The Importance of Culture

Yesterday’s post about about how I got into this issue was getting a bit long, but I did want to touch on the importance of a healthy shooting culture. It’s occurred to me that if I had been raised in New Jersey, while I rather doubt I would have had the personality and upbringing to be in favor of gun control, it’s doubtful I would be involved in shooting or in the gun rights issue in the same way I am now.

The first step in any gun control campaign has to first involve destroying the hunting and shooting culture that exists in that state. New Jersey started on that path in 1968, when it became one of the only states in the nation to require gun owners to be licensed. By the 90s, New Jersey’s shooting community was on life support, and ripe for attack. Under Florio you got the scary semi-auto ban. Under Whitman, who first called for it, and finally McGreevy, New Jersey banned the sale of all guns that aren’t “smart” gun once the AG determines that a gun is “smart” enough. Police, of course, are exempt. Now, under Corzine, they want to ban .50 calibers with a law so broad it’ll cover a lot of muzzle loaders. How many shooting ranges are left in NJ now vs. 1968? How many gun shops?

Today it’s shooting culture is near death. New Jersey can’t really be brought back. Sure, there are still plenty of people there who like to shoot, but the state has done everything it can to drive those people out, and make them give up their sport. New Jersey even regulates air guns as if they were firearms.  It is very difficult to bring new people into shooting in New Jersey, and the climate over there makes ownership rather risky.  The inevitable result is slow decline.

I got into the issue because I had exposure to lawful firearms use as a child. I had exposure to gun shows. I could shoot cans off my Uncle’s deck without fear of being arrested by the police. Hell, we used to shoot cans in front of the state trooper who liked to sit in the church parking lot across the street looking for speeders. I was brought back into the shooting community by a friend who grew up shooting. Culture is important.

We must politically oppose measures which are designed merely to destroy the shooting community. Attacking gun shops, gun ranges, gun shows, and politically weak elements of the shooting community (think .50 cal shooters) are not designed to prevent crime. Anyone who cares to fact check for 10 minutes on google can figure that out. They are designed to chip away at the shooting culture, and eliminate it. Once they do that, gun control becomes easy. Just look at New Jersey.

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Culture”

  1. Many years ago, I worked for a large pharmaceutical company. As you know, drug costs are frequently alleged to be responsible for soaring health care costs. I could never figure out why pharmaceutical companies were so vilified until I realized that drug costs were a fairly discrete component of a highly complex issue. It is much easier to single out and yammer about drug costs than such complicated issues as medical technology innovation and investment, medical services utilization rates, the impact of medical cost shifting, the impact of tort lawyers, etc.

    Similarly, many urban areas and urbanized states like NJ have to deal with the reality of violence, and the highly complex factors behind it. Like drug costs, guns are a discrete, easily identified component, whether or not they are actually a major contributing factor. What politician (urban and/or Democrat) has the balls to point out, for example, that illegitimate birth rates of 60-70% might actually be a greater contributor to poverty, frustration, and violence than firearms? For these people, gun control is basically a diversionary tactic, to avoid such unpleasant truths and dodge responsibility for addressing the real issues.

  2. For these people, gun control is basically a diversionary tactic, to avoid such unpleasant truths and dodge responsibility for addressing the real issues.

    That’s been my experience as well.

  3. Born and raised in Jersey . . . and at least in the Northwest part of the state, the 2nd Amendment is alive – though hanging on by a shoestring.

    and, for what its worth, I was arrested a couple of weeks after my 18th birthday while squirrel hunting for illegal possession of an unregistered firearm – basically I didn’t have a Firearms Owners ID card yet and they considered my Crossman BB gun a firearm.

  4. I’m trying to get my wife interested in shooting -and the little roadblocks are making it rather hard. Admittedly, the last time I shot was when I was in high school (and not a senior either), and I’m in my thirties now; and while I did grow up in a household with several fireamrs I very much doubt that there was any ammunition in the house…

    Anyway, at this point it’s trying to find the time to fill out the paperwork and go down to the local cop shop and put it in to get my FOID card (and one for my wife as well).

  5. Being that wife…..I did grow up in NJ, and there IS a culture against guns. While I’m all for others owning guns, switching to being myself a gun owner is a huge change. I grew up in a family that believes guns are evil, etc. It’s not that hard to do the paperwork; I’m deliberatly dragging my heels because I’m not really ready to make the culture change. I have some friends telling me it’s “fun,” and I have family telling me that I’m a horrible person for wanting to learn to shoot. Which do you think is the stronger pull, 2nd amendment or not?

