Lessons from GRPC: Reaching out to other constituencies

This following is the second in a series of articles highlighting different topics from the Second Amendment Foundation’s (SAF) recent Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), at which Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim irvine was a guest speaker.

By Jim Irvine

Continuing on the “expanding gun ownership” theme, this week I wrote about some “non-traditional” people that we need to reach out to.

Women are the fastest growing segment of new gun owners. Almost all women are concerned and interested about personal safety. Many women are realizing that a firearm is a great tool to help ensure the safety of themselves and their children.

With more single women and more single mothers than ever before, there are more women who simply can not rely on a man for their protection. Many women are married to men who travel frequently, leaving them home alone, and even couples who live and work together still routinely spend time apart during a normal day. Events like hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the recent flooding in the north-east serve to further drive home the point that personal safety is an individual responsibility. Your safety, and that of your family is simply too important to entrust to someone else.
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When reaching out to women, we need to cater to their needs. Even someone who is “anti-gun” is likely to be “pro-safety” and “pro-security” and maybe “pro-self defense.” Discuss the things you agree on. You don’t need to tell someone every reason for your beliefs, you need to show them that you agree on personal safety and discuss the different steps each of you take to increase your safety. Many small discussions over time can have a dramatic effect as you give someone time to reflect on your beliefs and methods of safety. In time, even your “anti-gun” friend may get curious enough to want to go to the range with you, even if it’s “just to watch.”

When you take someone for their first time shooting, make it fun! This is crucial to getting a new shooter to become a new gun owner. When you take someone to the range for the first time, remember it’s all about them. Cater to their needs. Ease their fears. Stop for ice-cream on the way home. Make the event so fun they will brag to their other friends how exciting and fun it was to put bullets on target.

Many avid women shooters today did not grow up shooting, they found their passion later in life. From Debbie Ferns, author of “Babes with Bullets” to Paxton Quigley, author of “Armed & Female” and “Stayin’ Alive” to mystery novelist C.J. Songer “Bait, Hook” to NRA President Sandra Fromen, women today are discovering that firearm ownership is empowering, important, and just plain fun.

Maybe it’s because they or someone they know were the victim of a crime, or maybe they just had an event that scared them. Maybe they saw something on the news that made them rethink their thoughts and beliefs. Maybe it was having a friend like you take the time to invite them to try something new.

The reasons are quite varied, but the trend is unmistakable. Firearm ownership is increasing. Concealed carry has become commonly accepted. Personal safety is hot topic in the news. People are interested in safety, and more and more they are turning to firearms to ensure their safety.

So next time you head to the range, invite someone who has never shot a gun to come along. Help them experience the feeling of empowerment that comes from holding a firearm. Replace that anxiety with gratification. And remember to make it fun.

Other Articles in the Series:
"Expanding Gun Ownership"

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