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Want to Win at Gun Safety? Be like the NRA

How to influence legislators like the NRA

By creating a common interest, attacking a way of life, and empowering people, we can create gun reform.

March 21, 2018

We at SameSide fell in LOVE with this op-ed from University of California, Santa Barbara professor Hahrie Han.  She outlines three tactics the NRA does to influence legislators. And SPOILER ALERT – they have nothing to do with money!

In Professor Han’s opinion piece, she writes that while most people think the NRA uses money to buy politicians, it’s not actually the case. The NRA deploys an advanced, grassroots organizing strategy that maximizes our democracy system:

1. Common Interest

The NRA mobilizes people who agree around a common interest, while gun-rights groups engage people who do not necessarily agree with one another.

According to professor Han, most people assume that NRA members all agree on gun rights and less gun safety legislation. That’s not the case. However, they are gun enthusiasts and come together at gun clubs and gun stores mostly to shoot guns together and talk about the latest technology. They meet likeminded people and learn something new. The NRA then seizes on this collective organizing power and mobilizes them into action to protect their way of life.

What can gun safety advocates do? Infuse organizing power through collective social action, much like our SameSide hosts do by incorporating action into fun events like brunches and yoga.

2. Attacking a Way of Life

The NRA has been successful at framing the gun debate as one that will decimate a way of life for gun owners if gun safety legislation is passed. As in, “They want to take away your guns,” or, “You won’t be able to defend yourself against a bad guy with a gun.” People can really picture themselves in this scenario and be mobilized to act.

Gun safety advocacy has long focused on specific legislation like expanding background checks or banning something called a bump stock. While this is critical legislation, it is harder for people to rally around because it is difficult to see how it fits into, and directly impacts, their daily life.

What can gun safety advocates do? The Parkland shooting has greatly moved the needle on this issue. Seeing and hearing teenagers terrified of going to their schools because they may be shot is something many people can understand and empathize with. Keeping the picture of children shot in their classrooms or dying in a movie theatre – as horrific as it is – is imperative to keeping gun safety advocates motivated.

3. Empower Ordinary People to Lead Change

This one is our favorite! The NRA has empowered members and gun rights advocates to call, write, speak to legislators and directly speak truth to power rather than just asking members for money and doing the lobbying work for them.

Gun safety groups like Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Safety are doing amazing grassroots organizing: offering followers real opportunities to speak to legislators and bring more gun safety voters out to make their voices heard. While it will take time to see the effects of these efforts, there is a real action plan in place to counteract the tremendous organizing power of the NRA.

SameSide was built on the same premise: we all have the power to lead change on issues we are passionate about. And why not have fun doing it!? Following Las Vegas, we met Jami S. She had never been an activist but wanted to DO SOMETHING. She wanted to know, “What can I do to help stop these massacres?!”


She signed up on SameSide and in January hosted a Food with Friends experience for 10 people that led to over 1100 calls asking legislators to block a dangerous gun silencer bill. It worked!  These calls helped stop the bill in from moving forward for a vote.  Politicians hear our voices! 

Make your voice heard and stand up for gun safety with SameSide on April 22nd, when Natalia F. will host Guns are a Drag Brunch at Nerano in Beverly Hills with music, drag performances, delicious southern Italian food and real action to win at gun safety.



On Saturday, March 24th, you can join March For Our Lives in communities across America to demand that our lives and safety become a priority to legislators, and that we end gun violence in our schools and neighborhoods.


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