My activism concept:


Slappy McGee
April 15, 2009, 03:01 PM
Hi All,

After a somewhat frustrating debate with a good (and highly intelligent) friend that ended in the old anti standby: "but you don't really need and AK-47" I got to thinking about an actionable, grassroots and apolitical way to change attitudes about firearms. Voting and writing letters is frustrating, and it troubles me that people are quick to want to regulate something they have never experienced first hand. I also think the political organizations for and against are so extreme that one feels like they must pick a side and that either is rife with fanatics. Looking for something that might help combat this situation and be within the realm of action, I came up with

The 10,000ft. view of the concept is to have people with shooting experience sign up on the site. Minimal information will be required, basically just an email address, zip code and commitment to be safe and be a good host. People interested in learning to shoot can sign up and "request a shoot." The site will then match the prospective shooter and newbie based on zip code. If the shooter agrees, email address are dispensed and the two can connect and the "newbie" can be introduced to shooting.

Both sides must commit to following the 3 "commandments" of gun safety, and to no political discussions (i.e. no talk of sheeple, cold dead hands, nobama, etc.). There will be no charge, save for the shooter asking for reimbursement of range fees and ammo if they want, or just asking the newbie to "pay it forward." There will be a feedback mechanism to weed out the "bad apples" on the host side.

At a minimum, if we can take away some of the mystique of guns, and show people that you don't turn into a maniacal killing machine by virtue of firing a few rounds, we're ahead of the game and folks that want to villainize guns and gun owners will have a much harder time. If we get some more people into shooting, we have some new friends.

So what do y'all think?

At this stage I've "parked" the domain, and if this looks to have legs I'll start wrangling some designers and coders to make the technical side of the game work.

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April 15, 2009, 03:07 PM
that sounds like a great idea!

isn't the issue getting people to take that first step though? it is not logical to fear guns, as they are an inanimate object, but people do. if they are willing to go shooting then they have already overcome the illogical part of the equation.

All in all though I think this is an excellent idea!

April 15, 2009, 03:21 PM
Good idea Slappy.

April 15, 2009, 03:29 PM
Better then ""

I'm curious now, I wonder if anti's have their own forums.

April 15, 2009, 03:56 PM
That really is a good idea.

Even if it does not absolutely change their core beliefs, it will at least show them WHY people want to go shooting and get them to experience a gun "in real life" and not as an abstract killing machine. Rather they should be able to tell that yes, a gun is a tool and is not in itself inhearnetly (can't spell today!) dangerous or evil. It is better to have people that may still disagree with you but at least they would be much more open to discussion and comprimise. Because it really is a lot harder to justify an AK to an anti than a CCW, a home defense shotgun or pistol, or a hunting rifle.

Gotta show 'em the fun factor in person!

Slappy McGee
April 15, 2009, 03:59 PM
I think true anti's will be a lost cause, but I think there's a "silent majority" (to borrow a loaded phrase) that believes guns are generally OK, but primarily for "sporting" purposes. These folks have never handled a firearm so they'll buy into things like "high-powered assault weapons" and "fired a hail of bullets from his automatic handgun." They also have a sneaking suspicion gun owners are a bit "different."

These folks also aren't interested enough to go to a gun store by themselves or take a formal class, so this concept offers a middle ground. For the newbie it's a low-risk, low-commitment way to be introduced to firearms and satisfy your curiosity. Hopefully they'll see gun owners are normal people, highly concerned about safety, and not the stereotypical, cammo-wearing goofball. I also think conveying a sense that firearms are not a "republican" or "conservative" issue will help.

I'm hoping the mean result will be that when this person next hears about some lunatic "spraying rounds from his Glock 17 killing machine" they'll say "Hey, the nice guy/gal who took me to the range had me fire some glock or another and it was fine. Maybe it's not the gun's fault afterall..."

April 15, 2009, 04:29 PM
Honestly, this is pretty brilliant. Many gun owners - myself included - often say that one of the best things any of us can do for the ______ (right, sport, county - fill in the blank) is to expose people who perhaps have never held, let alone fired, a gun before to a couple hours of fun on the firing line (after appropriate safety instruction of the uninitiated).

A way to take this process, and see that it happens more often by organizing/"advertising" it is all the better.

My only suggestion would be to break up the instructors/volunteers by experience level. I feel confident in my abilities to teach anyone safe gun handling, but I would never put myself forward as an instructor for marksmanship purposes (heading to an Appleseed in a couple of weeks to at least begin fixing this).

I'm sure you'd get a number of people who haven't tried shooting because they don't have anyone - or don't know they have someone - to go with. Some attitudes at shops and ranges to total newcomers are also potential deterrents.

