Winning public opinion

This is something I wrote for the gun email list at work. Most of the people on the list live in California so I slanted it a little bit in that direction but I think it has application for a much broader audience.


I realize the situation is much different in California than in the states I spend most of my time (Washington and Idaho) but we are winning. We have been winning a bunch of court battles. We have been winning some political victories (carry in National Parks and in checked bags on Amtrak, carry in 49 states, fines for cities and elected officials in Florida who violate state preemption, etc. etc.). The anti-gun organizations are in financial trouble. And probably most importantly we are winning public opinion (see the most recent Gallup poll on guns).

As much progress as we have made elsewhere California and a few other states are still are a cancer that can spread if not treated. Don’t think that those of us in the free(er) states are unaware of the importance of these trouble spots or that we are neglecting the situation. And we are making progress in California. As you folks are probably even better aware than I SAF and CalGuns are making progress in the courts. I’ve spent a lot of time with Alan Gottlieb and Alan Gura and I am convinced they are more than competent and have plans that have a reasonable chance of success.

The blogosphere is also doing what it can to change things in California. Through the cooperation of Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned I was interviewed by a reporter for the Los Angeles Times yesterday. I was a bit apprehensive as the LA Times has been far from friendly to gun owners in the past. This report was fair and did not take advantage of some things I said which could have sounded poorly out of context. Although she didn’t mention it in the article her mother has even been to Front Sight!

I suspect California gun owners can make a difference by “coming out of the closet” now. I understand the risks but the rewards can be significant if done correctly.

One thing I would like to suggest is that gun owners/clubs reach out to traditional media. Boomershoot has had some remarkably good coverage (the KING5 Evening Magazine video on Boomershoot was even nominated for an Emmy). Boomershoot has some draw and some PR talent (not me) that most gun organizations can’t take advantage of but they can help gain public acceptance of gun owners without too much effort.

Find local news outlets that have a local events sections and get your IPDA/USPSA/Cowboy-Action/Steel-Challenge/Bowling-Pin/Bulleye/High-Power/whatever match listed. After the match write up a story (my PR person says, somewhat cynically, “Reporters are lazy. If you want their support do their work for them.”) about the match results and send it to the local news organizations. If you have something a little different you might even get them to send a reporter. Cowboy Action frequently qualifies as “different” enough. Action Pistol (IPDA/USPSA) matches provide an opportunity for this as well. I created stages for a USPSA match that addressed a visit by Fred Phelps to the area and made it into the local newspaper and the AP. That led to an interview for an article in the Seattle Times. A YouTube video of a Gabby Giffords themed concealed carry side match to a USPSA match generated nearly 8000 views and the rage of anti-gun groups and even got the attention of a Brady Campaign Board member who said, “These folks could have just sat back and shut up.”

If a news article has errors about guns (.357 caliber Glocks and 40mm handguns are my favorites) contact the reporter. Ask if they would like to attend a “media day”. Invite a number of media organizations and if you get a decent response set up a ½ day class (Keep it short! They won’t want to invest a whole day) to teach them the basics of gun types, gun vocabulary, gun myths, and gun safety. Print and bind some nice copies of the NSSF writers guide to give them (NSSF may have some for sale or distribution, you might check with them before printing your own). Include some range time with a .22 with options for larger calibers for those that are interested.

Carefully select your media guides. Good looking professionals of both sexes and various ethnic backgrounds will help dispel the stereotypes they may have of gun owners. Train your people! Prepare them for loaded questions. When media is expected at Boomershoot we have designated media contacts and since our people are spread all over the country do training via email discussions. We have a media guide FAQ (with our own inside humor) to help prepare our people. And except for those in the media who we know are gun friendly (I.E. Michael Bane of Shooting Gallery) we have a media guide with them at all times. We successfully handled a Newsweek reporter who, as near as we could determine, exclusively reported on terrorism, both international and domestic.

