CHICAGO — Speaking to the 2018 Gun Rights Policy Conference, A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG) Executive Director Robyn Sandoval declared that she is “taking the word ‘Mom’ back” from Moms Demand Action. Sandoval, whose youngest child is battling brain cancer, described the qualities of a mother as a fighter and protector.
In her speech, Sandoval emphasized the need to initiate conversations with others in order to advocate for gun rights. She explained four archetypes of people and how to tailor advocacy messages to them in order to encourage their engagement and understanding. According to Sandoval, “Even the strongest most-fervent antigunner fits into one these categories, and by listening, you can usually craft a no into a yes.” She inspired the audience to educate people to embrace the best tools and practices for their families’ safety.
Following is the script of Sandoval’s speech:
Hi, my name is Robyn Sandoval. My title is Executive Director of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League. Last year I spoke to this Conference about the great work that A Girl & A Gun is doing to provide quality training and certification programs for women. This year I’d like to talk with you about another title of mine, which is the title of Mom. This title is far more personal and is also the lens through which I view the world. I have two incredible sons and a daughter, who is my hero. She is smart, funny, and beautiful, and at eight years old, she is the woman I want to be when I grow up. She is confident, wise, and strong, and has taught me what it means to be a fighter.
It’s been three years since she was diagnosed with brain cancer. When doctors tell you that your baby has cancer, you go to war. You arm yourself with knowledge, raise an army of support, surrounding yourself with experts with the best tools and practices. She has lost her vision completely over the past three years, so we have a new lifestyle with new routines and habits. I had the fighter mindset that I was going to face it head-on and do whatever I could to keep her safe. Many of you relate to that mindset because it’s the same that we have as gun owners. Arming ourselves with tools and knowledge to keep our families safe.
And that’s why I’m taking the word Mom back. Moms Demand Action has taken that word from me, and I want it back. They’ve taken lots of words from us, like “common sense” and “safe space.” Those are our words and I’m reclaiming them.
To me a Mom is having the fighter mindset. I’m not afraid to have hard conversations… topics and situations may be scary, but I don’t bury my head in the sand. I can’t avoid talking with my daughter’s oncologists about her health, and I don’t shy away from talking with school administrators about my children’s safety, either. We need real solutions to hard problems, both actual and perceived, and I’m proud to be one of those leaders who are stepping forward.
Being a mom is not only how I advocate for gun rights, it’s also how I instruct. When I’m on the range, I use my mom voice. This tone ensures that there is a safe firing line and everyone is following the safety rules. Nothing bad will happen on my watch. At the same time, the mom voice is the cheerleader voice, the welcoming voice, the encouraging and supportive voice, understanding someone’s fear and celebrating in their victories. The mom voice is also the one that gets people to the range in the first place.
Having conversations with nongunners, antigunners, and even progunners that do not frequent the range — men and women — is also what I do. I connect with them, hear their stories, and share my experiences. At A Girl & A Gun, we’ve recognized that there are four archetypes of people. Even the strongest most-fervent antigunner fits into one these categories, and by listening, you can usually craft a no into a yes.
The Superstar. Superstars want to jump in and have fun! They are searching for badassery. To them, this may be having the most expensive shotgun, tagging the biggest buck, burning down a 3-gun stage in the fastest time, or doing something impressive, like being the only chick in a training class of Special Ops guys. The Superstar may be spontaneous, so don’t overload them with info and plans. Flattery will get you everywhere, so extend an invitation when there’s an opportunity for your Superstar to shine. For the nongunner or antigunner, focus the conversation on fun, competition, opportunity, excitement, and aspects they will think are cool.
The Inquisitor. This person will ask a million questions to have answers for any possible scenario because they need to have a plan. They need to know the whys, hows, and what-ifs. Credentials are important to them, so make sure they know your training background and if you don’t have the title or training behind you, bring in some big guns that do or you won’t get very far with an Inquisitor. Inquisitors love checklists. On our website, AGirlandAGun.org we have checklists for many different scenarios…what to take if you’re going to the range, what to take if you’re going to a match, what to take if you’re taking a newbie to the range, etc. They are very cautious about learning from someone or doing something that could be wrong.
The Know-It-All. This person needs to be the smartest guy in the room. He or she won’t believe that you may understand a skill or issue better than they do; and may find your knowledge threatening. To win over a Know-It-All, you have to go geek. They love research and development, logic, and most of all, self-mastery, so give them opportunities to feel smart. They can be won over with facts, but not right away. They may need a class (or two or three) before they ever pull a trigger.
Social Butterfly. Social Butterflies need collaboration and teamwork, and they need to feel like what they’re doing is making a difference. Social Butterflies love that they are securing a legacy for their children through their 2nd Amendment rights, and they enjoy supporting nonprofits and important programs like FASTER in schools. They love fostering a community of like-minded people that are working to arm, educate, and inspire people.
Over the past eight years, A Girl & A Gun has brought thousands of people into shooting. There is a yes hidden in every no, whether its budget, time, lack of understanding, or another obstacle that can be addressed. Having hard conversations — and changing nos to yeses — first starts with listening. You have to know who you’re talking to. You will waste your time trying to teach MILs and MOA to a Superstar; save that info for the Know-It-All and just get the Superstar pinging steel and feeling empowered. Don’t rush the Inquisitor to the range; give him a plan to make him feel successful.
It’s catering your message to your audience so that you can have the biggest effect. It’s using your mom voice (both as instructor and cheerleader) to help people embrace the best tools and practices for their families’ safety.
It’s taking the word Mom back… and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and Guardian… so that together we can secure our gun rights for future generations.