  6. My advice would be to start small. Start with a nice bolt action rifle in .22LR. They don’t cost much, and the .22LR isn’t powerful enough to have a frightening amount or recoil. The other things beginners tend to learn to enjoy rather quickly is clay bird shooting, popularly known as “skeet”, except that skeet is just a sport that uses clay birds. Shotguns, though, have a bit more recoil, but most women tend to be fairly comfortable shooting a 20 gauge.

    Shooting isn’t for everyone. Some people find it interesting and fun, other people find it boring. For me, when I see what an expert shooter can do compared to me, I’m always amazed. No matter how good you think you can be at this sport, there will always be someone better than you. I remember seeing a guy at the range shooting an AR-15 at 50 yards with iron sights and he was making his groups the size of a nickel. On a good day, I can maybe do a tennis ball sized group at that distance with iron sights.

  7. As a woman who did grow up around guns but in a family that never taught “the girls” how to shoot, I find it’s an easy question to answer: the 2nd Amendment.

    Firearms were a way of life which, admittedly, made it much easier for me to eventually be pulled into the “gun culture.” However, I didn’t get the invitation to join someone at the range until I went to a strongly feminist women’s college in Massachusetts. You know what? It was fun. It was so much fun that I joined the range that very night as a member.

    However, fun is not why I “joined the gun culture” so to speak. I joined because I felt something far more important that evening: empowerment. I pulled the target back and was disappointed because I only had 12 of 15 shots anywhere on the paper target (forget groups, I wasn’t anywhere near accomplishing that my first time out). But that night the range officer did something I will never forget. Bruce (I still remember his name) pulled the target down off of the backer and held it in front of his chest. He said, “You saved your life if you had to.”

    I’m have absolutely no desire to use a firearm in self defense. It was only after I did more training with firearms that I thought to take physical defense classes like RAD. However, it really hit me as a woman that I should be able to defend my life and the lives of my family if needed. But don’t write me off as someone who drank the Kool-Aid and never looked back. I have my concealed carry permit even though I hardly ever carry. I sacrifice buying new guns because I love buying new shoes just as much and my budget won’t accommodate both.

    Because I made the conversion to being pro-gun (though I confess I was never anti-gun before, just neutral) in college while in a state that is as oppressive on gun rights as New Jersey, it was tough. I had my professors, my roommate and a good chunk of the people I spent time around telling me how my trips to the range to shoot at paper targets would somehow lead to a spike in the national murder rate. I pointed out that I was the same person as before, but they wanted to pretend I wasn’t. I confess that I never understood it because I would never behave like that with a friend who took up a new activity.

    But it made me realize that there was no logic in their arguments. Guns didn’t make me a bad person. Guns didn’t make me any more likely to lose my temper. Guns just sat in the gun case at the Smith & Wesson range in Springfield until I paid my rental fee and feed a few hundred rounds through them at the backstop. As a student of sociology, it didn’t take long before I pointed to stats and history to show that it’s a problem of violence they (and I) are opposed to, not a problem of guns. I couldn’t understand why they wanted to blame it on guns other than they were looking for a supposedly easy solution.

    Now that I’ve been in the issue for a while, I also look at the feminist perspective of opening up a world that mostly men have enjoyed for generations to women. Because ultimately, it is fun and even the most negative comment I heard from an anti-gun friend who I finally convinced to try it at the range with me was, “I thought about the fact that any one of these people on this range could have come up behind me and shot me. Then I realized that not a single person here would do that. You guys really aren’t the problem. I’m not going to become pro-gun, but could you please let me know when you’re coming back to the range so I can come with you?” That was honesty that I could respect. I do understand that the actual conversion from actively disliking guns to loving them is hard, and it may be made a step at a time. But just think about it as one step. Everytime you have an argument against them, think about the root of the issue and whether or not any more controls on guns or gun owners would truly help. I think you’ll be surprised in how it changes much more than your thinking on guns.

  8. Given that my own experience is with the aforementioned 20 guages (admittedly at an age when I was only barely taller than the shotgun!) and the .22LR bolt-actions, I intend to start small and work up myself. (I got to go to a summer camp for a couple of years where firearm basics were drilled into me hard enough to make me follow the 4 rules with a watergun… But, as I implied, I grew up outside of the People’s Republic).

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