Against Self Defense:
often have you heard these statements from misguided advocates of victim
disarmament, or even woefully uninformed relatives and neighbors? Why do
people cling so tightly to these beliefs, in the face of
incontrovertible evidence that they are wrong? Why do they get so
furiously angry when gun owners point out that their arguments are
factually and logically incorrect?
can you communicate with these people who seem to be out of touch with
reality and rational thought?
approach to help you deal with anti-gun people is to understand their
psychological processes. Once you understand why these people behave so
irrationally, you can communicate more effectively with them.
a year ago I received an e-mail from a member of a local Jewish
organization. The author, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that
people have no right to carry firearms because he
didn't want to be murdered if one of his neighbors had a "bad
day". (I don't know that this person is a "he", but I'm
assuming so for the sake of simplicity.) I responded by asking him why
he thought his neighbors wanted to murder him, and, of course, got no
response. The truth is that he's statistically more likely to be
murdered by a neighbor who doesn't legally carry a firearm1
and more likely to be shot accidentally by a law enforcement
does my correspondent "know" that his neighbors would murder
him if they had guns? He doesn't. What he was really saying was that if he
had a gun, he might murder his
neighbors if he had a bad day, or if they took his parking space, or
played their stereos too loud. This is an example of what mental health
professionals call projection -- unconsciously projecting one's own unacceptable feelings onto other
people, so that one doesn't have to own them.3
In some cases, the intolerable feelings are projected not onto a person,
but onto an inanimate object, such as a gun,4
so that the projector believes the gun itself will murder him.
is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological
mechanisms that protect us from feelings that we cannot consciously
accept.5 They operate without our
awareness, so that we don't have to deal consciously with
"forbidden" feelings and impulses. Thus, if you asked my
e-mail correspondent if he really wanted to murder his neighbors, he
would vehemently deny it, and insist that other people want to kill him.
is a particularly insidious defense mechanism, because it not only
prevents a person from dealing with his own feelings, it also creates a
world where he perceives everyone else as directing his own hostile
feelings back at him.6
people have violent, and even homicidal, impulses. For example, it's
common to hear people say "I'd like to kill my boss", or
"If you do that one more time I'm going to kill you." They
don't actually mean that they're going to, or even would, kill anyone;
they're simply acknowledging anger and frustration. All of us suffer
from fear and feelings of helplessness and vulnerability. Most people
can acknowledge feelings of rage, fear, frustration, jealousy, etc.
without having to act on them in inappropriate and destructive ways.
people, however, are unable consciously to admit that they have such
"unacceptable" emotions. They may have higher than average
levels of rage, frustration, or fear. Perhaps they fear that if they
acknowledge the hostile feelings, they will lose control and really will
hurt someone. They may believe that "good people" never have
such feelings, when in fact all people have them.
is especially true now that education "experts" commonly
prohibit children from expressing negative emotions or aggression.
Instead of learning that such emotions are normal, but that destructive
behavior needs to be controlled, children now learn that feelings of
anger are evil, dangerous and subject to severe punishment.7
To protect themselves from "being bad", they are forced
to use defense mechanisms to avoid owning their own normal
emotions. Unfortunately, using such defense mechanisms
inappropriately can endanger their mental health; children need to learn
how to deal appropriately with reality, not how to avoid it.8
discussion of psychological mechanisms applies to the average person who
is uninformed, or misinformed, about firearms and self-defense. It does
not apply to the anti-gun ideologue. Fanatics like Charles Schumer know
the facts about firearms, and advocate victim disarmament consciously
and willfully in order to gain political power. This psychological
analysis does not apply to them.)
defense mechanism commonly utilized by supporters of gun control is
Denial is simply refusing to accept the reality of a given situation.9
For example, consider a woman whose husband starts coming home late, has
strange perfume on his clothes, and starts charging flowers and jewelry
on his credit card. She may get extremely angry at a well-meaning friend
who suggests that her husband is having an affair. The reality is
obvious, but the wronged wife is so threatened by her husband's
infidelity that she is unable to accept it, and so denies its existence.
people do the same thing. It's obvious that we live in a dangerous
society, where criminals attack innocent people. Just about everyone has
been, or knows someone who has been, victimized. It's equally obvious
that law enforcement can't protect everyone everywhere 24 hours a day.