If you decide to head down this path let me know if I can help. My Boomershoot PR person currently has some health issues that sometimes prevent timely responses but if anyone thinks they could benefit from some help I will be glad to share what I have learned and pass on the tougher problems to an expert.

27 thoughts on “Winning public opinion

  1. You know, as a California non-gun owner (I guess you could call me an Anti, but I’m really not since I don’t want to ban guns), I could accept more CCWs if they followed the “law of the land.”

    1. They have training. I also like the idea that they should have to qualify as often as the police department does (every other month).

    2. They only carry the same kind of bullets the police use. Good enough for police, good enough for civilians too.

    3. They carry liability insurance. I’ll even go further and say that the NRA should help them come up with liability insurance.

  2. #1. Ubu there are many states that require mandatory training to get a CCW permit, and many states that don’t. If you can show data that shooting accidents, or erroneous uses of deadly force (due to misunderstanding of the law) are at any statistical significant difference I’ll 100% concede the point. Reality is people who are willing to regularly train and study the laws will do so no matter what the mandate is. Meanwhile people who are NOT willing to train or study the law, will do the mandated minimum and no more. Case-and-point I studied French, Latin, and Japanese in school. The only language I have even a moderate vocabulary in is Latin because I’m a scientist and I use Latin and Greek terms all day, every day.

    I have zero speaking or writing proficiency in either because I haven’t spoken or written any of those languages since I took my final exam on them.

    Meanwhile I’ll talk the doors off you on 2nd Amendment case law, Firearm designs and features, and various state-by-state licensing requirements and why most of them are simply feel-good laws, yet I’ve never taken a mandated class in ANY of them.

    #2. Most of us do. All police agencies issue JHP ammo for semi-autos, and JHP, or Lead HP ammo for revolvers. If you want to be that simple in your definition, your concerns are met. If you’re somehow worried about so-called “Cop killer” ammo, that’s a fantasy. If you’re concerned about people carrying Ball ammo, well I wish they’d carry HP ammo, but it wasn’t until the last 40 years that HPs were even mainstream, maybe you should clarify your point.

    A personal gripe is all my carry guns are loaded with this ammo:
    http://le.atk.com/general/federalproducts/pistol/tacticalhst.aspx

    It was common for a while, then Federal stopped selling it to dealers and only directly to Police armorors. I need to buy my supplies at gunshows and from factory overrun sales. If you could fix that I’d love it. Reliability testing with high-end ammo is expensive and I’d rather not have to repeat the process if I run out of this stuff.

    #3. Care to give a factual and statistical reason why carry permit holders should be singled out over any other group. I don’t have to take out a rider when I buy a table saw. When I buy a hair drier, when I buy a coffee maker. Haven’t crunched the numbers but I suspect all of them are vastly more likely to cause serious injury than a permit-holder from an at-fault shooting. (Remember the people doing the shooting in LA that you’ll read about today in the Paper won’t have your insurance policy no matter what the laws says).

    I’d propose you simply repeal your carry laws completely. All of them. Simply treat carrying a gun no different than simply possessing a gun. If the person with the gun is a criminal, or the gun is stolen or somehow illegal (such as a modified weapon or a non-registered NFA Item), or the person is engaging in a criminal act, then law can step in.

    It makes much more sense if you step back from your emotions and look at the data.

    BTW in case I didn’t tell you, as recently as 1999 I would have 100% agreed with your above statements (tho I’ll note that the whole punitive insurance scam is a more recent invention)

    A few people raise some points I found VERY shocking, and unbelievable about guns and gun control, so I decided to research them, just to prove that person wrong in spades. Turns out I was wrong. Lead me to question everything I thought I knew about guns and gun control.

    I had a choice, then, support laws I knew that punished and got good people killed while taking no effect on the criminal element that makes the headlines, or switch sides and start supporting gun rights.

    Really this leaves me two questions for you, Ubu. #1. You’ve likely seen all I saw that convinced me gun control was completely spurious and dangerous, and have chosen to support it anyway, Why? OR #2. You have seen some data or some studies I haven’t in all my years of verifying that I made the right choice to both go against gun control, but to own and carry guns. Can I see that?

