Allow me a brief moment of politics here.
Remember this scene in “Jack Reacher“?
Tom Cruise is beating up the bar thugs: He has one of them (literally) by the short and curlys, and he looks at the last two thugs who are considering joining the fight and says “Really?” Those goons saw what just happened, are seeing their friend writhe around in agony, and WERE EVEN TOLD BEFORE THE FIGHT HAPPENED that this was going to occur, yet they still want to press the attack.
Right now, Red State Americans and Blue State Americans both seem hell-bent on starting Civil War 2.0, and there’s no one on either side asking themselves “Do we really want to do such things?”
Which pretty much guarantees it’s going to happen.
God help us all.
Speaking of the culture war against guns (and I have been speaking about that a lot recently), these are just some of the gun-centric shows have come and gone from basic cable since I starting writing this blog.
Now, there are very good (legal) reasons why at least two of those shows are off the air, and two more relied on the sparkling personality of R. Lee Ermey for their success, but right now, there are exactly ZERO gun-related shows on basic cable. Yes, there are the great shows about guns and how they’re used on places like the Outdoor Channel, Sportsmans Channel and The Pursuit Channel, but those shows are not growing the culture because the audience for those programs is an audience that is already interested in the outdoor life.
We need more outreach programs that show up on channels which don’t rely on hunting programs for the majority of their content. Something like a gunsmith version of “Forged In Fire” is an obvious idea, but that’s just an opening bid. We need more. Let’s get back to the 2010 numbers, and soon.
Your Monday morning dosage of clue, served to you hot and fresh with a side of wake the @$%! up and take someone to the range.
If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.
Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.
When we act like the scary quasi-fascists and use violent phrases to defend our gun rights, people tend to think we’re scary, violent quasi-fascists.
Moreover, talking like crazy, violent quasi-fascists goes against the very idea of being a gun owner. Inside the armed self-defense world, we preach de-escalation, calming words and verbal judo as a way to get out of potentially violent encounters. But, when we are confronted with emotionally-charged words of violence from those who want to negate the idea of armed self defense, we immediately go to the “MOLON LABE!” card and escalate the rhetoric.
Remember what happened in your concealed carry class? Remember all the questions you and your fellow students had about “Well, what if the bad guy is doing X? Can I shoot him then?”. What was the response to 99% of your questions about the escalation of force? Yep, that’s right, it was “Don’t shoot them, it’s a bad idea.”
We know that when we decide to carry a gun on our person, we must, MUST give up our “right” to be angry, because if we escalate the situation, it may go very badly for us. Note that in doing so, though, we are not giving our right to self-defense, we are merely using something other than 124 grain hollow points to accomplish that task. Just as we would only draw a weapon when it’s apparent it’s the only way to survive, we should draw a line in the sand and say “MOLON LABE!” only when, as Massad Ayoob puts it, it is in the gravest extreme.
Have we reach that point yet? I can’t answer that question for you, that is a personal decision. However, just as the answer to 99% of the “Can I shoot him now?” questions in your CCW class were “No,” I think the answer to 99% of the opportunities to escalate the rhetoric, our answer should be “No” as well.
We have other options. We know we need “tools in the toolbox” to defend our lives, so we need more options to defend our rights than just angry words. We need a full-court press to re-take our culture, and that means if we need to smile and take someone shooting, we smile and take someone shooting. If that means we join the NRA, we join the NRA. If that means there’s a TV show out there that treats civilian gun ownership with respect rather than showing it as the source of all evil, we BY GOLLY make that show the #1 show on the network.
I’m the NRA, and I not only vote, but I watch movies and TV shows as well.
I don’t think gun owners fully understand the debt we owe to R. Lee Ermey. With “Mail Call” and a host of other shows, he talked about guns as fun, while being funny.
We need more people like him today who are engaged in the culture and are having FUN while shooting a gun. No matter how much it might make you feel good, yelling at the gun control crowd and threatening Democrats are not fun actions. Gunny Ermey spoke up on politics and paid a price for his words, but he was known mostly for being a tremendous advocate for the military, firearms and an honorable way of life, and he had FUN while doing so.
Rest easy, Gunny. We’ll do our best to pick up the task you left behind.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
Attention, Gun Culture 2.0. If we want to survive and thrive, we need to grow, and that means taking new gun owners to the range. Nothing else is going to work. Not rallies, not donating to the NRA, none of that means ANYTHING if we are not adding people to our cause.
Gun Culture 1.0 is dying because they didn’t spend the time to create entry points beyond “Take your kids hunting,” and the concealed carry / competition community is going to die out as well if we are not constantly bringing new people out to the range.
In a few months, we’ve gone from counting votes in the Senate trying to get CCW reciprocity passed nationwide to fighting for our Second Amendment lives. We’re losing the culture war, and if we think that relying on the same pro-gun messengers and messaging of the past is suddenly somehow going to turn things around for us, we are delusional, and deserve to lose.
