Guns are a tricky topic. Very rarely do you find voters ambivalent about gun violence, gun safety, etc. Someone is either strongly pro-gun rights or pro-gun control, which makes a civil conversation difficult to start or maintain. But the solution isn’t to avoid the topic.
As I mentioned in my last column, you may be the only conservative who tries to challenge a liberal’s worldview. No pressure.
It may sound like a heavy weight to bear, but not if you’re prepared. So, let’s talk guns.
Here are a few strategies that work well:
1.) Common Ground
Even though the other side often demonizes those who support gun rights, it’s important that you not return the favor.
Instead, work hard to find common ground on such a hostile topic. You will develop instant goodwill and buy some credibility as you support a viewpoint the media often finds “crazy.”
So, what’s the common ground? Whether pro-gun rights or pro-gun control, both sides are motivated by one general desire: safety.
The goal is to keep people safe. One side aims to do so via tougher restrictions and therefore fewer guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens; the other side aims to do so via looser restrictions and therefore more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. The goal is the same—prevent future gun violence. The means to that end is the sticking point.
Start by acknowledging your shared goal.
Personal anecdotes and stories can go a long way to diffuse a hostile topic like gun ownership. Humanizing your position will only strengthen your argument and paint a clearer picture of what you believe.
For example, when I discuss the importance of gun rights, I like to highlight that I am a woman who values safety in an often unsafe city like the District of Columbia. Since the police can’t be everywhere at all times, it’s important for someone like me to be able to protect myself.
Another way to lend credibility to your argument is to highlight real-life, recent, or current events where having a gun could’ve saved lives. The shootings at both the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the Bataclan theater in Paris are examples of long-lasting hostage situations that could’ve ended much sooner if someone on the scene had a gun.
Don’t just tell your audience that more shootings happen in gun-free zones, cite examples to show when and how.
Sadly, in the age of the Kardashians, “Bachelor in Paradise,” and Snapchat, most Americans don’t know what the Second Amendment is, or even understand the phrase “right to bear arms.” Instead, use words that are easy to comprehend and evoke more emotion like “the right to protect yourself.”
Also, you can’t go wrong stealing the other side’s language like “fair” or “choice” (i.e.: “As a woman, it is important that I have the same rights to choose to defend myself…”).
In summary, find common ground by talking about this issue from a safety perspective, use real-life examples, and steal the left’s language to frame your narrative.
So, bite the bullet (pun intended) and speak up.