  3. Very good post, Joe. You have touched on a topic that NSSF (the National Shooting Sports Foundation) deals with day-in and day-out. NSSF will provide copies of its “Writer’s Guide to Firearms and Ammunition” to groups working to educate media about responsible firearms ownership and use. The cost is free for reasonable quantities. The guide is also available online at http://www.nssf.org/newsroom. Some years ago, working with Michael Bane, NSSF pioneered the concept of Media Education Seminars, at which mainstream media reporters and TV producers were invited to a shooting range and received instruction on firearms and regulations, including a supervised, live-fire session. As you say, shooting ranges and individuals can continue in this vein by teaching local, regional and national media about firearms and safety. NSSF can assist anyone engaged in this effort by providing statistics on firearms sales, participation trends and safety.

  4. Hell, I’ve known a lot of cops who only shoot once a year, and that is when they have to do their yearly shooting qualification. Most CCW carriers I know are better and SAFER shots than the majority of the police I’ve known.
    Why does a CCW need liability insurance? So that they can jack up the amount until they can’t afford it any more?

  5. My neighbor is a town cop, and he’s a shooter. He passed the qualifier with close to a perfect score. He gave me the rundown, and it isn’t hard.

    I’ve also been behind the firing line waiting for the local cops to finish their qualifications so I could shoot.

    Unless Ubu has some severe physical limitations, you could give me a range, a Glock 19, and a duty belt, and I could get Ubu from never having touched a gun before to passing the SFPD qualifier.

    I’m Hardly Kathy Jackson, or Mas Ayoob, but set the bar that low, and I’ll succeed!

  6. Ubu

    For #1, many police departments require a laughably easy re-qualification every YEAR, not bi-monthly. Some departments may have stricter standards, but most do not. And I have seen quite a few cops who I seriously doubt could shoot a person sized target from 7 yards. So while training is important, please do not believe the myth that cops are marksmen.

    I won’t argue #2 as most of us do carry similar or the exact same ammo as the cops do. We agree on that point. In fact, carrying target ammo or ball ammo is theoretically actually less lethal than cop ammo.

    For #3, the problem with liability insurance is that the government can set the limit impossibly high (and thus effectively denying you a permit due to price), and there are very few if no insurance companies willing to offer this product. Is there a current problem CCW’ers wreaking havoc and not having the funds to pay for their negligence? No. This is another way to have “may” issue permits (which may be issued with a large enough donation to the sheriff’s re-election fund)

    Another point to consider is that many “Castle Doctrine” or “make my day” laws actually forbid the victim and his family from suing the shooter if the shooter was within his legal right to defend himself. Insurance is not necessary for legal shootings. Illegal shooters do not even have a permit, what makes think they are going to carry liability insurance?

  7. The LAPD qualifies every other month. Why should CCW permit holders be allowed to qualify less frequently if they want to carry in LA?

    People have to carry liability insurance for cars. Why should guns be any different? Your weapon, your responsibility. Unless everyone suddenly starts carrying around table saws, I can’t see the need for table saw insurance.

  8. LA cops don’t have any better marksmanship than most CCW holders; you’ve been watching too many cop dramas on TV.
    If you look at the actual stats, you have a better chance of being shot accidentally by a cop than by a CCW carrier.

  9. Again, ubu; show us the stats or get off it. You’re comparing apples to oranges anyway. We don’t get shooting licenses to operate on public shooting ranges, for one thing. Private ranges carry their own insurance, and individuals often have umbrella liability policies. Further, I reject the notion of government requiring insurance. It’s one of those millions of cases of one little bit of socialism being used as an excuse for another. Gun enthusiasts almost universally shoot more than average cops, who aren’t gun enthusiasts. Our jobs typically don’t involve being called to multiple crime scenes, or potential crime scenes, every day either. We try to avoid trouble whereas cops, by definition, are always looking for trouble. Cop standards are enforced by cop departments, whereas we are individual autonomous operators with our own, higher standards.