Extensive scholarly research demonstrates that the police have no legal
duty to protect you10 and that firearm
ownership is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family.11
There is irrefutable evidence that victim disarmament nearly always
precedes genocide.12 Nonetheless, the
anti-gun folks insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that
"the police will protect you", "this is a safe
neighborhood" and "it can't happen here", where
"it" is everything from mugging to mass murder.
people who refuse to accept the reality of the proven and very serious
dangers of civilian disarmament are using denial to protect themselves
from the anxiety of feeling helpless and vulnerable. Likewise, gun
owners who insist that "the government will never confiscate my
guns" are also using denial to protect themselves from the anxiety
of contemplating being forcibly disarmed and rendered helpless and
formation is yet another defense mechanism common among the anti-gun
folks. Reaction formation occurs when a person's mind turns an
unacceptable feeling or desire into its complete opposite.13
For example, a child who is jealous of a sibling may exhibit excessive
love and devotion for the hated brother or sister.
a person who harbors murderous rage toward his fellow humans may claim
to be a devoted pacifist and refuse to eat meat or even kill a
cockroach.14 Often such people take refuge
in various spiritual disciplines and believe that they are
"superior" to "less civilized" folks who engage in
"violent behavior" such as hunting, or even target shooting.
They may devote themselves to "animal welfare" organizations
that proclaim that the rights of animals take precedence over the rights
of people.15 This not only allows the angry
person to avoid dealing with his rage, it allows him actually to harm
the people he hates without having to know he hates them.
is not meant to disparage the many wonderful people who are pacifists,
spiritually inclined, vegetarian, or who support animal welfare. The key
issue is not the belief itself, but rather the way in which the person
experiences and lives his beliefs. Sincere practitioners seek to improve
themselves, or to be helpful in a gentle, respectful fashion. They work
to persuade others peacefully by setting an example of what they believe
to be correct behavior. Sincere pacifists generally exhibit good will
towards others, even towards persons with whom they might disagree on
the sincere pacifist or animal lover with the strident, angry person who
wants to ban meat and who believes murdering hunters is justified in
order to "save the animals" – or the person who wants to
outlaw self- defense and believes innocent people have the obligation to
be raped and murdered for the good of society. For example, noted
feminist Betty Friedan said "that lethal violence even in self
defense only engenders more violence."16
The truly spiritual, pacifist person refrains from forcing others to do
what he believes, and is generally driven by positive emotions, while
the angry person finds "socially acceptable" ways to harm,
abuse, or even kill, his fellow man.
the case of anti-gun people, reaction formation keeps any knowledge of
their hatred for their fellow humans out of consciousness, while
allowing them to feel superior to "violent gun owners". At the
same time, it also allows them to cause serious harm, and even loss of
life, to others by denying them the tools necessary to defend
themselves. This makes reaction formation very attractive from a
psychological point of view, and therefore very difficult to counteract.
Mechanisms Are Not Mental Illnesses
mechanisms are normal. All of us use them to some extent, and their use
does not imply mental illness. Advocates of victim disarmament may be
misguided or uninformed, they may be stupid, or they may be consciously
intent on evil, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are
defense mechanisms, however, are healthier than others. A safe general
rule is that a defense is healthy if it helps you to function better in
your personal and professional life, and unhealthy if it interferes with
your life, your relationships, or the well-being of others. Young
children utilize projection
and denial much more commonly
than do healthy adults. On the other hand, "if projection is used
as a defense mechanism to a very great extent in adult life, the user's
perception of external reality will be seriously distorted."17
mechanisms are also frequently combined, so that an anti-gun person may
use several defense mechanisms simultaneously. For example, my
unfortunate correspondent uses projection to create a world in which all
his neighbors want to murder him. As a result, he becomes more angry and
fearful, and needs to employ even more defense mechanisms to cope. So he
uses projection to attribute his own rage to others, he uses denial that
there is any danger to protect himself from a world where he believes he
is helpless and everyone wants to murder him, and he uses reaction
formation to try to control everyone else's life because his own is so
horribly out of control.