Go to a rally. Make yourself feel good about your Second Amendment rights. Then go out share that good news with others.
Otherwise your good feelings don’t mean a damned thing.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says they believe in the 2nd Amendment but does not take someone to the range? Can that belief save their guns? If a brother or sister wants to defend their family, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay safe,” without helping them learn to shoot, what good is that? So also belief in the 2nd Amendment by itself, if it does not include others, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have the 2nd Amendment and I go shoot.” Show me your faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart from going to the range, and I will show you my faith by taking someone shooting. You believe that there is a right to self-defense; you do well. Even the Shannon Watts believes that — and shudders! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith in the right to keep and bear arms apart by itself is useless? Didn’t Jeff Cooper start up Gunsite to train more people as well create The Modern Technique Of The Pistol? You see that faith in the 2nd Amendment was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; *
* I may be spending a few weeks in Purgatory for that last bit, but it’s ok, I like Colorado!
The problem with using the anti-smoking model against gun owners is that the societal benefits of smoking are pretty much zero, but the societal benefits of legal gun ownership are pretty easy to find.
Whenever a honest citizen defends their life with a firearm, there’s a benefit to society. Whenever an armed policeman shows up and saves the lives of high school students, it’s a benefit to society. Whenever an NRA instructor with an AR-15 stops someone from shooting up a church, it’s a benefit to society. When a hunter harvests game and helps out with balancing the environment, it’s a benefit to society.
We need allies. So who should we reach out to? Everybody. Reach out to anyone even remotely related to guns and personal freedom. Vapers and Harley owners. Martial arts studios. Civic groups. Localvores who dig the idea of harvesting free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free meat.
Which is best? All of the above, and more. We need to press the home attack on our rights on all fronts, and then, when we find a tactic that works, we beat it like a rented mule.
This is basic von Clauswitz: You attack the entire front, and when you find a weakness, you turn it into the schwerpunkt and make the entire battle about that one spot. What tactic is going to win the war on guns? We don’t don’t know yet. What’s guaranteed NOT to win, though, is not fighting at all.
I come down on the “pro life” side of the abortion issue*. I realize that is a shocking revelation to you all, knowing that a) I lean conservative and b) I’ve been pretty open about my faith here. However, I hope you’ll overcome your surprise and bear with me here for a sec.. this isn’t going to be a post on the merits/problems of abortion, it’s a post on how the two sides talk (or rather, don’t talk) to each other.
One thing that annoys me is how we Christians prepare ourselves to talk about this issue: We load up on Bible verses which defend our point of view and then are shocked, SHOCKED that they’re not a persuasive argument in the debate with people on the other side of this issue from us who don’t believe in God. Bible verses supporting the pro-life side work GREAT with us evangelicals, but they’re not that useful when debating abortion with an atheist.
Similarly, we gun owners can say “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!!!!” and wrap ourselves around the Constitution, but if we’re debating gun rights with someone who thinks the Constitution is an outdated, antiquated document that has little to no importance to today’s world, those arguments are pretty much useless.
We need to develop good arguments for gun ownership that are based on the principles of the Second Amendment, but don’t quote it directly. People are scared, and they’re scared of what guns can do in the wrong hands. This is a very real and very healthy fear… heck, I have that same fear. Rather than relying on some politician to pass a law that will make the scary things go away (good luck with that…), I chose to do something about it by doing what it takes to not be a victim of violence.
Everyone wants to FEEL safe, the question is, what are you willing to do in order to BE safe? Not someone else’s doing, not a legislator, not gun owners, not the NRA… you. You are, and always will be, your own first responder.
Deal with it.
* Don’t even bother arguing abortion in the comments: I’ll delete your comment right away, because that’s how I roll.
As threatened yesterday, I have a few thoughts on this rather provocative article from
Bitter Sebastian over at Snowflakes In Hell PA Gun Blog.
I spent some time overseas as a missionary, and even though Christians are given a direct commandment to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, very few of us get off our @sses and do something about it.
Is it tough being a grassroots organizer for the NRA? Yep. It’s tough being a missionary, too. Very few people who serve in the field see ANY fruits from their labor, but yet we still go.
Why? Because while there’s a very slim chance we’ll see any success if we go to the mission field, there is a 100% chance we will have no success if we DON’T go.
There’s a step that’s missing there: Getting the grassroots to write their local congresscritter is good, but taking someone shooting is better, because that is how we win. To the best of my knowledge, the NRA has never put out any materials on how to get your friends and neighbors out the range, and that has to change. We need more than just advocates for political action, we need advocates for everything about the shooting sports, from hunting to plinking to whatever. Getting more people into shooting will, by its very nature, get more people into political advocacy for guns.
Where do “Come to Jesus” moments happen? In church. Where do anti-guns find out how much fun it is to shoot? On the range. The NRA (and the NSSF too) need to do a better job encouraging their members to go shooting with a friend, because once people go shooting and find out that guns are fun, we win.
Simple as that.