I myself had never shot a gun in my life when I was a High School Freshman and announced to my dad how unacceptable and silly it was that we, as free men who wanted to stay that way, were unarmed. However, I had the immense luxury of avoiding a public school & mass media indoctrination. I don't know if many current 15 year olds would say or do the same thing I did back then, simply by reason of what they have been exposed to.

Hungry Seagull
April 15, 2009, 04:48 PM
I was thinking what it would take for a range to open doors for a happy hour, maybe a few guns and some boxes of small ammo for a hour of free time.

Publish it in the local paper or advertise it. Schedule each lane maybe.. 10 minutes and 20 rounds for everyone that comes in.

The lost revenue in ammo, range fees etc will be offset by a certain percentage who discover that they can actually shoot something and GASP!!! LIKE IT!!!

They will be back. And probably bring others.

Sort of a open house without much in the way except a simple non threatening waiver, good range officers and a strict account of 20 bullets, gun and 10 minutes each person.

All free. But with each lane covered by volunteer local shooters ensuring at least the rules of basic safety is taught...

It would be rather pricey and might bring in undesirable elements or minors etc and I think a bit of thought needs to be given to that.

April 15, 2009, 04:51 PM
I think its a great idea. I'd be game for taking some people to my local range with my firearms. Give them a few options -shotgun-rifle(lever and bolt)-handguns(single action and semi). Let me know if you get it up and runnin.

April 15, 2009, 04:55 PM
You'd have problems I think with meeting up with Weirdo's honestly. Like it or not... The more right wing guys out there can be a little weird.

April 15, 2009, 04:57 PM
Signed up already. I'd love to educate more.

April 15, 2009, 05:12 PM
Awesome idea. I'm also signed up.

April 15, 2009, 05:19 PM
I'm in.

The site should also have a place where local ranges can sign up if they agree to the terms and get traffic to their web sites. We have five NRA Certified Instructors, including myself.

The Freeholder
April 15, 2009, 10:28 PM
It's a great idea, and I do mean that sincerely. If we'd had the Internet 50 years ago and did this, we might not find ourselves in the fix we're in now.


Last week at my range's meeting, we discussed a scenario very like this. A local FFL was asking if we would be willing to open our range (private, members only) for a few hours to each person he sells a gun to. It helps him out and might let us recruit a few new members, while letting a new gun owner get their feet wet. Everyone loved it.

Except when we started talking through the details. They have to be escorted on our range--it's in the bylaws. Who is going to have the time, especially given the volume of gun sales these days? I work for a living, as do most folks, and don't have that much spare time. Realize that if it takes off, your requests to be taken shooting may well exceed your supply of volunteers, leading to some very hard feelings.

Who is going to teach? We have 20+ members who are NRA pistol certified, and about a dozen each for rifle and shotgun. From a legal standpoint, we are defensible teachers under our range's insurance policy. Those who aren't certified...aren't.

Some of us who are certified have elected, for various reasons, not to teach classes. I'm one; my reasons are many. First, according to our instructor, the NRA has a habit of pulling your cert for any complaint, and you have to prove your innocence. He had just went through that little trial.

Second, for liability reasons, you keep copies of everything--all the student tests and so on--forever. I have no desire for or room to devote to a big file cabinet full of paper.

Third, also for liability reasons, you need liability insurance. Just in case. Joe might take your course and then shoot someone in "self defense". Only it's a bad shoot--Joe misapplied the law. Even though the NRA course outline for basic pistol doesn't cover such things, Joe can point at you and say you taught him this, trying to drag you into it to save his sorry behind.

Fourth, you have to use the NRA material to teach, each person gets a set and they are costly.

I understand that you aren't talking about teaching the NRA class, but all the liability stuff applies, plus you're taking someone you don't know from Adam and putting a gun in their hand. A signed waiver with the best written "hold harmless" clauses in the world will only go so far in court should problems occur (about as far as you money goes to pay a lawyer to defend it and you).

I have taken people shooting, take people shooting and will continue to take people shooting. However, I restrict it to folks I know at least moderately well, and even then there is a window that the liability issue could crawl through that still concerns me, given our litigious society.

Sorry, but I won't do this for my range, and I would most definately not do it like this. I don't know how, but there has to be a way that doesn't open me up to virtually unlimited legal liability to get me to take part.

Hungry Seagull
April 15, 2009, 10:40 PM
Oh man. It had to be said. Great post!

Now I feel such an idiot.

Ach, I think about the shops in my state totally flooded with new gun people buying guns by the dozens for weeks.

I think there is sufficient interest already, dontcha?

