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A Bridge to the Second Amendment

by Robert A. Waters

September 25, 2001

How do we win?

In recent years, the gun rights movement has suffered numerous setbacks as state governments and the Federal government have passed legislation designed to restrict the rights of gun owners. There have been some major victories as well. These include nearly unanimous court rulings in favor of gun manufacturers, expansion of "shall issue" concealed carry laws in various states, and the advent of the Bush administration. (Although Bush's record on guns isn't perfect, an Al Gore administration would have been disastrous to gun owners.)

Two camps have formed in the battle over guns--those who favor further restrictions or even confiscation of all firearms versus those who believe that law-abiding citizens have a natural and Constitutional right to own guns.

The majority of Americans are somewhere in between. Many citizens favor gun registration and further legal restrictions on firearms--however, these same Americans believe that law-abiding Americans should have the right to own guns and that the punishment of criminals is more important than new gun laws. It's a delicate balance beam that we must walk to convince these folks that further restrictions will result in eventual loss of all gun rights.

The national news media is not on our side. Recent studies have shown that most stories reported by national news organizations are slanted against gun owners (for more information on these studies check out Accuracy in Media's website, or visit http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/Media_Bias). In the face of this blackout of pro-gun viewpoints, how do we win?

Our major winning issue is armed self-defense. Strategies for victory should be based around this issue.

Defensive shootings occur every day. These stories are carried almost exclusively in the "local" or "state" section of newspapers. (Papers usually only report shootings in which someone was injured or killed--therefore, the great majority of armed self-defense stories are never even reported.) After each new shooting of a burglar or robber or rapist, letters to the editors overwhelmingly tend to favor the citizen who defends himself or herself. Many times after such a shooting, the local paper will run a poll asking readers their opinion on armed self-defense. Public response is always heavily in favor of the citizen who defended himself or herself.

Self-defense is the only issue that that I'm aware of that can combat the emotion-driven anti-gun rhetoric. Most citizens can envision a situation in which they or a loved one are attacked by criminals and the only means of self-protection is a firearm. The average John or Jane Doe understands that no matter how effective a local police force is, officers are rarely available when an attack or robbery or rape occurs. It is for this reason that armed self-defense stories are so important. Anti-gunners are aware of the power these stories have and will do everything they can to censor them.

Using the above-stated beliefs as a springboard for discussion, I'd like to offer some specific steps that we as individuals and existing pro-gun organizations must take to win.

(1) Support gun rights organizations.

This is rather obvious, but crucial to our success. There are many groups with important missions that need our support. Each of us should select an organization and give of our time and financial resources.

The advent of the internet has provided a world-wide forum for the Second Amendment. One of the most effective and visionary internet groups is KeepAndBearArms.com, affectionately referred to as KABA. This organization is currently in the process of archiving thousands of self-defense stories which will be made available to researchers free of charge. Angel Shamaya, Director of the organization, co-founded Operation Self-Defense, a group of internet detectives who scour newspapers each day for stories of armed self-defense. Another excellent internet site is TheFiringLine.com which provides a series of forums/message boards for those who wish to be in contact with other firearms enthusiasts. These are just two of the many excellent pro-gun websites found on the internet.

Gun rights advocates who are financially capable should pick at least one organization and donate whatever resources they can. If you don't have monetary funds available to you, volunteer your time. For example, the above-mentioned Operation Self-Defense can help you put a small amount of time within the framework of a national program. (Visit the website at http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/OpSD.)

(2) We must establish a self-defense foundation.

This would be a private, non-profit organization with the capacity of raising large amounts of money to be used in meeting its objectives. The Self-Defense Foundation (as I will call it for our purposes) would have two primary objectives: first, publicizing self-defense issues; and second, providing a support system for victims who survived violent attacks by using a firearm.

(a) Publicizing self-defense issues.

Since we know the national media will not voluntarily carry these stories, we must force them to do so. Here are a few ideas as to how we can pressure them into doing that.

* Victim's speaker's tour.

Attractive victims (sorry, but that's what the media is looking for) who use guns to survive violent attacks should be trained in the art of communication by the Foundation and should be sent on an annual speaker's tour, much as a group of prize-winning authors might go on tour. Victims should stop in various cities, with advance publicity, rallying gun rights advocates to the cause and generating media attention. Most local media will carry such stories. Since local television stations are generally affiliates of major networks, the word will quickly filter up to ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, etc. If the anti-gunners organize counter demonstrations, the stage is set for major media coverage.

* Recognition of victims who survived.

Each year, awards should be given to a select group of these victims, and the press should be invited. While other pro-gun organizations occasionally recognize victims, this should be a high-level, publicity-driven annual event. Expert publicists should be hired by the Foundation to make sure the major media is aware of and covers these awards ceremonies.

* Provide speakers to appear on radio and television.

With the advent of cable news shows, more spots are available for pro-gun interviewees. Also, with the success of FOX News, I've noticed that CNN, MSNBC, and other news organizations are beginning to invite more conservatives on their news shows and to treat them with respect. The Foundation should be located in a major media center (New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, D. C.) and should develop positive working relationships with all media personnel.

(b) Providing support systems for victims who survived violent attacks.

I have interviewed approximately 50 people who met the enemy face-to-face and won. One of the little-known secrets is that in the majority of cases, these confrontations leave life-long, sometimes debilitating scars: financial burdens, psychological dysfunctions (such as post traumatic stress syndrome) and problems relating to physical injuries suffered in such attacks. For every victim who says that shooting a perpetrator doesn't bother him or her, there are a dozen who are devastated by having to shoot someone. In addition to emotional wounds, many victims have physical wounds from their attack. Occasionally, these victims are sued by their attacker or charged with a crime, thereby causing financial chaos in their lives.

The Foundation should create a way to provide funding for counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists, medical help when necessary, and legal assistance.

3. We must form a Second Amendment think-tank.

Solutions are available to most problems. Regular meetings of pro-gun enthusiasts should be held to address problems faced by the gun rights community. Things to consider should include but not be limited to: how to respond to school shootings; how to get hunters and other gun owners involved in the fight to restore the Second Amendment; and how to reverse the messages being sent to our children in some schools that guns are evil.

These are just a few ideas that should be considered by those of us who are interested in maintaining our right to bear arms. If we stand still, or continue to react defensively, we will lose our rights. We must take the offensive.

The title of my article is, "A Bridge to the Second Amendment." It is my belief that once people understand the value of armed self-defense, they will realize what the Founding Fathers meant when they included the right to keep and bear arms as the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights.


Also from Robert Waters...

 

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