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By Moe Glenner
In the interest of full-disclosure, a disclaimer: I am not anti-gun and I believe in the sanctity of the 2nd amendment with its right to bear arms, but I have always strongly questioned the inclusion of weaponry that goes beyond personal protection and/or hunting.

AmmoLand Editors Note: Moe’s opinions are not one most of our readership would agree with but his analytical look at the steps needed pass gun control is very helpful to understand and can be used both for and against passing legislation. As always we encourage discussion.

Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives

Moe Glenner is the author of Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives

Arizona --(Ammoland.com)- As we ring in a new year, we remain shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Newtown. Unfortunately, Newtown now adds its name to a list of equally disturbing tragedies at the hands of mentally disturbed people possessing semi-automatic weapons; the others, of course, in Columbine, Aurora, Tucson, and Blacksburg (Virginia Tech).

The public has responded by sounding a call to action and Vice President Biden has been tasked with finding a better way forward, and, amidst controversy, prominent anti-gun voices such as former congresswoman and Tucson shooting victim, Gabrielle Giffords, has met with the families of the newest victims.

Every tragic incident is subsequently followed by calls for gun control change. The politicians quickly pick up the baton and legislative bills are crafted at the local and national level to address gun control. Newtown has been no different, with the Senate, Vice President Biden and President Obama determined to change the laws, ostensibly to protect the public.

While this is indeed a noble goal, a closer look at successful and enduring change management is necessary to better predict the likelihood of its success.

Yet, state after state, have passed laws allowing concealed weapons in public. All of this is in the context of fewer shooting deaths overall. Are we safer now or more at risk? Do we have a gun control issue or are they isolated incidences of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people?”

As a change management consultant, I’ve found successful change is predicated on a three-step process: Plan, Communicate, Execute. All three steps are critical to the probability of change success. Assuming that we want to implement a successful and enduring gun control change law, let’s apply these three critical steps.

Step 1 – Plan
Any plan must include an honest assessment of the situation, the proposed scope of the change, probable and likely risks with implementing the plan or with failure of the plan and the team charged with conceiving, implementing and executing the change. This is necessarily predicated on identification of the real issue and catalyst for the proposed change. The planning stage must also address how support will be generated, including providing personal returns for the investments of those affected.

In regards the gun issue, what is the real problem? Is it access? Is it legality of certain guns and ammunition? Is it screening for mental illness? Is it all of the above? The problem must be succinctly identified before a plan can be fashioned. For gun control change to be effective, it must first be realistic and enforceable in scope. It must successfully be able to balance the 2nd amendment right to bear arms with restricting access to weaponry that goes well beyond. It must address the reality of special interest groups (i.e. National Rifle Association (NRA)) adamantly opposing any new restrictions and the realistic threat to politicians that chose to ignore the special interest pressure. More importantly, it must find a way to gain majority support across a diverse population. While a law can be rammed through without majority support, it won’t be successful in its ultimate goals without it. Finally, it must concede that it is impossibly to fully prevent a tragedy from occurring again, but the new legislation will make its occurrence much less likely.

Sadly, current legislation being proposed is little more than a public relations stunt to make it appear that someone is doing something. If the assumption is that semi-automatic guns are the culprit for the recent tragedies, does exempting a large class of these weapons, make this law practically successful? Also, does exempting current ownership of these weapons significantly alter the current situation? While the thought process is likely one of ‘better to get something, than nothing’, the argument should be, ‘let’s get something that actually makes a significant change’.

More practically, this law, even if passed, won’t reduce the likelihood of another Newtown. In fact, sales of semi-automatic weapons were sharply higher following the tragedy. People are anticipating a whiplash reaction and want to protect themselves from this reactive force. If anything, the scepter of this legislation has had an opposite affect (driving record purchases of guns)) and the legislation hasn’t even been debated yet, let alone passed.

The currently proposed legislation is an example of planning failure. While it is limited in scope, it is fatally limited. It also doesn’t have majority support nor does it address how its supporters will respond to both special interest challenges and to the current situation. In this case, it is better that there be no legislative response than a poor, ineffective legislative response. A better solution might be to engage the special interest groups, who also don’t want repeats of Newtown. While there has been historic opposition to restrictions on semi-automatic weaponry, perhaps there can be movement in this direction with guarantees towards protection of overall 2nd amendment rights. After all, hunting or personal protection doesn’t really require the ability to shoot multiple rounds in seconds.

Step 2 – Communicate
Any change initiative requires honest, relevant and timely communication between the sponsor, team leaders, team members and those affected. The key is honest communication. Communications that herald bad news, setbacks or failures cannot “punish the messenger.” Effective gun change legislation requires clear and honest communication as to intent, scope and reach. If the legislation is intended to drastically reduce the public’s access to semi-automatic weapons and nothing more, than this must be communicated. If the legislation is intended to also guarantee 2nd amendment rights as far as handguns and concealed weapons, then this too must be clearly communicated.

