After the horrifying shootings in Orlando last weekend, many Americans are again ready to try and do something about gun violence. Here are four principles we should all embrace in this important fight.
Principle 1: Don’t Engage With Gun Enthusiasts
I’ve tried to have thoughtful debates about gun violence with gun enthusiasts in the past (I’ve even written some talking points), and I’ve watched as my friends have tried to have those same conversations in the days since the Orlando shooting. Here’s what I’ve realized:
It’s useless for the same reason that you shouldn’t try and convince adults that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. If they still believe guns aren’t the problem, they will simply never stop believing it. You just have to shrug, tell them you’re sorry their brain is broken, and move on. The good news is that you don’t need to convince them. The polling is very clear; the majority of Americans support sensible gun laws. Gun enthusiasts are in the minority and we should be able to easily pass the laws we want and finally become the “gun grabbers” they’ve been calling us all these years. It makes you wonder why we haven’t done that, which brings us to principle number 2….
Principle 2: Know Who the Enemy Is
Why haven’t we passed those laws despite having an 85% to 15% advantage in polling on some gun control issues? It’s obviously what the public wants so… why hasn’t it happened? Everyone knows that answer to that question. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations on the planet, making sure that we can’t pass the laws we need (or even do the research we need). They are immensely powerful, spending approximately 32 million dollars in 2014 on both elections and lobbying for/against specific bills. The fact is that we will never pass meaningful gun legislation until the NRA loses its power, which brings us to principle number 3….
Principle 3: Do Not Donate Money to, Vote For, or Do Business with NRA Members/Supporters
The first two parts of this seem obvious, but they aren’t. The NRA donates a lot of money to many candidates, including a bunch of Democrats (in 2014, 11 Democrats in the House of Representatives took money from the NRA), so avoiding their reach is difficult. In the end, though, we just can’t support anyone the NRA supports, even when we agree with them about other issues. Make sure those Democrats know that taking money or an endorsement from the NRA means they won’t get money or a vote from you.
This principle isn’t just about politicians, though. We shouldn’t do any business of any kind with NRA members. Thinking of hiring someone to renovate your bathroom? The first question you should ask the contractor is, “Are you an NRA member?” If the answer is yes, find someone else and make sure he or she knows why. Is the owner of your favorite restaurant an NRA member? If so, stop eating there and tell him or her why (if they want to argue with you about your decision, see principle 1). If you think I’m being too harsh, consider this: Most of the NRA’s money comes from membership dues and individual donations from people like the contractor and restaurant owner I just described. The first way to break the NRA is to make sure that being a member of the NRA or donating to the NRA comes with a cost. The second way to break the NRA is to strengthen the good organizations that fight against them, which brings us to principle number 4….
Principle 4: Find an Advocacy Organization, and Join it
There are lots of options here, probably more than I’ve listed. The links below take you to the “About” pages of their websites so you can learn more about each of them.
- Americans for Responsible Solutions
- Brady Campaign
- Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Everytown For Gun Safety
- Moms Demand Action
And don’t just join them and then delete the email they send you each week. Get involved when you can, donate money when you can, and attend rallies when you can. Let’s work to make these groups as formidable as their opposition.