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Last Friday, I posted a status on Facebook simply stating that I was angry and that it is time to stand up to the gun lobby. (And I kind of called semi-automatic owners psychopaths, but that's beside the point.) This snowballed into a week of debate about gun control between me and people from all over my life. Relatives, my ex sister-in-law, random high school classmates. (Isn't Facebook great - it's like one big small town!) My arguments became more and more passionate and I started doing research to become more and more knowledgeable about the topic. (I will admit to some tap dancing at first.) I have learned how to condense the argument down, remain on point, and put opponents into a corner. (And how to not call anyone a psychopath.)

These debates have been so illuminating. A week later, I have yet to have one person give me one good reason why people need assault weapons. They usually don't respond to the direct request, change the subject, or give one of two bad reasons: 1) I don't want the government to have too much power. (To which I have 2 words: Hellfire Missile) 2) I like them and I can have them and shut up.

What was awesome - I started to get messages from people thanking me for taking on the debate! They said they were afraid to jump in because they didn't want to offend people or seem "political". I got one email from a good friend in college that made me realize that what I was doing in important.

I pasted it below.

This is what I was sent:

I just want to thank you for your comment and each and every one of your well-written and articulated responses. As a mom, I thank you. As a teacher, I thank you. As someone who works with individuals with emotional and behavioral disabilities, I thank you.
But I thank you as someone in a role that I'm not sure you know I am in. I thank you as the daughter of a man who had been diagnosed with two very serious mental disabilities over twenty years ago - paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He was in and out of prison throughout his adult life and had a rap sheet that included drug manufacturing and gunrunning. On [deleted], 2008, he and his then wife decided they were suicidal, called 911, told them of their plans to shoot themselves and waited for police to arrive. When they did, my father started a five hour standoff with police that eventually involved the swat team, a chopper and an armored tank. He eventually came out with two guns blazing, and the police had no choice but
to return fire. I later learned this is called "suicide by cop." I wish I never had to learn that.
The reason I tell you this is....well....complicated. I do not believe anyone's right to bear arms should trump someone's right to life. And Friday's events are a prime example of how "legal" weapons get into harmful hands, never mind intentions. I'm sure whatever guns my dad had were illegal. But they could've been legally registered and stolen, laundered, whatever. It happens. A lot. And when it does, people suffer. People die. Cops are hurt. Kids are killed. And relatives like me carry the sins of the perpetrators. [People’s] enjoyment of guns...well...those kids at sandy hook pay for it. And Lanza's relatives pay for it. I do, too.
*********

She asked me to share it, minus identifying info, if I wanted. I did so on Facebook and have gotten into a whole new discussion, and I wanted to share it here, too. She is one of those people who doesn't want to be "political", so she stays out of the debate. I DO want to be political, and this experience has sent that feeling off the chart. There are stories like hers and well-considered opinions that never get shared because people want to be "nice". The gun lobby and gun nuts DO NOT speak for the majority of America. Those of us who are not afraid to speak out need to do so. My debates on Facebook have led to debates between others, and people have told me that they have donated to certain causes or looked up factual gun information after reading what I wrote. I want to continue to be an example, a voice for the quiet, and a jumping off point for others.

So....I have a request: help me find somewhere to go, something to do. I have worked on campaigns before, but that was a concrete thing with concrete tasks. I have donated money and written to congress people and senators (and actually, my people are Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Betty MCollum, so I don't have to convince them). What else can I do?

Thought? Ideas? All would be greatly appreciated!

Originally posted to peacha on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:48 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Have you read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1

    Private guns public health ?
    http://www.press.umich.edu/...

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:03:18 PM PST

  •  One Idea, Look Into the Brady Campaign: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:17:03 PM PST

  •  Some Gun Control Groups (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure what the next step is for you. Here are some groups that are working on the issue:

    Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

    Violence Policy Center

    Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

    Mayors Against Illegal Guns

    National Gun Victims Action Council

    Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    What resources have you found most helpful in talking with your friends/acquaintances? Perhaps posting those here would be helpful to others.

    •  You have covered (0+ / 0-)

      most of my sources for information. I have mainly used the Brady site and their links.

