Computer Games are a Gateway

To owning the real thing. Caleb takes quite a while to get to the point, but if you’re in a TL;DR mood (or computer gamer jargon grates on you), skip to the last paragraph, where he points out that realistic simulation of real guns are one way to get new blood into ownership of  the real thing.

Creatively Expanding the Gun Culture

I was just telling Sebastian this morning that I have an idea to get people who otherwise might never even consider taking a shooting class or getting to the range out to try guns in a non-threatening manner that even has a bit of history involved. Because I think this idea is kind of awesome, I’m going to share it in hopes that readers here who have the right guns and the range access either try it or give feedback on it.

I had this idea of offering up a programming day at the range for DAR, SAR, & CAR chapters. Now, these groups are strictly non-political, but they are big into history. (In fact, this could be expanded to any sort of history-related group in your area.) So I thought a day at the range that gives these known descendants a chance to see & shoot the guns (or replicas) their ancestors used in the Revolution would be awesome. It’s history, it’s unique, and it’s relevant to the missions of the groups.

Then, if a hosting club wanted to step it up a notch and make it a more traditional range day, find people who have guns from other American wars and do the same – a bit of a demo and a chance to shoot them.

Thoughts? Would anyone ever consider making this offer to local history-related groups or does it seem like too much work? I was just trying to think creatively about ways to get people out to see that shooting can be a great time and that gun owners are generally pretty awesome and nice people.

Interestingly, Sebastian doesn’t think this a completely crazy idea…

There are No New Gun Owners!

Remember this little factoid the next time you hear the anti-gun groups claim that the only people driving gun sales are established gun owners just adding to their collections:

The report shows that one-fifth of target shooters in America first started participating in the shooting sports between 2008 and 2012. That means 20 percent of all target shooters began participating in the past five years.

The data from the survey also shows that newer shooters are more likely to be young (under 35), female, and urban dwellers.

Maryland Training Requirements Released

It would appear that Maryland gun owners may no longer casually introduce friends to shooting and firearms safety. From the Maryland State Police:

Unless otherwise exempted, a person may not purchase, rent, or receive a handgun unless they possess a valid Handgun Qualification License (H.Q.L.) issued by the Maryland Department of State Police. Unless otherwise exempted, prior to submitting an application for an H.Q.L. or Handgun Wear/Carry Permit, applicants must complete a firearm’s safety training course by an approved and registered Qualified Handgun Instructor.

The Firearm’s Safety Training Course, for the Handgun Qualification License, shall consist of a minimum of four (4) hours of instruction and affirms the applicant’s safe operation of the firearm which requires firing at least one round of ammunition.

I’m not sure what all the exemptions are, but one would assume that at least one is this formal class since firing a round would require “receiv[ing]” a gun. Otherwise, it would be impossible to meet the training requirements.

Though NRA-certified instructors are eligible to become Qualified Handgun Instructors, they are now required to develop a brand new course curriculum rather than strictly use NRA’s curriculum. NRA’s training division highlights at least one concern on this front since the new curriculum requirements involve teaching legal issues in firearms ownership. This comes from an email sent to certified instructors:

…there is a requirement that instruction must be given on Maryland state law pertaining to firearms and self-defense. Rendering legal advice or interpretation is a task for attorneys, and instructors who are not licensed to practice law may wish to seek legal advice regarding the limits of what they can do in this regard.

So now instructors, in addition to registering with the state for new qualifications and developing a brand new curriculum, must now also consult with an attorney to help them write up their new class contents. That will drive up their costs, and that will likely be passed on to students. Now Maryland has successfully made basic safety training more expensive and harder to teach.

One of the interesting aspects of their requirement to develop a new curriculum is that NRA requires that you not call something an NRA class if you’re not following the NRA curriculum. (That was part of the instructor class when I took it years ago.) That effectively means that people just coming into the shooting sports will no longer associate the NRA brand with teaching firearms safety courses.

If you really want to look at an ultra-creepy perspective, this training database means that Maryland will not only have information on gun owners in the state, but they will also be keeping a list of everyone who even learns how to fire a gun.

Producing the Next Generation of Gun Owners

Yesterday, I was invited to check out the facilities of a Boy Scout reservation that has benefited from a few grants funded by Eastern Pennsylvania Friends of NRA. All I can say is wow. Wow.

