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I haven't engaged much in the Sandy Hook discussion. Naturally, I find this attack very upsetting. On a personal level, I work with a number of schools, and don't always go through the front door. If you're a familiar face, or project the right kind of friendly confidence, you can often get in a side door, which is much more convenient. I expect things to be different, at least for awhile. I certainly don't mind the inconvenience, in the interest of safety, but the profound erosion of trust, and the reinforcement of a fortress mentality, is going to have a significant impact on students, teachers and schools across the country. That's not something I experienced when I was in school, although during the Cold War, sometimes what we thought were air raid sirens would go off, and I'd wonder if we were about to get nuked.

I'm sure we're all on mailing lists that rely on threat-based fundraising, eg "(insert opponent here) is trying to destroy/subvert/undermine/erode (insert beloved cause here) - please donate to help us stop them". I'm not in a financial position to provide that kind of support, but I'm sure it's quite effective. I'm not on the NRA's mailing list, but I'm pretty damn sure they rely quite heavily on threat-based fundraising, and the enemy is us. Which is the point of this diary.

I've shot a gun once in my life, and I'm pretty sure that's the gun my friend used to kill himself with. I have friends I respect who are committed, responsible hunters and gun owners. I'm not comfortable around guns, but I can appreciate "gun culture", by which I mean people for whom guns are a part of their lifestyle. Maybe we'd be better off without guns, but I can accept living in a gun culture where participants are careful and responsible. I drive a car, and cars kill a lot more people in the US every year than guns, but I've gotten used to that.

I do feel that the NRA leadership has gone way overboard in promoting and supporting gun ownership "rights" that go far beyond what's acceptable. They have been the driving force in making increasingly dangerous guns more available, and that's unacceptable. I've followed their influence on politics and US culture since the Brady Bill, and I honestly don't know how they sleep at night.

That said, I know that the NRA also is very significantly involved in promoting gun safety, through training classes, certifications, and so on. Responsible gun owners are very careful and aware of the risks involved with using guns. I recommend spending some time with a responsible gun owner - you will find it very reassuring. I'm pretty sure that the majority of NRA members are responsible gun owners.

So that's the preamble. My concern about the current calls to shut down the NRA and set much more restrictive gun laws is that this is perfect fodder for the NRA's threat-based fundraising machine. Their marketing team can and likely will raise millions, just cut & pasting from DK posts the last few days. While calls for action strike strong resonance within most of the DK community, this is exactly what the NRA thrives on.

I'm not saying that these discussions on DK are wrong, I'm just not sure whether it's the most productive approach. I've been through a number of opposition-based campaigns, where I'm working with allies to try to stop a juggernaut - it's pretty exhausting. Over time, I've found that direct opposition is less productive than taking the time to build partnerships and alliances with those who aren't directly aligned with my mission, and working to build and maintain meaningful communication with "the enemy". This is a slower and less satisfying path, but one that builds towards much stronger solutions.

Opposition-based tactics push your opponent into a corner, where they focus their energy on stopping or ignoring you. When you're up against a powerful entity, you're usually going to lose the battle, although with time and effort, you may win the war. More and more, when I approach a conflict, I think about how I can redirect my opponent's energy. Instead of forcing them to comply with what I want, I try to find effective pressure points, where I can encourage them to spend their energy more constructively. That involves practicing awareness and compassion.

No point in getting all preachy. I think we are within a moment of opportunity, that can result in meaningful change on this topic. A big part of that is the aggressive push-back against the NRA. But I also feel that exclusively focussing on oppositional tactics may win us some points, but still feed the monster, long-term.

A few thoughts:
-This diary, emphasizing a focus on gun violence prevention as a common cause, makes a strong point: http://www.dailykos.com/...

-I'm sure there is a strong faction of NRA members who are committed to gun safety. Finding ways to build common cause with them could be much more effective long-term in transforming the NRA.

-I've certainly witnessed acrimonious RKBA diaries on DK, but I also see a consistent commitment to responsible gun ownership. I feel that demonizing the RKBA group at DK burns a bridge to constructive progressive engagement with responsible gun owners.

-It's much easier to make enemies than allies. When I'm in an oppositional dynamic, I always try to keep in mind that my opponents are primarily motivated by the same human emotions that I am - love and care and commitment. They may be misdirected, but when I attack them, I attack what they care about. Maybe they're committed to their job because it lets them support their family. Maybe they're motivated by a core ideal, that's close to core ideals that I have. When I attack them, they put all their energy into opposing me. When I work to find areas of understanding and mutual concern, they put at least some of their energy into finding ways to work together.

And to take this all the way back to the beginning, the 2nd Amendment was written by individuals who were committed to building strong and guiding principles for the nation. It may have been misdirected and exploited by well-intentioned and/or irresponsible individuals over time, it may be out-dated, but there remains a core commitment to protecting a nation founded on democratic principles. We can definitely work with that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  erratic - thank you for a very thoughtful diary (3+ / 0-)

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:46:10 PM PST

  •  I don't think I agree with the title (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, gerrilea

    But it's a good diary.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:49:27 PM PST

  •  Obama's election drove record gun sales (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, Chi, Back In Blue

    The NRA has been screaming and pulling in the big money since Obama was elected. Our opposition is not supporting them or empowering them.

