A lot of people see gun advocacy as speeches and rallies and say “yeah, but I can’t do THAT.” This week, I had a good reminder of what gun advocacy should, and shouldn’t be.
In the town I live in, a woman is running on a platform as an anti-gunner for city counsel. It’s her main talking point. Yesterday, my husband and I were out in our driveway when she walked up with some campaign literature, introduced herself, and asked if there were any concerns in the neighborhood she could help with. After a quick chat about traffic calming on a busy street near our son’s school, I moved the conversation to guns. Telling her my affiliation with The Liberal Gun Club, I asked her if I could call her to set up a time for coffee to speak with her about the issue more in depth. She told me she had never heard of our group, asked intelligent questions, and we had a great talk about what LGC does and does not stand for. I told her about the issue so many of us have with recent gun laws and talked about the concerns gun owners have about statements like “we are coming for your guns.” She and I found out we actually have some common ground and are meeting for coffee in a few days. While we may never agree, I know that in a ten-minute conversation, I had the chance to educate her on issues she had never even heard of. In my driveway. Just by being polite. This is gun advocacy. Be nice, be polite, and offer to engage. You can do this. Everyone can.
To my dismay, the candidate also told me that a local gun rights group has also allowed its members to stalk and threaten her. A quick google search showed that this group’s members have in fact threatened to shoot her, to come to her house and to her mother’s house and to her work to harass her. THAT is not gun rights advocacy. In fact, it’s the way we lose our rights. If a group you are affiliated with allows members to make such statements on social media, speak out. Remind them that this doesn’t help. You can do that too.
As so many people at Gun Rights Policy Conference reminded us, we – responsible gun owners – are the gun lobby. If you can, take the next step and call your city councilperson or your state representative and ask for coffee or a meeting. Be nice, be polite, talk about your rights. Show them the face of responsibility. However, along with that privilege of being the gun lobby comes the necessity of calling out our own when they act in a way that is detrimental to us all. If we act against our own best interests, we can hardly be surprised when the other side gains ground against our rights.