Baby Steps...

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Thread: Baby Steps...

  1. #1
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    Baby Steps...

    How do you convert a close friend or loved one who has a gun phobia?

    For me, it always brings to mind the movie "What About Bob?" and Richard Dreyfus' book, "Baby Steps."

    As we all know... Most peoples fear and abhorrence to guns are based on an irrational fear. I think we also know just how strong that irrational fear can take hold on them.

    To me, it's all about baby steps! And that can't be overstated! Push too far and they put their heels down.

    People I find to be especially stubborn against guns, I try to start off with at least a conversation. If that works, I go on to scenarios and examples of how guns can be used for good. I also explain that sometimes they are the ONLY option to being able to save your life. I can talk for hours on actual cases and examples supplemented with articles and video regarding self defense, personal protection and responsibilty.

    I have a large library so I supplement the conversation with scenes of video tapes, articles and books.

    I'm slowly moving towards a goal of getting a gun in their hands and the opportunity to actually shoot one.

    After lots of just plain conversation, questions and answers, I will then present a firearm, explain the "cardinal rules", unload it and let them hold it for a while. Let them get "the feel of it" in their hands.

    Together we disassemble it and go over nomenclature and how it functions. They are usually rational enough to at that point to begin to understand that it is just pieces of steel, plastic, springs and pins that fit together to become a functional tool.

    It is fun to see the look on their faces as a light goes on and so much of their fear just kind of melts away. So much of the irrational myths they have held are slowly debunked and their natural intellegence gets a moment to breathe and take hold.

    By that time they are usually anxious to get to the range and do some shoot'n.

    Almost without exception, once they pull the trigger and throw some rounds down range, they are hooked. And thus another one crosses over to the side of good and self reliance. I always start with a .22 lr and will move on to a variety of revolver and semi-auto's and calibers up to .45 acp if they feel like it.

    Sometimes, I can go through the process in an afternoon, other times it takes days or weeks of gentle coaxing, answering questions and just letting ideas mull over in their mind and stew for a while.

    Those that haven't exactly been a victim of crime, I try to use examples of situations they could easily find themselves in.

    Those who have told me stories of incidents that have happened to them, or close calls where they felt helpless and paralyzed, I try to use actual case events similar to their scenario where the outcome was much worse than their experience, and then cases where an armed victim beat back the monster.

    As we all know... most people have the capacity for rational thought and complex reasoning. Their anti-gun fears are usually based on sheer emotion and baseless examples they have heard over and over again by the anti-gun zealots who have such a narrow mind they are incapable of rational thought.

    However, most people have never had the opportunity to have someone willing to take the time it takes to explain the logic in both being able to take care of themselves and understanding the gun is nothing more than a tool. A piece of "emergency survival equipment" if you will, akin to a seatbelt, a fire extinguisher, compass, or life jacket.

    Do not lie to them and do not embellish or be grandiose with wild stories of your gun adventures and your deadly skills with a gun.

    Kindness, empathy, understanding and nurturing are what's in order. The idea is converting someone you genuinely care about in the goodness of being pro-gun.

    Anyone I have ever gotten to the point of shooting the gun has been won over and enjoy shooting. I will always give them resources on where to find organized training but I'm always available to go shooting with them whenever they like.

    The first range session is on me, whether we shoot 50 rounds or 500 rounds... after that, they share the cost of ammo and cleaning the guns. Usually they are anxious to help clean on the initial shooting session because they want to see the gun in pieces again and understand how it works better.

    I try to steer clear of telling which gun to buy for themselves and tell them they should decide based on what feels better to them and what they can shoot the best. We shoot snub nosed and full size revolvers, small caliber and large caliber semi-automatic pistols of various makes and designs so I let them decide on their own after going over strong points and drawbacks of each type.

    Good luck in your endeavors of bringing new people to the good side.

    Baby steps! One convert at a time.
    Last edited by Bark'n; May 21st, 2007 at 11:55 PM.
    -Bark'n
    Semper Fi


    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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  3. #2
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    Push too far and they put their heels down.
    That I think is a biggie ....... and also feel that many questions from them can be replied with a question also - as against brow-beating.

    It is slow tedious process and often can be still brick wall. But patience pays off way better than getting all arrogant with them ........... and perhaps the biggest hurdle to cross is encouraging them to come shoot at the range - that IMO is almost the biggest conversion factor. At least for starters.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

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    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    Excellent advise!

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    Senior Member Array incredipete's Avatar
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    I've always just encouraged people to join me at the range... just to "watch." Usually after a few minutes of watching me, they WANT to give it a try, and jump at the chance when I offer it. I've never had anyone go with me who didn't end up wanting to try it, and who didn't leave a total convert.
    Gun Control means never having to say "I missed you."

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  6. #5
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    Bark'n,
    I always appreciate your posts. They are well thought out and make very good points.

    I would only like to elaborate on one point that you made.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bark'n View Post
    Those who have told me stories of incidents that have happened to them, or close calls where they felt helpless and paralyzed, I try to use actual case events similar to their scenario where the outcome was much worse than their experience, and then cases where an armed victim beat back the monster.
    I want to say that one should use caution when taking this approach.