    But all of that is trumped by the stats– CCWers are among the safest, most law abiding of any demographic you can put together. Considerably better than cops, so be careful who you use as a standard, Young Grasshopper. That argument would only appeal to authoritarians anyway, and you’re not talking to authoritarians here. See?

    But you knew all this beforehand, because we’ve told you and you’ve had years in which to verify it, so your motivations are hereby called, yet again, into question. You’ll have to do about a thousand times better here to catch up with the big kids. So far you’re doing no thinking, and instead regurgitating old, worn out anti rights talking points that we dispelled more than a decade and a half ago.

    You’re out of your league. You should either admit you’re wrong or go away. Otherwise you’re just making a fool of yourself, which, come to think of it is all right by me I guess, if you’re into it. It helps to show the contrast between your ideology and the ideology of liberty. Maybe that’s your motivation?

  10. BobG,

    Well, duh…. That’s because it’s mostly cops who have guns in LA. There are very few CCW holders. Ditto with NYC.

    Statistics are practically meaningless when it comes to CCW in large cities since the densest largest cities in this country don’t have liberal CCW laws.

  11. Lyle,

    I have more liberty than you have. I don’t have a gun that I have to be responsible for. To me, a gun is just another responsibility.

    Regarding the insurance issue, I think umbrella policies are fine.

  12. If you are going to offer a class, make sure it has a good title, the organization offering the class has a good name, and that you provide a certificate of completion / attendance. Everybody likes something they can add to the resume, CVs, and yearly performance management appraisals. Good names are good for impressing managers. Kitchy names like “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” are worthless for check-the-box training requirements.

    If you can pitch the class right, and wrangle continuing medical education (CME) credits from the American Medical Association (AMA), and you offer a free class, local doctors (and related creatures) will flock to you for an interesting free course. Hmm – maybe the NRA or somebody high powered could organize an hour of online training with CME.

    I believe teachers have a similar need for continuing education credits – perhaps someone could target training to teachers?

  13. “Well, duh…. That’s because it’s mostly cops who have guns in LA. There are very few CCW holders. Ditto with NYC.”

    Try looking at the percentages; the police have a higher percentage of accidental shootings for the amount of police than CCW carriers do.
    Are you really that obtuse, or just acting?

  14. Notice her avoiding my comment like the plague. Its intentional.

    I’ll give Ubu one last spoon-fed chance. Something I’ve done to over a dozen anti-rights trolls before.
    “I had a choice, then, support laws I knew that punished and got good people killed while taking no effect on the criminal element that makes the headlines, or switch sides and start supporting gun rights.

    Really this leaves me two questions for you, Ubu. #1. You’ve likely seen all I saw that convinced me gun control was completely spurious and dangerous, and have chosen to support it anyway, Why? OR #2. You have seen some data or some studies I haven’t in all my years of verifying that I made the right choice to both go against gun control, but to own and carry guns. Can I see that?”

    They never answered it, she won’t either. If she was willing to, she wouldn’t be anti-gun.

  15. Ubu this is just very very false. You need to get out and see the country. There is more to the country than California and the Northeastern cities.

    Statistics are practically meaningless when it comes to CCW in large cities since the densest largest cities in this country don’t have liberal CCW laws.

    These major American cities are all in liberal shall issue or no permit needed states:
    Houston
    Phoenix
    Denver
    Dallas
    Seattle
    Nashville
    Miami
    Minneapolis
    Oklahoma city
    Indianapolis
    Atlanta
    Detroit
    Pittsburgh
    Philadelphia
    San Antonio
    Austin
    St Louis
    Kansas City
    Charlotte
    Portland
    Cincinnati
    Las Vegas
    Salt Lake City
    Northern Virginia around DC
    Milwaukee
    etc… the list goes on.

