David on his dialogue with Paul: Guns, reason, elections
Paul, a liberal New Yorker who loves Obama, spoke with David, a gun rights advocate from Pennsylvania. Listen to the podcast of their dialogue here. In another blog post, Paul talks about his feelings on the dialogue with David. Below, David reflects on what he’s thought about since that meeting.
After my dialogue with Paul, I really started to pay attention to my conversations with other liberal progressives on the topic of firearms and gun control. I learned that if you have a reasoned approach and lay out facts and ideas in a rational, calm manner, you can get a small percentage of people to think about things differently. I have had some really good conversations with people since then. As an advocate for private firearms ownership, I have been able to get a few people who were dead-set against it to accept and embrace some of my ideas on armed self- defense and situational awareness in everyday life.
Talking with Paul and hearing how my calm, thoughtful words were able to change his mind on many aspects of private firearms ownership was gratifying on many levels, not just because I was able to enlighten him on positive uses of firearms, but in that dialogues like this, between very different people, there is common ground between ALL of us, and that the rabid differences we perceive lie between us are not as extreme as we might think. Rational dialogue is certainly the path to solving many of our conflicts. I learned that I can be as stubborn and passionate about this subject, and I surprised myself by how emotional the topics made me during our dialogue. I knew I have always been a firearms advocate, but I didn’t realize how important it really was to me. I learned that my role as “protector” and “defender” is deeply ingrained in me, and I don’t think I suspected just how much it was a part of me.
I continue to informally teach folks how to shoot and I have helped several people select their first firearms since then. As we have had more terrorist shootings in the news lately, I have really doubled down on my stance that firearms in the right hands can make a difference and save lives. I use calm, thoughtful discourse to make my points to people I speak with to try and get them to be safer when they are out and about, while avoiding using fear to sell my points.
It isn’t all success stories, however. The most difficult conversations I have had are the stubbornly resistant folks in the UK, who, to a fault, remain terrified and hateful of every single aspect of firearms ownership, including having their police armed, which seems to signal to them some catastrophic failure on the part of their society. I recognize that there has really never been the option of armed self-defense in Britain, in a very long time, and I have generally given up on firearms-related dialogues with my Brit friends. It is a totally alien concept to them.
The presidential election has really amazed me, because I like none of the candidates. Being a Libertarian, I am all about preserving and enhancing our civil rights and freedoms, but each candidate is restrictive of some rights. Hillary Clinton’s zeal for firearms bans and limitations, even more severe than Mr. Obama’s, gives me great pause. She has already delineated how she will “fight gun violence” which pretty much amounts to restricting law-abiding citizens’ rights, not dealing with criminals, as per usual with Democrats, alas. I have never been so conflicted about an election before. Trump seems like the logical choice, but his record on other civil rights is dismal. He’s not a fan of the First Amendment, clearly. He also supported the so-called assault weapons ban back in the 90s, but has flip-flopped on that today. The Libertarian candidates are not the ones I wanted, because they both have shaky stances on the 2A (Second Amendment). I really have nobody to vote for this election, and I really am a single issue voter, because the 2A secures all of our other rights.
In listening to our dialogue again, I was really struck by how calm and reasonable our dialogue was, and how emotional I got when speaking of my newborn daughter and her vulnerability and fragility. It made me want to the be protector and defender of innocents even more. I wish I could have more reasoned dialogues with others, but everything seems so polarized these days. I feel progress and interchange grinding a halt, even before dialogues can begin. It will not stop me from trying to educate folks, but I need to pick my battles carefully. Shouting at each other from a distance accomplishes nothing.
Big thanks to Paul for allowing me this opportunity to discuss this volatile topic in this forum. It was a real eye-opener, and I learned a bit about myself and my positions on things, as well as many aspects of the liberal progressive mindset. I imagine that we are not so different after all.