability. Most people can acknowledge
feelings of rage, fear, frustration, jealousy, etc. without having to
act on them in inappropriate and destructive ways.

Some people, however, are unable consciously to admit that they have
such "unacceptable" emotions. They may have higher than average levels
of rage, frustration, or fear. Perhaps they fear that if they
acknowledge the hostile feelings, they will lose control and really will
hurt someone. They may believe that "good people" never have such
feelings, when in fact all people have them.

This is especially true now that education "experts" commonly prohibit
children from expressing negative emotions or aggression. Instead of
learning that such emotions are normal, but that destructive behavior
needs to be controlled, children now learn that feelings of anger are
evil, dangerous and subject to severe punishment.7To protect themselves
from "being bad", they are forced to use defense mechanisms to avoid
owning their own normal emotions. Unfortunately, using such defense
mechanisms inappropriately can endanger their mental health; children
need to learn how to deal appropriately with reality, not how to avoid

(This discussion of psychological mechanisms applies to the average
person who is uninformed, or misinformed, about firearms and
self-defense. It does not apply to the anti- gun ideologue. Fanatics
like Charles Schumer know the facts about firearms, and advocate victim
disarmament consciously and willfully in order to gain political power.
This psychological analysis does not apply to them.)


Another defense mechanism commonly utilized by supporters of gun control
is denial. Denial is simply refusing to accept the reality of a given
situation.9 For example, consider a woman whose husband starts coming
home late, has strange perfume on his clothes, and starts charging
flowers and jewelry on his credit card. She may get extremely angry at a
well-meaning friend who suggests that her husband is having an affair.
The reality is obvious, but the wronged wife is so threatened by her
husband's infidelity that she is unable to accept it, and so denies its

Anti-gun people do the same thing. It's obvious that we live in a
dangerous society, where criminals attack innocent people. Just about
everyone has been, or knows someone who has been, victimized. It's
equally obvious that law enforcement can't protect everyone everywhere
24 hours a day. Extensive scholarly research demonstrates that the
police have no legal duty to protect you10 and that firearm ownership is
the most effective way to protect yourself and your family.11 There is
irrefutable evidence that victim disarmament nearly always precedes
genocide.12 Nonetheless, the anti-gun folks insist, despite all evidence
to the contrary, that "the police will protect you", "this is a safe
neighborhood" and "it can't happen here", where "it" is everything from
mugging to mass murder.

Anti-gun people who refuse to accept the reality of the proven and very
serious dangers of civilian disarmament are using denial to protect
themselves from the anxiety of feeling helpless and vulnerable.
Likewise, gun owners who insist that "the government will never
confiscate my guns" are also using denial to protect themselves from the
anxiety of contemplating being forcibly disarmed and rendered helpless
and vulnerable.

Reaction Formation

Reaction formation is yet another defense mechanism common among the
anti-gun folks. Reaction formation occurs when a person's mind turns an
unacceptable feeling or desire into its complete opposite.13 For
example, a child who is jealous of a sibling may exhibit excessive love
and devotion for the hated brother or sister.

Likewise, a person who harbors murderous rage toward his fellow humans
may claim to be a devoted pacifist and refuse to eat meat or even kill a
cockroach.14 Often such people take refuge in various spiritual
disciplines and believe that they are "superior" to "less civilized"
folks who engage in "violent behavior" such as hunting, or even target
shooting. They may devote themselves to "animal welfare" organizations
that proclaim that the rights of animals take precedence over the rights
of people.15 This not only allows the angry person to avoid dealing
with his rage, it allows him actually to harm the people he hates
without having to know he hates them.

This is not meant to disparage the many wonderful people who are
pacifists, spiritually inclined, vegetarian, or who support animal
welfare. The key issue is not the belief itself, but rather the way in
which the person experiences and lives his beliefs. Sincere
practitioners seek to improve themselves, or to be helpful in a gentle,
respectful fashion. They work to persuade others peacefully by setting
an example of what they believe to be correct behavior. Sincere
pacifists generally exhibit good will towards others, even towards
persons with whom they might disagree on various issues.

Contrast the sincere pacifist or animal lover with the strident, angry
person who wants to ban meat and who believes murdering hunters is
justified in order to "save the animals" – or the person who wants to
outlaw self- defense and believes innocent people have the obligation to
be raped and murdered for the good of society. For example, noted
feminist Betty Friedan said "that lethal violence even in self defense
only engenders more violence."16 The truly spiritual, pacifist person
refrains from forcing others to do what he believes, and is generally
driven by positive emotions, while the angry person finds "socially
acceptable" ways to harm, abuse, or even kill, his fellow man.

