When you start your advocacy, you’re bound to find people arguing that you’ve got it all wrong, that you don’t know what you’re talking about, etc.  In bold below are some of the arguments you might hear, followed by some brief suggested ways you can respond!   

“Guns aren’t our problem, it’s all about mental health.”  Let’s stop blaming “mental health.”  Nearly a quarter of us will have a mental health issue at some point in our lives and hardly any of us will become violent, so stop stigmatizing “mental health.”  A tiny fraction of those with mental health issues are severely disturbed, and only a portion of them could be dangerous.  So shouldn’t we keep firearms from those people?  So we should support universal background checks!

“The FBI and local police screwed up in the Parkland school case!”  Yes, they failed to act, but if they had acted, what could they have done?  The fact is that under current law they could not have arrested the Parkland shooter or taken his guns away.  That has to change.  We need tools to deal with people like this and not let them have guns.  And the NRA must stop getting in the way of reform!

“These mass shooters always target ‘gun free zones’ like schools.”  Let’s get this straight: The Columbine, Parkland and Virginia Tech shooters didn’t attack those schools because they were gun free zones, they targeted them because they were their school!  And besides, they were NOT gun free—each had armed guards.

 “If these schools had armed teachers and staff, the shooting would have been stopped.”    How can you prove THAT?  How do you know teachers would have wanted to be armed?   The reality is that many armed people “freeze” in the face of a threatening situation, and that most would have a low degree of success in hitting their target in such frantic situations.  Further, armed “good guys” run the risk of crossfire, worsening a hostile situation, becoming yet another victim, not helping their students escaping, or of being shot by police or others who were unaware that they were a “good guy.”

“Gun control doesn’t work!  You’re just naïve.”   Well, let’s see, how many school shootings are there in places like England, France, Germany and Australia?   Virtually none!  They don’t have armed teachers, but they do have stricter gun laws.  We have far more guns and far more gun deaths.  We need a change!  Why can’t we be as safe as students in those countries?

“The bad guys won’t go through a background check.”  Nonsense!  They DO go through background checks!  In 2016, 7,881 people in Colorado tried to purchase a gun and were stopped because they were prohibited purchasers, and that included people convicted of murder, sexual assault and kidnapping! The system works!

“The bad guys will always be able to get a gun somewhere anyway.”  Well, they will if we make it easy for them, so instead, how about we make it harder for them?  Can we agree on THAT?

“If you take away the guns of law abiding citizens…”    Whoa!  Wait a minute!  Who’s talking about confiscating the guns of law abiding citizens?  What bills have been introduced that would confiscate guns?  There are none!  Why do you jump to these fearful scare tactics rather than talk reality?

“I don’t want my Second Amendment rights taken away! “I have a right to protect myself!”    Are you a felon?  A domestic abuser?  Mentally disturbed?  If not, you have a right to bear arms and to protect yourself.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  A gun doesn’t stand up and shoot someone.”  That’s just a simplistic cliché, it’s not a constructive solution to anything.  Clichés are snappy responses that are really meant to just distract people from any meaningful conversations or solutions.  The reality is that in gun violence there are always two common elements: people and guns.   And people can’t shoot other people without a gun.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  No, the first best hope for stopping bad guys is to prevent them from getting a gun in the first place.

“Gun laws won’t stop the gun violence problem.”  Look, nobody can claim that any law will stop ALL gun violence, especially in the U.S., where there are over 265 million guns and weak gun laws.  It’s ridiculous to insist that the test of any gun law would be its ability to “stop the gun violence problem.”  We need laws that can reduce and prevent gun violence.   It seems the only solution offered by gun activists is to add more guns and allow them anywhere.  We’re already heavily armed. How well has THAT worked for us?!?  We need a change!

For even more responses to the gun lobby’s weak arguments, go to guide to defending | Colorado Ceasefire