    Really the only large cities without liberal ccw laws are:
    NYC / NJ (upstate New York is close to shall issue)
    LA, San Franscisco / Bay area, San Diego (parts of California are essentially shall issue)
    Boston
    Baltimore
    Chicago

    And all of these cities do issue carry permits to celebs and politicians. Yes, in Chicago if you’re an alderman you can carry legally.

    The majority of the American population lives in shall issue states with large cities in them. We don’t seem to be having a problem with ccw, why would your hand picked cities be different than any other cities I have named?

  16. Even entertaining ubu’s pitiful little attempt at a “gotcha”…

    State-licensed-to-carry police officers are paid to receive their initial training, are provided their primary and sometimes back-up weapons for free, and are being paid by the issuing agency during their requals, often having their ammo provided to them.

    There’s no license required for carry in 4 states, including my own, Alaska, but if I were suddenly required by the state to meet the same standards to carry in public as a licensed police officer, I would demand equal treatment and benefits. Particularly since they are public -employees- who can choose to avoid the imposition of the training requirements by taking a different job, while I am a citizen being financially impacted simply for peaceably exercising an enumerated fundamental Constitutional right.

    For that matter, once police officers are licensed by the state they are covered under the -state’s- liability insurance and, as long as they follow their training in good faith, they are personally insulated from damages. I expect the same consideration from the taxpayers and powers-that-be should I be required to undergo the same training regime to carry. After all, I’d effectively have the exact same license, carry-wise.

    I’ll leave the laughably ignorant “use same type of ammo” issue alone. Two examples of why things should be thought through by ubu prior to exposing them to ridicule are enough.

  17. PT, also note that in Massachusetts cities like Boston, or Worcester, or Springfield, or Cambridge, or Lawrence where it is impossible to get a carry permit without political connections or outright bribes. That being said, I live in a “Shall issue” town, and work in a may issue town (used to work in a “won’t issue” town) but like California, if you get a permit you’re good for the whole state.

    So I’ll be carrying in Boston Tonight. And somebody who lives in one of those “Shall Issue” counties of California can work in ‘Frisco every day and carry a gun and cross path with Ubu every damn day.

    But she can pretend those people don’t exist, so she can continue her bigotry.

  18. I have more liberty than you have. I don’t have a gun that I have to be responsible for. To me, a gun is just another responsibility.

    I think someone is very, very confused about what liberty is all about.

    Liberty is not an exercise in avoiding responsibility. A major component of liberty is ACCEPTING responsibility for oneself rather than attempting to pass it off onto others.

    You know…sort of like accepting the responsibility for your own safety and well-being rather than trying to pass it off onto the government.

    “Whatever power you give the State to do things FOR you carries with it the equivalent power to do things TO you.
    –Albert Jay Nock

  19. I answer ubu only occasionally, and only for the other readers. As far as she’s concerned, so long as we’re talking about her or she’s getting some reaction out of us, she’s achieved her goal. You all know the personality type. In junior high school we called them class clowns.

  20. I had one of these class clowns visit my small shop in Moscow, many years ago, with his mother. An extreme example, he’d ask a question, then completely ignore my answer, then ask another random question about something he saw (he knew not what) in the shop. He just wanted to be the one to start my lips to flapping, so I quit engaging him, turned to his moither and said; “He’s not listening”. With ubu it’s a slightly more sophisticated class clown power/attention trip. She knows all this stuff, and is merely poking and prodding, being coy, trying to get a reaction. Respond to her, if you must, with that in mind.

  21. As a CA gun owner I know firsthand that the majority of LTC (CCW) in the larger urban areas are held by politicians, LEO, judges, celebrities & large political donors. Some business owners may, may being the key word here, get them, but for the normal, law abiding citizen you cannot get one no matter what you do. Thanks to CalGuns, SAF, CPRA, NRA & some fabulously intelligent attorneys, we’re seeing changes being made, slowly. County by county. City by city.

