Go, then, and teach them to shoot (LONG)


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Control Group
March 25, 2005, 12:38 PM
Anyone who read my first few posts on THR is well aware that I was a complete novice regarding firearms a few months ago. I'm proud to say this is no longer true - I'm not a complete novice anymore. The road from there to here is about a thousand rounds long, and of no real interest to anyone but me (stories about stuff that happened on the range are the ultimate "you had to be there" anecdotes). What might be of some note, however, is what a subtly profound change taking up The Hobby has made in me.

In part, I suppose, this is indicative of how all-pervasive our modern anti-gun culture is. For most of my life (I say from the oh-so-lofty age of 27... :rolleyes: ), guns were something other people used. Because of the way I was raised, and the way I thought about politics and life and whatnot, I was always vaguely pro-RKBA. The key word is "vaguely." For example, as long as you still could buy guns, I didn't see any problems with needing to register them. After all, we register vehicles, right? I didn't see any problems with needing a license to own them, waiting periods to get them, limits on which ones you could purchase, so on and so forth. It was just "common sense."

Bear in mind that I've been at least mildly libertarian since mid-high school, and solidly conservative since before then. I can only imagine what opinions high schoolers and college students form if they come from a more liberal/left starting position. This is key to the antis' strategy - but I digress.

Deciding to actually purchase a gun was a very strange transition. In some ways, it felt like I was joining an alien subculture, complete with arcane knowledge kept by a shadowy priesthood who held services behind glass counters in well-fortified yet otherwise unremarkable small brick buildings tucked away in the blue-collar areas of the city. These were specialists, experts almost unapproachable by the uninitiated. Few things I've done have been as intimidating as walking into a gun store for the first time. Knowing that there were protocols and traditions to be followed, that there was a vast lore of understanding simply taken for granted by everyone in the store - except, of course, myself. As I've mentioned elsewhere, it really drove home how some people must feel when they go to a mechanic for car repair, or have problems with their PC (I work systems support, so this was particularly relevant to me).

Once I owned a gun (a Steyr M9, which meant that I actually did join a sort of cult, albeit inadvertently ;)), however, and began looking for places to shoot it, and ammunition to run through it, and supplies to clean it, and so forth, I developed a whole new perspective. "Cognitive dissonance" is the term I learned in my mandatory marketing class, and it fits perfectly here. Going to buy ammunition in Wal-Mart, or a rifle in Dunham's (a Mosin M44...when the bug bit me, it bit hard) was jarring. Remember, guns previously had been something that others used, something that normal people don't have anything to do with. So supporting them and buying them in stores that normal people shop in was eye-opening.

The turnaround from "why would Wal-Mart carry guns" to "why wouldn't Wal-Mart carry guns" was a fairly quick one. They say there's no one as fanatical as a convert, and I'm the proof in the pudding. I've never been politically active outside the voting booth, but over the last few months I've joined the NRA, donated in the name of Wisconsin concealed carry, and written three letters to various of my representatives in local and national government. I've found myself spouting livid pro-2a rhetoric to everyone I know any time a gun-related story or scene appears on the news or in a movie. Quite a change from my previous, "well that sounds reasonable" position, accepting of compromise.

And that's the point, the key to the antis' strategy to which I alluded earlier. They always propose measures that sound reasonable, that are intuitively appealing, and couch them in terms that make them seem like there's no real drawback. It's why people can be so immune to statistics which out-and-out show anti claims to be false, and anti goals to have no real relation to individual safety. It's because there's a mental undercurrent of "well, why not?" Sure, gun control may not be very effective, but it's not like it's hurting anything, and if it saves the life of just one child...

Having it applied to you, however, changes everything. Once you realize that you can't walk out of the store with the item you just paid $300 for because you're not to be trusted (for two days, at least), you can't help but wake up. Once the salesperson takes your form and disappears into the back to check with mysterious "officials" who can deny you the purchase for no reason you know, you can't help but re-evaluate. Once you realize that this item you now own, which you use perfectly safely for recreational purposes, is something you always have to be mildly paranoid about being "caught" with, you can't help but take a step back, and wonder why things are the way they are.

Of course, there's a question of why I came into the whole thing believing that guns were something only for other people, and I think it's fairly obvious. Our media, our culture, our society, all conspire to indoctrinate you as you grow up that the police deserve guns, but the people don't. That only criminals would want to own a handgun. That "you don't need <x> to hunt." It's so pervasive that it becomes part of your outlook without you ever realizing it's happened until something snaps you out of it. For the moment, however, there's nothing to be done about this. It's part and parcel of the reversal American culture has undergone, from a society in which you're allowed to do anything you want unless it's explicitly forbidden, to one in which you can't do anything at all unless it's explicitly allowed. Social inertia on this scale is impossible to reverse quickly.

But intellectual inertia on the individual scale is trivial to reverse quickly: make them one of us. Voting is good, but you're one vote against millions. Writing your representatives is good, but you're one voice against the shouting mob. Donating to pro-gun groups is good, but it doesn't multiply our voice, it only strengthens it. Instead, convert the people you know. Take them to a range, donate the use of your weapons and your gear. Do you run or belong to a gun club? Help sponsor events catering to novices, donate a gun for a day, buy some ammo to give newbies. Do you own or manage a gun store? Don't wait for them to come to you, entice people to come in and give it a shot (pun intended). Invasive and pervasive marketing has worked for the antis for decades, maybe the same techniques can be used by our side.