In the case of anti-gun people, reaction formation keeps any knowledge
of their hatred for their fellow humans out of consciousness, while
allowing them to feel superior to "violent gun owners". At the same
time, it also allows them to cause serious harm, and even loss of life,
to others by denying them the tools necessary to defend themselves. This
makes reaction formation very attractive from a psychological point of
view, and therefore very difficult to counteract.

Defense Mechanisms Are Not Mental Illnesses

Defense mechanisms are normal. All of us use them to some extent, and
their use does not imply mental illness. Advocates of victim disarmament
may be misguided or uninformed, they may be stupid, or they may be
consciously intent on evil, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are
"mentally ill".

Some defense mechanisms, however, are healthier than others. A safe
general rule is that a defense is healthy if it helps you to function
better in your personal and professional life, and unhealthy if it
interferes with your life, your relationships, or the well-being of
others. Young children utilize projection and denial much more commonly
than do healthy adults. On the other hand, "if projection is used as a
defense mechanism to a very great extent in adult life, the user's
perception of external reality will be seriously distorted."17

Defense mechanisms are also frequently combined, so that an anti-gun
person may use several defense mechanisms simultaneously. For example,
my unfortunate correspondent uses projection to create a world in which
all his neighbors want to murder him. As a result, he becomes more angry
and fearful, and needs to employ even more defense mechanisms to cope.
So he uses projection to attribute his own rage to others, he uses
denial that there is any danger to protect himself from a world where he
believes he is helpless and everyone wants to murder him, and he uses
reaction formation to try to control everyone else's life because his
own is so horribly out of control.

Also, it's important to remember that not all anti-gun beliefs are the
result of defense mechanisms. Some people suffer from gun phobia18, an
excessive and completely irrational fear of firearms, usually caused by
the anti-gun conditioning they've been subjected to by the media,
politicians, so-called "educators," and others. In some cases, gun
phobia is caused by an authentic bad experience associated with a
firearm. But with all due respect to Col. Jeff Cooper, who coined the
term "hoplophobia" to describe anti-gun people, most anti-gun people do
not have true phobias. Interestingly, a person with a true phobia of
guns realizes his fear is excessive or unreasonable,19 something most
anti-gun folks will never admit.

Defense mechanisms distort reality

Because defense mechanisms distort reality in order to avoid unpleasant
emotions, the person who uses them has an impaired ability to recognize
and accept reality. This explains why my e-mail correspondent and many
other anti-gun people persist in believing that their neighbors and co-
workers will become mass murderers if allowed to own firearms.

People who legally carry concealed firearms are actually less violent
and less prone to criminal activity of all kinds than is the general
population.20 A person who has a clean record, has passed an FBI
background check, undergone firearms training, and spent several hundred
dollars to get a permit and a firearm, is highly unlikely to choose to
murder a neighbor. Doing so would result in his facing a police manhunt,
a trial, prison, possibly capital punishment, and the destruction of
his family, job, and reputation. Obviously it would make no sense for
such a person to shoot a neighbor - except in self-defense. Equally
obviously, the anti-gun person who believes that malicious shootings by
ordinary gun owners are likely to occur is not in touch with reality.21

The Common Thread: Rage

In my experience, the common thread in anti-gun people is rage. Either
anti-gun people harbor more rage than others, or they're less able to
cope with it appropriately. Because they can't handle their own feelings
of rage, they are forced to use defense mechanisms in an unhealthy
manner. Because they wrongly perceive others as seeking to harm them,
they advocate the disarmament of ordinary people who have no desire to
harm anyone. So why do anti-gun people have so much rage and why are
they unable to deal with it in appropriate ways? Consider for a moment
that the largest and most hysterical anti-gun groups include
disproportionately large numbers of women, African- Americans and Jews.
And virtually all of the organizations that claim to speak for these
"oppressed people" are stridently anti-gun. Not coincidentally, among
Jews, Blacks and women there are many "professional victims" who have
little sense of identity outside of their victimhood.

Identity as Victim

If I were to summarize this article in three sentences, they would be:

(1) People who identify themselves as "victims" harbor excessive amounts
of rage at other people, whom they perceive as "not victims."