    I’m afraid that ubu52 represents the views of most that consider themselves “open-minded” & not “anti-gun” or “pro-gun control.” Funny how they never actually know the laws or the reality of gun ownership in the decidedly non-free state of CA, much less the history behind the majority of CA anti-gun laws.

    My suggestion read the convoluted laws that are applied to law abiding gun owners first, see the legal hop scotch a citizen has to go through simply purchasing a firearm in CA & then honestly tell me that the sole objective in CA isn’t to protect the citizens, but to ban guns.

  22. Joe:

    You can’t use reason to move a person off of a position that they did not use reason to get to.

    She has hopolophobia, anti-conservative/rural bigotry, and possibly Projection issues. No amount of reason will sway her. If she is unwilling to deal with her illnesses, I suggest you consider not enabling her with further attention.

  23. I am sure that any non-LEO carrier of a weapon would be delighted to train bi-monthly on a clean, well-lit, well-ventilated, secure, supervised range that is free of usage charge to them, maintained by someone other than them, with a quality weapon provided by someone else, with quality ammunition provided by someone else, with targets supplied free of charge, all while being paid at the hourly rate that a LA LEO earns while they qualify and re-qualify with their weapons.

    For the rest of us, we pay for range use, provide our own weapon, ammunition and targets, and do it on our own time. Why do we do this? The practice promotes the safety, security and long term survival of our loved ones and ourselves.

    A professional is someone who does an activity for a living. The opposite of professional is amateur – someone who does an activity out of love of the activity, not primarily for the compensation.

    Calling someone an “amateur” does not necessarily mean that someone does the activity with less skill than the professional, but does mean that someone does the activity with much less compensation.

    -An amateur

  24. Ed,
    A perfect example of that is Amateur Radio. Hams cannot be compensated for their work per FCC rules. However we can communicate when no one else can. Show up in the back country with a ham radio if you run into a cop they will often say, “Oh am I glad to see you.” Because they know if the SHTF you will be able to communicate even though they can’t talk to anyone on their own equipment. We can do things other radio services can’t. Because we do it for the sake of doing it, we also create an infrastructure better than most.

    @ubu, If amateurs are so bad. Why is just about every emergency communications plan involves HAM radio, which is nothing but amateurs, in one form or another? It’s simple, because it’s working even when everything else has failed. The 2001 Nisqually quake in Washington knocked out communications throughout Western Washington. The ARES nets were activated within 5 minutes after the quake and relaying emergency traffic FOR THE STATE within 15 minutes. If that’s what it means to be an amateur, I’ll take that as a compliment. None of those people were compensated for their time or equipment. It was all volunteer. As an FYI, all you need to do is pass a simple test to get a HAM radio license. There isn’t hours of training required, yet if misused I could shut down all radio communications around me, either on purpose or by accident. Think about it, emergency vehicles no longer having communications.

    Except this doom and gloom doesn’t happen. Neither does the doom and gloom of people carrying concealed weapons. There are no wild west shootouts. Innocent people aren’t being shot left and right. The fact is private citizens hit what they’re aiming at more readily than the police.

    I pay for all my training, all my ammunition, all my range time, all my targets, and my weapons. I am not compensated by anyone for this time. As such I am an amateur. That said, I have shot standing next to some of my local law enforcement and I don’t exactly lead the pack in the USPSA matches. If you’re going to make me qualify as a LEO, then I should have the same rights and privileges as an LEO in deploying my firearm, doubly so since I’m footing the bill myself. I met all the same qualification requirements as an officer of the state, so why can’t I be protected the same as an officer?

    Just the same, I pay for my antennas, my radios, my batteries, my generators, and my time in training to handle emergency communications. Why doesn’t the FCC let me be reimbursed for that?!

    The thing is, I don’t care about that because I like doing the hobby, the sport, and donning the personal responsibility. You however want to shirk your responsibility and want to penalize those of us who take the responsibility of our own safety seriously. In the words of Melvin Udall, “Sell crazy some place else lady, we’re all stocked up here.”

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