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Johnnybgood
March 25, 2005, 12:55 PM
The shouting mob is as big as the media and the Left wing Liberals would have us believe. I also believe that since 9/11 their ranks have gotten a lot slimmer. The only reason they seem like a shouting mob is that so many of them are in office and the media plays up to them. Just my opinion.
I too grew up vaguley aware of guns. My dad had a couple, my grandparents, aunts and uncles had them and hunted regularly, but I was not introduced to them until I got married (at age 42). My wife likes to say her family has corrupted me. They are a wonderfull family of farmers here in the midwest.
Since marrying into the family mow have enough that my gun locker is in need of an addition and my ammo locker as well. What a magnificent obsession.

Preacherman
March 25, 2005, 02:05 PM
In some ways, it felt like I was joining an alien subculture, complete with arcane knowledge kept by a shadowy priesthood
Someone called my name?

:evil:

Molon Labe
March 25, 2005, 02:26 PM
Excellent post, and welcome to the gun culture. I must, however, take exception to the following:
It's part and parcel of the reversal American culture has undergone, from a society in which you're allowed to do anything you want unless it's explicitly forbidden, to one in which you can't do anything at all unless it's explicitly allowed.Last I checked the former was still in place, i.e. you can do anything you want unless it's illegal.

Control Group
March 25, 2005, 02:41 PM
Johnnybgood: I think and hope you're probably right. But the problem is that by telling people the shouting mob is overwhelming, they tend to increase the size of the shouting mob in actuality. When they can arrange for every child to grow up with a view of guns as mysterious dangerous things that are never really for them to use, they have arranged for children to grow up with the anti point of view as sort of a "default setting." It takes positive effort to reverse it. I don't want to sound like I'm against being that voice against the mob, because you're right - enough voices against the mob, and you don't have a mob anymore. But I also think that just as much effort should be put into small-scale conversion efforts to undo the damage done by society as a whole. There's no redeeming Sarah Brady, but there are probably countless people like I was, sort of ambiguously anti without even knowing it, much less knowing why.

Preacherman: Sure did...if you want to man the pulpit, I'll start passing the collection plate...

Molon Labe: legally, you're absolutely right. No one's managed to change the Constitution enough to make that not the case. Nonetheless, the fact that so many people actually believe that all guns have to be registered, or that you need some kind of permit to own one, etc., leads me to believe that culturally, we're a lot closer to an "alles verboten" society than we should be. I mean, when we hear about some nutjob shooting up a mall or a post office or somesuch, what's the first question everyone seems to ask? "Where did he get that gun?" It's the wrong question. It indicates surprise that he should have one, that someone "let" him get a gun. Notice that no one asks "where did he get that car?" when someone drives over a sidewalk full of people.

EghtySx
March 25, 2005, 02:54 PM
Excellent post, and welcome to the gun culture. I must, however, take exception to the following:

Quote:
It's part and parcel of the reversal American culture has undergone, from a society in which you're allowed to do anything you want unless it's explicitly forbidden, to one in which you can't do anything at all unless it's explicitly allowed.

Last I checked the former was still in place, i.e. you can do anything you want unless it's illegal.

I don't think thats the feeling most people get though, especially in reguards to guns. The laws are getting so numerous and complex that we now find ourselves asking each other about the legality of things for fear of being prosecuted for something done with no malice or ill intent whatsoever.

Its the pervasive feeling that actions must be "checked out" for legality beforehand. Its the conditioning, the setting the mood for further restrictions on liberties.

Sam Adams
March 25, 2005, 02:55 PM
Once you realize that you can't walk out of the store with the item you just paid $300 for because you're not to be trusted (for two days, at least), you can't help but wake up.

Especially when you already own guns - what are you going to do, wait for a new gun to go on a shooting spree, or use what you have?

Anyway, welcome to The Club. I joined at age 27 or 28, having always been pro-gun (mostly because I am Jewish, and I wanted/want to be armed "just in case"). Also, as time went on, I have become less of a statist 'hole. I used to be 110% in favor of "the law," no matter what it was - until the assinine 55 MPH limit came about. Owning a '69 GTO at the time, I was really frustrated by it, especially after the "fuel crisis" passed and then the safety Nazis got involved. Anyhow, I went to get a couple guns in the PRNJ, and received the same rude awakening as you did....now, 15 years later, I am living in America (Texas), having fled the PRNJ. I have many guns and a carry license, and I'm much better informed about my guns, guns in general, and the gun rights "thing." You'll get there, it'll just take time (and you'll have a literal and figurative blast along the way).

One word of advice: teach your kids. Let them grow up as part of the gun culture, unlike the 2 of us. I will be teaching mine, and my 3 1/2 year old currently helps me reload (well, not really, but she helps sorting and cleaning brass).

Control Group
March 25, 2005, 02:55 PM
Exactly, EghtySx - you said exactly what I was getting at, only you said it more concisely and clearly.

Standing Wolf
March 25, 2005, 09:59 PM
...that's the point, the key to the antis' strategy to which I alluded earlier. They always propose measures that sound reasonable, that are intuitively appealing, and couch them in terms that make them seem like there's no real drawback.

Only if the audience is ignorant of American history, law, culture, and common sense.

Mulliga
March 25, 2005, 11:37 PM
w00t - good post.

Reminds me of when I first tried to buy a gun (at the tender age of 18). I walked into the local army surplus store, picked out a North American Arms .22 revolver, and the clerk started me in on the 4473. When I showed her my ID, she said, "You're under 21 - I can't sell you this handgun."

D'oh! An honest mistake, I suppose.

After a long, sobering night of looking up the history of gun control in America on the internet, I made the switch, as it were...:D

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