Most people involved in the firearms community were born into it.
The vast majority of shooters have brothers, uncles and grandparents
that own guns and are eager to pass their legacy on to the next
generation. This means that it?s most likely that a shooter will
already have a huge storehouse of facts, figures and gun lore inside
It is very difficult for experienced shooters to understand the
mindset of those who are just beginning to explore this hobby of ours.
What is obvious or self evident to us is arcane and obscure to the
beginner. This is a problem when introducing someone to the shooting
for sure. I'm going to use it as a springboard to talk
about something else that I've known for a while, but haven't said much
about here. It's something that I first realized while reading Unintended Consequences
, though Ross does not address it directly. Quite simply, there is a culture
that exists around firearms (and also hunting), and that culture is a repository of knowledge and skill that is finite
Efforts at gun control are not solely aimed at controlling the
inanimate objects we call firearms, they are aimed at controlling --
and eventually, destroying -- a culture.
And in a large part, it's working. There are millions of gun
owners but few of them are politically active regarding their gun
rights. Guns are generally not shown in public because they tend
to panic people who aren't part of that culture. People who move
from the country to the city often leave their guns behind, drifting
away from the recreational uses that they once enjoyed because it
becomes too much time and trouble to shoot regularly. Even while
they lose on the political front, the anti-gun media continues to press
the cultural battle.
We have to bring new people into the culture, and keep those who join
interested. If we do not do that, if we cannot do that, we will lose
I'm a case in point.
I was not born a member of the gun culture.
In fact, I was born in a city which has a near-complete ban on
firearms, in a gun-free home. No one I knew owned firearms (or at
least admitted to owning firearms) for the entirety of my
childhood. Though my family moved to a less restrictive city
eventually, the no-guns rule remained in place. It didn't bother
me much, it just wasn't something I thought about much as a kid.
Leaving the restrictive laws of my birthplace aside, it should be
surprising that I was raised in a gun-free home, particularly after my
family moved. My father and grandfather both served in the
military; my mother was born and raised on a farm in the country, and
her family owned several firearms. (I did not learn of this until
after they had been sold with the estate.) Even my last name is a
direct reference to an activity normally performed with a firearm.
Yet throughout my childhood and teenage years, firearms were quietly
but firmly prohibited. My mother did not like them; my father did
not like them enough to make it an issue.
I was drawn into the gun culture through politics. I saw that
firearms and firearms rights were being ceaselessly attacked, despite
their obvious utility for self-defense and the explicit protection of
the 2nd Amendment. I decided to dedicate a large part of my time
and energy to protecting those rights in particular, which is how I
ended up running this blog.
It was not easy to get here. In some ways, I'm still not
"here". I own firearms; I shoot them when I have time. I've
done a lot of research, mostly on the law, but also on firearms in
general. But there are a lot of things that I don't know as well
as I would like, and others that I know nothing about at all. For
example, I've never been hunting; no one in my circle of friends hunts,
and I don't even really know where to start looking. I don't know
if I'd like it, though I would like the chance to find out. (I'm
still working on that one).
I have no illusions regarding the willingness of the general public to
put in the same amount of time and effort it has taken to bootstrap
myself into a position of even occasionally patchy knowledge about the
The bottom line: we need better outreach. Don't just hand a new
recruit a gun and let him try it for a day at the range... welcome him
or her into the culture. Share your out-of-the-way shooting spots
and your hunting grounds. Invite people to participate once they
show an interest. There are a lot of people out there who don't
even know what they are missing.