April 15, 2009, 11:04 PM
My two cents: I know two antis who have explicitly said to me that they are antis because they don't like the idea of armed fellow citizens. Breaking this attitude by taking these guys to the range sounds nice, but the downside risk of starting petty tyrants like them on the road to firearms proficiency vastly outweighs any possible benefit in my mind.

Hungry Seagull
April 15, 2009, 11:07 PM
Tyrants. Tyrants of what?

Nothing more than closing ears and minds yelling lalalala while instructor hammers basic gun safety into thier heads.

I think they are rulers of thier own worlds from your description and should not be inside a range.

But who am I to say? We have lost some people inside a range after a few got in with a gun and a bad purpose.

April 15, 2009, 11:49 PM
I like this idea. I have turned a few "anti's" into gun owners over the years by taking them out for a day at the range. Amazing to see the smile on their face. And then the smile on my face the day the want me to go gun shopping with them.

April 16, 2009, 12:10 AM
Tyrants. Tyrants of what?

That's my point. Tyranny is a mindset. In their world, there's nothing wrong with banding together to deprive law-abiding fellow citizens of RKBA. Are they like this because they have something against guns? Or, do they oppose RKBA because they have a compelling need to coerce others?

They can arm themselves if they wish--lording it over others is their game, not mine. But there is no way I would ever do anything to help them arm.

April 16, 2009, 09:52 AM
I think it's a great idea. I became a gun owner and much more of an advocate for 2nd ammendment rights after a friend took me to the range.

No Offense, Freeholder, but I have to take issue with your "Devils advocate" position. There is no need to have an NRA ceretification to take a friend to the range. And there is no real reason to think that if you did take someone to the range that you would be in any way responsible for a crime committed by them afterwards. You're not calling yourself a self defense instructor or a safety instructor, just someone who will take your new friend to the range. Keep it simple, don't make them load or unload the gun, set everything up so that all they have to do is step up to the stall, pick up the gun,shoot and set it back down. Tell them not to point the gun anywhere but downrange and treat the gun as if it were loaded.

I remember the first time my friend took me to the range, he loaded the gun and set it down on the table in the stall. After I'd shot it, I put it down and stepped back, and let him do all of the loading and unloading. It was a very low stress introduction for me, and I had a great time. You're not teaching a combat handgun course, you're just giving someone a chance to shoot who might not otherwise have that opportunity.

I'd be totally onboard with this if I still lived in the city. I think getting your friends to the range is the best way to get more pro-RKBA in the world.

Slappy McGee
April 16, 2009, 11:51 AM

I agree with you to the extent that it would be naive to ignore the potential legal aspects of the site, and I plan on getting some professional advice before "going live." One thing I plan to emphasize on the site is that this is NOT firearms "training" and participants are NOT instructors. This is not any kind of marksmanship, defense, legal or any other "training," rather a very basic "point it that way, pull the bang switch and have some fun" scenario. There is a legal risk to involvement, but at this point, I risk litigation every time I wake up in the morning.

I plan to have some video with the three rules for safe gun handling, a basic explanation of the parts of a firearm (not much beyond muzzle and trigger), and some PDFs for participants and hosts that again emphasize the three rules and provide some guidance on what a shoot should consist of. Participants will be required to watch and read the 3 rules, and a 10-15 minute review of them will be encouraged before entering the range, where either party can "abort mission" if they feel the least bit uncomfortable. I'm hoping a feedback mechanism (think eBay) will eventually weed out the guys that show up with a "Guns don't kill people I kill people" T-shirt and desert eagle, although there is certainly a risk that some bad apples will forever turn (a hopefully small) percentage of participants into firearms haters for the rest of their lives.

There will be emphasis placed on the fact that this is an "intro," and if you want more information, and before considering purchasing your own firearm, NRA-recognized training is highly recommended if not mandatory. I'm hoping this is the equivalent of a trip to the Putt Putt with a buddy inspiring an interest in Golf, versus 6 hours of lessons with the local golf pro.

I've heard of proposals for a range/gun store "happy hour" before, but the problem I see for the newbie is it requires a trip to a range or gun store at their own individual prompting and execution. I remember my first trip many moons ago being a fairly intimidating experience and expecting someone to do this solo seems to be a bridge too far. I want TakeMeShooting to be as low effort and low on the intimidation factor as possible for the newbie.

I also want to strive to make this effort completely apolitical. When someone new to shooting walks into a gun shop and sees some anti <insert political figure here> "propaganda" or overhears a diatribe about same, gun owners look one-dimensional and a bit silly. I think once you get "the bug" you might get into the more activist side of the issue as you see how ineffective some laws and proposals are, but I strongly feel that should come towards the end of the road rather than be what a new shooter is immediately exposed to.

I do appreciate the suggestions so keep them coming.

