Anti-gun Activists are Making the Same Mistake as Anti-abortion Activists

Both groups want what’s best: reduced abortions, fewer gun deaths. But they want it so bad, they make a tactical mistake. I wrote about this mistake regarding abortion. Now it’s being made regarding gun control.

The mistake is trying to use the force of law.

The use of law to reduce abortions is seen by most simply as an attack on women’s rights. People respond by solidifying their pro-choice stance and support for organizations/politicians aligned with this right. Many will also then minimize the moral concerns with abortion, lest they give anti-abortion activists fodder for their cause.

In other words, seeking legal interference for abortion backfires.

Now many are calling for laws to curb gun ownership. The results: article like How the ‘New York Times’ and Loretta Lynch Made Me Join the NRA and rising gun sales whenever the President makes his case to reduce gun rights. (There’s a pun is here about gun control efforts backfiring and needing to target a different remedy.)

Each side seeks law to shape society in the way they prefer. It would benefit both causes to find answers without trying to force people’s actions. I spelled these out in my abortion article: ramp up pro-life marketing campaigns; help expecting mothers who are questioning whether to deliver the child.

Gun control advocates should also take matters in their own hands.

A popular tweet shows a 12-month calendar with American mass shootings dotting most of the dates. The tweeter sarcastically writes, “By all means, let’s do nothing.” He thinks action requires Congress. But anyone can take action to improve the neighborhoods — and the lives therein — where the majority of gun deaths occur (or at least help raise money for organizations that do). I researched a few such organizations in my city — MADDADS, EMERGE, Urban Ventures — for an upcoming article in January.

Then plea for fewer guns. Anti-abortion groups have created effective, pro-life billboard campaigns. To anti-gun groups, I’d say to do the same with messages like this:

Make the case that guns are dangerous, uncool. Have a philanthropist start his/her own gun buy-back program (if that’s allowed). Get some conservative activists to state their own distaste for guns. In this day of social media, activists can go after companies. (Michael Moore got Kmart to stop selling handgun ammunition even before Facebook and Twitter.) Start something like the ice-bucket challenge, where gun owners destroy their weapons while saying, “No more.” Argue that citizens don’t need guns, because the police are there to protect us. (Though that would be an interesting crossing of ideological beams.)

I’m just brainstorming here. The point is to speak to the hearts of gun owners, not threaten them with law. It’s a bad tactic for trying to reduce abortion; it’s a bad tactic for trying to reduce gun ownership.

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