it's important to remember that not all anti-gun beliefs are the result
of defense mechanisms. Some people suffer from gun phobia18
an excessive and completely irrational fear of firearms, usually caused
by the anti-gun conditioning they've been subjected to by the media,
politicians, so-called "educators," and others. In some cases,
gun phobia is caused by an authentic bad experience associated with a
firearm. But with all due respect to Col. Jeff Cooper, who coined the
term "hoplophobia" to describe anti-gun people, most anti-gun
people do not have true phobias. Interestingly, a person with a true
phobia of guns realizes his fear is excessive or unreasonable,19
something most anti-gun folks will never admit.
mechanisms distort reality
defense mechanisms distort reality in order to avoid unpleasant
emotions, the person who uses them has an impaired ability to recognize
and accept reality. This explains why my e-mail correspondent and many
other anti-gun people persist in believing that their neighbors and co-
workers will become mass murderers if allowed to own firearms.
who legally carry concealed firearms are actually less violent and less
prone to criminal activity of all kinds than is the general population.20
A person who has a clean record, has passed an FBI background check,
undergone firearms training, and spent several hundred dollars to get a
permit and a firearm, is highly unlikely to choose to murder a neighbor.
Doing so would result in his facing a police manhunt, a trial, prison,
possibly capital punishment, and the destruction of his family, job, and
reputation. Obviously it would make no sense for such a person to shoot
a neighbor - except in self-defense. Equally obviously, the anti-gun
person who believes that malicious shootings by ordinary gun owners are
likely to occur is not in touch with reality.21
Common Thread: Rage
my experience, the common thread in anti-gun people is rage. Either
anti-gun people harbor more rage than others, or they're less able to
cope with it appropriately. Because they can't handle their own feelings
of rage, they are forced to use defense mechanisms in an unhealthy
manner. Because they wrongly perceive others as seeking to harm them,
they advocate the disarmament of ordinary people who have no desire to
harm anyone. So why do anti-gun people have so much rage and why are
they unable to deal with it in appropriate ways? Consider for a moment
that the largest and most hysterical anti-gun groups include
disproportionately large numbers of women, African- Americans and Jews.
And virtually all of the organizations that claim to speak for these
"oppressed people" are stridently anti-gun. Not
coincidentally, among Jews, Blacks and women there are many
"professional victims" who have little sense of identity
outside of their victimhood.
If I were to summarize this article in three sentences, they would be:
the concept of "identity as victim" is essential. How and why
do members of some groups choose to identify themselves as victims and
teach their children to do the same? While it's true that women, Jews,
and African- Americans have historically been victimized, they now
participate in American society on an equal basis. And other groups,
most notably Asian-Americans, have been equally victimized, and yet have
transcended the "eternal victim" mentality.
for example, would a 6'10" NBA player who makes $10 million a year
see himself as a "victim"? Why would a successful, respected,
wealthy, Jewish physician regard himself as a "victim"?
Conversely, why might a wheelchair bound woman who lives on government
disability NOT regard herself as a victim?
would argue it's because the basketball player and the physician believe
that their identities are dependent on being victims – not because
they have actually been victimized, but because they're members of
groups that claim victim status. Conversely, the disabled woman was
probably raised to believe that she is responsible for her own success
fact, many people who have been victims of actual violent crime, or who
have survived war or civil strife, support the right of self-defense.
The old saying is often correct: "a conservative is a liberal who
has been mugged."
