Hello Everyone. I've had a couple posts since I joined the forum (had been a lurker for a while recently). I thought you might appreciate my story, so here it is (be warned, I'm long-winded!):
For the longest time I would consider myself to be in the "progressive liberal" camp. Note that I put quotes around the term; I think it does us no favors by both identifying with a specific "liberal" or "conservative" philosophy, and to put others into those camps. Why? It's a reduction of freedom. If I think of myself as a liberal, then I have to act that way. It creates tribalism, and our founders were very well aware of the dangers of that kind of tribalism (one of the reasons why they were initially very against political parties). I do still consider myself to be progressive in the actual definition of the word -- I want to see positive progress in our country that results in more freedom for everyone involved, and support any policies that, when looking at all the causes and effects of those policies (ie, what's the big picture?), end up affirming more freedom, and that are based on sound data while conforming to the Constitution. For example, I vehemently oppose the results of the Citizen's United case SCOTUS decided years ago because that does not lead to more freedom, but rather makes it easier for us to become an oligarchy under the rule of those who are already wealthy. Allowing money to drive elections effectively ensures that some people have more free speech than others, and I'm pretty sure the framers of the Constitution didn't want that.
Guns wise, I was vehemently opposed to guns of any kind for years. I even gave a speech for a college speech class years ago talking about Australia's gun buy-back program in the 1990s, and why nobody should have guns. I was pretty set in my ways.
What changed my mind was the fact that it's incredibly--wildly, even--unrealistic to think that the United States would ever pull off something like Australia did without massive public support. The only other alternative to that kind of public support would be some kind of an enforce police action, which I totally oppose since it would probably cause more harm than good. A gun buy-back simply won't work in the U.S.
Additionally, the proverbial "AR" cat has already been let out of the bag with the expiration of the federal AWB in the early 2000s. ARs are already here, they're wildly popular, and they're probably here to stay unless that aforementioned mass police enforcement took place. Laws banning them at this point simply make it harder for the vast majority of us law abiding citizens to own them. Someone who's going to break the law with them doesn't really care that they get that extra AWB charge; they break the law because they think they won't get caught. As such, I'm really interested in what comes up in the Wilson vs. Cook County case that was just sent to SCOTUS for consideration.
Long story short, as I get older and continue to see how our political discourse is devolving (again, see my first paragraph about the danger of pigeonholing based on convenient terms), the idea of owning a gun changed for me. A big reason it changed was that I've spent a lot of time doing self-work to eliminate fear in my life. Guns, as I thought about them more, were something I feared. So I decided to conquer that fear this year, got my FOID, and bought my first 9mm DA/SA semi-auto handgun. Luckily I have some friends who are trainers and ex-LE who took me to the range and helped me learn to shoot. At that point, I was hooked. I like the idea of having some extra insurance in case of a home invasion, or in case SHTF and I need to protect myself as I get to a safer location. And it's a helluva lot of fun to shoot!
Now, for the opinion part, and some unsolicited advice for my fellow pro-2A folks on this forum:
- I think we need to get way better at properly rationalizing why pro-2A agendas are in fact a good idea, while also being open to the opposing point of view. The reason why is psychology: it is very hard to move past the cognitive dissonance that one experiences with a potentially conflicting worldview. Research shows that people will make up untrue assertions just to avoid the pain of entertaining a worldview different than their own. If someone is seeing the world through a particular lens that doesn't include guns, or is fearful of guns, then we have an uphill battle to convince them of our point of view. When we can create connection through commonality, we are now helping the "mirror" neurons in our brains fire, and that allows us to better understand each other and find common ground.
- We need to self-police to get the hysterical militia types OUT of this movement. They are not doing us any favors. They make us look crazy, and trust me--nobody wants guns around people who look crazy. Showing up in the street with a hundred guys toting ARs is a monstrously dumb idea and only causes anti-2A folks to become more entrenched.
- We need to use the aforementioned rationality to really explore what sane gun laws would look like in the United States, with the participation of the anti-2A folks. Nothing will get solved by us trying to just endlessly legislate / litigate against each other, or by saying that all gun laws are illegal. We need to understand one another, because the problem as I see it lies in our conflicting worldviews. Until we find a way to bring them together in compromise (which I absolutely believe is possible), this is going to be a non-stop conflict (and that's not very freeing, if you ask me).
- We need to stop stereotyping liberals. Seriously, that kind of hysteria doesn't help anything. The framers of our Constitution came up with such an enduring document because they were willing to sit down with one another and hear out everyone's viewpoint (which, of course, oftentimes conflicted). They knew that at the end of the day, we have much more in common than our differences. At the end of the day, we all want to be safe, and we all want to be free; the difference is how we get there. Yes, I know we get stereotyped, too. I think this is an opportunity to take the high ground.
- Data, data, DATA. Every single bit of data to prove the validity of our point is helpful. Even the data that doesn't prove our point is helpful, because it tells us where we might need to modify our own point of view. But trust me, if you want to get through to a "liberal," you need to use data.
- I truly believe everyone in the U.S. should have to go through firearms training as part of our civic duty. I'm actually okay with that as a contingent to buy a firearm (do you want someone owning a gun who doesn't know how to handle it safely? I don't!). Many other countries do this as part of their selective-service style military / militia programs, and if you look at those countries (especially the ones where you take your AR-style weapon home with you), their gun-related crime is far lower than the U.S. I really believe that far more anti-2A folks would change their minds if they took the time to understand what they fear and learn how to safely handle firearms. That certainly was the case with me.
- We need to better education ourselves about the use cases for different kinds of firearms. I believe that one of the main reasons we get dumb AWBs like in Chicago is because there is a fundamental lack of understanding about firearms, and it's our duty to properly educate about the reasoning behind all these banned AWB "features." For example, the main reason people want a can on their rifle is because guns are LOUD, and we want to protect our hearing, especially indoors. With IL's current can-ban, I have to decide whether or not I want to potentially damage my hearing in a home defense situation. Sadly, those who are anti-2A I think see movies where a can makes a gun virtually silent and think that we're all going to become silent assassins if they're allowed. This is just one example; I'm sure there are many more.
- Fear is the mind-killer. We've got to get past our own fears and also help those who want all-out gun bans to get past their own fears. Fear creates division, and the more we let it fester, the less freedom we will have in our day-to-day lives.
That's about all I could come up with today. Again, this is all just my opinion as someone who used to be very against guns and is now a "gun guy." I hope this post was helpful for everyone here (and hopefully not inflammatory, it's definitely not my intention!), and especially for anyone who might be on the fence about taking the plunge into firearms who might have previously been anti-2A.