We know the worth of firearms. Beyond fun – yes, I went there – they offer deterrent value, peace of mind, and as illustrated by the new television series “The Last Man on Earth“, make great universal keys.
But there are those who remain largely in the dark on firearms.
One constituency is afflicted with the kind of willed ignorance that has seen fit to put Obama in the oval office (twice, no less). Lost causes in search of one, these hoplophobes are best left alone or subject to limiting voting rights.
But there is another constituency that perhaps deserves some consideration.
These are the “neither here, nor there” Americans, people who just don’t feel particularly invested in gun ownership or Second Amendment rights. The prospect of formally familiarizing themselves with firearms, unfortunately, just doesn’t fall high on their personal priorities lists, probably because they are largely insulated from the debate and don’t perceive themselves as having a dog in the fight.
That they are ignorant on the issues that concern us – and them – does not mean they are necessarily stupid. If they are not exactly victims of the same kind of pernicious indoctrinations that find children carrying out executions on behalf of ISIS, they are at least subject to similar kinds of limiting agents courtesy of the media to which they are exposed.
But if they are not exactly for or against us, they might be swayed by our ambassadorship.
Last year Amy Harrison responded to a shooting grand ambassador Julie Golob’s blog with the following observation: “I freely admit I used to be afraid of firearms… but then I started dating a shooter, and married him… and I decided I had to educate myself cause I really liked the guy. So I did. And now I’m cool with it.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky as to marry a shooter – which means others have to pick up the slack. And while programs such as Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program offer excellent hunter safety courses, let’s face it – they don’t get the kind of publicity that other sources of civic enlightenment like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West do.
And so it is that the vicarious exposure to firearms and their owners is largely through the news media (firearms bad), games (firearms bad) and film such as “The Way of the Gun”, a movie whose very title guarantees a mass extinction event for its cast (need I say: firearms bad).
Thankfully, responsible gun owners are straight-shooters who enjoy nothing more than getting target acquisition on problems. And what can warm the heart more than the notion of having someone stare down the barrel of cold hard logic and see the hammer cock, the cylinder rotate, and all the while knowing there’s more where that came from.
But this is not me preaching to the choir. For one, you may find yourself going up against trace residue of some ingrained belief: Just because they’re apathetic doesn’t necessarily mean they’re completely agnostic (“I keep hearing about these kids getting accidentally shot and killed by guns…”).
And face it, few groups of people are so routinely and capriciously stereotyped as gun owners. Afflicted with compensation issues, infected with envy, and riddled with paranoia, it’s a minor miracle that millions are not out laying siege to their local shopping centers every day.
That is, if one were to subscribe to the prevailing sentiments of certain left wing factions. Certainly, that has not been my experience.
Let’s take that “gun owners are insecure,” for example. My experience has proven to be quite the contrary.
But at the Shot Show one finds gun owners decidedly different. They respect others’ space, and expect that space to be respected in turn. On those few occasions when paths cross, they are unfailingly polite. The only thing disarming is a smile and a polite “Excuse me” (an armed society is a polite society, indeed).
Unfortunately, Joe Citizen is not a witness to all this. And this is where you come into play.
Because whether or not you consider yourself an ambassador for the firearms community, you are. The question is whether or not you are a good one.
You have a daily opportunity to help foster a favorable impression of firearms owners.
Let’s start with an admittedly crude example, but one that illustrates the point: Some bozo in a Dodge pickup cuts off other commuters without signaling. Among the less favorable thoughts his fellow motorists might have upon seeing that 30-30 mounted in the cab window is, Typical gun-toting macho redneck idiot.
Now such mental shorthand may not be accurate, but it is human and something we all do. And it’s something that will be more easily conjured up in another context later. Might it be better to take the gun down before driving like an ass?
OK, we know that ain’t gonna happen, but you get the point.
Rather than foster some inadvertently unfavorably impression, might it be better if we went out of our way to try and develop a dialogue with those about us?
It’s not like we’re lacking conversation prompts. Gun owners have all manner of shirts, jewelry, and bumper stickers that betray their interests in all things ballistic. If someone mentions something about guns, talk with them about the matter. Start sprinkling your conversations with topically appropriate analogies and metaphors. Yea, verily I say unto you to beg the question. Encourage your audience’s interest, but don’t come across as preachy even if I do.
Look, I’m a realist and know that no matter how liberally we dip into the ammo box of truth there will always be those for whom the brilliant amber flash of wisdom’s muzzle will fail to illuminate their darkness. But wouldn’t it be nice if we at least made the effort? (Assuming that we don’t end up feeling as spent as our sidearm and experiencing the intellectual equivalent of an adrenaline dump.)
In any event, don’t underestimate your own firepower. Even low velocity loads can still punch holes in our detractors’ arguments.
Finally, if you think things can’t change do a Google search on “used to be afraid of guns.”
Last time I checked it was 96,000 hits.
Just think of all the implications of that past-tense sentiment.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.