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The Emotional Gap Between Gun Owners And Gun Banners

June 12, 2018

Knowledge cures ignorance. False dogma, on the other hand, may be untreatable. As Twain said more politely, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” If you’ve spent any time listening to the so called “gun debate”, then you’ve noticed that the debate isn’t about facts at all. So where do our beliefs and feelings come from?  More importantly, what will change them?

Too often our “facts” are chosen to justify our emotions. Most of what gun-ban supporters think they know is what they’ve seen on TV. Hollywood violence feels “real”, while self-defense is merely theoretical or non-existent. The gun-prohibitionists has never seen what self-defense looks like, let alone touched it, trained for it, and lived with it. Nor have their friends. Instead, “the police” are there to protect them, and self-defense is seen as vigilantism. In contrast, the gun owner thinks he will have to stay alive until the police arrive.

Violence is the quintessential emotional topic, but the message matters. When we read about the mass murder of our children at school, we first have to assemble the words into meaningful descriptions. That takes work and understanding. Even then, the emotions are ugly when we read the news accounts and police reports.

Sandy Hook

There is a reason the networks show us pictures of injured students on the news. Those images speak directly to our emotions without requiring interpretation or thought. That is both good and bad. Emotional images can motivate us or they can desensitize us. Our emotions can can cause us to think or to stop reasoning entirely.

The gun-control advocate blames the tool. He claims that violent criminals wouldn’t exist if it were not for firearms. It is emotionally easier to blame a lump of plastic and metal than to realize that another human being thinks we’re worthless. When reminded that murderers used rented trucks, knives, sticks, and even bare hands, the gun-ban advocate might reluctantly admit that violent predators are real.

Despite that grudging admission, the gun-hater still clings to the claim that self-defense is not the answer. Like the zebra in the herd, they assume a violent predator will attack someone else. The anti-gun advocate assumes they are safe as long as the herd is present..most of the time.

I find it odd that the advocates for gun control have armed bodyguards.

The advocates for gun-control can’t imagine defending themselves with violence. To the gun-prohibitionist, any person who wants a gun is a criminal by definition. Gun-ban advocates think they are saving the poor when they ban guns in our inner cities. For the anti-gun crowd, it is morally superior to be an unarmed victim rather than to stand out as a defender or a protector.

It is as if the disarmed herd would rather not know about the predators who hunt them, as if self-defense is the ultimate social gaff. Self-defense is far too inconvenient to be taken seriously. For them, the solution is to call the police..if you are still physically able to do so after you’ve been attacked.

Gun-ban supporters can’t imagine that people think and act in ways different than their own.  For example, they think that violent criminals will obey the next firearms law we pass..even though these same criminals routinely violate the 23 thousand firearms regulations already on the books. People who choose to be disarmed can’t imagine that there is an unnoticed world of people around them who are entirely capable of violence, and who control themselves. They are the defenders and the protectors. They are gun owners.

Some gun owners and gun prohibitionists do share a common fault. Both sides may think the gun is magic. Some prohibitionists thinks a gun causes violence. Some gun owners think a gun will protect them. In the real world, a piece of plastic and steel is a mundane tool.

Reality is tedious and boring rather than magical. In fact, protecting your family requires frequent attention. Self-defense takes practice. Turning the gun into a fetish is easier for both sides. It is easy to understand why.

Our reaction to violence is complex. I find it emotionally uncomfortable to think about violence. Most people do. That discomfort drives some people to look away and pretend that violence doesn’t exist and that they are immune from violence. Repeated exposure to violence numbs the conscience of a criminal predator.

For most gun owners, their empathy with the innocent victim drives them to be a protector. The defender is driven to study violence.

Every Day and No Days Off

This empathy felt by the protector also kindles an unnatural ability to commit violence. The protector wants to stop predatory violence and to protect the next victim. If the defender can’t be there, then they want the victim to defend themselves. Sure, call the police when you can and file a report, but only once you’ve defended yourself and are safe.

