A thought occurred to me about why so many people are so adamant about restricting certain types of firearms based solely on their appearance. There is a pretty good chance that this stems from the fact that those people simply don’t understand. It is not as simple as that though. For much of humanity’s existence, it has been shown that people tend to fear the things that they don’t understand. This is typically easy to remedy as all that needs to be done is to educate someone to increase their understanding and thus alleviate their fear. Removing people’s misconceptions about firearms would go a long way towards having them respect the rights and passions of firearms enthusiasts.
Unfortunately there is a more sinister aspect to human nature also. People tend to want to destroy the things that they fear. People do not like to be frightened so they go out of their way to eliminate the things that they are afraid of. This has been proven time and time again throughout human history, and still exists today.
So, people tend to fear the things they do not understand, and people tend to destroy the things they fear.
People destroy the things they do not understand.
Human nature sucks. The way to alleviate people’s fears is to grant them understanding, but they don’t want to understand until what they fear has been eliminated, thus removing the need for understanding. I will admit that in my youth I was bigoted against homosexuals. I obviously wasn’t very educated. Then I met “Queen Dave.” He was a friend of a friend of mine, and by association, my friend. I asked him one day why he was gay and if it was a choice he made, or if it was something else. His answer to me was “Oh yeah, I chose to be ostracized and ridiculed and beat up and insulted. Honestly, it’s just part of who I am.” My understanding had increased, and my admitted bigotry subsided. Thank you Queen Dave, for educating me. Of course, in that instance I chose to educate myself, in order to increase my understanding and to alleviate my own fear. Not every one will be this forward thinking, or even can be.
So what do we, as firearms enthusiasts, do? Well, yelling and screaming that it is our right does not help to increase understanding or alleviate fear. This actually tends to increase fear. In all cases we should remain calm. We do not want to perpetuate the notion that we are a threat and that those that we are trying to educate should be afraid of us. We should always be friendly, and respectful.
Here are my recommendations on how to discuss our passion for firearms with those who do not understand;
- Do not raise your voice. This leads to a shouting match and whoever screams the loudest wins. Logical arguments are always better than volume.
- Do not insult their intelligence. They simply do not have the same beliefs and understanding as you. This does not make them less intelligent than you. You also need to acknowledge that you may not change their beliefs. This is fine, you simply want them to accept yours.
- Be patient. Understanding does not come easy, or quickly. You must be patient with those who do not share your beliefs.
- Use facts that relate to them on a personal level. They do not care what the crime rates in other countries are, they are not in those countries. Neither are you. Use facts based on where they live, where they work, and where their loved ones are. conveniently these are typically also where you live, where you work, and where your loved ones are.
- Do not use emotional arguments. Your emotions are different than their emotions. They may make emotional pleas to you for what they believe. It is important that you validate their emotions. This does not mean that you should submit to their emotional arguments, but rather you should use rational arguments, respectfully, to counter their emotional ones.
- Don’t exaggerate or embellish. The facts, as they stand, support your beliefs. Let them. Guide the people you are having a discussion with to the source of these facts. It doesn’t hurt to make sure that these sources are neutral, or even counter to your beliefs. If a source of information that they trust agrees with your stance, it is that much easier to encourage them.
I’m sure there is much more advice that can be given on how to address this pressing issue. Remember what human nature is, and take advantage of those aspects that you can. As you educate those who are afraid of you and your beliefs, allow their curiosity to overwhelm their fear. Encourage them to explore your beliefs, and guide them, responsibly, if they choose to explore what being a firearms enthusiast is about. They may not change their personal view, but if they understand yours, they are that much closer to being advocates of firearms rights, if not enthusiasts themselves.