Five Steps to Save Gun Rights

Next week marks 10 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision Heller v. D.C., which locked in the concept that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and that right is about self protection, among other things. We've made progress, but we see constant attacks on this fundamental right. So, what can YOU do? Here are five steps to becoming an effective Second Amendment warrior.

1.  Get Frustrated
That's easy. We're already frustrated with lower courts ignoring or dismissing the Heller decision, with billionaires funding gun bans, with a media which is so in the tank for gun confiscation that they no longer pretend to be fair. 

2. Get Motivated
Channel that frustration into action. Make a pledge to yourself that you'll actually do something this time. You. Not the NRA. Not anyone else. You. Taking effective action. (Hint: It's easy. Keep reading.)

3. Get Moving
Get off your butt. Make fighting for gun rights part of your life. It's just what you do.  Gun Talk Radio producer Jim Kinzie gave himself a challenge a few years ago, to introduce one person to shooting per week for a year. He got to 50, which is remarkable. Anyone can do one person a month. JOIN your state gun rights group, NGUthen VOLUNTEER. 

4.  Get Committed
Just as with the war on terrorism, the fight for gun rights will never end. They will never stop. We must commit to fighting this for our entire lives, and to bringing up young warriors who will replace us. Take your kids and grandchildren to the state capitol when they are hearing gun bills. Take them shooting. Take them to rallies. "It's just what we do," should be part of your family's credo. When someone asks you to tell them about yourself, part of your story should be that you support the Second Amendment. That's just what you do -- it's who you are.

5. Get In Front
AH! Here we go. I know that not all gun owners are conservative in their politics, and that's good. But, I do believe that most gun owners tend to not want to draw attention to themselves. We must get over this. We must learn from other effective political groups, which have fought back against bigots and the media by getting in front of the public.

What's that mean? Think "missionary," or "evangelist," or "advocate," or whatever term is comfortable, but we all must look for every opportunity to let others know we are responsible gun owners. How? Look for ways to bring it up in conversations. "I was out shooting the other day ..." Or, "The family went to a great event (shooting) last weekend ..."  

Try to bring it up to someone every day -- especially people you don't know. Why? What's that do for us? It personalizes us. When you smile, you ask about someone's children, and you identify proudly that you are a shooter and gun owner, you remove, at least a little, the stereotype the media tries so hard to present that we are 1. Dumb, 2. Evil ("terrorists"), 3. All men, 4. Angry, 5. Bigots and more. It's amazing what a smile, a pleasant hello, and a bit of conversation can do. There's nothing quite as comforting as a well-nursed prejudice. We have to expose the anti-gun bigots for what they are, but do it in a way that's not confrontational. People are rarely forced to change their beliefs. They can, however, be led to a place where they challenge those beliefs on their own.

Get in Front also means (and this one doesn't come easily to me) putting a sticker on your car (not an in-your-face message) that says you belong to the NRA, or a state group, or that you are a competitive shooter, etc. Maybe it's a bumper sticker that says "Guns Save Lives." 

The goal is for millions of us to actively present the fact that we are gun owners. Every. Single. Day. It actually surprises people when they learn that their neighbors, their doctor, their children's teachers, their pastors, their accountants, their club members are "those people." Gun people. It destroys their stereotype.     

We must not be silent. We must not be invisible. We must not allow politicians and the media to demean, belittle, besmirch, demonize, marginalize, and eventually reduce us to insignificance. That's the goal. To make us "the other." Not like normal people. When you are "the other," society has, can, and will do unspeakable things to you.

Five simple steps. We are under intense assault from incredibly well-funded forces who openly call for the confiscation of all guns and the repeal of the Second Amendment. Quite honestly, if this isn't a call to action, I don't know what is.

Let's get going. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.