    Our electing a black man president motivated them more than anything else we could have possibly done.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:51:44 PM PST

    •  Agreed on the record gun sales (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FishOutofWater, gerrilea

      But I'd put an intermediary step between your cause and effect, and say that in response to Obama's election,
      -the NRA has effectively used (unsubstantiated) threat-based fundraising to increase their power.
      -the gun industry has effectively used (unsubstantiated) threat-based marketing to increase their profits.

      So it's not what we did, it's what they did. And as we saw from the last election, there's still a large minority of the population that's very responsive to using Obama for threat-based marketing. But as shown in 2008 and 2012, effective strategies can keep that part of the electorate a minority.

      My suggestion in this diary is that effective strategies could influence the NRA in more constructive directions.

      •  I like your strategy suggestions, but (0+ / 0-)

        if "it's not what we did" when we elected Obama, then it's also "not what we did" when we diary about gun control.  They're going to say we want to regardless if we do or not.  

        The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

        by Back In Blue on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:03:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bloomberg's superpac can outraise (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, peterfallow

    the  NRA.
    There needs to be an alternative organization to replace the NRA.
    We have to drown out the NRA in the media.
    We need to dry up the NRA's fundraising by shaming anyone associated with it.

    We need to beat the NRA at its own game.

    Otherwise we should just curl up into a fetal position and wait for the end.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:59:46 PM PST

    •  this diary is an attempt to identify (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      a middle path between combat to the "death" with the NRA and the fetal position (which is not actually very comfortable).

      I appreciated Bloomberg's previous attempt to address gun sales loopholes.

      •  Seems reasonable, but if the NRA could be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David54

        knocked down to size, why not?  

        The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

        by Back In Blue on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:05:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A very good diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, gerrilea

    As a former member of the NRA, I concur that they offer quite a bit of education on safety and training for good gun ownership.  I do not have an ax to grind against them from a policy perspective, but I gave up my membership years ago because I thought they had gotten too big. My guess is that their membership is on the rise and their fundraising is up because all they needed to do was highlight a bit of what has been discussed on sites like this the past couple days.  They should dedicated a Daily Kos conference room for all the money they've fundraised off the site.

  •  I going to have to disagree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, peterfallow

    There exists a core group of gun fanatics who are loud and organized. You try to find common ground with them and they will chew you up and spit you out. They need to be taken head-on and it will not be pretty.

    A constant refrain of the gun enthusiasts is that we don't need any new laws, just enforce the ones we have.  Fine.  Then why have the SAF and their colleagues filed over three hundred lawsuits challenging existing laws, just since the Heller decision at the Supreme Court?

    Some of that intransigence has reared its head right here on Daily Kos. For example, something over 80% of Americans polled support a licensing requirement for firearms; hell, more than 60% of NRA members support such a requirement.  Should be a low-hanging fruit for finding common ground, yes? Now go into any RKBA diary and post a comment saying that they should support licensing of firearms owners, but be prepared to get flamed out of existence.

    I think that while you may indeed find some movement on the part of some firearm enthusiasts, it will be so miniscule as to render it useless in the quest to prevent future tragedies, and it will be drowned out by the more fanatical among them.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:36:26 PM PST

  •  So once again we should back off and be gentle (0+ / 0-)

    because they are going to go out and buy even more guns... Oh no let us quietly plead with them to let go of thier right to kill on impulse for a few more decades.  

    Deaths by cars are not the same. Car drivers drive drunk, they text, they are adjusting thier radio, they are picking up something off the floor, or they are just distracted....But what car drivers rarely are doing is getting behind the wheel without a license and testing ... and in a vehicle that meets standards... They also did not get the car with the express interest of killing something or practicing running into things to feel the jazz.

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:41:33 PM PST

  •  "demonizing the RKBA group" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DFWmom, Wayward Wind, peterfallow

    They may have done themselves damage. No one needs to demonize them. They've done it themselves. While we may have both gun nuts and anti-gun nuts here, I don't fit into either category.

    I was in the rifle club in high school. I was an NRA member. I had 10+ years of active military service and carried a sidearm in the performance of a variety of duties. I have owned a gun.

    Without knowing any of the above I have been attacked and harassed by RKBA members who assume I'm an anti-gun nut due to comments I have made here. It seems to me there are some in that group who will accept only the most extreme positions on guns and treat all those who disagree as if they are anti American traitors. They have been very belligerent.

    The vast majority of NRA members favor some form of gun control. The NRA leadership does not. The RKBA group here follows the NRA leadership. That is a problem.

    As I said in another comment, if we can't stand up to the RKBA group here, we have no right to ask our politicians to stand up to the NRA and put their careers at risk.

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:23:03 PM PST

  •  There is another side to the NRA besides right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, KVoimakas, PavePusher

    wing politics and shooting safety that isn't mentioned. Supporting causes loosely defined as hunting. I'm not a member of the NRA because of their support for Republican candidates and causes. Health care for my kids and not starting wars that kill 100s of thousands of other kids just to name a couple, are more important to me than being able to hunt or conserving land to do so. But I'm very appreciative and thankful to that other side of the NRA.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:16:55 AM PST

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