The passionate debate surrounding the Second Amendment appears to have somewhat lessoned over the last several months, for obvious political reasons. Heaven forbid another mass casualty incident though, it’s sure to resurface again. On the extremes you have a group of people who want to strictly enforce gun control regulations and even institute a European-style ban, and on the other you have those folks who interpret the Second Amendment in its purest form, implying that the government should impose no controls whatsoever on the right to bear arms. As with many things in life, the common sense and sensible answer lies somewhere between these two extremes, but that’s something sadly lost in all the political rancor.
There’s a lesson in communication and branding to be taught here as well. Proponents of tighter regulations often describe themselves as being about gun “control”—without realizing that this term plays right into the hands of the opposing side of the debate. It acts as a rallying call and solidifies their entrenched position. Why is this?
Well, let’s look at some of the dictionary definitions of the word control:
“To have power over”
“To determine the behavior of”
It doesn’t take a communication genius to work out that nobody on the planet wants to be “controlled”! It’s a word with very negative connotations. Nobody who likes or feels passionate about anything, ever wants to hear that thing is going to be controlled more. Whether it’s a media headline or language used in an interview, the power of words is enormous and needs to be paid more attention to. Nothing could be more important in communicating a message and stating your preferred goals and negotiation position.
So what term should be used in this particular debate? Simple: Safety. Some people already do so, but a minority compared to those who call it gun “control”. Dictionary definition of the word “safety”:
“Being protected from or unlikely to cause danger or injury”
“Freedom from harm”
“Being protected from risk”
Clearly, unlike the word control, safety is something everyone wants. It’s intimately associated with the values of freedom and liberty. That’s why if we’re talking smart communication and branding, anyone wanting legal changes to make it less likely that guns will fall into the wrong hands, should never talk about gun control again.
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