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Discussing the Issues: It's How You Say it.

by Alfred A. Hambidge, Jr.

As you know, the struggle for the recognition and restoration of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment takes place on several fronts. The most obvious is the political arena, which is the most public aspect and where policy is determined. No less important is the private area, consisting of our daily interactions with others, at home, school, the workplace, social gatherings, etc. It is here where we can make as much, if not more, impact than in the political struggles.

How many times have you heard a friend, relative, or co-worker voice support for some sort of gun control legislation? Many times, I'm sure. And how did you react? With silence? A look that said "Don't start with me?" Or did you give them a piece of your mind, with both barrels? All these responses do nothing for our cause, and the last will make them think of you as the stereotypical RWWGN (Right-Wing Wacko Gun Nut.)

While there is never One True Way to handle such situations, one rule which should always be followed is: Be Civil. Remember, most people hold their views out of ignorance; one does not lead them to the the truth by beating them about the head with it. You catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar.

So, how should I react? One way is the Socratic Method:

Ask questions. Using a non-confrontational tone of voice, ask something akin to

"Hmm, how would that law make things better, when it hasn't worked in Washington, D.C.?"

Or, say something like

"I don't see how that would work. It's been tried in New York, and didn't help at all."

Or maybe

"At first it sounds good, but the more I think about it the more I realize how naive the thinking behind that law is."

The important thing is to keep the discussion open. Let it be a two-way street. Lead them out of their ignorance without them even knowing it. If you overload them with facts, statistics, and philosophy right from the start, they will feel attacked, perhaps even stupid, and will harden in their resolve to resist your attack. It's a natural reaction, and while you may feel good about overwhelming them, you have really lost. We want to persuade them, not force them. Too many times I have totally obliterated someone, before I finally said to myself "That was a stupid thing to do, Al. You treated him like an idiot, and he'll never forgive you for that. He'll never listen to anything you say from now on. You just blew it, man, Big Time."

Sometimes, this gets them to listen:

"You know, I used to think so too, but the more I thought about it, and looked into it, the more I started to think that the folks pushing those laws are barking up the wrong tree."

Of course, for many of us, this would be a Little White Lie, for we never thought that gun control laws worked, but it's excusable if it just gets someone to think.

Think of yourself as a Missionary. Were the successful missionaries the ones who denigrated the people, telling them if they didn't listen they would suffer eternal hellfire and damnation? Maybe sometimes that worked, but I think more often those missionaries were the ones that were never heard from again. I would think that the successful ones used the gentle approach, talking about a loving deity, and eternal life for believers.

So remember, when dealing with the average person, who knows only what they see on TV, Be Nice. Be Civil. Lead them along. Don't make them feel stupid. Don't browbeat. Simply let them know that you feel differently, and are willing to share what you have discovered with them. The important thing is to get the dialogue started, get them to start thinking, and let them move toward the truth at their own pace. Then, you will have won.

Of course, if it turns out that the person is someone who's hero is Charles Schumer, then lock and load and rock and roll. Hey, we gotta have a little fun some time.

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It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. Justice Robert H. Jackson

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