Growing the 2A Community: The Second Amendment Is for Everyone
It’s 2022, and yet again, our right to bear arms is under serious attack. Our current president can’t stop talking about his goal of enacting another “assault weapons” ban, and the threats of new gun control laws loom daily, especially for those of us in anti-gun states.
Also, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a fair bit of in-fighting in the gun community. Hunters versus concealed carriers. Democrats versus Republicans. Women versus men. Leather versus Kydex.
I’m kidding about the last one, but you get the drift. We’re being attacked by the anti-gun crowd and seem divided among our own. So, what’s our best option to preserve and restore our Second Amendment rights?
Meet 2A4E Founder Tony Simon
Recently, I spoke with Tony Simon, founder of 2A4E and the Diversity Shoot events, and we discussed his work as a Second Amendment and civil rights advocate. We talked about problems, solutions, and everything in between. Before I get into that, I’d like to tell you a little about Tony and his important work.
After growing up with guns in the country in Virginia and serving in the United States Marine Corps, Tony moved to New Jersey and encountered a gun-culture shock. Because of the strict gun control laws and lack of community, he spent many years on the sidelines. In 2012, Tony decided to start shooting again, realized how rusty his skills were, and immediately signed up for a class. Tony felt so good after the class that he became an instructor to pass this feeling on to others.
Shortly after he began instructing, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred. As the government went into action trying to push more gun control, Tony felt pulled to become more vocal in the fight for our rights. He wrote a letter to his representatives and put it online for others to use as a template, thinking it may encourage others to do the same. Within days, the letter had over 15,000 hits
In 2015, as Tony was testifying about an upcoming bill, he realized he was the only black pro-Second Amendment representative out of over 100 people. He wanted to see more representation from his community. How could he encourage minorities to not only exercise their Second Amendment rights but to get involved in advocating for them?
Tony felt a deep need to destroy negative media-driven stereotypes, but how? When he spoke with a friend about this, his friend gave him the answer he needed but didn’t want at the time. He told Tony it was on him to start the movement. He needed to be about it, not talk about it.
And so began the 2A4E Diversity Shoot. According to Tony, “Our mission is to introduce all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or background to learn about their Second Amendment rights.”
The event started small in 2015 with only four people attending. Tony partnered with local gun ranges and kept showing up. Between 2015-2019 the event grew so large he had to start using tickets to avoid capacity issues. Eventually, he spread out to other ranges and added more dates. Even throughout the pandemic, Tony found ranges that continued to host. These days, Tony continues to “be about it” and hosts events twice a month at four ranges and in two states.
Second Amendment Issues
As Tony and I chatted about the issues surrounding the gun community, the common theme that came up was divisiveness. Whether it be political rhetoric, false media narratives, or in-fighting, everything seems to be aimed at separating gun owners into different groups. Of course, we all fall into certain categories and come from different backgrounds, but what does that matter if we all agree on the right to bear arms?
We agreed that the hardcore anti-gun crowd is exceptionally united. They’re on a mission to eradicate guns, and they’ll stick together no matter what. They don’t want anyone to have guns regardless of gender, race, political affiliation, or other qualifications.
It’s not likely we’ll change the minds in that group, but what if we could get to those people in the middle? The ones who are uneducated about firearms and haven’t chosen a side yet. Certainly, some people have no gun experience, but they’re curious and just waiting for the right conversation.
As Tony and I discussed solutions, it became clear we need two things: unity and more people on our side. We need to have conversations that aren’t pushy or judgmental, and we must welcome everyone into the 2A community, regardless of how we feel about them.
That’s precisely what Tony Simon is doing. He’s created a safe space designed to be welcoming to everyone, including minorities and underrepresented groups who may often feel comfortable in a firearms class. Tony doesn’t care if you’re black, white, Asian, gay, straight, or anything else. You’re welcome at the 2A4E Diversity Shoot. As a woman who initially felt intimidated to go to the range, I can say, after talking to Tony, I would have loved to attend his class.
Tony Simon’s mission is to help people learn about and exercise their Second Amendment rights. “It’s a human right, after all,” he says. His work focuses on showing people that gun laws don’t make us any safer and gun owners aren’t crazy for wanting to protect themselves.
2A4E isn’t just a brand or catchy phrase. It’s a lifestyle we all, as gun owners, should be living without question. To preserve and restore our rights, we need to unite and invite more people to our side. The best way to do that is to embrace everyone, show them what the Second Amendment truly stands for, and welcome them into our community.