April 16, 2009, 02:33 PM

Your program already exists. It is the Appleseed Project

Over 350 events for 2009, and near 800 for 2010, well established and nearly universally available. About 10,000-12,000 people going through the program in 2009, with about 2000 participating on the Weekend of April 18-19 alone.

The program could use your help, for sure.

Being scared about this or that (liability, time donations, political concerns) are all devices to keep real Americans from stepping up to be the Real Americans that they are. It is all designed to keep you all sitting on your hands at home, all the while watching (and complaining) about your nation being taken away from you.......

The Founders told us all, it is our nation, if we can keep it. This implies that we have to get off the couch, take some very insignificant risks (compared to what they and many generations after them have taken) to retain our nation.

The uniquely American "Can Do" attitude has been replaced with the "let me list all the reason why I can't" attitude. The first is uniquely and traditionally American, the other.......well, it leads to servitude.

April 16, 2009, 02:45 PM
I think it's a great idea, but the real problem is going to be reaching out to the antis and making them actually want to try and shoot. You'll have an untold number of volunteer instructors, but I think it will be difficult to attract the students.

Slappy McGee
April 16, 2009, 03:03 PM

I'm aware of Appleseed and think it's quite different than what I want to accomplish. Appleseed wants to create marksmen and has a strong political component. It also requires a more extensive time and monetary commitment, and I think Appleseed targets people that are already into firearms to a large extent. If you have never handled a firearm before, I think you would be in way over your head at an appleseed event.

Take my wife as an example. Been around guns much of her life but never handled one. She'd come with me to the range for an afternoon, but certainly not sign up for an appleseed as her first exposure to handling a firearm.

Some people have mentioned targeting people who are strong "antis," and that's not my intent either. I think there is a vast group of people who are mildly anti-gun by default. They've never handled a firearm, and they've never thought about firearms aside from what they've seen in the movies and media. Guns are dangerous to these people, and perhaps "evil" based on the negative press that comes out when something malicious is done with a firearm. These people have never been around guns for lack of opportunity, not strong opposition. I want them to have that opportunity with little time, money or "intellectual" cost, and hopefully a few of these things happen:

1) They know how to safely handle a firearm. I don't mean open the action, inspect the chamber, and field strip a Glock in 6.8 seconds, but the real obvious stuff we take for granted that might avoid an accident: i.e. don't point it at your buddy or foot and pull the trigger because that's what some dimwit actor does in a movie.

2) They see a firearm is a mechanical device, nothing more, nothing less. Sure it's dangerous in the wrong hands, but the wrong hands are the problem, not the firearm itself.

3) They interact with someone generally normal, and come away feeling that people with firearms, even mean and nasty looking ones, are not actually "mentally defective" as the good Mrs. Feinstein might have them otherwise believe.

I don't think anyone that does this will be on THR the next day discussing whether a Colt or DPMS AR is preferable for the Blackwater course they signed up for, but they might have their "BS detector" enhanced a bit next time some talking head suggests guns and their owners are evil and nasty. Maybe some percentage will go on to buy a firearm and find the political side to the 2A debate, and become a wild supporter, but that's a small percentage.

I also don't believe Sarah Brady, Teddy Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi and their ilk will be beating down my door to sign up. People that have already made up their minds that guns are evil would not waste their time or mine and are essentially a lost cause.

April 16, 2009, 09:05 PM
True antis-forget it--like my US Senators.

The as mentioned, silent majority-ask em, several times, if necessary.
ALL clubs need to invite local and nat politicians to "Range Day" or something like that. Invite them to shoot or make em say NO. Invite at least 3 months and give em a couple choices, cause all cant attend on the same day. ALSO, invite the media..BUT I have heard it said, we need to put someone onto each media person attending and have an official 'spokesperson' for the media.

Hungry Seagull
April 16, 2009, 10:35 PM
Pull up a tank or some big gun on a base somewhere and invite congress to show up and fire off a few rounds.

Work down until they are banging away with small arms.

Wait until the smiles all around and then usher em all back to work in DC.

April 17, 2009, 02:48 PM
I'd sign up for this.

We don't have members only ranges around here, so no problem there.

As for "isn't there already enough interest?" I say no way, that's like saying you have to many guns! :D

I have suggestions as well like for example have a check sheet and perhaps other material for the volunteer to print out and take with him to fill out at the range. Sort of a workbook for him and one for the new shooter to take home.

This program will not work on many levels and I agree with a lot of the comments, but it will work on many other levels as well. It is a website which makes it not just a national program, but a world program. It won't apply to certain areas, but it will apply to others just fine.

I am excited and can't wait to get my first new shooter to share the joy of one of my favorite hobbies with. I hope she's a cute blond...:evil:

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