There is indeed some excellent conservation happening in Tam’s comments, in regards to an MSNBC roundtable. I’d like to highlight a few things, because I think, overall, we’re pretty bad at talking to people outside the gun culture. I am guilty of this too. I’ve been surprised by analogies and arguments, which I thought were spot on and effective, fall completely flat when presented to a non-initiated person to the gun culture. Over at Tam’s, commenter staghounds makes this point:
For example, gun practice being “creepy” and “paranoid.” Think for a minute, and listen. Ask, not defiantly but to learn, what makes it creepy and paranoid? Is it different from practicing with other tools of daily life?
Yes, it is. What other tool do people do special practice and self training with? Musical instruments are the only ones that come quickly to mind. The other tools of life- cars, pens, hammers- we train with by constant doing.
It would be pretty unusual to meet someone who practiced jump starting his car for two hours every other week end.
Or who had four sets of jumper cables.
Maybe even creepy and paranoid.
That’s the real issue, but I think the answer is simple, and is provided by Yrro, the next commenter:
I think that’s where gun owners often *sound* insincere to anti-gun people. Because as much as I think effective self defense is a right… I go to USPSA because its fun. As much as I think that we need military weapons for the philosophical purpose of protecting ourselves from government… that’s *not* what I’m thinking about when I’m shooting 3-gun. Even general preparedness like carrying a knife or a flashlight is as much because I like being the guy who is prepared as I expect to get into a situation where I couldn’t deal without them.
Yrro is completely correct here, and the reason I believe we tend to avoid the “fun” line of argument is because it’s difficult to argue that our recreation ought to be preserved at a social cost. We stress the self-defense aspect because it makes for (we think) a stronger argument, and I generally agree that it does. But the fact is we do what we do because it’s an enjoyable form of recreation, and I don’t think we should be afraid to say that.
I got into shooting because it was fun. It’s fun in the same way video games are fun, and you get more exercise shooting. While I believe the fundamental reason our right exists (self-defense either from street criminals or state criminals), is hugely important, I also don’t think we should be afraid to admit it’s also an entertaining pastime. Most Americans who don’t have anything to lose won’t hesitate to offer up solutions that won’t affect them, and that they don’t imagine will affect anyone else. But few Americans really want to deprive other people of things important to them. If you can get most people to say “I can see both sides of the issue,” then the victory goes to the side with the largest number of energized people. That will typically be us in a struggle with the forces the favor gun control.