(2) In order psychologically to deal with this rage, these "victims"
utilize defense mechanisms that enable them to harm others in socially
acceptable ways, without accepting responsibility or suffering guilt,
and without having to give up their status as "victims."

(3) Gun owners are frequently the targets of professional victims
because gun owners are willing and able to prevent their own

Thus the concept of "identity as victim" is essential. How and why do
members of some groups choose to identify themselves as victims and
teach their children to do the same? While it's true that women, Jews,
and African- Americans have historically been victimized, they now
participate in American society on an equal basis. And other groups,
most notably Asian-Americans, have been equally victimized, and yet have
transcended the "eternal victim" mentality.

Why, for example, would a 6'10" NBA player who makes $10 million a year
see himself as a "victim"? Why would a successful, respected, wealthy,
Jewish physician regard himself as a "victim"? Conversely, why might a
wheelchair bound woman who lives on government disability NOT regard
herself as a victim?

I would argue it's because the basketball player and the physician
believe that their identities are dependent on being victims – not
because they have actually been victimized, but because they're members
of groups that claim victim status. Conversely, the disabled woman was
probably raised to believe that she is responsible for her own success
or failure.

In fact, many people who have been victims of actual violent crime, or
who have survived war or civil strife, support the right of
self-defense. The old saying is often correct: "a conservative is a
liberal who has been mugged."

Special Treatment and Misleading Leaders

Two reasons for these groups to insist on "victim" status seem likely.
First, by claiming victim status, members of these groups can demand
(and get) special treatment through quotas, affirmative action,
reparations, and other preferential treatment programs.

Second, these people have been indoctrinated to believe that there is no
alternative to remaining a victim forever. Their leaders remind them
constantly that they are mistreated in every imaginable way (most of
them imaginary!), attribute every one of life's misfortunes to "racism"
or "sexism" or "hate crimes", and dream up ever more complex schemes for
special treatment and favors.22 These leaders are the ones who preach
that the entire Black experience is slavery and racism, or that Jewish
history before and after the Holocaust is irrelevant,23 or that happily
married women are really victims of sexual slavery.24

Likewise, the NAACP is suing firearms manufacturers to put them out of
business,25 and is especially opposed to the inexpensive pistols that
enable the poor to defend themselves in gang-ridden inner cities. The
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed evicting
anyone who dares to keep a tool of self-defense in any of its
crime-infested housing projects. Jewish leaders, especially those in the
politically correct "Reform" branch, preach that gun control is "a
solemn religious obligation",26 contrary to the teachings of their
sacred scriptures and their own history.27 Law enforcement agencies
falsely teach women that they are safest if they don't resist rapists
and robbers,28 while women's organizations advocate gun control, thus
rendering women and their children defenseless.

Victimhood is good business for organizations that foster victim status.
As victims, the members depend upon the organization to protect them,
and the organization in turn relies on members for funding and political
power. In the interest of self-preservation, these organizations work
hard at preserving hatred and bigotry and at keeping their members
defenseless – and therefore dependent.

Anti-gun groups love victims!

From my observations, pro-victimhood is a feature of all of the anti-gun
special interest groups, not just the ones mentioned here. Every
organization that supports gun control apparently wants its members to
be helpless, terrified and totally dependent on someone else to control
every aspect of their lives. It doesn't matter whether it's a religious,
racial, ethnic, political, social, or charitable group. From Handgun
Control, Inc. to the Anti- Defamation League to the Million Mom March,
they all want you to live in fear. In this scheme, soccer moms are
"victims" just as much as are inner-city minorities.

If these organizations truly cared about the people for whom they claim
to speak, they would encourage safe and responsible firearms ownership.
They would help people to learn how to defend themselves and their
families so that they wouldn't have to live in fear. They would tell
everyone that one of the wonderful things about being an American is
that you have the right to keep and bear arms, the right to defend
yourself, and how these rights preserve the right to be free.

The psychological price of being a victim

In our current society, victimhood has many perceived benefits, but
there are some serious drawbacks. Victims tend to see the world as a
scary and threatening place. They believe that others treat them
differently, unfairly, and even maliciously – and that they are helpless
to do anything about it. This belief, that they are being mistreated
and are helpless to resist, generates tremendous rage, and often,
serious depression.

But for victims to show rage openly can be dangerous, if not outright
suicidal. For example, a battered woman who screams at or hits her
attacker may provoke worse beatings or even her own murder. And a person
who successfully defends himself loses his status as "victim." For
someone whose entire identity is dependent on being a victim, the loss
of victim status is just as threatening as loss of life.

