Almost anywhere you go, you’re going to encounter anti-gun types from all walks of life. Believe me, there are as many anti-gunners on the right as there are on the left. I have many acquaintances on all sides of the political spectrum, from real lefty “pinkos” to the most opposite extreme one could imagine. People with an aversion to firearms and shooting are no different than anyone else burdened with irrational fears. It is a prejudice bedrocked in lack of knowledge, fear, and false information.
As many of you know, my first profession, before I got into the gun sight making business, was as a psychotherapist. So, I like to help people; it’s in my blood. Rather than argue the meaning of the 2nd amendment or confronting the logic of anti-gun belief systems head on, I do something different:
I calmly listen and try to understand why a particular person is so disinclined toward firearms. I don’t, in any way, take an adversarial position. I just let them talk it all out. At some point, I usually ask if he or she has ever fired a weapon or, maybe I should say, a “handgun or rifle”, because the word “weapon” could be unnerving to some. The answer to my question is almost always that they haven’t, but they would like to. At that point, I inquire if they’d like to go shooting sometime, just to experience, first hand, an activity about which they possess such intense feelings. Most everyone confirms my invitation, with very excited and anticipatory facial expressions. Why this 180° turn-about, I can’t really say, though this is could be a subject worthy of much speculation. The point is, they want to go.
At the outdoor range (it should always be outdoors for newbies) I try to make the experience as pleasant and fun as possible. I bring out .22’s and nothing over 9mm or .38. I’ve found that creating a penny arcade atmosphere with tin cans to shoot, steel that falls, and combat targets that really look like bad guys, is the way to go. Other than detailed safety instructions, I watch over them, as they shoot tin cans, steel that falls, bad guy targets, and attempt to shoot tighter groups on paper. I try not to be too fussy, at this point anyway, about shooting technique, as I just want these guys and gals to have a positive experience and enjoy themselves. The shooting session is usually followed by lunch at a restaurant known for good food and a relaxed atmosphere.
Through this first shooting session and lunch afterword, everyone is smiling and relaxed. To the person, everyone admits to having had a good time as well as experiencing a sense of accomplishment. Armed with new knowledge and some degree of mastery, fear and the negativity it earlier generated has dwindled.
I’ve done this now many times and always with a positive result. Most say they would like to go out again. All seem to be more rational about their firearm opinions and about 1/3 have actually purchased their own gun. If you argue with and browbeat someone whose position on an issue is largely emotional, that person will just become more entrenched in his or her emotion based beliefs. You cannot win an argument with anyone using logic and facts, if that person’s belief system is strongly emotion based. At first, the only way to make progress with those with emotion based belief systems is to help them change how they feel about a particular subject which, in this case, is about firearms. When feelings are no longer so negative, people are more open to logic, facts, and new information. I believe this is the way to make inroads with anti-gunners, if you have the will and patience to do it.