      I have gone to the dark side to see what they are seeing. Most of the hard cores all had the same talking points, I figured they were reading the same stuff.

      Fox News Gun Control Page

      NRA

      The talking point du jour seems to be mental health. I have had several people tell me that if we "lock up the mentally ill folks" this won't happen.

  •  Test your knowledge (0+ / 0-)

    Does most of what you read from both sides sound like sheer nonsense?

    If so, then you've fulfilled your first duty, to inform yourself. From there you can draft policy proposals that make sense.

    Then, look for allies: insurance companies, for example. You might even be able to organize gun owners who are sick of the NRA.

    •  Did you read the diary? (0+ / 0-)

      I think it's pretty clear that the diarist thinks the sheer nonsense is coming from a particular "side".

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      matador

      You are right, to a point. There are definitely pro-gun advocates that go overboard. Even if I agree that stronger gun control would be awesome, I know that it is lunacy to think it would ever happen. The arguments are often valid, they are just unrealistic.

      However, the pro-gun side (at least when talking about assault rifles) is mostly crap. Crazy, crazy crap.

      I live in Minnesota and am surrounded by responsible hunters. Personally, I can say that the ones I have talked to support reasonable gun control, mainly because they understand guns and don't want to be grouped in with the loonies.

      The first thing I learned was to pear back my argument. I am sticking to assault weapons as covered in the 1994 bill.

  •  The nice people before me took all my answers (0+ / 0-)

    I would add to get involved with your local government and start a campaign for gun buy backs.

    And in addition to all the great sites already linked- you seem very passionate and well-versed on the subject.

    Why not start your own bog/group/web page?

    Facebook would be a great place to start.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:49:21 PM PST

  •  rule number 1: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kentucky Kid, VClib

    don't call people names.

    that's the best thing to (not) do. unless it's a specific person that you aren't talking TO (ted nugent, rush limbaugh, ann coulter mitt...what's his name again?)

    if you say "people that own assault rifles are xxxx" then you are calling people names.  open to attack from lots of people and you can NEVER hope for them to "hear you out".  if there's a moderate or person that's not strong on the issue, but their friend or someone they love owns such a weapon, you might lose them too.

  •  Contact your local police dept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy

    about setting up a gun amnesty program, even if its just a 1-time collection for a few weeks this Spring.

    Its not something specific to Assault Weapons or protecting kindergartners but any gun off the street is a good thing.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:06:33 PM PST

  •  I'd suggest (0+ / 0-)

    finding out how your local representatives feel about gun issues, and writing them emails or letters to share how you feel and what you think they should do. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents -- and not just the NRA.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:55:25 PM PST

  •  The definitive list of Anti gunnies (0+ / 0-)

    can be accessed by reading the amicus briefs against Heller. If youre really committed Im 100% sure you could get hired by one of these organizations that has a presence close to your home. They need all the help they can get.

    full disclosure
    Ive been here longer than the RKBA, group which i belong to.

    Who is mighty ? One who turns an enemy into a friend !

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:41:56 PM PST

  •  Besides the gun control groups listed by others (0+ / 0-)

    I would suggest you make yourself an expert on the Supreme Court's 2008 Heller decision, available here.

    Read each of the tabs, the Syllabus, Scalia's majority opinion, and the two dissenting opinions. You'll find many common arguments forwarded by gun control advocates to be rejected, such as the "well regulated militia" argument against individual rights, as well as the argument "that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment;" a view Scalia dismissed as "bordering on the frivolous."

    Like it or not, that decision is the backboard against which any gun control legislation will be playing for the foreseeable future.  I think you'll find that few people on the "other side" will have much knowledge of it, including that Scalia wrote:

    Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
    and
    We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
    I think the question that needs to be evaluated is: are semi-automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines "dangerous and unusual" enough to be susceptible to prohibited? And -- what other weapons fail that test such that they can be banned?

     

  •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks a lot everyone!

    I am really interested in educating myself as much as possible on this topic so I can speak with authority.

    You have also given me some good thoughts about where to go next.

    Much appreciated!

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