Treatment and Misleading Leaders
reasons for these groups to insist on "victim" status seem
likely. First, by claiming victim status, members of these groups can
demand (and get) special treatment through quotas, affirmative action,
reparations, and other preferential treatment programs.
these people have been indoctrinated to believe that there is no
alternative to remaining a victim forever. Their leaders remind them
constantly that they are mistreated in every imaginable way (most of
them imaginary!), attribute every one of life's misfortunes to
"racism" or "sexism" or "hate crimes", and
dream up ever more complex schemes for special treatment and favors.22
These leaders are the ones who preach that the entire Black experience
is slavery and racism, or that Jewish history before and after the
Holocaust is irrelevant,23 or that happily married women are really
victims of sexual slavery.24
the NAACP is suing firearms manufacturers to put them out of business,25
and is especially opposed to the inexpensive pistols that enable the
poor to defend themselves in gang-ridden inner cities. The Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed evicting anyone who dares
to keep a tool of self-defense in any of its crime-infested housing
projects. Jewish leaders, especially those in the politically correct
"Reform" branch, preach that gun control is "a solemn
religious obligation",26 contrary to the teachings of their sacred
scriptures and their own history.27 Law enforcement agencies falsely
teach women that they are safest if they don't resist rapists and
robbers28, while women's organizations advocate gun control, thus
rendering women and their children defenseless.
is good business for organizations that foster victim status. As
victims, the members depend upon the organization to protect them, and
the organization in turn relies on members for funding and political
power. In the interest of self-preservation, these organizations work
hard at preserving hatred and bigotry and at keeping their members
defenseless – and therefore dependent.
groups love victims!
my observations, pro-victimhood is a feature of all of the anti-gun special interest groups, not just the ones mentioned
here. Every organization that supports gun control apparently wants its
members to be helpless, terrified and totally dependent on someone else
to control every aspect of their lives. It doesn't matter whether it's a
religious, racial, ethnic, political, social, or charitable group. From
Handgun Control, Inc. to the Anti- Defamation League to the Million Mom
March, they all want you to live in fear. In this scheme, soccer moms
are "victims" just as much as are inner-city minorities.
these organizations truly cared about the people for whom they claim to
speak, they would encourage safe and responsible firearms ownership.
They would help people to learn how to defend themselves and their
families so that they wouldn't have to live in fear. They would tell
everyone that one of the wonderful things about being an American is
that you have the right to keep and bear arms, the right to defend
yourself, and how these rights preserve the right to be free.
psychological price of being a victim
our current society, victimhood has many perceived benefits, but there
are some serious drawbacks. Victims tend to see the world as a scary and
threatening place. They believe that others treat them differently,
unfairly, and even maliciously – and that they are helpless to do
anything about it. This belief, that they are being mistreated and are
helpless to resist, generates tremendous rage, and often, serious
for victims to show rage openly can be dangerous, if not outright
suicidal. For example, a battered woman who screams at or hits her
attacker may provoke worse beatings or even her own murder. And a person
who successfully defends himself loses his status as "victim."
For someone whose entire identity is dependent on being a victim, the
loss of victim status is just as threatening as loss of life.
unable psychologically to cope with such rage, people who view
themselves as victims: (1) use defense mechanisms to displace it into
irrational beliefs about neighbors killing each other, and the
infallibility of police protection, and (2) attempt to regain control by
controlling gun owners, whom they wrongly perceive as "the
NO to being a victim!
no one needs to be a victim! Quite simply, it's not very easy to
victimize a person who owns and knows how to use a firearm. If most
women owned and carried firearms, rapes and beating would decrease.29
Thugs who target the elderly and disabled would find honest work once
they realized they were likely to be looking down the barrel of a pistol
or shotgun. It's nearly impossible to enslave, or herd into
concentration camps, large numbers of armed people.
with anti-gun people
can you communicate more effectively with an anti-gun person who is
using unhealthy defense mechanisms? There are no quick and easy answers.