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It’s not that their facilities (shooting or otherwise) are the fanciest or most amazing I’ve ever seen. It’s the creativity and ingenuity of making every dime their shooting program receives go as far as it possibly can. It’s the fact that many of their campers come from out-of-state – states like Maryland, New Jersey, and New York – so this camp is often the only opportunity the gun community has to reach these boys. It’s the fact that regardless of the fact that they don’t have the facilities to serve special needs and disabled kids, their organizers put their heads together to make it happen and got those boys their rifle merit badges.

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Seeing all the ways that they have had to problem solve with limited or restricted funds is mind-blowing, but hearing their hopes for expanding and improving the facilities to focus on accommodating more scouts is just plain impressive. Unfortunately, they can only do it if they receive the funding for it. And this is why I volunteer.

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Because more than 5,000 boys from around the PA/NJ/NY/MD area go through this camp every summer. Think about that. More than 5,000 boys have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of shooting safely and get a chance to learn about the joys of the shooting sports every single summer because of this one camp.

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Of course, rifle and shotgun shooting aren’t the only thing this camp offers. There’s archery, rock climbing, swimming, fishing, paintball, and even a science building. Apparently, the number of merit badges that can be earned at this one location are pretty ridiculous compared to other camps.

Long Term Consequences of Ammo Shortages in .22

Clayton Cramer blogged about the possible impact of a copper mine landslide on ammunition production, and that got me thinking about the extended impacts of today’s continued ammunition shortages.

Working with the Friends of NRA program, I’ve met several local instructors for youth shooting programs. Since most of these folks work with new junior shooters, they always start off with .22. I know at least one local Boy Scout camp shooting instructor who seriously questioned their ability to have any kind of shooting program due to the lack of ammunition. This is a long-term problem, folks. Every opportunity we lose to introduce new shooters to safe firearms handling is an opportunity to lost creating another pro-gun voter in the future. At the very least, it’s the loss of someone who likely won’t become hysterical gun policy debates because they at least have some basic understanding of firearms.

I’ve actually thought about getting back into shooting at Sebastian’s club more this year since I largely haven’t shot anything in a good year or more. But then that goes to the issue of not wanting to use up what ammunition we have knowing that we can’t easily get more of it.

A local gun shop is showing their new shipment of 50,000 rounds 5.56 which is already on sale (normally, they wait and put all ammo on sale on Saturday mornings) and even available for up to 10 boxes purchased at a time. Meanwhile, the few boxes of .22 are limited to one box per customer. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the shock of .22 being the high demand caliber of ammunition.

I am thinking about pestering Sebastian to fix my Crosman this year so I can shoot air gun again. A quick search of places that sell pellets actually show specials to get a free tin (or multiple free tins!) of pellets with a purchase. That’s a very refreshing change to see. (For what it’s worth, any air gun billed as “tactical” makes me laugh.)

Positive Kids & Shooting Coverage

If you’re looking for some positive press for gun ownership and use in your area, make sure you do your homework on who you pitch at a local paper or other outlet. The same group that published an op-ed mocking the idea that guns can be used to defend families also ran an article promoting 4-H’s program to teach youth how to shoot safely.

In the article, they note that at least two parents who have brought their kids up through the 4-H shooting program at Branch Valley Fish Game & Forestry Association have claimed that their child’s grades improved as a result of the concentration they learned in the shooting sports. I love this quote:

Jordan Bell, 12, of Chalfont, said she signed up when she learned her friends were going through the program.

“I really like it, on Friday I can’t wait for school to end because I know I’m going to come here,” Jordan said. “I like being able to improve — trying to outdo myself.”

That’s pretty much an anti-gun advocate’s worst nightmare. A 12-year-old girl who decided to try shooting because her friends did it and is now so hooked on the sport that she’s going to spend her summer on the range. I feel like someone will need to get some smelling salts up to Joan Peterson if she reads this story.

Even better, the article closes by telling parents how they can get their children involved with the added note that it’s only $3 a week to cover the equipment and ammo expenses.

A Reporter Takes a Shooting Class

A New Haven reporter who had handled guns three times before in very casual ways with no serious instruction decided to actually take a class that would allow him to get a permit to carry. He wrote about his experience, and it turns out that it’s more detailed instruction than most people would get in boating or driving classes:

Despite the relatively short class time [8 hours], a lot of ground was covered. Imagine going to driving school and being taught not only how to drive, but all the parts of an engine and what makes it go. Pear taught us how to use firearms, but also what makes them tick.

He taught the anatomy of a cartridge — bullet, shell and the primer that ignites the gunpowder. We learned the different components of handguns, both revolvers and semiautomatics. We learned the difference between a single-action firearm and a double-action firearm. We learned how to line up the sight of a pistol and how to control breath when aiming.

