I posted recently about an excellent post on Smallest Minority in which he pointed out people actually fear gunowners. As a response to a small part of his post, I mentioned that people at my job were not amenable to my offers of range days and I expressed a doubt that taking people shooting will dramatically improve our gun rights. In a comment, Smallest Minority mentions he was not so much talking about improvement as preservation. Other bloggers posted on our two posts. Hell in a Handbasket expressed some agreement with my concern, and PosseIncitatus suggested other ways to approach anti-gun people about a range day.
I want to make sure you all understand that I believe taking people shooting is a good thing. However, we will not reach those whom we need to reach; too many have their minds made up already. Hell in a Handbasket pointed to those who have experienced gun violence in their families, including suicides. Many, like Sarah Brady and Carolyn McCarthy, become anti-gun, anti self defense, and push a “sporting test” (that to be legal, a gun must be useful in a sport that they will determine is legitimate). A probably smaller group of people in this situation become determined to increase gun and self-defense rights. Suzanne Gratia Hupp is a well-known example.
Between these two extremes lies that great mass of people who might be reached. These folks can make or break our gun rights. They are voters, they consume TV news, they read, and anti-gunnies are doing everything in their power to influence them. Gun-grabber propaganda is enhanced by crime stories in Mainstream Media. TV crime stories rarely depict a civilian use of a gun that turns out good.
If these people live in a city, they will have little or no positive contact with guns. After awhile, many become unreachable especially if they are liberal. This group is our biggest threat because they and Congress Critters they elect will simply vote our rights away.
I concede that not all of these people are completely unreachable. Smallest Minority’s post mentioned an excellent story “Guinea Get Your Gun” by Emily Yoffe. She went out shooting on a magazine assignment and enjoyed it. We need to find more of them.
There are people with an inordinate fear of guns who overcome it after they go shooting. We need to reach those whom we can, and celebrate when they discard their fears. Maybe even indulge in Kim du Toit’s patented happy dances (even if I wouldn’t want to witness him doing it, blush). One of the best ways I’ve seen to get new people into gun sports is Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy guns are less “threatening” than black rifles or tactical pistols, Americans have a cultural connection with idealized cowboys, and because people like to have fun.
We must reach people under the age of 25 and younger. Anti-gunnies have taken steps to prevent schools from sponsoring any gun related programs unless a program has an anti-gun message. Gun-owning parents take their children shooting, but that helps perpetuate shooting not protect it. Instead, we must reach out to the larger community and offer open houses, tours of gun clubs, and many other activities.
Sometimes it is actually hard to find a place to shoot. There aren’t enough public shooting facilities. Private clubs are, well, private. For instance, New England’s “Rod and Gun Clubs” require sponsorship from a senior member. So, to join you must already know a gunnie. We need to make membership easier or these clubs will close due to lack of members.
Even if we had plenty of places to take people, many will never make that first step because their minds are closed. For these people, we must use their usually liberal viewpoints against them and convince them that gun ownership is a human right and an individual choice.
They will fight us and yap about our responsibilities to the people killed in gun violence. They will say we should give up our guns for the community’s good. We must point out to them, that we are part of this community too, that we have made our choice, and we will not force them to own guns. We must use the newly favorable climate in Congress, White House, and perhaps the Supreme Court to pass new laws that protect ranges, gun rights, gun makers, and us. These laws will put many impediments in the way of the gun grabbers. They will eventually gain power again and we must make it difficult for them to pass their agenda.