But there are a few things you should keep in mind.
and attacks do not work
gun owners, when confronted by an anti-gun person, become angry and
hostile. This is understandable, because gun owners increasingly face
ridicule, persecution and discrimination. (If you don't believe this,
ask yourself if anyone would seriously introduce legislation to ban
African- Americans, women, or Jews from post offices, schools, and
churches. Even convicted felons aren't banned from such places – but
peaceful armed citizens are!) But an angry response is
not helpful to attack the person you're trying to persuade. Anything
that makes him feel more fearful or angry will only intensify his
defenses. Your goal is to help the person feel safe, and then to provide
experiences and information that will help him to make informed
should never try to break down a defense mechanism by force. Remember
that defense mechanisms protect people from feelings they cannot handle,
and if you take that protection away, you can cause serious
psychological harm. And because defense mechanisms operate
unconsciously, it won't do any good to show an anti-gun person this article or to point
out that he's using defense mechanisms. Your goal is gently and
gradually to help the person to have a more realistic and rational view
of the world. This cannot be done in one hour or one day.
you reach out to people in this way, you need to deal with both the
illogical thought processes involved and the emotional reactions that anti-gun people have to firearms. When dealing with
illogical thought processes, you are attempting to use reason and logic
to convince the anti-gun person that his perception of other people and
his perception of firearms are seriously inaccurate. The goal is to help
him to understand that armed citizens and firearms are not threats, and
may even save his life.
approach that can be helpful is simply to feed back what the anti-gun
person is telling you, in a neutral, inquisitive way. So, when replying
to my anonymous e-mail correspondent (above), I might respond, "So
you fear if your neighbors had guns, they would use them to murder you.
What makes you think that?" When you simply repeat what the person
has said, and ask questions, you are not directly challenging his
defenses. You are holding up a mirror to let him see his own views. If
he has very strong defenses, he can continue to insist that his
neighbors want to murder him. However, if his defenses are less rigid,
he may start to question his position.
example might be, "Why do you think that your children's
schoolteachers would shoot them?" You might follow this up with
something like, "Why do you entrust your precious children to
someone you believe would murder them?" Again, you are merely
asking questions, and not directly attacking the person or his defenses.
course the anti-gun person might continue to insist that the teachers
really would harm children, but prohibiting them from owning guns would
prevent it. So you might ask how using a gun to murder innocent children
is different from stabbing children with scissors, assaulting them with
baseball bats, or poisoning the milk and cookies.
important to ask "open-ended" questions that require a
response other than "yes" or "no". Such questions
require the anti-gun person actually to think about what he is saying.
This will help him to re-examine his beliefs. It may also encourage him
to ask you questions about firearms use and ownership.
"What Would You Do?" Technique
you have a dialogue going with an anti-gun person, you might want to
insert him into a hypothetical scenario, although doing so is a greater
threat to his defenses, and is therefore more risky. You might ask how
he would deal with a difficult or annoying co-worker. He will likely
respond that he would never resort to violence, but "other
people" would, especially if they had guns. (Projection again.) You
can then ask him who these "other people" are, why they would
shoot a co-worker, and what the shooter would gain by doing so.
try to "win" the argument. Don't try to embarrass the person
you're trying to educate. Remember that no one likes to admit that his
deeply held beliefs are wrong. No one likes to hear "I told you
so!" Be patient and gentle. If you are arrogant, condescending,
hurtful or rude to the anti-gun person, you will only convince him that
gun owners are arrogant, hurtful people – who should not be trusted
"You Are There" Technique
arguments alone are not likely to be successful, especially since many
people "feel" rather than "think". You also need to
deal with the emotional responses of the anti-gun person. Remember that
most people have been conditioned to associate firearms with dead
toddlers. So you need to change the person's emotional responses along
with his thoughts.
way to do this is to put the anti-gun person (or his family) at a
hypothetical crime scene and ask what he would like to have happen. For
example, "Imagine your wife is in the parking lot at the
supermarket and two men grab her. One holds a knife to her throat while
the other tears her clothes off. If I see this happening and have a gun,
what should I do? What would happen next? What if after five minutes,
the police still haven't arrived?"
let him answer the questions and mentally walk through the scenario.
Don't argue with his answers. You are planting seeds in his mind than
can help change his emotional responses.