    As a surviver of abuse and violence myself I have often had people try to reach me this way. Most of the time they failed... MISERABLY!

    You have to be VERY careful when trying this approach for several reasons.

    First, I would never use their specific situation to prove your point. Never say, "See, had you had a gun in that instance you might have prevented what happened."

    That would be the equivalent of a HUGE slap in the face of a survivor. They don't want to hear about how they messed up. They have probably considered and reconsidered and thought and AGONIZED over what they could have done differently and they probably have nightmares about it. Having someone else point out how they could have saved themselves could be EASILY considered degrading and cheapening to their experience.

    Second, when you tell a story of abuse or violence in parallel to their own, don't try to "out-do" their story. That also cheapens their trauma by almost saying, "Well, you thought you had it bad, look what happened over here." If anything it will anger them and make them feel like you don't care about what happened to them.

    Thirdly, if you are going to draw a parallel between what happened to them and what happened to someone else, BE EXTREMELY EXTREMELY careful. Be sure that your story or own experience or connection is easily paralleled and that you aren't REACHING to come to your conclusion or draw that parallel. For instance, if you are talking to a woman who has gone through rape, don't tell her a story about a guy who was mugged and his wallet was stolen. While you may see a connection, she probably won't. He lost his wallet, she lost her dignity, her self assurance, her pride. She was violated in a way that will change her life forever and trying to compare that to a few dollars taken out of a wallet is not only insulting, it's hurtful. If you don't have a story with which to draw a parallel, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

    Tell your story with compassion showing that you truly care about those who are preyed upon. Showing that you care someone else was potentially victimized tells your friend that you care about what happened to them. If you talk disrespectfully about "the sheep" who were too weak to protect themselves and got in trouble, you might as well be spitting those very same words in their face. However the opposite is true. If you are using a story where someone DID defend themselves, don't talk about them like they are gods, invincible to terror, strong, self-assured and prepared people. It's as much as saying, THESE people were the good people, YOU were the bad person because you didn't take all of the steps THESE people took.

    Again, a big slap in the face. If your story has a heroic example, make them regular human beings. Like you said, Bark'n, don't elaborate or lie. Keep it simple, honest, and make your point politely.

    Ask them questions, don't shove things down their throat.

    Instead of saying, "Like this guy, if you carry a gun it could save your life!"

    Ask, "Do you see how taking your own safety into your own hands can make a difference?"

    Wounded souls are just that; wounded souls. And digging up parallel stories and trying to make an example of their pain or pain similar to their own when they aren't ready to have that example made of them can be like tearing the scab off of a wound that's nowhere NEAR healed. All you'll get is a new wave of pain, shame, regret, worry, fear and hopelessness (depending, of course, on the level of victimization you are forced to deal with).

    I'm certainly not saying that you do that, Bark'n, but for those who might read your post and take the wonderful advice in it, they may not treat former victims with the same grace and gentleness that you would.

    Also, never pressure anyone to tell their story. If it comes up, let them talk about it.

    Talking does help the healing process, but it only helps if the person doing the talking is really getting the release they need. If you interrupt or try to throw in your opinion about what they could have done differently, you may get a very angry and even severely depressed individual who no longer wants to open up to anyone out of fear of being ridiculed or reminded of what they did wrong (because like I said, BELIEVE ME, they know what they've done wrong).

    I guess what's worth saying once is worth saying a hundred times if it will help...

    Be gentle when dealing with survivors, former victims, and traumatized individuals. You may hurt your cause more than help it if you aren't respectful, courteous and understanding.
    Last edited by limatunes; May 22nd, 2007 at 02:54 PM.

  7. #6
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    You know Lima...

    You always have a very keen insight and are very articulate in what you post. I too always appreciate what you have to say in this forum. I have learned a lot from what your insight and love your sense of humor.

    Always with a fresh perspective on topics and advice. Thanks so much.

    I also I just would like to reassure you that in talking with people who have been victims of crime, I really do show a lot of empathy and listen to what they have to say more than I speak.

    I am very careful in examples I utilize and very cognizant and diligent not to convey a judgemental message in how they may have acted or reacted during their attack.

    I deal with victims of crime on almost a daily basis and have for close to 30 years and I always learn something with each encounter. I also draw on that when making comparisons and relating stories to my students. People can't be judged by what they don't know... My whole discussions are for empowerment and helping someone learn to take charge of their lives.

    I ran into one woman a couple months ago. It has been 7 or 8 years since I introduced her to shooting and defense. She was a rape victim and lived alone and was terrified of every noise outside and was definitely suffering alone and in silence when I first broached the subject of guns with her. When we saw each other recently, she was a totally different person and mentioned the feeling of empowerment our gun sessions has done for her. She still has the Ruger Speed Six .357 Magnum with the 3" barrel she got when we first went shooting.

    I appreciate your comments and it most certainly has reminded me to be more conscious of the ordeal people have been through.

    You have a great Memorial Holiday Lima! BTW... I love your Blog... I wish I shared your computer talents!
    Last edited by Bark'n; May 26th, 2007 at 12:53 PM.
    -Bark'n
    Semper Fi


    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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