Win the gun debate with a t-shirt

By Dean Rieck

You can't change people's minds about guns by arguing with them. But you can change their minds with a t-shirt. How? Read on.

Take a moment to think about how you came to believe what you do about guns. Did someone confront you? Did a gun enthusiast get in your face and scream facts and statistics until you were forced to concede?

I am a marketing consultant and make a living by selling things to people. To do this, I must be a student of human behavior. One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that people make decisions emotionally, not logically. Logic and reasoning are used to justify a decision previously arrived at emotionally.

This means people arrive at their beliefs through exposure to positive or negative experiences, through family, friends, work, church, media, or other means. In addition, views are formed voluntarily, even subconsciously, not by confrontation or argumentation. In fact, when people are questioned or challenged about their beliefs, the tendency is to dig in, fight back, and become even more convinced of what is already believed.

If you are like most people, you came to think the way you do about guns because that's the way your family and friends think about guns. Or as you grew up you had experiences that made you open to the idea of gun ownership, hunting, competitive shooting, etc.

Think about how you react when someone challenges your most deeply held beliefs. Do you give in or do you fight back? Fighting back is the normal reaction. When you get in someone's face, challenge them, debate them, they don’t listen. They simply dig in.

Other people must arrive at a pro-gun belief in the same way you did - emotionally, though positive experiences. How to do you make that happen? By presenting the message in a friendly, non-threatening way. Like wearing a pro-gun t-shirt. When people see a polite, well-mannered, normal person wearing a t-shirt with a pro-gun message, they make the association you want them to make: guns are okay.

It doesn't have to be just a t-shirt. This idea is simply to expose people to positive experiences. Talk to your neighbors and work associates about hunting and shooting. Invite them to the range or take them on a hunt. Let people see you as a person for whom guns are a normal part of your everyday life. Don’t act like a "gun nut," just make your interests part of your normal daily life.

Something as simple as wearing a pro-gun shirt will do more to win the gun debate than arguing with people. By helping others have as many positive experiences as possible and by raising a new generation of shooters, hunters, and gun owners, we can win the debate.

Why not get started today? Visit the new Buckeye Firearms Shop and buy a t-shirt, hat, or bumper sticker. We'll add more in the coming months, but you can probably find at least one thing you like today.

Dean Rieck is the Marketing Director of Second Call Defense and a Leader with Buckeye Firearms Association.

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