Power of Empathy
emotion-based approach that is often more successful is to respond
sympathetically to the plight of the anti-gun person.
for a moment how you would feel if you believed your neighbors and
co-workers wanted to kill you and your family, and you could do nothing
at all about it except to wait for the inevitable to occur.
very pleasant, is it?
is the world in which opponents of armed self-defense live. All of us
have had times in our lives when we felt "different" and had
to contend with hostile schoolmates, co- workers, etc. So we need to
invoke our own compassion for these terrified people. Say something
like, "It must be awful to live in fear of being assaulted by your
own neighbors. I remember what it was like when I was the only (Jew,
Mormon, African-American, Republican) in my (class, football team,
workplace) – and even then I didn't think anyone was going to kill
me." It's essential that you sincerely feel some compassion and
empathy; if you're glib or sarcastic, this won't work.
empathy works in several ways. First, it defuses a potentially hostile
interaction. Anti-gun people are used to being attacked, not understood,
by advocates of gun rights. Instead of an "evil, gun-toting,
extremist", you are now a sympathetic, fellow human being. This may
also open the door for a friendly conversation, in which you can each
discover that your "opponent" is a person with whom you have
some things in common. You may even create an opportunity to dispel some
of the misinformation about firearms and self-defense that is so
empathy technique is also useful for redirecting, or ending, a heated
argument that has become hostile and unproductive. It allows you to
escape from the dead end of "guns save lives" vs. "the
only reason to have a gun is to murder children." With empathy you
can reframe the argument entirely. Instead of arguing about whether more
lives are saved or lost as a result of gun ownership, you can comment on
how terrifying it must be to live in a country where 80 million people
own guns "solely for the purpose of murdering children".
should not expect any of these approaches to work immediately; they
won't. With rare exceptions, the anti-gun person is simply not going to
"see the light," thank you profusely, and beg you to take him
shooting. What you are doing is putting tiny chinks into the armor of
the person's defenses, or planting seeds that may someday develop into a
more open mind or a more rational analysis. This process can take months
or years. But it does work!
the most effective way to dissolve defense mechanisms, however, is by
providing corrective experiences30.
Corrective experiences are experiences that allow a person to learn that his
ideas about gun owners and guns are incorrect in a safe and
non-threatening way. To provide a corrective experience, you first allow
the person to attempt to project his incorrect ideas onto you. Then, you
demonstrate that he is wrong by your behavior, not by arguing.
example, the anti-gun person will unconsciously attempt to provoke you
by claiming that gun owners are uneducated "rednecks," or by
treating you as if you are an uneducated "redneck." If you get
angry and respond by calling him a "stupid, liberal,
socialist", you will prove his point. However, if you casually talk
about your M.B.A., your trip to the Shakespeare festival, your vegetable
garden, or your daughter's ballet recital, you will provide him with the
opportunity to correct his misconceptions.
you have used the above techniques, then you have already provided one
corrective experience. You have demonstrated to the frightened, anti-gun
person that gun owners are not abusive, scary, dangerous and sub-human
monsters, but normal, everyday people who care about their families,
friends and even strangers.
many gun owners have already discovered, the most important corrective
experiences involve actually exposing the fearful person to a firearm.
It is almost never advisable to tell someone that you carry a concealed
firearm, but there are ways to use your own experience favorably.
example, if you're dealing with an anti-gun person with whom you
interact regularly and have a generally good relationship – a
coworker, neighbor, church member, etc. – you might indirectly refer to concealed carry. You should never say anything
like "I'm carrying a gun right now and you can't even tell,"
especially because in some states that would be considered illegal,
"threatening" behavior. But you might consider saying
something like, "I sometimes carry a firearm, and you've never
seemed to be uncomfortable around me." Whether to disclose this
information is an individual decision, and you should consider carefully
other consequences before using this approach.
your goal is to take the anti-gun person shooting. Some people will
accept an invitation to accompany you to the range, but others are too
frightened to do so, and will need some preliminary experience.
you want to encourage the anti-gun person to have some contact with a
firearm in whatever way feels most comfortable to him. Many people seem
to believe that firearms have minds of their own and shoot people of
their own volition. So you might want to start by inviting him simply to
look at and then handle an unloaded firearm. This also provides you the
opportunity to show the inexperienced person how to tell whether a
firearm is loaded and to teach him the basic rules of firearms safety.
the newcomer to ask questions and remember that your role is to present
accurate information in a friendly, responsible and non-threatening way.
