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It’s Going to Take More Than Just Taking Kids Shooting

Kevin has a good article that I think is spot on:

I’ve been arguing gun rights online for almost 20 years now, long before there was such a thing as a gunblog, and in that time, I’ve managed to convince absolutely no one that disarming the law-abiding will somehow affect criminal behavior.

However, I’ve also seen friends who were anti-gun get into guns because of their experience at a range: Shooting guns is fun, and once we get people to try it, we usually win.

I think what we’ve been seeing this past year are the consequences of the destruction of civil society. Recently, a friend posted a picture on social media of a tween sleepover where every single kid had their nose buried in their smartphones. I can remember when I was a kid having friends sleep over, and we’d spend serious effort trying to side tune the Playboy channel. You remember doing that? Adjust the tuning just right and “Hey, is that a tit? Yeah. I think that’s a tit! Turn it the other way.” I don’t know, maybe kids these days will have fond memories of gathering together to stare into smartphones, and interact on whatever social media app the kids are using these days. But today’s kids have almost no opportunity for unstructured and unsupervised play that most of us grew up with.

Snow day from school? Yeah, I was out, and didn’t come back until dark. No parents. Mom would say, “Stay off the lake. You’ll fall through and drown. And don’t stay out so long your limbs freeze off.” Of course some of the best sledding was the slope heading onto the lake, and you could catch decent air off the bank. Most of the lake was a few feet deep. I fell through the ice plenty of times only to find myself up to my knees. I wasn’t dumb enough to go on the part of the lake that was deep enough you could go completely through. We (and when I saw we, I’m talking Xers born in the 1970s) are probably the last generation to have been raised the old way. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind of a decades long experiment in raising children that is an abject failure. If you read nothing else this week, read this:

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to “do something!”

You ready? Here it is:

“Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”

Read the whole thing. My parents were both heavily involved in civil society. My dad became a volunteer firefighter in the early 1970s. Even though he’s now pushing 70, he’s still doing it, and probably will keep doing that in some form until he drops dead. As he’ll tell you, his days of running into burning buildings are over, but he can still drive a truck and direct traffic as fire police. My mother was involved in probably half a dozen groups. I was dragged to meetings as a kid when their schedules overlapped. If I had had a smartphone at the time, I almost certainly would have buried my nose in it. But we didn’t have smart phones then, so I had to watch, and whether I realized it or not at the time, I had to learn.

Take this passage from De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”:

The political associations that exist in the United States are only a single feature in the midst of the immense assemblage of associations in that country. Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society. Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.

We are not passing this onto our children, and it’s going to be an absolute disaster for our Republic. Because civic life is the antidote to both isolation and totalitarianism. It exists in the community and outside the government. Civic life was not something that was foreign to me when I encountered it as an adult. I understood a thing or two about it from my parents, who may have not explicitly taught this to me, but did through example. When I came into the gun issue, which is largely organized as civic organizations, it was something familiar. When I look around my club I see a lot of old guys. I do not see young people, even though I know they are out there. We can’t be satisfied to simply pass a love of shooting along to the future generation. We also must bequeath to them the civic institutions that go along with it. It is those institutions that have protected us for so long. It’s not the NRA: the NRA is ultimately a part and a product of those institutions. If the NRA did not exist, we would have to invent it. So take your kids to the range. But also take them to meetings, like my parents did. Teach them how all this works, and make sure when they are adults, they are ready and able to inherit what has protected and promoted this issue for so long.

13 Responses to “It’s Going to Take More Than Just Taking Kids Shooting”

  1. Joe says:

    Great post, and I agree 10,000%. The USA is in the final stages of “bread and circus” as well as nearing the end of the “apathy zone” a Democratic/Republican Society. The stages that follow are the decay and collapse of the society.

    Also, Michael Savage, George Soros, Tom Steyer, the whole of the Democrat Party Billionaire Donor Class, and Leftist Splinter Faction groups such as Organizing For America, Organizers for the Women’s March, National Teacher’s Unions, The Centers For American Progress, Everytown For Gun Safety(Bans and Confiscation), and other Gun Control Organisations are going “Full-Court-Press” against the 2nd Amendment and ALL of the Bill of Rights for 2018 and Beyond. Nothing “Grassroots” about this.

    https://twitter.com/studentswalkout/status/964601845741060096

  2. Fred says:

    I’m from the last year or two of the X’ers and grew up under the “home by dark” rules. I live in an urban area and when I shoot it’s either at a commercial indoor range or on public land. I’d LOVE to join a club but all the ones I looked at in the area are suffocating. People like me aren’t going to jump through all the hoops. The probationary periods and sponsorship requirements are the opposite of outreach. I’m sure they have their reasons. I’m also sure they’re dead men walking.

