Good advice for experienced shooters...

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 his head.

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 sports.

Good advice 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 gun culture. 

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.

This entry was published Thu Oct 27 00:27:24 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2005-10-27 00:27:24.0. [Tweet]

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