At a recent conference on the Second Amendment, there was a lot of discussion
on how to reach the segment of the population that is not committed to an
anti-gun ideology - those folks in the middle whose support we desperately need.
Some surveys have been done which are backed up by the experience of some of the
participants at the conference. Here are some of the conclusions which you will
probably not like, but are worth hearing, I think.
1. Although most people kinda feel like the Second Amendment does guarantee
what it says it does, they don't really care that much about it.
2. Very few people buy our arguments that gun ownership can prevent tyranny
or genocide. In fact, each time we say that, many people tune us out thinking
that we are crazy extremists. I guess they just aren't capable of seeing the big
picture or taking an interest in something that does not affect their lives in
the immediate future. Think back to your last history class - how many people
were really interested in history (or government)?
3. The question of increasing government control of our lives is not one that
keeps most people awake at night. When we bring up that subject, another big
segment of the population puts up their mental shields and our arguments are
4. The primary issue that reliably generates support is the question of the
right to self defense. Americans really believe that we have that right and we
need to use that argument over and over in our writings and persuasive dialogs.
5. One other thing that works is pointing out the lies and distortions of the
anti-gunners. Most people don't like it when they figure out that they have been
lied to and many people have deserted the anti-gun side when they realize their
6. Don't count on the Supreme Court, or any other court, to preserve our gun
rights. From what the attorneys in the group told us, Judges as a group are
elitist snobs who don't think that ordinary citizens should have guns. This is
why good defense lawyers never use the Second Amendment as a defense. They know
that most judges hate it. Only unskilled, low paid, public defenders ever
mention the 2A as a defense, which helps explain why those cases are always
poorly argued and they always loose. Even a positive Supreme Court ruling in the
Emerson case would only be a small first step. There are probably a dozen
separate issues associated with the RKBA that would need to be ruled on by the
court if it decides to slowly start addressing this neglected issue.
7. Law students learn almost nothing about the Second Amendment in law school
except perhaps that it refers to a right of the states. That imprint permeates
our entire "judicial culture". Maybe this will slowly change since the
flood of pro 2A law review articles has come out in the last decade, but it will
take a few more decades for those to have much influence.
If you are trying to convert non committed people to our side, keep your
opinions about tyranny, genocide, jackbooted thugs and the Second Amendment to
yourself unless they specifically ask about it.
Don't count on the courts until the judicial culture can be changed. For the
time being, political power is the ultimate weapon.
Keep talking about self defense and disproving the lies of the anti-gunners.
Repetition is good. Hammer those points home again and again.
Dr. Michael Brown is an optometrist who moderates an email list for
discussion of gun issues in Washington state. He may be reached at: email@example.com
or through his web site at: http://www.geocities.com/rkba2000.
Several of Dr. Brown's articles are also hosted on this web site, by clicking here.