“We did an entire chapter of what you have to do to fire a shot,” Pear said. “Tons of words — 20 pages of written verbiage, 15 slides in a PowerpPoint presentation — for you to do something mechanical that takes a second to do. We explain every part of that event.”

The article is actually pretty long, and the reporter outlines what it was like shooting multiple calibers and an AR-15 in a private session he had with the instructor after class.

In the end, the reporter weighs the various reasons that men and women young and old took the class with him and debates whether or not to get a carry license. Ultimately, he decides that carrying is not for him, and the best decision is to put the fees for licensing toward buying his first gun to shoot at the range.

Scam Targeting Shooting Instructors

Joshua Wander, NRA Election Volunteer Coordinator in Pittsburgh, recently posted a story on Facebook about how he was a target of a scam targeting shooting instructors. He says that he was contacted by a person claiming to be from Japan who was looking for a firearms class during an upcoming family trip to the United States. They agreed at a price of $450 for the entire family. That is not what Wander received…

He received four money orders for $875.21 each that comes to more than $3,5000. He immediately recognized what was going on.

This is an old scam, when I call to tell them that they sent too much, they will ask me to deposit the checks and send them back the difference. It will take the bank a couple of weeks to figure out that the money orders are fake!

Turns out he’s not the only shooting instructor to be targeted by this classic scam lately. I did a quick search for the topic and found another report.

A few months ago, NSCA (National Sporting Clay Association) informed instructors and clubs of fraudulent activities targeting NSCA Certified Instructors around the country. This week, we have learned of other instructors and clubs who have been targeted with similar schemes.

The instructors and clubs tell us they are being contacted through email by someone who is supposedly setting up a shooting event for a corporate group. Some of the reports say the person claims to be from England.

The person inquires about booking instruction for the group, including guns, ammunition, and other equipment, adding up to thousands of dollars. Some of the emails ask for the instructor’s bank account information so he can wire the payment to the bank, while others ask the instructor to handle some US payments on behalf of the group, with a promise to send a money order.

So, if you’re a shooting instructor with your name and contact information published, be aware of this scam. While it’s a pretty classic case of fraud that most people have heard of, it usually takes other forms like roommate or rental ads, or even purchasing a products. Even if it doesn’t cheat you out of cash, it could cheat you out of your time by having to respond to these criminals in their initial inquiries.

Those Phantom Gun Sales

The anti-gun leaders keep trying to deny that more people are buying guns. Even when they finally concede that maybe there’s a smidgen of evidence from the NICS numbers, they claim that it’s just current gun owners buying more guns because we are all crazy and paranoid.

However, an interesting report came out of the NRA Board Meeting yesterday morning. And, no, it wasn’t just the news we broke on Twitter about the record-setting 73,740 NRA members attending the Annual Meeting & Exhibits. Kayne Robinson, Director of General Operations, told the crowd that they have seen a surge of training demands and had to really focus attention on being able to easily sell materials to the thousands of instructors across the country since the early days of the Obama guns sales surge. If you thought things were tapering off with Obama’s first term coming to a close, don’t be fooled.

So far in 2012, Kayne reported that the NRA sales are running about $265,000 above what they expected at this point in the year.

Yes, people are buying guns. New shooters are getting involved. People are taking the training classes to become safe and proficient shooters. Current shooters are coming out to support all of these new folks. Though the media likes to argue that NRA leaders don’t really have any solid foundation or following, about 1,500 grassroots supports came out to the National Friends of NRA Banquet to raise $450,000 for the NRA Foundation programs which put a particular focus on youth- and women-focused shooting programs. Across the country, local banquets are running 14% ahead of their expected fundraising goals. If most committees are like the one I have served on, there’s statistically only one way to raise more money – have more attendees.

While we were visiting with John Frazer, the Director of Research for ILA, in the NRA booth on the show floor, a gentleman who is active with his local VFW came up to ask about who he could talk to about funding a new shooting league. I gave him the information about how to find his local Friends group to put in a grant request since that’s the type of stuff I know our regional Friends committees love to support.

But remember, our opponents say we’re just making it up. There aren’t any new gun buyers seeking training. No shooters are really looking to become active. Current gun owners aren’t really any more involved with gun groups than they have been before. It’s funny how hard the anti-rights crowd has to work to ignore all of the mounting evidence that we are not only winning, but we plan to continue that winning streak far into the future as long as possible.