In addition to being a full-time cop, a husband, father and what sometimes passes for an amateur writer, I also run a Facebook page for first responders and the general public to interact with us and gain some insight into our jobs. That Facebook page is admin’d by an amalgamation of cops, firefighters and EMT’s. Topics discussed there run the gamut. As such, we get folks from all walks of life visiting the page, including quite a few people who are not necessarily anti-gun, but folks who are on the fence and ask questions wondering how so many of us first responders can possibly be pro-gun and pro-NRA.
I do my best to explain the reality of gun laws and “gun violence” to them, but it is really difficult for a number of reasons. Some of them are just trolls, and they eventually get banned, but some are honestly asking because they really do not understand. The folks who are truly open minded about the topic will often ask a number of questions, which unfortunately are all based on the lies and twisted numbers that anti-gun mainstream media routinely spews.
The conversations with those truly intent on gaining a better understanding of the issue tend to follow the same course. They will ask a couple of questions, to which we respond. The person will then offer up media provided “evidence” on which they have based their opinion, which most often is some form of statistic that the media has twisted around to offer a skewed, scary number. We will then respond with something that untwists the statistics and puts them into perspective. This is usually when the truly open minded person has their epiphany moment and the light bulb turns on, which is often followed by either a very short response acknowledging the new information, or no response at all. This is also the point at which the person who is an anti-gun troll and has been faking it usually loses it and starts calling names.
The following is a recent example of one of those conversations, which seem to happen nearly daily, and the photo of the TV screen displaying stats is the photo that started the conversation (photo shared from Kevin “TacDaddy” Reichard’s Instagram feed).
So, why am I babbling on and on about my Facebook page and conversations that occur there? Because it brings me to the point of this article. How on earth are we (society) supposed to have an “honest discussion about guns and gun laws” when more than half of the people out there have no firsthand knowledge on the subject, and the only information they do have is either totally twisted and skewed, or an outright lie?
I wish I had a simple answer, or a good one. Sadly, until the mainstream media stops story telling with the news in a way that pushes their agenda, it really comes down to us as responsible gun owners. It is our job to try and educate those who are willing to accept it. In order to do that, we need to have our ducks in a row, and be ready to back our statements with reliable sources. If those reliable sources happen to be from liberal publications, like in the case of the conversation I included above, those seem to have more swaying power than sources like Fox News or the NRA. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. I am not saying that Fox or the NRA are being dishonest, but both are so frequently smeared by the anti-gun media and politicians, that they are not seen by some folks as reliable. In addition to having our facts straight, and from “acceptable sources,” we need to try and have these conversations in a calm, friendly manner. Just like all other interactions in life, people are more open to new ideas when they are relaxed. If we get angry (looking at myself here) or are hostile, it just turns the other person off and ensures that they will not truly listen to you, because you are now acting like “one of those crazy gun nuts.”
Look, I totally understand how tiring it is constantly defending our God given rights that are guaranteed by the US Constitution, but just like self-defense, it is our job and our job alone. If we do not do it, no one else will. I also completely understand how frustrating it is trying to discuss a topic with someone who has absolutely no real world experience with it, and for whom much of their “knowledge” comes from movies and a totally dishonest mainstream media.
It reminds me of the conversations I’ve had with my young sons, who are basing their ideas on what they see in cartoons and books, and what their friends at school told them. Reality and what the media pushes are often in a different universe. Trust me, I fully understand how frustrating it can be because I deal with it daily on my Facebook page regarding both guns and law enforcement issues. As a pro-gun cop (most cops are), I have the distinct pleasure of being attacked by the media on a daily basis.
The kicker is we all know that the facts are actually on our side. All of the (impartial) studies that have been done not only show strict gun control is completely ineffective at reducing violent crime, but they also support individual firearm ownership. The media only has lies and distortions to peddle, but sadly they have the stage. All of the studies they routinely point to have been funded by anti-gun organizations, the “statistics” they point to are cooked by websites who make up their own definitions in order to push their agenda, the surveys they point to are funded by anti-gun organizations who use tiny pools of participants and ask questions in a manner in which they direct the respondents responses. We need to understand this, and we need to be able to point this out to the truly inquisitive folks who we encounter.
With the facts on our side, the only step left to winning that honest discussion is engaging in it in a manner that is more likely to produce positive results, as difficult as that can be at times.