Unfortunately, the term “honest politician” is now considered an oxymoron. There is a distinct shortage of politician credibility. We have been trained by past communications and actions, to not really believe anything that a politician says. Furthermore, most of us tend to believe that the politician likely has ulterior motives behind the legislation. In other words, even if the politicians were to really, truly communicate on this issue, we most likely wouldn’t believe them. Is there hope then of passing effective gun control change? Yes, but it will take a real and sizeable majority across party, geographical and demographical lines for us to consider believing the communication. Without this, it all might sound good, but we won’t be buying whatever they are selling.

Step 3 – Execute
Finally, the change initiative must be executed according to plan. While no initiative, ever proceeds exactly as planned, the ability to “roll with the changes” and respond to changing landscapes is key to seeing the change initiative through. Probable and potential changes should be addressed in the planning stage, communicated throughout the initiative and then executed appropriately.

If the gun control plan (legislation) is intended to drastically reduce the public availability and access to semi-automatic weaponry, then the scope and reach must reflect this in the planning stage, must be communicated to the public prior to and throughout the legislative process and then must be acted upon by the legislators with their affirmative voting. Finally, it must be signed into law and then enforced with the full resources provided and available to it. Anything less will be an execution failure that directly results in a change failure.

We can only hope that the current attention being given to this issue is not just “yesterdays news” and/or an attempt to mollify the public. If successful and enduring change is to take hold, Gabrielle Giffords’ struggles and voice must be heard in the effort to push for the solution. We should also be encouraged by the efforts of the vice president to solicit as many disparate and divers voices on this issue, provided the opinions are seriously considered. The real solution must be inclusive and not exclusive of any of the affected constituencies (aka all of us).

While meaningful gun control legislation might not prevent another Newtown, it will dramatically decrease the likelihood of it. And that’s a change we can and should all believe in, regardless of political, geographic or demographic affiliation.

Moe Glenner is the founder and president of PURELogistics, a leading consulting firm that specializes in organizational change. He earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Villanova University. Glenner’s new book, Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives ($13.95 | Amazon), explores best practices in organizational change. For more information, visit www.moeglenner.com.

  • 7 User comments to “Gun Control Change We Can Believe In”

    1. Bill Baker on January 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM said:

      ‘personal protection doesn’t really require the ability to shoot multiple rounds in seconds.’

      Interesting opinion, so he contends that you can protect yourself with a gun that shoots a bullet every few minutes? People tend to forget that in a panic situation people don’t always hit the target, let alone if the attacker isn’t stopped by the first round. When I’m being attacked I kind of want the ability to shoot as many rounds as I feel necessary in the situation. I’m pretty sure there is a reason police don’t carry around guns that hold 3 bullets and have timers to keep them from being shot more than once per second…

    2. Bill Baker on January 9, 2013 at 4:37 PM said:

      Overreaching gun control is being proposed by Feinstein and her friends at least in part they think that if they propose ridiculous amounts of Gun Control that we will concede to some and come off feeling that at least they didn’t get what they wanted. Truth is, that’s kind of the plan every time. Reach too far so that when we ‘compromise’ they get more than they would have in the first place, and most of us feel relieved that they didn’t win what they wanted. Compromise on nothing. Nothing proposed would have affected Connecticut in any way.
      MOLON LABE

    3. “Any plan must include an honest assessment of the situation… This is necessarily predicated on identification of the real issue…”

      Herein lies the inherent problem- for the real problem is never fully disclosed and accepted, rarely accurtately identified, let alone corrected by our government. By the time the policies and programs are implemeted, their effects are negligible, if any, on the initial problem. The effort ends up as more law, diluted and a tax-payer burden.

    4. John Gnauck on January 10, 2013 at 9:23 AM said:

      The Firearms Act of 1934 was not about gangsters. It was about a government who was afraid of the unemployed and angry WWI veterans. These veterans were experienced with guns.
      The current government is taking defensive action against preppers, TEA partyers, and others. The popularity of the Congress is at a low.
      The Innocents of Sandy Hook are being exploited.

    5. vince flow on January 10, 2013 at 11:47 AM said:

      Do you really believe that any type of gun control will keep guns out of the mental ill person and the unlawful person,,, better think again ,,, instead of gun control ,you should be working on mental illness control,, and try to keep out the so called “hero” image ,, that the press keeps on showing ,,there`s where your problem is lying .and also ,quit showing these events over the internet and TV stations,,just to sell more ads ,, and I may add take surveys that are honest, and quite giving your opinion ( the press) and let the legal permit holders be heard. this my opinion of this whole political money wasting scheme ,,,,,

    6. Shawn Grammont on January 10, 2013 at 6:33 PM said:

      We should be working on creating laws that take care of these mentally sick people instead of passing failed anti-gun laws.

    7. Some one needs to direct him to the lady that emptied a five shot revolver into one of societies neglected to defend the lives of her children and herself , and while her LUCK held , the , the sub-human excrement is STILL wasting the atmosphere of millions of innocents by breathing .

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