That reaction is more common than you might expect. Many people who claim to be non-violent will break their pledge when their children are threatened. That is a good thing and we should forgive their hypocrisy. It is good to protect the innocent from acts “too terrible to contemplate.” Armed America thinks it is better still to plan for defense and have the physical and mental tools you’ll need.

Once these protectors are aware of violence, then their belief in self-defense is confirmed by the news. Defenders see the futility of “Just giving the violent criminal what they want.” Hundreds of people have been injured while waiting for murderers to reach satiation. Gun owners believe different people are different. Gun owners don’t plan for mercy from the merciless.

This awareness of violence manifests itself in other ways as well. Gun owners notice the thousands of examples were innocent men and women defend themselves with a firearm every day. They notice that poor minorities are most often the victims of violence, and that poor minorities need tools of self defense more than anyone else.

Gun prohibitionists never notice these examples. It is as if gun owners and gun prohibitionists live in different and largely separate worlds.

Gun owners shake their head at the way firearms are used in popular entertainment. Real gun owners have lived with guns. They know what firearms do and what they don’t do. They know the physical reality of living with lethal force, as well as they psychological reality. Gun owners don’t recognize themselves in today’s violent and stylized “entertainment”.

There is another emotional disconnect between the armed and the disarmed. The people who chose to defend themselves and their families can’t imagine leaving their safety up to the kindness of criminals. Yes, they may fail, but they will not be easy prey.

How do these two worlds meet? The gun-control advocate can discover what he doesn’t know on his own terms. Step into a dojo and take an empty hand defense course. Take an emergency trauma care course and understand the lethal damage that a knife or a screwdriver can do.

The gun-owner should talk to people who don’t own gun and are not part of his tribe. Rediscover what they don’t know and accept their limitations. We have to live with both points of view. The secret is to respect all the other person’s rights as we do so.


I gave you a thousand words. Please leave a comment. RM

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2018 5:17 pm

    This is one of the best pieces you have done! Thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MaddMedic permalink
    June 13, 2018 7:20 am

    Reblogged this on Freedom Is Just Another Word….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glenda T. Goode permalink
    June 13, 2018 8:23 am

    The issue of gun control reflects the basic differences between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives vote as they to to make the country better. Liberals vote the way they do because they think their vote makes them the better person. One advocates for the whole. The other for themselves.

    In essence the issue of gun laws deals with fear. Liberals seek to remove fear from their lives in a preemptive manner. They believe that they can make the world safe by banning dangerous things. You can trace this back to the late 60’s and the likes of Ralph Nader. The Corvair was a target. The Ford Pinto. Lead paint. Bike helmets. moving to today, they banned knives in London. Gun free zones. zero tolerance policies. You get the drift. All of these policies or actions targeted a potential danger never mind that the dangers still exist.

    Conservatives accept that the world is a dangerous place. They accept that in a crisis, they are the only ones that can stop someone from hurting them. They accept the responsibility of protecting themselves from an active danger. This is the opposite of the liberals who wait to be victims much like the Elois and the predatory Morlocks of HG Wells Time Machine future.

    So by banning guns the liberal thinks: “There, I won’t have to worry about gun violence any more” which is nothing but self delusion. As pointed out criminals don’t give a whit about gun laws. If you ban your right to own a gun, you immediately make yourself a defenseless victim waiting to be attacked.

    The conservative accepts the risk, owns a gun and can fend off a criminal, if need be. The conservative accepts the reality of what our world is and does not pretend that a ban would make a whit’s worth of difference. Better to be Churchill than Neville Chamberlain.


    • June 13, 2018 9:54 am

      Thank you for commenting. What about liberal gun owners?


      • Glenda T. Goode permalink
        June 14, 2018 7:40 pm

        Liberal gun owners are somewhat of a unicorn in terms of the apparent mismatch of their beliefs. I have seen few ardent gun owners who are liberal. Democrat yes. Rabidly Liberal, no.