This is a good time to offer some reading material on the benefits of
firearms ownership. But be careful not to provide so much information
that it's overwhelming. And remember this is not the time to launch into anti-government rants, the New World Order,
conspiracy theories, or any kind of political talk!
you can invite your friend to accompany you to the shooting range. (And
if you're going to trust each other with loaded guns, you should consider yourselves friends!) Assure him that no one will force him to
shoot a gun and he's free just to watch. Let him know in advance what he
will experience and what will be expected of him. This includes such
things as the need for eye and ear protection, a cap, appropriate
clothing, etc. Make sure you have a firearm appropriate for your guest
should s/he decide to try shooting. This means a lower caliber firearm
that doesn't have too much recoil. If your guest is a woman, make sure
the firearm will fit her appropriately. Many rifles have stocks that are
too long for small women, and double-stack semi-autos are usually too
large for a woman's hand.
that just visiting the range can be a corrective experience. Your guest
will learn that gun owners are disciplined, responsible,
safety-conscious, courteous, considerate, and follow the rules. He will
see people of all ages, from children to the elderly, male and female,
enjoying an activity together. He will not see a single
"beer-swilling redneck" waving a firearm in people's faces.
my experience, most people who visit a range will decide they do want to
try shooting. Remember to make sure your guest understands all the
safety rules and range rules before allowing him to handle a firearm. If
you don't feel competent to teach a newcomer to shoot, ask an instructor
or range master to assist. Remember to provide lots of positive feedback
and encouragement. If you're lucky, you'll recruit a new firearms
even if your guest decides that shooting is "not for him", he
will have learned many valuable lessons. He will know basic rules of
firearms safety, and how to clear a firearm should he need to do so.
This may well save his life someday. He will know that guns do not fire
unless a person pulls the trigger. He will know that gun owners are
friendly, responsible people, not very different from him. Even if he
chooses not to fire a gun ever again, he will be less likely to fear and
persecute gun owners. And who knows – a few months or years later he
may decide to become a gun owner.
these techniques do not always work
should remember that you will not be successful with all anti-gun
people. Some people are so terrified and have such strong defenses, that
it's not possible for someone without professional training to get
through. Some people have their minds made up and refuse to consider
opening them. Others may concede that what you say "makes
sense," but are unwilling to challenge the forces of political
correctness. A few may have had traumatic experiences with firearms from
which they have not recovered.
will also not be successful with the anti-gun ideologues, people like
Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. These people have made a conscious
choice to oppose firearms ownership and self-defense. They almost always
gain power, prestige, and money from their anti-gun politics. They are
not interested in the facts or in saving lives. They know the facts and
understand the consequences of their actions, and will happily sacrifice
innocent people if it furthers their selfish agenda. Do not use these
techniques on such people. They only respond to fears of losing the
power, prestige and money that they covet.31
better understanding advocates of civilian disarmament, and by learning
and practicing some simple techniques to deal with their psychological
defenses, you will be much more effective in your efforts to communicate
with anti-gun people. This will enable you to be more successful at
educating them about the realities of firearms and self- defense, and
their importance to our liberty and safety.
others about firearms is hard work. It's not glamorous, and it generally
needs to be done one person at a time. But it's a very necessary and
important task. The average American supports freedom of speech and
freedom of religion, whether or not he chooses to exercise them. He
supports fair trials, whether or not he's ever been in a courtroom. He
likewise needs to understand that self- defense is an essential right,
whether or not he chooses to own or carry a gun.
