The Biggest Issue in Gun Rights

What is the biggest obstacle we face in our efforts to preserve our gun rights? Apathy among gun owners is certainly a big one, but I don’t think it’s the biggest. In my experience, apathy can be easy to overcome once you get someone to understand what’s at stake, and what the other side is really trying to do. The biggest issue we face is that most people are simply completely unfamiliar with firearms.

A small minority are downright afraid of them. They are harder to reach, but they are a minority. The vast majority of people simply have little to no experience with guns, and don’t understand much about them, or the greater political issues involved. Combine that with a media establishment that’s only too happy to misrepresent everything about the gun issue, and you have a recipe for disaster.

That’s why I’m happy to read this:

The other librarians at work have found out about my new hobby. Some of them are curious, some are excited and wanting to join me at the range, but most are silent on the matter. My manager has been curious, asking questions about how it feels to shoot, if you need to be strong physically, if it’s loud, that sort of thing.

That’s a good start. If you want to know what I think the best thing folks can do for our movement, it’s get new people to the range. Demystify the totem that the media has made the gun to be, and make them see it for the tool that it is. If you take ten new people to the range, and only one of them becomes pro-gun, and if everyone did that, we just went from 4 million, to 8 million.

Just to illustrate what you have to deal with out there, while I was at the GBR waiting for someone with a key to come down and unlock the Hospitality room, we were sharing the hallway with the National Weather Association. One of the NWA chicks asks me, kind of shyly “What’s going on in there?” referring to our hospitality room. “You guys are gun bloggers? What is that about?” So I explain that we’re basically a diverse bunch. “Some of us are competitive shooters. Others of us blog about the political aspects of the gun issue. We talk about gear, collecting. All kinds of things.” She latched on to the competitive shooting issue “You mean like those clay birds?” I answered “Well, yes. That’s a shotgun sport. We don’t have any people who do that competitively here, but [Mr. Completely] is a steel plate and pin shooter” She immediately became curious as to what you would shoot a bowling pin or steel plate with, so I answered “Generally a pistol.” She seemed shocked by that: “Really?” Another NWS guys said “Oh yeah, you generally do that kind of stuff with pistol.”

Do you see how successful the media has been? She had no idea pistols were used in sport at all. I can promise you she had no idea that evil “assault weapons” had any sporting use as well. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that we won’t win this on sporting uses. Self-defense is an important component of the debate, but when people who accept the sporting use argument don’t even know what they are, we have a long way to go.

Ignorance of firearms is, without a doubt in my opinion, our biggest obstacle.

15 thoughts on “The Biggest Issue in Gun Rights”

  1. Your biggest obstacle with me is that guns are so damned loud and unpleasant. Once the NRA has to begin defending quiet little personal laser pistols, count me in.

  2. What if we defended the right to have suppressed firearms without having to pay an outrageous tax and fill out a lot of stupid paperwork? :) Firearms can be quiet, it’s just a lot of people got the idea in their head that if people were allowed to make them quiet, they’d run around killing people.

  3. I notice your first quote is from Breda’s blog. I appreciate you linking to that yesterday. I shared it with my wife (who is a public middle school teacher) and she latched on to it immediately. I’m usually the blog reader (obviously) but Breda’s been bookmarked on my wife’s computer now.

    A bit off topic, I know, but I am always happy to see more women appreciating not only the art of shooting but the political and sociological implications as well. Here in my area it is very rare for someone to be completely ignorant of firearms. If they are, they usually get the standard, “You ain’t from around here, are you?’

  4. Whenever someone complains about noise from a gun range, they should be advised to contact their reps and senators. They should complain about the lack of “firearm noise-pollution reduction devices”.

    There are some handheld lasers that can pop balloons and cut skin. If one could be mounted in a Star Trek phaser toy and some additional batteries added…..

  5. I don’t live within 15 miles of any shooting range and it is used only by the cops mostly. Yet, I hear gunshots every day. Some of them have been mine, but not often as I am not the man I used to be.

    Around here there really isn’t anybody to convert, we all already believe.

    However, I must say, this is a post of yours I absolutely agree with. And all this time you thought I was just being difficult for drill..