So, unable psychologically to cope with such rage, people who view
themselves as victims: (1) use defense mechanisms to displace it into
irrational beliefs about neighbors killing each other, and the
infallibility of police protection, and (2) attempt to regain control by
controlling gun owners, whom they wrongly perceive as "the enemy".

Say NO to being a victim!

But no one needs to be a victim! Quite simply, it's not very easy to
victimize a person who owns and knows how to use a firearm. If most
women owned and carried firearms, rapes and beating would decrease.29
Thugs who target the elderly and disabled would find honest work once
they realized they were likely to be looking down the barrel of a pistol
or shotgun. It's nearly impossible to enslave, or herd into
concentration camps, large numbers of armed people.

Communicating with anti-gun people

How can you communicate more effectively with an anti-gun person who is
using unhealthy defense mechanisms? There are no quick and easy answers.
But there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Anger and attacks do not work

Most gun owners, when confronted by an anti-gun person, become angry and
hostile. This is understandable, because gun owners increasingly face
ridicule, persecution and discrimination. (If you don't believe this,
ask yourself if anyone would seriously introduce legislation to ban
African- Americans, women, or Jews from post offices, schools, and
churches. Even convicted felons aren't banned from such places – but
peaceful armed citizens are!) But an angry response is

It's not helpful to attack the person you're trying to persuade.
Anything that makes him feel more fearful or angry will only intensify
his defenses. Your goal is to help the person feel safe, and then to
provide experiences and information that will help him to make informed

Be Gentle

You should never try to break down a defense mechanism by force.
Remember that defense mechanisms protect people from feelings they
cannot handle, and if you take that protection away, you can cause
serious psychological harm. And because defense mechanisms operate
unconsciously, it won't do any good to show an anti-gun person this
article or to point out that he's using defense mechanisms. Your goal is
gently and gradually to help the person to have a more realistic and
rational view of the world. This cannot be done in one hour or one day.

As you reach out to people in this way, you need to deal with both the
illogical thought processes involved and the emotional reactions that
anti-gun people have to firearms. When dealing with illogical thought
processes, you are attempting to use reason and logic to convince the
anti-gun person that his perception of other people and his perception
of firearms are seriously inaccurate. The goal is to help him to
understand that armed citizens and firearms are not threats, and may
even save his life.

Reversing Irrational thoughts

The Mirror Technique

One approach that can be helpful is simply to feed back what the
anti-gun person is telling you, in a neutral, inquisitive way. So, when
replying to my anonymous e-mail correspondent (above), I might respond,
"So you fear if your neighbors had guns, they would use them to murder
you. What makes you think that?" When you simply repeat what the person
has said, and ask questions, you are not directly challenging his
defenses. You are holding up a mirror to let him see his own views. If
he has very strong defenses, he can continue to insist that his
neighbors want to murder him. However, if his defenses are less rigid,
he may start to question his position.

Another example might be, "Why do you think that your children's
schoolteachers would shoot them?" You might follow this up with
something like, "Why do you entrust your precious children to someone
you believe would murder them?" Again, you are merely asking questions,
and not directly attacking the person or his defenses.

Of course the anti-gun person might continue to insist that the teachers
really would harm children, but prohibiting them from owning guns would
prevent it. So you might ask how using a gun to murder innocent
children is different from stabbing children with scissors, assaulting
them with baseball bats, or poisoning the milk and cookies.

It's important to ask "open-ended" questions that require a response
other than "yes" or "no". Such questions require the anti-gun person
actually to think about what he is saying. This will help him to
re-examine his beliefs. It may also encourage him to ask you questions
about firearms use and ownership.

The "What Would You Do?" Technique

Once you have a dialogue going with an anti-gun person, you might want
to insert him into a hypothetical scenario, although doing so is a
greater threat to his defenses, and is therefore more risky. You might
ask how he would deal with a difficult or annoying co-worker. He will
likely respond that he would never resort to violence, but "other
people" would, especially if they had guns. (Projection again.) You can
then ask him who these "other people" are, why they would shoot a
co-worker, and what the shooter would gain by doing so.

Don't try to "win" the argument. Don't try to embarrass the person
you're trying to educate. Remember that no one likes to admit that his
deeply held beliefs are wrong. No one likes to hear "I told you so!" Be
patient and gentle. If you are arrogant, condescending, hurtful or rude
to the anti-gun person, you will only convince him that gun owners are
arrogant, hurtful people – who should not be trusted with guns!

