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Gun Owners and Communication

How Words Shape the Way We’re Viewed

As I sit here on my vacation, enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the white sands on the Gulf shoreline, a thought occurred to me. Why is it so easy for people to paint the typical gun owner as an uneducated and irrational person who is afraid of the boogeyman and thinks that everyone is out to get them? Well as hard as it may be to turn the mirror toward us sometimes, the truth of the matter is that we don’t do ourselves any favors in the way we communicate on the subject of gun ownership. While the typical anti-gun crusader wants the world to believe the stereotypes, it’s simply not a true representation of a gun owner.

Who are we? We are doctors, lawyers, priests, accountants, nurses, cooks, and barbers. We are every profession, sex, race, every class, every creed. We are the neighbors whose children play with the other kids outside, we are your friend at work, and we are the people you stand next to at the grocery store. There are over 100 million of us and we put billions of dollars of our income back into the economy through our “hobby” full of hunting trips, gun and ammo purchases, trips to the gun range each and every year.

So why don’t we act like it more often? Why do we allow ourselves to get so emotional about guns and the right to own them and in doing so, validate those stereotypes through our bravado and sometimes outlandish statements? Too often, we let emotion get the better of us when it comes to the dialogue between those who believe in the Second Amendment and those who believe it’s an idea that has outlived its usefulness. We constantly validate the stereotypes on a regular basis and either don’t know or don’t care because we think we are in the right and have history on our side. It is something that is simultaneously our greatest strength and biggest weakness in the fight to maintain a core right and we can’t just turn it off, so how do we change for the better?

The answer is easier than you realize and something we learned as a 4 year old from our parents, think before you speak. There’s a couple of well known “rules” in the business world when it comes to emails, 1) never send something that you aren’t prepared to have anyone in the world read and 2) never put anything in an email that you aren’t willing to have live on forever. Take a second to think about how simple those rules are. Now take a second to think about how many times every day you see one or both of those rules broken on a message board, on Facebook, TV show, YouTube video, etc. when it comes to gun owners and the messages we post, speak, etc. We (for lack of a better term) shoot ourselves in the foot all day, every day and in the process lose more and more credibility when it comes to being thought of as rational people with a legitimate message.

Starting today, every gun owner has to be ready to move forward with a new purpose and broadcasting a new narrative. That narrative has to come across loud and clear that gun owners are not the loud mouthed bible thumper who spends his day watching for the black helicopters or pointing his Glock at the front door waiting for the criminals to break it down. Why do we have to do this? Because the biggest fear of the anti-gun group is that the world will see gun owners as the diverse, highly educated, and financially powerful group we are and realizes we aren’t the group of people they read about and are supposed to fear.

That fear is what makes the anti-gun groups like Bloomberg’s get the traction they need. They aren’t trying to make people fear guns; they are trying to make the world fear the citizens that own them. The plan is to make the world believe we can’t be trusted and it’s only a matter of time before we collectively snap and throw the country into chaos. When they are successful in doing that, they can justify why something needs to be taken away and kept only in the hands of the trustworthy i.e. the government who warned you. The funny thing is that for the most part, guns are already in the hands of trustworthy citizens who statistically are less likely to commit a crime than a non-gun owner. The funnier thing is that the group who claims to be the most trustworthy is the last basket we want all our eggs in. I’d be rolling on the floor if it wasn’t so serious.

When I approached Brandon about writing this, I knew I was hitting on a touchy subject. We all realize how frustrating it can be to argue with people who have different beliefs than us, regardless of the topic being discussed. So why put myself out there? Fans of Star Trek will recognize this classic line from The Wrath of Khan; “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” I did this because it’s the right thing to do, even if I touch a nerve. We have to constantly remind ourselves that regardless of whether we like it or not, we all represent millions of gun owners every time we speak and it’s going to take all of us to change the way the world sees us. One small statement at a time. We have to because it’s too damn important.

I started today with this post. How will you start?


Join me in welcoming Matt, a new contributor here on Monderno. Matt is a finance and technology expert who spends his days advising people on a variety of subjects. You can learn more about him here.


14 Responses to Gun Owners and Communication

  1. FrankM March 18, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Great post, Matt. I feel that for many of us this also means that we need to “come out” as gun owners. I’m a gun owner living in NYC and I know a lot of shooters here that don’t talk about being shooters. There are good reasons for not saying anything about my hobby but if someone I’m friends with or an acquaintance brings up the topic of guns I’m always sure to say that I’m involved in the shooting sports. When the 80% or so of folks who aren’t really pro-gun or anti-gun can point to a friend or coworker who own firearms it certainly personalizes the debate and makes it harder to marginalize gun owners as “just a handful of crazies”.

  2. cj March 18, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Another aspect is the constant bombardment the majority of the population constantly receives: The NRA is an evil faceless corporate lackey that doesn’t care about children. No one needs more than 10 rounds. We don’t need ‘weapons of war’ on the streets. You’re more likely to be killed by a gun in your home than you’ll ever be likely to use it to defend your family. All sound bites that have been quoted back at me, often in rapid succession as you’re still trying to educate about the first one.

