By Daniel T. McElrath, NRA Family Insights
1. Carrying a Gun Eventually Ceases To Be a Big Deal
Many people who don’t own guns—for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll call them “non-gunners”—have often never even touched a gun. That fact has imbued the inanimate chunk of metal with mystery and undue fear, fear they think must be universal. They don’t understand that to someone who carries daily, a firearm becomes as common as your keys or wallet. Like your keys or wallet, you keep your carry gun with you at all times, but you are not constantly aware of it. If you need it, it’s there—like many of the cards in your wallet—but beyond keeping it under your secure control you don’t worry about it. You don’t go around thinking “Boy, oh boy, I’m packing a gun!”
2. One-Size-Fits-All Safe Storage Doesn’t Work
While you often hear that the traditional nuclear family is no longer the standard, non-gunners often assume that one-size-fits-all safe storage regulations can prevent gun tragedies. First, they don’t understand that there are two types of such tragedies: An unauthorized person getting hold of a gun and using it negligently or criminally; and a righteous citizen being unable to get to his or her home-defense gun because a particular type of safe storage had rendered it inaccessible.
Non-gunners think that children are the only ones who have to be kept from guns, but really, there are potentially a whole slew of people who must be denied access. Your kids, sure, but also their cousins and friends; untrained adults in the household; house guests; those suffering addiction, dementia or mental illness; or burglars or home invaders. At the same time, you may have need for rapid access to your home-defense guns. Also, you may have a large collection that is rarely accessed, or sporting guns you access frequently for weekly contests. If it’s a particular hunting season, you may need a particular gun several times a week during the season, but not at all during the rest of the year.
Then there’s your living situation. Do you live in an apartment in the city, a single-family home in suburbia or a cabin in the woods? Do you live alone? With an adult roommate? With small children?
Non-gunners rarely consider any of these factors. That’s why safe storage regulations need to allow appropriate, flexible approaches to securing firearms, with the specifics left to the person who understands the situation the best: the lawful gun owner.
3. Warning Shots and Wounding Shots
Almost everything about firearms as seen in movies or on television is wrong. That is not some nefarious plot by the Hollywood elite as much as it is adherence to the principle that everything is subservient to the narrative. If something helps further the narrative, then it doesn’t matter whether or not it is accurate. That’s why you’ll witness shotguns being double-shucked, Glocks having their “hammers” cocked and Uzis firing a thousand rounds from a single magazine. People cluck their tongues when they know something is ridiculously incorrect, but too often assume anything they don’t have specialized knowledge of is being presented with absolute accuracy. People who don’t know guns really think you can just fire a warning shot or “shoot to wound” in a crisis, because that’s what actors do onscreen. They don’t know that in many jurisdictions, warning shots are illegal. And they certainly don’t know that most defensive uses of a gun occur in low light, at great speed and under incredible stress against an adversary who is on drugs, alcohol or adrenaline, or who is suffering from mental illness. The armed citizen isn’t some veteran gunfighter with nerves of steel; he or she is an average person in fear for their lives and/or the lives of their loved ones. They’re lucky to get a telling, center-of-mass hit at all. Expecting someone to “wound” a particular body part under such conditions is just absurd.
4. Not Everyone Who Has Fired A Gun Is A Gun Expert
“Documentarian” Michael Moore earned a marksmanship medal as a child and used that to portray himself as, if not an expert, then at least someone who was once enmeshed in the gun culture. That, alone, was enough for some non-gunners. In truth, having once fired a gun does not make one a gun expert any more than flicking a light switch makes you an electrician. Most cops rarely draw their guns, and thus simply view them as just another tool on their Sam Browne belt. And just because someone was in the military doesn’t mean they were ever anything beyond competent with a firearm. Yet people who oppose the Second Amendment often use such people as “experts,” and non-gunners lack the insight to know the difference. Also, having shot a gun, carried a gun or killed a deer doesn’t make you an expert on Constitutional law.
5. Firearms’ Big Tent
There is no “typical” gun owner/shooter. For some reason, people who don’t shoot think that people who do must be Elmer Fudds or Rambo wannabes. Because it’s not part of their lifestyle, they have a laughable notion of what people who shoot must be like. Most gun owners don’t even hunt. Some have guns for informal target shooting, formal target shooting, action games, clay target games, etc. Some own guns for home protection, but don’t carry. Some carry for personal protection beyond the home. Some are collectors. Some are re-enactors. Of course, many do hunt, but even among them you have dedicated big-game hunters, upland bird hunters, waterfowlers, small-game hunters, varminters, etc. Some people participate in multiple disciplines, but many do not. And, of course, many gun owners simply inherited firearms and thus became gun owners though they rarely, if ever, actually shoot.
How can we expect understanding from those who don’t even know who we are? We can’t. That’s why it’s important to continually serve as staunch—but respectful—ambassadors for gun owners. Often, the one thing that stops someone from morphing from being a non-gunner to being an anti-gunner is a friendly invitation to a range.
Thanks to the NRA Family Insights team. Take a minute and check out their site – click here.