Defusing Emotional reactions

The "You Are There" Technique

Rational arguments alone are not likely to be successful, especially
since many people "feel" rather than "think". You also need to deal with
the emotional responses of the anti-gun person. Remember that most
people have been conditioned to associate firearms with dead toddlers.
So you need to change the person's emotional responses along with his

One way to do this is to put the anti-gun person (or his family) at a
hypothetical crime scene and ask what he would like to have happen. For
example, "Imagine your wife is in the parking lot at the supermarket and
two men grab her. One holds a knife to her throat while the other tears
her clothes off. If I see this happening and have a gun, what should I
do? What would happen next? What if after five minutes, the police still
haven't arrived?"

Just let him answer the questions and mentally walk through the
scenario. Don't argue with his answers. You are planting seeds in his
mind than can help change his emotional responses.

The Power of Empathy

Another emotion-based approach that is often more successful is to
respond sympathetically to the plight of the anti-gun person.

Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you believed your neighbors
and co-workers wanted to kill you and your family, and you could do
nothing at all about it except to wait for the inevitable to occur.

Not very pleasant, is it?

This is the world in which opponents of armed self-defense live. All of
us have had times in our lives when we felt "different" and had to
contend with hostile schoolmates, co- workers, etc. So we need to invoke
our own compassion for these terrified people. Say something like, "It
must be awful to live in fear of being assaulted by your own neighbors. I
remember what it was like when I was the only (Jew, Mormon,
African-American, Republican) in my (class, football team, workplace) –
and even then I didn't think anyone was going to kill me." It's
essential that you sincerely feel some compassion and empathy; if you're
glib or sarcastic, this won't work.

Using empathy works in several ways. First, it defuses a potentially
hostile interaction. Anti-gun people are used to being attacked, not
understood, by advocates of gun rights. Instead of an "evil, gun-toting,
extremist", you are now a sympathetic, fellow human being. This may
also open the door for a friendly conversation, in which you can each
discover that your "opponent" is a person with whom you have some things
in common. You may even create an opportunity to dispel some of the
misinformation about firearms and self-defense that is so prevalent.

This empathy technique is also useful for redirecting, or ending, a
heated argument that has become hostile and unproductive. It allows you
to escape from the dead end of "guns save lives" vs. "the only reason to
have a gun is to murder children." With empathy you can reframe the
argument entirely. Instead of arguing about whether more lives are saved
or lost as a result of gun ownership, you can comment on how terrifying
it must be to live in a country where 80 million people own guns
"solely for the purpose of murdering children".

You should not expect any of these approaches to work immediately; they
won't. With rare exceptions, the anti-gun person is simply not going to
"see the light," thank you profusely, and beg you to take him shooting.
What you are doing is putting tiny chinks into the armor of the person's
defenses, or planting seeds that may someday develop into a more open
mind or a more rational analysis. This process can take months or years.
But it does work!

Corrective Experiences

Perhaps the most effective way to dissolve defense mechanisms, however,
is by providing corrective experiences30. Corrective experiences are
experiences that allow a person to learn that his ideas about gun owners
and guns are incorrect in a safe and non-threatening way. To provide a
corrective experience, you first allow the person to attempt to project
his incorrect ideas onto you. Then, you demonstrate that he is wrong by
your behavior, not by arguing.

For example, the anti-gun person will unconsciously attempt to provoke
you by claiming that gun owners are uneducated "rednecks," or by
treating you as if you are an uneducated "redneck." If you get angry and
respond by calling him a "stupid, liberal, socialist", you will prove
his point. However, if you casually talk about your M.B.A., your trip to
the Shakespeare festival, your vegetable garden, or your daughter's
ballet recital, you will provide him with the opportunity to correct his

If you have used the above techniques, then you have already provided
one corrective experience. You have demonstrated to the frightened,
anti-gun person that gun owners are not abusive, scary, dangerous and
sub-human monsters, but normal, everyday people who care about their
families, friends and even strangers.

