Back in November 2006 when I hosted then Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at my farm as part of the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener event, part of our prep work covered what if we have protestors. Quite frankly, protestors were avoided in the first place because the location where the hunting took place was a well-guarded secret until AFTER the deer hunt had taken place.
But not all events can be conducted in secret. I’ve dealt with protestors at rodeo events, circus events, heck…even the occasional protestor who proclaims their disdain for fur sales at some high-end fashion store. The point is protesting is meant to grab the public’s attention in a striking way and then twist it for the benefit of their cause.
So, as hunters and gun owners why should any of this really concern us? Well, our day is coming and the best outcomes generally require at least a modicum of preparation so as not to fall into their public relations trap. It should be no surprise to you how we live in strange times and the current climate is not exactly favorable to those of us who carry guns and/or kill animals.
That being said, I want to offer up some tips on how best to deal with protestors to diminish the impact of their misguided acts. Carefully consider these actions when confronted by any protester:
- AVOID PHYSICAL CONTACT of any kind. The media is drawn to these events like moths are attracted to fire. You don’t need your name appearing on the evening news nor does the gun owning/hunting community need a big black eye caused by aggressive actions taken against a protester.
- ANTICIPATE DISRUPTION. These folks will do whatever it takes to be seen and heard. Don’t allow it to affect your day.
- AVOID ANY VERBAL INTERACTION. Remember, if they can engage you in conversation you are slowing falling into their trap. You won’t change their minds…nor will they change yours.
- KEEP WALKING. If they get in your face simply smile and walk away. It’s tough to do…but critical you don’t linger and fuel the hostilities.
- KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK. They are trying to get under your skin so don’t give them that satisfaction.
- DISREGARD THEIR ABSURDITY. Accept in advance how their message will be full of lies and other outrageous claims trying to get you to negatively react.
- PROFESSIONAL PROTESTERS? It’s possible. These folks may not even hold these deep-seeded feelings, but are moved to be protesting because it only pays the bills.
- PAY THEM NO ATTENTION. They are seeking attention so quickly move from the area, especially if you don’t have to be there. Avoid making them the spectacle they so desperately want to become.
- IF MEDIA IS PRESENT, AVOID THEM TOO. Most of us are not versed to be articulate spokesmen for our side of the cause. If asked by media for a comment kindly decline and walk away.
- NOTIFY EVENT ORGANIZER OF THIS SITUATION. If the protest is just getting underway, quickly notify the event organizer what is happening. Most large events have a protestor reaction plan and will implement it quickly if they know what is happening. Let the professionals defuse what could quickly turn into a highly charged incident.
There you have it. I certainly don’t expect you to memorize all these points, but take some satisfaction in knowing most points are just plain old common sense. By being prepared for what could happen you take away their element of surprise, as well as the emotional shock of what they are saying/doing.
In 12 days I fully expect that Las Vegas 2013 SHOT Show® attendees could potentially see this sort of protest given the current negative climate toward guns. But, in just 8 days I will be attending my local gun show and this same protesting could easily take place there, too. It behooves each of us to be prepared with a plan as to how we best deal with the situation. For the sake of our cause, don’t fall victim to their tactics meant to destroy our heritage in the public’s eye.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Have any of you encountered protestors and what was your experience?
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.