    • Bitter says:

      To be honest, your comment reads like you’re thinking about it as purchasing a product or purchasing an experience. Private ranges aren’t at all like commercial ranges or public ranges, and that’s a good thing because there’s an important need for all three in the culture.

      Most private clubs are organized as non-profits, so they have no interest in selling you an experience or product. Specifically, a substantial number of them are organized as social clubs. Social clubs centered around gun ranges, but social clubs first. Sponsorships are usually required because it demands a certain amount of accountability. You’re less likely to do something to piss everyone off if you know people put their credibility on the line to vouch for you. I know clubs that have eased up on such requirements and the quality of shooter and attitudes of members dropped substantially – enough for them to go back. And you know, a huge number private clubs with such requirements still have people lining up to join. They don’t need you personally to jump through that hoop of making an effort to show up and meet someone if they have 200 other gun owners happy to do it.

      If you really want to join that type of facility, then make an effort to find out when they have a public match or some other public event. Show up ready to participate and talk the guys or gals running it to let them know you wanted to come check it out and that you’re interested in joining, but don’t think you know anyone who is a member. Showing that you understand what they are – a group that sinks or swims based on member participation rather than strict dues collection alone – will go very far in getting people who don’t really know you very well to go out on a limb and sponsor you.

      • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

        I think his point stands though. If you want to get into shooting, but you need to know somebody to get into a range, how does that help? Its an added burden. I don’t think the sponsorship is at all conducive to increasing our numbers.

        My range had a lot of problems with incidents. So they dropped the sponsorship, added a three session live fire evaluation program, and their incidents dropped to zero.

        • Bitter says:

          What works in your range may or may not work in others. That’s the beauty of private clubs that can try different things.

          But there is a common element because when you have 3 full sessions of mandatory participation largely run by the same folks, you are helping to create that social community. Those other new club members you trained with are going to be people you recognize around the club. If your name comes up at a meeting as someone kicked out for safety rules violations, there’s a bit more to own because someone may know you now.

          It is a burden to be met, but I stick with that’s one reason we need all three types of ranges because those burdens are different. Public ranges require nothing or very, very little. Commercial ranges require more money. Private clubs require money and social investment. All serve a purpose, and when you want to transition between them, you can with some relatively minor effort. That said, I do think clubs as a whole need work in doing more to build that base of social investment so that there are almost always people lined up “pay” to join.

        • Sebastian says:

          My range had a lot of problems with incidents. So they dropped the sponsorship, added a three session live fire evaluation program, and their incidents dropped to zero.

          I’ve wanted to do something like this. But if I make the suggestion, I’d be volunteering to actually do it, and I have bigger fish to fry than ending sponsorship. Right now even with sponsorship requirements and stupid rules, there’s a waiting list a mile long to get in.

          But overall I agree. If I were designing a gun culture from the ground-up, I’d probably want to organize gun clubs as 501(c)(4)s rather than as 501(c)(7)s, because the former force a more outward reaching culture, as opposed to the latter, which actually demands and inward reaching one. But the 501(c)(7) club is mostly what we got.

        • Sebastian says:

          One more thing: the primary reason I think clubs adopt sponsorship is to deal with the issue of the quality of the shooter coming in. My club did not have that requirement for a number of years, and the quality of incoming member started getting awful. It really dropped when I let people sign up on the Internet for the waiting list. I think the idea you mentioned is a good one, and a good way to solve the problem. But sponsorship spreads the burden of vetting new members across the whole membership, and doesn’t put it all on the qualification committee. But I’m sympathetic that system is self-limiting, and favors insiders.

  3. walli says:

    I think I’ve gotten two people to buy guns by taking them shooting for the first time. It is actually not hard, they sell themselves.

  4. Publius says:

    I like it.

  5. Richard says:

    I hate you for being absolutely right. I don’t really have a clue what to do about it and I am probably part of the problem, Being a joiner is just not in my makeup.

    As to the overall decline in civic culture, read Bowling Alone. Again I don’t especially want to be a part of the civic organizations but I don’t want them to go away either as they are essential social glue.

    Really only the evangelical churches seem to fulfill this function in today’s world. I recognize that they are not popular on this blog but I am an atheist too and I appreciate the role they play.

    • Bitter says:

      He’s living with a woman whose major included a heavy dose of sociology classes. Bowling Alone been on our shelf since we got together and was required reading for him. :)

      • Richard says:

        Glad to hear that but I was addressing other people who read your wonderful blog. And how did you turn out so sane after all of those sociology classes.

  6. “Shooting guns is fun,” but the real reason is to demystify guns, and show them that holding a gun does not unleash the mind control rays that turn you into a mass murderer.

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