As many gun owners have already discovered, the most important
corrective experiences involve actually exposing the fearful person to a
firearm. It is almost never advisable to tell someone that you carry a
concealed firearm, but there are ways to use your own experience

For example, if you're dealing with an anti-gun person with whom you
interact regularly and have a generally good relationship – a coworker,
neighbor, church member, etc. – you might indirectly refer to concealed
carry. You should never say anything like "I'm carrying a gun right now
and you can't even tell," especially because in some states that would
be considered illegal, "threatening" behavior. But you might consider
saying something like, "I sometimes carry a firearm, and you've never
seemed to be uncomfortable around me." Whether to disclose this
information is an individual decision, and you should consider carefully
other consequences before using this approach.

First-hand experience

Ultimately, your goal is to take the anti-gun person shooting. Some
people will accept an invitation to accompany you to the range, but
others are too frightened to do so, and will need some preliminary

First, you want to encourage the anti-gun person to have some contact
with a firearm in whatever way feels most comfortable to him. Many
people seem to believe that firearms have minds of their own and shoot
people of their own volition. So you might want to start by inviting him
simply to look at and then handle an unloaded firearm. This also
provides you the opportunity to show the inexperienced person how to
tell whether a firearm is loaded and to teach him the basic rules of
firearms safety.

Encourage the newcomer to ask questions and remember that your role is
to present accurate information in a friendly, responsible and
non-threatening way. This is a good time to offer some reading material
on the benefits of firearms ownership. But be careful not to provide so
much information that it's overwhelming. And remember this is not the
time to launch into anti-government rants, the New World Order,
conspiracy theories, or any kind of political talk!

Next, you can invite your friend to accompany you to the shooting range.
(And if you're going to trust each other with loaded guns, you should
consider yourselves friends!) Assure him that no one will force him to
shoot a gun and he's free just to watch. Let him know in advance what he
will experience and what will be expected of him. This includes such
things as the need for eye and ear protection, a cap, appropriate
clothing, etc. Make sure you have a firearm appropriate for your guest
should s/he decide to try shooting. This means a lower caliber firearm
that doesn't have too much recoil. If your guest is a woman, make sure
the firearm will fit her appropriately. Many rifles have stocks that are
too long for small women, and double-stack semi-autos are usually too
large for a woman's hand.

Remember that just visiting the range can be a corrective experience.
Your guest will learn that gun owners are disciplined, responsible,
safety-conscious, courteous, considerate, and follow the rules. He will
see people of all ages, from children to the elderly, male and female,
enjoying an activity together. He will not see a single "beer-swilling
redneck" waving a firearm in people's faces.

In my experience, most people who visit a range will decide they do want
to try shooting. Remember to make sure your guest understands all the
safety rules and range rules before allowing him to handle a firearm. If
you don't feel competent to teach a newcomer to shoot, ask an
instructor or range master to assist. Remember to provide lots of
positive feedback and encouragement. If you're lucky, you'll recruit a
new firearms enthusiast.

But even if your guest decides that shooting is "not for him", he will
have learned many valuable lessons. He will know basic rules of firearms
safety, and how to clear a firearm should he need to do so. This may
well save his life someday. He will know that guns do not fire unless a
person pulls the trigger. He will know that gun owners are friendly,
responsible people, not very different from him. Even if he chooses not
to fire a gun ever again, he will be less likely to fear and persecute
gun owners. And who knows – a few months or years later he may decide to
become a gun owner.

Why these techniques do not always work

You should remember that you will not be successful with all anti-gun
people. Some people are so terrified and have such strong defenses, that
it's not possible for someone without professional training to get
through. Some people have their minds made up and refuse to consider
opening them. Others may concede that what you say "makes sense," but
are unwilling to challenge the forces of political correctness. A few
may have had traumatic experiences with firearms from which they have
not recovered.

You will also not be successful with the anti-gun ideologues, people
like Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. These people have made a
conscious choice to oppose firearms ownership and self-defense. They
almost always gain power, prestige, and money from their anti-gun
politics. They are not interested in the facts or in saving lives. They
know the facts and understand the consequences of their actions, and
will happily sacrifice innocent people if it furthers their selfish
agenda. Do not use these techniques on such people. They only respond to
fears of losing the power, prestige and money that they covet.31


By better understanding advocates of civilian disarmament, and by
learning and practicing some simple techniques to deal with their
psychological defenses, you will be much more effective in your efforts
to communicate with anti-gun people. This will enable you to be more
successful at educating them about the realities of firearms and self-
defense, and their importance to our liberty and safety.