Lott, John R., Jr. 1998. More Guns, Less Crime. University of Chicago
Press. Pp. 11-12; Proposition B: More Security Or Greater Danger?, St.
Louis Post-Dispatch. March 21, 1999.
Lott 1998, Pp. 1-2.
Kaplan, Harold M. and Sadock, Benjamin J. 1990. Pocket Handbook of
Clinical Psychiatry. Williams & Wilkins. P. 20.
Charles. 1973. An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis (rev. ed.).
Anchor Books. Pp. 91-93; Lefton, Lester A. 1994. Psychology (5th
edition). Allyn & Bacon. Pp. 432-433.
Brenner 1973. P. 91.
Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20; Lefton 1994, p. 432.
Talbott, John A., Robert E. Hales and Stuart C. Yudofsky, eds. 1988.
Textbook of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Press. P.137.
"Kids Suspended for Playground Game." Associated Press. April
Lightfoot, Liz. "Gun Return to the Nursery School Toy Chest."
The London Telegraph. May 22, 2000. Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20;
Lefton 1994, p. 433.
Stevens, Richard W. 1999. Dial 911 and Die. Mazel Freedom Press.
[Analyzes the law in 54 U.S. jurisdictions]; see, e.g., Bowers v. DeVito,
686 F.2d 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982) [no federal constitutional right to
Kleck, Gary and Gertz, Marc. 1995. Armed Resistance to Crime: The
Prevalence and Nature of Self- Defense with a Gun. Journal of Criminal
Law & Criminology. Vol. 86 (Fall), pp. 150-187.
Simkin, Jay, Zelman, Aaron, and Rice, Alan M. 1994. Lethal Laws. Jews
for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 20; Lefton 1994, p. 433.
Brenner 1973, p. 85.
Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. 1993. Modern Fascism: Liquidating the
Judeo-Christian Worldview. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing. Pp. 39-40
[fascism exalts nature, animals and environment].
Japenga, A. 1994. Would I Be Safer with a Gun? Health. March/April, p.
Brenner 1973, p. 92.
Kaplan and Sadock 1990, p. 219.
American Psychiatric Association. 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. P. 410.
Lott 1998, pp. 11-12.
Most American gun owners are not violent criminals and will not be
potential killers. "The vast majority of persons involved in
life-threatening violence have a long criminal record and many prior
contacts with the justice system." Elliott, Delbert S. 1998. Life
Threatening Violence is Primarily a Crime Problem: A Focus on
Prevention. University of Colorado Law Review. Vol. 69 (Fall), pp.
1081-1098, at 1093.
Sowell, Thomas. 2000. Blacks and bootstraps. Jewish World Review
Wein, Rabbi Berel. 2000. The return of a Torah scroll and confronting
painful memories. Jewish World Review (July 12).
Dworkin, Andrea. "Terror, Torture and Resistance". http://www.igc.org/Womensnet/dworkin/TerrorTortureandResistance.html
Mfume, Kweisi, speech at the 90th annual NAACP meeting, July 12, 1999. http://www.naacp.org/president/speeches/90th%20Annual%20Meeting.htm
Yoffie, Rabbi Eric H. Speech supporting the Million Mom March, May 14,
"If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him."
The Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin. 1994. The Schottenstein Edition. New
York: Mesorah Publications. Vol. 2, 72a.
Rape and Sexual Assault, Dean of Students Office for Women's Resources
and Services McKinley Health Education Dept., University Police,
University of Illinois; Hazelwood, R. R. & Harpold, J. 1986. Rape:
The Dangers of Providing Confrontational Advice, FBI Law Enforcement
Bulletin. Vol. 55, pp. 1-5.
Lott 1998, pp. 78, 134-37.
Frank, Jerome D. 1961. Persuasion and Healing. The Johns Hopkins Press.
Richardson, H. L. 1998. Confrontational Politics. Gun Owners Foundation.
is granted to distribute this article in its entirety, so long as full
copyright information and full contact information is given for JPFO.
© 2000 Sarah Thompson, MD
For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc. -- Phone