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.