Educating others about firearms is hard work. It's not glamorous, and it
generally needs to be done one person at a time. But it's a very
necessary and important task. The average American supports freedom of
speech and freedom of religion, whether or not he chooses to exercise
them. He supports fair trials, whether or not he's ever been in a
courtroom. He likewise needs to understand that self- defense is an
essential right, whether or not he chooses to own or carry a gun.

© 2000, Sarah Thompson.

Dr. Thompson is Executive Director of Utah Gun Owners Alliance, and also writes The Righter,, a monthly column on individual rights.


1 Lott, John R., Jr. 1998. More Guns, Less Crime. University of Chicago
Press. Pp. 11-12; Proposition B: More Security Or Greater Danger?, St.
Louis Post-Dispatch. March 21, 1999.

2 Lott 1998, Pp. 1-2.

3 Kaplan, Harold M. and Sadock, Benjamin J. 1990. Pocket Handbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Williams & Wilkins. P. 20.

4Brenner, Charles. 1973. An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis (rev.
ed.). Anchor Books. Pp. 91-93; Lefton, Lester A. 1994. Psychology (5th
edition). Allyn & Bacon. Pp. 432-433.

5 Brenner 1973. P. 91.

6 Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20; Lefton 1994, p. 432.

7 Talbott, John A., Robert E. Hales and Stuart C. Yudofsky, eds. 1988.
Textbook of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Press. P.137.

8 "Kids Suspended for Playground Game." Associated Press. April 6, 2000.

9 Lightfoot, Liz. "Gun Return to the Nursery School Toy Chest." The
London Telegraph. May 22, 2000. Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20; Lefton
1994, p. 433.

10 Stevens, Richard W. 1999. Dial 911 and Die. Mazel Freedom Press.
[Analyzes the law in 54 U.S. jurisdictions]; see, e.g., Bowers v.
DeVito, 686 F.2d 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982) [no federal constitutional
right to police protection.]

11 Kleck, Gary and Gertz, Marc. 1995. Armed Resistance to Crime: The
Prevalence and Nature of Self- Defense with a Gun. Journal of Criminal
Law & Criminology. Vol. 86 (Fall), pp. 150-187.

12 Simkin, Jay, Zelman, Aaron, and Rice, Alan M. 1994. Lethal Laws. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

13 Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20; Lefton 1994, p. 433.

14 Brenner 1973, p. 85.

15 Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. 1993. Modern m: Liquidating the
Judeo-Christian Worldview. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing. Pp. 39-40 [
m exalts nature, animals and environment].

16 Japenga, A. 1994. Would I Be Safer with a Gun? Health. March/April, p. 54.

17 Brenner 1973, p. 92.

18 Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 219.

19 American Psychiatric Association. 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. P. 410.

20 Lott 1998, pp. 11-12.

21 Most American gun owners are not violent criminals and will not be
potential killers. "The vast majority of persons involved in
life-threatening violence have a long criminal record and many prior
contacts with the justice system." Elliott, Delbert S. 1998. Life
Threatening Violence is Primarily a Crime Problem: A Focus on
Prevention. University of Colorado Law Review. Vol. 69 (Fall), pp.
1081-1098, at 1093.

22 Sowell, Thomas. 2000. Blacks and bootstraps. Jewish World Review (Aug.14).

23x Wein, Rabbi Berel. 2000. The return of a Torah scroll and confronting painful memories. Jewish World Review (July 12).

24 Dworkin, Andrea. "Terror, Torture and Resistance".

25 Mfume, Kweisi, speech at the 90th annual NAACP meeting, July 12, 1999.

26 Yoffie, Rabbi Eric H. Speech supporting the Million Mom March, May 14, 2000.

27 "If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him." The
Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin. 1994. The Schottenstein Edition. New York:
Mesorah Publications. Vol. 2, 72a.

28 Rape and Sexual Assault, Dean of Students Office for Women's
Resources and Services McKinley Health Education Dept., University
Police, University of Illinois; Hazelwood, R. R. & Harpold, J. 1986.
Rape: The Dangers of Providing Confrontational Advice, FBI Law
Enforcement Bulletin. Vol. 55, pp. 1-5.

29 Lott 1998, pp. 78, 134-37.

30 Frank, Jerome D. 1961. Persuasion and Healing. The Johns Hopkins Press. Pp. 216-217.

31 Richardson, H. L. 1998. Confrontational Politics. Gun Owners Foundation. 1

Added: Aug-9-2012 
By: MajorTom
Tags: 2nd amendment, guns, firearms, rights, freedom
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