Rightly or wrongly, I really do believe that most people are "genuine" when it comes to their desire to get rid of guns. By "genuine" what I mean is that they really do believe that stripping guns from law-abiding citizens would make a safer society. Yes, there are a lot of liars and manipulators out there who want to get rid guns because they want control. However, I think for the most part, for more people, your average joe type person. They are just afraid and they genuinely believe that if there were less guns there would be less crime (despite the facts that say the opposite).
This became very clear to me in a recent speech by President Obama, and I apologize but I can't place it, where he said that his number one responsibility was the security of the American people. And that's when it hit me. He values keeping us safe over keeping us free. Now I'm sure Obama would be on the list that people would accused of being a liar. But, just for a moment, let's imagine he's genuine.
There are people who actually believe that no guns (or less guns) mean a safer society. What they are ultimately saying is that they value Security over Liberty. At its core, the right to bear arms, is about Liberty. Guns are ultimately a liberty issue, not a gun issue. The problem becomes that people are so paralyzed with fear that they can't see the real issue, or the consequences of infringing on Liberty.
So how do we talk to these people in a helpful, meaningful discussion that seeks to win them and not simply to further alienate them?
What it comes down to is that for the majority of anti gun folk they value security over and against valuing liberty. To be clear these two things are not necessarily at odds. But, there are times when they are and when it comes down to it, we in the gun community, obviously value liberty over security. We also believe, that our liberty will help keep us secure. These people believe the exactly opposite, but I doubt they've ever really thought it through that far. They don't know that's what they believe.
It will help you to remember that people rarely, if ever, hate freedom for the sake of hating freedom. They often hate freedom because they value something else more than freedom. I do not believe that anyone can pursue hating liberty for the sake of hating liberty. Rather, they hate liberty because they think it stands in the way of being safe (or some other opposing value).
This means that when you're talking to someone who does not believe in our right to bear arms. You are probably talking to someone who values being safe or at least feeling safe over being free. So the discussion should not really be about guns and how the constitution says "shall not be infringed" and how they are stupid and so forth and so on (which are all valid points).
Rather we need to cut to the core of the issue which is they don't believe in liberty, they believe in (the illusion of) security. They don't believe that liberty is worth it, what they are saying is that they would trade away their liberty to feel safe. Like I said, I don't think they are truly aware of what they are saying. They just think "Guns=Scary. Therefore, No guns=Safe".
I realized this a few days ago when my brother told me that the terror watch list was a good idea "in theory" and that denying people the right to buy guns based on probable cause was a good idea, "in theory". I lost my mind and yelled at him for a while. But after I calmed down and we had a conversation and I was able to steer him to the fact that it was Liberty that he was sacrificing. Once he saw that he was much more willing to listen and think through it.
This is the battlefield where we will win the most converts. Because once people see that they are devaluing liberty, I think most (but not all) will be brought to swift repentance. Liberty is the most fundamental American core value. Our whole nation is founded on liberty. We believe in liberty over everything else. Not everyone granted, but most of us do. We need to frame the debate in terms of liberty and not in terms of just guns. I do love guns. But right now, the reason guns are such a big deal, and the reason (in part) it's such a polarizing issue is because they are the knife's edge in the assault on our liberty.
As our founders believed, as people have died for, and as Patrick Henry said, "Give me Liberty, or give me death!"