An Aggressive Debate
An Aggressive Debate
am probably not alone in my disappointment with the defensive posture of the gun
rights spokesman in many debates or media interviews. "Our side" is
repeatedly put in the position of making excuses whenever there is the report of
the misuse of a firearm in the commission of a crime or some other abominable
act. Adding insult to injury, in a typical media report, is a very gory scene of
bloody victims and their grieving relatives, followed by the VERY edited remarks
of the pro-gun spokesperson. It is not unusual that he or she comes across as
having only feeble excuses.
is not always the fault of the spokesperson, as I have long suspected that the
media is not above intentionally choosing the least qualified speaker.
has been a call, and I heard it first at the NRA Annual Meetings, to leave the
media duties to the pros. The reason, it is explained, is that a poor spokesman
can be used by the media to put a negative slant on the issues. Frankly, it is
the fear of the "bubba factor" at work. I disagree with this approach
for a number of reasons, but primarily because there is a WEALTH of experience
and enthusiasm available in the firearms community by great people from varying
occupations and backgrounds.
a career law enforcement officer, I will have experiences and viewpoints that
may make an impression that might, otherwise, be left unsaid. And a mother’s
view, or a young businessman in the city, can address problems that would be
speculation for me. The “Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick maker” can all
make a contribution that, by the nature of their individuality, increase the
chance of reaching an understanding audience.
besides, having someone tell us that "they" are the only ones capable
of responsible actions, while "we" are not qualified, just does not
sit well. Sounds a bit too familiar for those of us in the firearms community,
a variety of reasons, the afore-mentioned high on the list, many activists
refuse to talk to the media and encourage others to do likewise. They have tried
it and found it uncomfortable enough to never want the experience again. So bad
a feeling that they wouldn’t wish it on any of their friends! I disagree. Not
because it won’t be tough and there is that good chance the media will not
play fair, but because whatever you say, the gunnies out there will understand.
They’ll cheer you on and recognize the effort for what was intended. The will
probably be proud that “one of us” got in the news for a change. And let’s
face it, you could be the world’s greatest orator and the anti will ignore you
will encourage you to get involved, and am prompted to recommend an aggressive
debate style by my own experience. I certainly don’t claim to be the best, and
I have had my share of both good and bad interviews. One of the good ones when I
went on the offensive was on public television. I was accused of being overly
aggressive by the producer when it was all over. I had been invited to debate an
HCI spokesman on a program that he described as being "something like
Crossfire". I had participated in a couple of Crossfire interviews, so
pumped up for some action.
arrival at the station, I found my opponent to be a long-time HCI spokeswoman
who describes herself as "Ms. anti-gun of Marin County". The
co-moderators were a newspaper editor on the left, and an attorney on the right
(ha!). It did not take long before the debate became a three-on-one affair.
those circumstances, it wouldn't make much difference what I said if I relied
only on my 25% of the time. The other three had their common agenda, so I
figured my share at 50% and went for it. In addition to the producer's comments
I received one unsigned letter of complaint and a variety of attaboy calls from
some real Americans. One call was from an old high school buddy I hadn't seen in
years. Very complimentary and personally satisfying, as you might imagine. I
wonder what the response would have been to my sitting there in fashionable
will encourage you all to take a shot at the media. Figuratively speaking, of
course! But go for it, and just try to do your best with the information you
have. A big mistake is to talk about something you don't know. I always envy the
Dave Kopels and Neal Knoxs who can rattle off statistics and past events like
they were reading a book. I can't do that, and don't try. I try to apply my
personal experience to the situation being discussed. That makes it familiar,
comfortable, and truthful. Much like any other public speaking chore you might
have had. The stranger the subject, the more nervous and erroneous you can be.
It is safe to stick with subjects or thoughts that you are familiar with.
not everyone is a public speaker. If you don't know the subject, or have a
problem with public speaking, don't! But we should be encouraging MORE people to
get involved with the media. And where does a pro get their start? Do they just
wake up one morning with a perfect spiel? Not hardly. We have some real
professionals on our side, but it is more than likely that most learned by
watching themselves portrayed as a "bubba" a few times and learned
from their mistakes.
media has the upper hand in these things and will not make it easy on you. They
will not know, or care, what your areas of expertise might be and will have
their own anti-gun agenda. Watch the practiced speaker and you will notice that
a negative question can be answered with a positive statement supporting pro-gun
views and experience. Watch the inexperienced speaker, too. You and they may
have to take your lumps on the way to becoming that practiced speaker.
you and I in the gunrights arena are used to that! Aren't we?
media seldom reports the many productive and positive uses of a firearm. And I
need say very little to you who have tried to get some publicity for a firearms
sporting event. Comparing that to pulling teeth wouldn't do it justice. But we
must keep up the effort, and that will require more pro-gun activists getting
involved in the learning process. They won't all be perfect, but I am confident
that all will be pleased with their participation in the battle for our Second
I do not fault the beginning speakers so much for the positions they have to
take. Under the circumstances, many do very well, and it is a mark of courage
when they undertake the chore for a second time.
option in preparation is to get more active in promoting your sporting or club
events. Send press releases to all your local media. If they happen to call, you
will be talking about something you are familiar and confident with. That is
good practice. Try writing letters to the editor of your local paper on gun or
crime fighting issues. Again, learning to put your thoughts together in a
logical manner BEFORE someone sticks a microphone in your face is a real good
then you, too, can end up the subject of an HCI fundraising letter and be
accused of plotting to kill Sarah. Actually happened to me as a result of a
misquote of a misquote. I didn't send any money to them on that one......