In a few days, you have a significant choice to make regarding your right to bear arms in New Jersey.
You can spend $20 — the cost of a small box of ammo or an hour renting a port at the range of your choice — and stand shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of your fellow Second Amendment defenders at NJ SAFE 2017 at the Princeton Marriott this Saturday. Or, you can stand on the sidelines and hope the efforts of those who make the time to attend are enough to keep your “shall not be infringed” upon rights in fact — particularly on the cusp of what will be one of the most important gubernatorial elections in the state’s history.
OK, enough of the hard sell. There are plenty of ways to make your contribution to the mission of NJ SAFE:
- Come for the first or second half of the day’s events
- Donate to the cause and help NJ SAFE grow year after year
- View and, more importantly, share videos from the event on the NJ SAFE YouTube channel
Fight Fire With Fire
But that’s not all you can do. You can make your voice heard in other ways. I’m not talking about complaining about “The People’s Republic of New Jersey” or bemoaning life in “New Jermany” in the comments section of your favorite 2A forum. I’m talking about getting out of the shadows and getting your story into the national dialogue and into the top results of (those ever-changing) web searches. Because your opponents clearly aren’t being shy about it.
If you are reading this, you are clearly painfully aware of the ceaseless effort to significantly control — perhaps eliminate — your ability to exercise your 2A freedoms. For every (any?) positive headline relating to firearms, there are dozens painting guns in a negative light. Some of our recent favorite headlines and major “packages” (newsroom speak for themed collections of stories given special effort) include:
• “Our Shared Blame for the Shooting in San Bernardino” by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, Dec. 4, 2015 (Quote of note: “The collective responsibility that all Americans share is the responsibility of allowing too many people to have too many guns; guns of a kind that no civilian ever needs can be bought in this country by almost anyone who wants one.”)
• “What is it like to fire an AR-15? It’s horrifying, menacing and very very loud” by Gersh Kuntzman, the New York Daily News, July 14, 2016 (Quote of note: “The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary form of PTSD.”)
• “Do you know the gun owners in your circle?” by Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun, Jan. 7, 2016. (Quote of note: “I’m less afraid of the criminals wielding guns in Baltimore … than I am by those permitted gun owners.”)
• “Singled Out: Lax gun laws put single women at risk. “Here’s how you shut down the gunsplainers,” announces the partnership between Cosmopolitan and Everytown For Gun Safety on this high production value website with all the visual bells and whistles meant to lend greater weight to the material within. (Returning NJ SAFE speaker Cam Edwards even gets his due acknowledgement as a “real-life gunsplainer.”)
And those are just the one-offs. You’ve also got the phenomenon of “millennial” media — chock full of “content-rich” sites like Mic and Bustle that strain to outdo themselves with conceiving ever more convoluted angles to cast firearms in the worst possible light. You can check out the assembly-line gun “violence” (it’s never “gun use,” is it?) headlines in the general topics list at Mic, or under the site’s gun violence rubric.
The Poynter Institute, one of the world’s pre-eminent journalism education organizations based in St. Petersburg, Fla., broadcast a webinar on June 23, 2016, titled “Covering Gun Violence: A Poynter Conversation.” The webinar featured three female journalists detailing their efforts in this area. Poynter even made the broadcast, which usually costs $29.95, free “because we believe so strongly in helping journalists handle this important topic.” One of the stated aims of the webinar was “how to avoid the pitfalls in using crime statistics without context.” At the 48:49 mark, Jodi Upton made the following observation to the moderator’s question “Who do you turn to when you need advice about guns?” The response by USA Today’s Jodi Upton was telling: “The gun debate is so divided … and I think this gets back to the idea of why journalists don’t know a lot about guns. A lot of us didn’t grow up around guns. Maybe we weren’t in a hunting family, and certainly having a handgun around wasn’t common.”
In fact, Anthony Colandro and Alexander “Sandy” Berardi provided a nice synopsis of the latest anti-gun headlines in Episode 329 of Gun For Hire Radio (fast forward to 14:04 in the broadcast to hear about the recent Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed by Louis Cappelli Jr. asserted that a federal concealed carry bill would “make New Jersey more dangerous.”)
The upshot: It’s important to know the thinking and methods of those who seek to “modify” your rights. But that’s not all.
We Will Help Each Other
A little more than two months ago, when John Willett and I discussed the nature of Driven Inbound’s sponsorship of NJ SAFE, I agreed to create a two-month content plan featuring a series of articles on NJ SAFE speakers and firearms issues to help promote the event. Thinking on it a bit longer, I then offered a longer-range concept of making NJ SAFE a year-round “portal” for gun owner information, perhaps with a series of NJ SAFE-branded publications, more events like parent-child shoots, and even out-of-state efforts like NY SAFE, CT SAFE, MASS SAFE, etc. The goal as ever in today’s “everybody’s a publisher” digital media age: Keep your message out there 24/7/365.
To that end, I implore you to share your own stories of your safe and enjoyable firearms lifestyle. If journalists and others are looking for the full story from “the other side,” be a provider of valuable information about 2A pursuits. Start your own blog, be it written or video. Create a Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest page. Think of a few topics of interest to you and, more importantly, to others; your peer group will certainly let you know what information they wish was more readily available. Fill that need.
And pardon my scolding, but please don’t fall back on the “I’m old (and/or) not tech savvy” excuse. Frankly, if you can disassemble, clean and reassemble a gun and effectively put rounds on target, you have the concentration to start a blog or other social media channel. These sites are geared to get you onboard as a user with minimal fuss. They need you to use their platforms to tout their user numbers. More users=more content=more people spending longer on their site=more reason for advertisers hungry for eyeballs to spend time and money on that site. They will bend over backwards to get you using their site in minutes flat.
Speaking in terms of minutes, you can be up and running with a WordPress blog — or any social media channel — in about five minutes. Create a podcast; there are complete kits for recording and simply processing sound files. Create a script, maybe invite a friend or interview various guests, and voila — you are a purveyor of first-hand Second Amendment information. Build yourself into a consistent, reliable and reputable source of firearms expertise. The possibilities are endless. And if you need advice, I’m always free to spare a few minutes helping you get started; just email me at the address in the bio below.
Come Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at the Princeton Marriott, let’s all make a point of not only attending NJ SAFE 2017, but of introducing ourselves to people we don’t know and learning about them. Learn others’ stories and share your own. Commit to maintaining the momentum of NJ SAFE — and the missions of the ANJRPC, CNJFO, NRA-ILA and other sponsors and exhibitors — by providing a continuous, resounding voice for the right to bear arms.
Tell your stories. Create your future.