    I’m a firm believer that education is the answer to the majority of the issues we face with firearms today, from safety to the basic understanding of how firearms actually work (although many believe they are experts simply because they watch TV or movies).

    To this end, my attempt was to offer a fact-based discussion (with citations) with anyone who was interested in learning more in my area (I have probably the leading website in my area regarding firearms). Net result has been a single person contacting me…a high school student who was working on a paper taking the ‘radical’ position that firearm owners’ concerns weren’t being heard by regional politicians.

    So I’m open to ideas regarding how to educate (I’m a professional engineer, shoot competitions, don’t hunt, etc., etc. so would prefer to be having these conversations than many of the others who fly off the handle when someone mentions anything related to gun control), but honestly, the people who control the media aren’t particularly interested in facts or the truth when it comes to firearms, and the majority of the rest of the country simply doesn’t care.

  3. jaydubya43 March 18, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Very good, thought provoking article. Thank you.

  4. Andrew March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Very well put Matt. Another suggestion if I may…

    If when typing an email, post, etc you register any level of any emotion, shelve it for a while before hitting send or posting. Come back after a couple hours and review what you’ve written. Many time after a cooling off period you will be able to see where your emotions took over in your writing and is getting in the way of your actual message. Rewrite those portions to keep the focus on what’s important rather than giving readers ammo against you for your ‘crazy rants’ when in fact they are not crazy, just heartfelt.

    We wouldn’t be reading Monderno’s posts if we weren’t passionate about our second amendment rights, and that is an excellent and powerful thing. If we can focus that passion to getting the right message out, it’ll be even more powerful.

    And once again, thanks to you guys at Monderno for addressing a critical topic with reason and professionalism.

  5. Brenda March 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I’m a 62 year old grandmother of a 9 year old girl. Instead of planning my newly acquired retirement days with crafts, baking, gardening and golf I am registering for a Concealed Carry gun class for me and my husband and shopping for hand guns. What the heck! I have been a patriotic conservative all my life and been fighting the fight for several years albeit for the Prolife cause. We fought with the ProGunners because we were both on the “right” side of the issues and I have never owned a gun. Being Prolife and ProGunner is the same thing to me now. After reading these posts what accured to me is that, as usual, our side is the side of responsible, clear thought guided by truth and common sense. The other side is hysterical and insanity driven. I agree with the main points of all the previous commenters, we need to reeducate the public, come out of our closets, and show the true face of responsible gun owners. If, at this chapter of my life, I’m getting a gun and learning how to use it and getting into the battle to defend the 2 Amendment, it seems to me that those who were involved before I was dropped the ball! I should be baking cookies with my granddaughter not saving up for an AR 15!!!

    • mark March 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      No way!!! You need to bake cookies so you have snacks to take to the range. Educate, practice, and pass it forward. A bad day at the range is better than the best day spent all day inside.

  6. SSG Becker March 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm #


  7. Matt March 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Brenda- my Mom is about the same age and just recently got herself a Walther .380 and took the CHL class. She was really excited about it.

    While it would be surprising to the uninformed, it’s not surprising to me to see so many gun owners who are well informed and get what it means to be a responsible gun owner. Yes there are bad apples in every bunch, but the vast majority are honest, hard working and law abiding citizens.

    As mentioned, it will take a lot of gun owners “coming out” and voicing their opinions and support in a positive way and helping to paint owners in a better light.

  8. Gregtoal March 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Thank you for your thoughtful and timely post. I agree with you 100% . The time to show who we really are as a “community” is long overdue. The stereotypes and generalities the non- gun owning public has for us are only reinforced by emotional and idiotic outbursts. That is EXACTLY what the “Bloombergers” want from us. We need to demonstrate, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, that we are indeed responsible, civic minded neighbors. That we are not zealots. We want a society with safety, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness. We WANT sober discourse about our rights, why they are still important today, and why they were written in the first place. So long as we can be portrayed as ” paranoid, anarchists, or militants”, we play right into their hands, to our detriment.

  9. Uncle Kenny March 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
    Really? This is the quote you want to use here? Aside from the fact that Obama’s use of it has polluted it forever, it was questionable long before that. It would be one thing to quote it the opposite way around as they did in the next Star Trek movie. That would be a pleasantly ironic twist. A nice pair of koans, perhaps. By itself it’s collectivist twaddle. A good example of an answer to the wrong question.

    • Andrew March 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Way to ignore the meat of the post and focus on a trivial point. Libtard trolls strike again.

    • Matt March 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      Thanks for your reply. I think this is very helpful for people as well. “Those who spare their words are truly knowledgeable and those who are discreet are intelligent. Even fools, keeping silent, are considered wise; if they keep their lips closed, intelligent. – Proverbs 17:27-28

  10. mike March 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I am who I am

  11. Dachia Arritola March 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Great post. I was a bit defensive (as one of the many knee-jerk reactionaries) but then you quote Star Trek… and I came around. I’m not a gun-lover… just a very strong supporter of the Constitution and BOR… but I tend to get labeled “gun enthusiast” pretty quickly in a conversation. I’ll be a bit more patient in the future.