The solution to the gun control issue: just change the trigger!

What do you think of when I say the word “freedom?”  That word has a positive connotation doesn’t it?  Our country was founded on the principles of freedom; all Americans want to be free.

Now what do you think is the opposite of freedom?  Is it “control?”  That word doesn’t have such a positive connotation does it?  We don’t like to be controlled.  So, freedom good, control bad.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedBut of course it isn’t that simple is it?  Do you think your 15-year old daughter should have the freedom to go on a weekend campout with a group of boys and girls and no chaperones?  Well, let’s think about that…

And should the government make driving safer by controlling who can get a license to drive and by making sure drivers have liability insurance to protect others? Most of us accept this kind of control as quite reasonable.

The real problem is that when we attempt to debate an issue in order to persuade, learn from others and make useful decisions, we often fall into the trap of labeling the subject in such a way that provokes an emotional response.  I wrote on this subject in a post called “If by whisky” two years ago. Please go back and read it. This is what’s going on right now with the “gun control” debate, as it is commonly called today.

Mention you are in favor of “gun control” or highly opposed to “gun control” and I promise you will be in an argument that cannot be resolved, as each side has dug in its heels on the issue. And since the majority of Americans oppose any changes to the Second Amendment, we won’t see any movement there, which means we must debate more rationally and fairly in order to solve the problem of human massacre and crazed killers getting their hands on dangerous weapons.

The NRA and other staunch advocates of the Second Amendment must love the title of the current debate, “gun control,” as it’s so easy to defend the status quo.  That is why the gun control advocates are making no progress.

So I have an easy suggestion.  Why not change the title of the argument?  The word “control” is such a negative emotional trigger, that it seems we just need a new and more positive one. How about using the word “responsibility” instead of “control?”  In other words, let’s continue to debate, but debate the issue of “gun responsibility,” which makes perfect sense for both sides. After all, isn’t that what the pro-gun people and the anti-gun people want?  They want to be sure that people who use guns use them responsibly. This is a much easier and less emotional topic to debate and one that has a better chance of achieving a fair solution. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone opposed to gun control if they are in favor of having people use guns more responsibly.  Almost all of them will say yes.

What’s the lesson here?  When you debate an issue, use judgment in the way you label your position.  Choose words that have a positive connotation, that are unlikely to provoke a negative emotional response.

Great salespeople do this automatically, always thinking about how their words will impact the customer’s feelings.  You’ll win more debates if you just…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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