The Second Amendment needs a PR Firm, a Marketing Agent and an all-out re-branding campaign. Branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products by using emotion, status, and affiliation. And it works. It works for products, and celebrities, and ideas, including political ideas.
Over the years this single sentence in the Constitution of the United States, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, has become blighted, stigmatized, and pigeonholed to represent only a specific segment of the American population. Depending on whom you ask, the Second Amendment either stands for backward-thinking redneck ways, or a patriot’s challenge to pry hot steel from cold dead hands. Whichever image you think of first, almost everyone agrees that it “belongs” to the Conservative Republican Party. Well, my friends…on both sides of the political aisle…we have allowed ourselves to be snookered, suckered, flimflammed, and fooled by branding.
And it is time to individually reclaim and draw all the pieces back together of the Constitution. Or call a marketing firm to assign a public relations specialist to properly re-brand this important Constitutional Right. Maybe, all of the above.
We, the American people, have bought into a narrative that the Second Amendment is exclusively “trademarked” by the Conservative leaning Republican Party. We can’t fault those who proudly stand for our Constitutional Rights, but we can encourage those who have forfeited their connection with their rights in the name of Democratic loyalty to rethink the ramifications of their actions. We have allowed political marketing on both sides of the aisle to “brand” a portion of the Constitution of the United States of America as a polarizing political idea, rather than what it was intended to be, which is a safeguard for all American citizens over our God-given rights. Almost to a person we accept as true the notion that if you are a Liberal Democrat, or identify with any combination of those two labels, that you are breaking ranks, being disloyal, and generally behaving like a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal if you support or exercise your Second Amendment Rights. We are being snookered by branding.
This idea becomes comical if we try to apply the same kind of symbolism and stigma to, let’s say the First Amendment. Would the Party of Liberal Democrats ever forfeit to the Party of Conservative Republicans the “ownership” of the Right to Free Speech? Let’s carry the example a step further. Would you allow yourself to be characterized as an extremist or paranoid for protecting your ability to speak and write your thoughts, words and ideas? This is how people who value their Second Amendment Rights are portrayed, and many of us accept that portrayal without question. Would you consider it “reasonable” or “common sense” for someone in a government agency to approve your thoughts before you could express them? This is the degree of power we have allowed a bureaucracy to have over our Second Amendment Rights. We have all heard the comparison of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater, and good sense alone dictates that is a wrong and dangerous thing to do. But, just because someone might misuse their Free Speech doesn’t mean that all Free Speech should be labeled as suspect. The point being that no one doubts the wisdom of our Forefathers in protecting any one of our Rights, except for the Second Amendment. No one shies away from fully enacting and relying on the security provided by any of the other Rights as protected under the Constitution, except for the Second Amendment. The brand has been burned deep into the psyches of the Party that leans toward big Government and reliance on someone else’s power to protect us, that there is something unseemly and untoward in the right of the people to keep and bear arms. And if you want to be accepted by your peers you must believe a certain way. And sadly, those who do believe this are being suckered by branding.
Consider this as equally true; all across this nation gun stores, from the biggest chains to the smallest corner shop, have customers from every political persuasion imaginable. Take for example, the small mom-and-pop gun shop, AZFirearms located in the little town of Avondale, Arizona, a suburb of the International city of Phoenix, where shoppers come from all over the nation. These shoppers ascribe politically from the far Left, far Right, Independent, Progressive and Libertarian Parties. This shop serves customers from every socio-economic demographic, every race, all manner of sexual orientation and people from all along the gender-spectrum. And while these customers are in this shop they enjoy the freedom to relax and know that they are accepted for exactly who they are and are secure in the ability to enact their Constitutional Right to purchase, keep, and bear arms. What these citizens care about is exercising and enjoying their Second Amendment Rights, not what their nosy neighbor might think. Some exercise that right for pure fun and enjoyment, some for personal and home protection, and others truly believe in the patriot’s duty to defend this nation against all tyranny both foreign and domestic. But, they are the same, they are Americans, and they are free.
However, once these people leave the safe haven of acceptance and venture back out into their families, their neighborhoods, and their social networks things drastically change. This is where each person has to decide how openly gun-owning they are allowed to be. Many feel the need to be closet firearms enthusiasts lest they endure disapproving looks from their fellow members of the PTA. Some fear shaming comments and “labeling” from the members of their daily carpool. And still others must withstand accusations of disloyalty to their long-held and generational dependence on a specific, but rights-restricting political party line. These people and their friends have been flimflammed and fooled by branding.
One can only imagine the pressure these people feel when it comes time to cast their vote for the President of the United States. If they cast a vote for either of the candidates running under the banner of the Democratic Party they are in essence voting away their Second Amendment Rights, and both candidates have stated that in very clear terms. If they break ranks and vote for one of the Republican candidates they are being disloyal. But, if we can get that PR and Marketing Team to work on reshaping the image that is cast by the Second Amendment, and once again it can belong to all of America we might see people come out of the shadows and vote in the light of day to protect each and every one of their Constitutional Rights. Rather than voting for a specific Party, or a specific candidate, perhaps we can shift our focus to the document that was carefully drafted and designed to belong to everyone, not be divvied up and parceled out in pieces for Democrats and portions for Republicans.
What’s that you say? You have never read the Constitution? You have only relied on politicians and others to tell you what it says? Well you are in luck, the Constitution is a mere 4,400 words and will take you a brief 20 minutes to read. You have questions, you say, about what parts of the Constitution mean? Thankfully, we still have historians in America, like the National Constitution Center, where they not only preserve the original language but also the current news related to our founding documents. And, they make it available for the masses via the wonders of the Internet.
Maybe we don’t have to be snookered, suckered, flimflammed, and fooled by branding. Perhaps we don’t need a PR Agent to re-brand the Second Amendment after all. Possibly we each need to simply take personal responsibility to read and learn and stand up for what we know our Forefathers were protecting when they conceived the Constitution of these United States. And then we need to brand the future with our vote for those timeless, non-political, time-tested and uniquely American values.