        There is a huge difference between the belief system of a liberal who is actively trying to limit or remove guns from society and the gun owning democrat who does believe in the second amendment. The gun banner is operating from an absolute belief set where they do not wish to compromise at all. The gun owning liberal-democrat by virtue of their active ownership of a firearm comes in direct conflict with their anti gun liberal peers. If the pro-gun liberal holds his ground without compromise he is as much an enemy of the anti gun advocates as any conservative second amendment endorsing individual.

        The concept of the word: ‘liberal’ is a catch all that is used to describe someone who typically advocates for an active government in the economy and for government social programs. Typically, these people are democrats or socialist. The are some progressive republicans who advocate in a similar fashion for the social programs. In the Second Amendment discussion we tend to label anti gun advocates as liberals but this might be a mistake. I say this because the mental temperment of the anti gun advocate is quite different than someone who believes in helping low income citizens.

        When an individual has a rigid set of beliefs and they are intolerant of dissension or even conversations to the contrary of their beliefs they are far more of a totalitarian individual and if you compare these people with their narrow point of view and their militant attitudes against any resistance you see someone who far more resembles a fascist than anything else. This I say while seeing that these same narrow minded people call people who disagree with them fascists due to their belief in the Second Amendment and their rights guaranteed within.

        Politics is a chess match with give and take being a part of the process. People who are anti gun come directly in conflict with the second amendment. They will parse the wording or dismiss the notion labeling it as being ancient and not relevant in our times. They will not entertain any bargaining; at least at the outset. The look down upon people who resist their agenda. They will say anything to advance their agenda including lies and misinformation. Outside of the military and the police, they see no need or reason for average citizens to own firearms.

        Across the country you see this anti gun sentiment as being mostly an urban movement. There are anti gun advocates who live in suburbia or in rural areas but in general they make up a tiny percentage of those populations. In the rural areas the general attitude is pro gun with some voicing concerns for more gun safety but no real desire to ban any firearms. Suburbia is a little less pro gun but still represents a majority within the population.

        I can ramble on about this but I think that there is one thing that keeps this issue at the top of the front page. It is not incidents of the use of firearms in a shooting spree. These occur infrequently and to be honest more children die of texting and driving in one month than do from firearm incidents for a year.
        The real problem is that we have had many generations of young people grow up who have never handled a firearm or even fired one.

        As a percentage of society, the number of gun owners as a percentage has dropped significantly since the 50’s. You can find anecdotal stories of firearms being in schools on a fairly common basis as students would come to school after hunting in the early morning or had planned to after school. Schools back they were far more likely to have shooting teams back in those days. The generations that saw WWII as a threat understood the necessity of firearms for the nation’s defense and also that .familiarity with firearms was an asset in defense as well. The presence of a firearm did not elicit the negative reaction that they do these days.

        Perhaps it was Kent State that drove the radicals to start the anti gun movement. It may be their desire to ‘fundamentally change’ our country. That kind of change usually meets with stiff resistance. Eliminating guns from the general population is one step towards attaining the power to force these ‘changes’ upon those citizens who do not want them.

        History has many examples of what has happened to nations that have either registered all firearms in a national database or banned them altogether. Too many end up in dictatorships or totalitarian regimes. In general bad things happen as a result.

        I close by saying anyone who is avidly anti gun and will not discuss any other options is probably not a liberal and perhaps is more like the Nazi’s and Mussolini’s fascists.


  4. John permalink
    September 7, 2019 9:57 pm

    Very well thought out article. Active communication is the key. As a pro-gun guy, I listen to my anti-gun friends. I hear what they perceive as a rational fear or concern, then I walk them through their rationale. We have to go slow because most are emotionally attached to their opinion and that is hard to overcome. Just remain calm, do not insult and actively listen!!


  5. June 14, 2018 3:13 pm

    Dick’s can be stupid, and we can notice and we did.



  1. The Emotional Gap Between Gun Owners And Gun Banners

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