Can You Talk To The Gunless?

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Is there any way to reach these people? Sure! First, “the gunless” are not some monolithic group, let’s take that apart. One category is easy to talk to, a joy actually, and we should work them as fast as we can — it’s fun and to our great advantage.

The Good

These are people who’ve decided to get a gun, or are thinking about it with real intent or curiosity. They’re not who leaped to mind when you saw my column’s title right? But it’s critically important to start thinking about them. I speak with lots of these folks. You should too. These people are absolutely gunless, but not for long.

At my last gun show book signing, I asked everyone if they knew friends or relatives who didn’t have guns. If they did, I naturally tried selling them my 14th book: Your First Gun, Should You Buy One and Join 60 Million Safely Armed American Families?, so they could give it away, and help convince people to climb on board. But way too many seriously answered they don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a gun. They need to get out more, stretch their circle of acquaintances. I mean that. They’re living in a bubble.

Are you? For your friends, relatives, co-workers, people you pay (like doctors, store clerks, plumbers, waiters), who may (or may not) be leaning toward gun ownership: Work them. Work with them. Bring them on board. Don’t rush it, but don’t let it linger. It’s not can you talk to the gunless — it’s do you talk to the gunless.

Outreach means reach out. Go ahead and ask someone today: “Can I ask you a question (pause), are you into guns at all?” and shut up and listen. Let the conversation start itself. Left wingers do it, even have their doctors doing it, to convince people guns are germs (I know, they’re idiots). Why aren’t you doing it with everyone you meet? Sure you can talk to the gunless!

It’s some of the most important work you can do, if freedom really means anything to you and isn’t just something you say. Reaching out to the gunless advances freedom, putting the physical manifestation of liberty into their hands, with full ownership. There are millions of people in this untapped resource. Being gunless is so dangerous, do your duty. Okay, that’s the easy (but important) side. Millions of voting age Americans.

The Ugly

At the other end of the rainbow exists an unfortunately huge group of misinformed, unarmed Americans who cannot be near this subject. They are such fearful, anxiety ridden and psychologically unfit adults the slightest whiff of even self preservation and they shut down, change subjects, become hostile, foam at the mouth, leave — it is absolutely pointless. That’s who sprang to mind when you read the column title, right?

I still try, when I meet one occasionally, to the point of ostracism. I don’t care, I practice my persuasive skills. It’s hard to accept, but some Americans are incapable, beyond hope and change.

I can’t imagine living such a life. Observing from the outside, they seem to live in a bubble (has a familiar ring actually), insulated from anything intruding on their comfort level. Spend your valuable time elsewhere — there’s no talking to these infuriating people.

The Possible

There is this other class of people though, gunless but not gutless, reasonably intelligent, but entirely misinformed because they have no contact with the gun culture. Their sources of information are simply non proximate to anything gun true. They get nothing outside network “news.” That seems almost impossible to people reading a magazine like this, but believe it, gunless people — and that’s tens of millions — simply don’t come across anything gun at Macy’s, the drug store, getting gas, watching Jeopardy or whatever else they do daily. It’s a gold mine, and requires rock-hard mining.

How It’s Done

Conversation starts, turns to guns. Your experience may differ. In mine, numbers and statistics don’t matter, so don’t memorize or use any. Both sides have ’em, both have universities and Ph.D.’s behind ’em, they don’t match. I’ve never seen numbers convince anyone (except the people spouting them). Lives saved, lives lost, shots fired, don’t bother. It only leads to disagreement. You want heads nodding yes. Yes?

Instead of starting off with anything, start with The Socratic Method, asking questions. Then shut up tight and listen. First seek to understand, then to be understood. Ask the other person to explain their position, don’t argue with it.

Only by understanding people can you hope to win them to your side. Hear what they are saying, where their objections are. Objection is a technical term, it comes from sales theory (which you would benefit from studying). Objections are the exact reason why a person decides not to buy, in this case, your idea.
Clarify the objection by repeating it back. Repeating it in your own words may seem silly at first because you’re new to this, but it really works. You establish rapport, it makes the other person (your prospect) feel like you understand and sympathize.

“So you don’t want to get a gun because you feel it would be dangerous to have it around the house, is that it?” And they relax, and agree, because: 1) you’re not fighting with them, 2) it’s what they already believe and 3) you’re not trying to convince them they’re wrong (the classic gunnie error). There’s no pushback for them to resist. They end up liking and relating to you.

Never belittle or argue with their objection, agree with them. Guns are dangerous. They are expensive, could get stolen, are confusing, might get into kids’ hands, the spouse might hate the idea, all of that. It’s what they feel and believe. Accept it. You’re now both on the same page. You’ve made progress.

No need to overcome the objection (another technical term from sales theory), that comes later. Your prospect is automatically thinking about it, because you’ve clarified it. You can clarify every objection, learning each one. This is real progress. They start looking to you as a support figure. When they start asking you questions, you just walk through an open door. You can even gently nudge with clarifying questions. “What if there were ways to reduce the dangers?” (and shut up and listen again). Or advance your side, with more Socratic touch: “Then why do people keep guns at home?”

I’m out of space, but not ideas. We should examine word choices, persuasion concepts, the pride and American values of becoming a gun owner, even the reverse psychology of being an insufficiently capable adult to handle it — “... maybe this just isn’t for you, pal.” Then listen while they explain how they are capable to own a gun. Then walk through that door too.

Alan Korwin’s website features books and DVD’s on state and federal gun laws for the public. Visit GunLaws.com.

Handgunner Jan/Feb 2017

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