  6. I’ve made it my goal to get as many people to the range as possible. I like how Armed Canadian has a sticky at the top of his page offering a trip to the range. I’ve made the same exact offer, and even emailed customized offers to members of the local television and newspaper media. I think the members of the media should be our first “target” for education (on gun safety and handling at the very least.) Sure, taking your friend’s sister, or your neighbors son to the range will help, but I think if you can take 10 members of the media, and convert one of them, you’ve done more than you could possibly do taking people one or two at a time to the range.

  7. *whips out his Yoda credentials*

    Lack of understanding leads to fear, fear leads to hate, hate leads to stupid laws.

    For what it is worth, I am trying to do my bit… organized an “open invitation” day a few weekends from now at work, wherein anyone interested can come with me to a range and shoot. Last time around, I had about five-six people interested (half female, interestingly enough), but schedules did not work out. Hopefully this time they will.

    What with Holywood’s portrayal of firearms, and the media’s demonization of them, straight-and-simple ignorance is one of the biggest thing we firearm owners have to surmount… I agree completely. Take, for instance, the statistics about people supporting new laws controlling “assault weapons”. I have to wonder, and seriously doubt, whether or not people understand exactly what the previous (and current, here in Kalifornistan) set of laws legislated against – basically, accessories and design features. But, when they hear that phrase, after all of the media hype and seeing similar guns in movies spraying down the bad guys, the get the completely erroneous picture in their head, and react accordingly.

    As usual, I am good at pointing out the problem, but not so good at finding the solution… I think gun weblogs are a start, and offering to take people shooting is another, but both are on somewhat small scales. We need our own news channel or something ;).

  8. I’ve got a coworker who is pretty left leaning and had bought into the whole media bias about guns. He knows I’m a ‘gunnie’ and he mentioned that he had no problem with guns, but he’d never have one in his house because of the danger it caused to his child.

    I showed him the CDC’s statistics on how much more dangerous his pool, his cutlery set, and the chemicals under his sink was than a gun. I also debunked the whole “43 times more likely” bullshit. Confronted, face to face with someone who had the facts, he was unable to disagree (online, it’s easier to ignore facts and launch into ad hominem attacks) and even agreed that his view was jaded.

    He’s on vacation now, but yesterday I offered to take him to the range, gratis. He was very receptive to the idea.

    I’ll explain to him the truth of my intent. I do not intend to turn him into a gun advocate. I’m not there to try to get him to buy guns or convince him to get a CCW or anything. I simply want to show him that guns are not the scary, mind-altering machines he sees on TV or reads about in the dead-tree media. I kind of feel like Morpheus in The Matrix – “All I’m offering is the truth”.

    And I do so because I believe that the truth is self evident one you see it. And once you understand that a firearm in the hands of an honest citizen is no more of a threat to you or your family than a butterfly, the fear of them starts to go away. And the other truth to see is that 99.9997% of firearms are never used in a crime and that to try to make that number smaller means giving the government even more power and taking away rights (for him, I simply remind him that to do so requires giving George W. Bush more power. That gets his attention).

    And once you know the truth, you are less likely to vote for stupid gun laws. That is my ultimate goal and I make no bones about my objective.

  9. Ok, Lets start with the biggest culprit, the media. We need to set up media training days at all of our local ranges. Play pick the assault weapon from a line-up seeded with enfields and scary looking Mosin Nagants. Get your local gun shops involved. Educate the information sources and spread the word.

  10. Vinnie, the problem with the media can be represented by my fellow computer programmers.

    The problem with my fellow programmers is that we all assume that since we can write code that we can write any program someone asks of us. However, I know nothing about the financial markets and therefore could not write software for Wall Street.

    Reporters are the same way. They know how to accurately punctuate a sentence and assume they can write a sentence about anything, and often are required to write about whatever news story they’re assigned to. This does not mean they know what they’re writing about.

    Now, how do we reach those who will be writing about a gun story? I don’t think we can, at least not before the fact. I would say that we’d need to capture stories with blatant error and then contact the writer and offer our services.

    That should keep us busy until, 2799.

  11. Comment about suppressors. Heard some places in Europe actually require their use. However that d*** NFA’34 is the problem. No one wants to go through all the red tape (paperwork, CLEO signature, tax, etc.) just to own one. GFWs would scream bloody murder on the Europe issue.

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