If It Gets Them Out to the Range It’s a Good Thing
While the fixation on cosmetic features has hurt the gun rights movement, it can also help it.
Potential new firearms owners who come from a background without an avid gun culture are most likely exposed to mass media far more often than actual firearms and their owners. It is because of this, some potential new owners may gravitate toward firearms that are perhaps more theatrical than practical.
Seasoned owners may oppose this and that could be a mistake.
As others judge us based on the cosmetic features of our firearms, to judge others for similar reasons seems hypocritical. Beyond that, such alienation could create a social barrier that results in new owners not seeking proper instruction, or enough of it. Any risk to the firearms community of losing new members sets the stage for further struggles in the gun rights movement.
I know from personal experience, the jokes and teasing that comes along with judging the appearance of a firearm can do a lot to limit a novice’s involvement, at least at the initial stages. I was raised anti-gun. It was a very difficult journey to owning my first firearm.
It was difficult for a variety of social reasons, some of the very reasons we are discussing here. I liked the Beretta CX4 Storm, and even now I cannot deny it has a spacey appearance. I was ridiculed for it, and other’s opposition to the choice became a subtle barrier between me and the firearm’s community.
Perhaps, aesthetics are the only aspect of firearms a novice can understand.
I certainly did not grasp how firearms worked, why people owned them, or what purposes they served their owners. I was curious to learn, however, and that showed an effort towards understanding. Why was that desire to understand not encouraged?
In fact, the negative reactions I encountered along the way put doubts in my mind, and made me hesitate on my first purchase. Months went by before that changed when a new friend gave a different reaction. While he did say that he would have preferred I purchase a practical 22 rifle to get started with, he felt that the recoil of the CX4 Storm would be manageable and the ammo inexpensive at the time. As long as I let him educate me on the safety precautions involved in ownership he figured, why not?
He saw the bigger picture, and the importance of introducing new shooters to the firearms community. When he saw that there were no safety concerns or chances that an overpowered firearm might ruin my first experience, he let it go. If aesthetics were what piqued my interest, then it was a gateway towards my acceptance of firearms. It needed to be nurtured, not judged.
We are guiltier than we would like to admit.
Many of us are accepting of any safe interest in firearms, however, anyone with an internet connection can witness firsthand how alienating owners can be. Far more frequently than one might think, people are ridiculed for even so much as showing interest in something splattered in a crazy paint job, or boasting an extra shiny finish, and it serves no purpose to owners, or gun rights. When we witness the alienation of people who may be at the delicate infancy stage of their involvement in firearms, we have to ask ourselves, why?
Why ridicule someone at all?
Why put someone in a situation where they feel the need to avoid the firearms community, which could cause them to avoid seeking proper training and regular instruction? Why create friction in a situation that could help further the gun rights movement if handled in a more positive way? Does nickel plating really offend that much?
If they want a wild paint job, or if they think some spacey firearm design is intriguing, why is so much effort being expended to make these individuals feel unwelcome? What does making anyone feel unwelcome do for any movement, let alone the struggle to attain equal rights for gun owners?
Perhaps we worry that a focus on appearance will create a lax attitude towards safety and respect for firearms. This is valid, but there are plenty of people who covet the grade of wood used to make the stock of a more traditional firearm. More importantly, it overlooks the role we each play in this community. When we choose to be involved in our local communities and properly introduce new owners to firearms, we have an opportunity to ensure they understand the safety and respect that comes with them.
Obviously, if this were the majority I would not be involved with firearms. It did take the guidance of a good person to usher me into ownership, though, and it took far too long to get there, in my case. In regards to my friend, I eventually thanked him very enthusiastically. Not just for taking me to my first gun show where I bought my CX4 Storm, not just for taking me to my first trip to the range and ensuring I felt comfortable by putting a strong focus on safety, but for the encouragement, and welcoming attitude towards my initial interest in firearms, for making me feel comfortable enough to enter a new, unfamiliar, and frankly intimidating world. He said a lot in response to my thanks, but one thought stood out for me to this very day.
“Hey, if it gets you out to the range, it’s a good thing.”
Encouraging the new shooter to engage in the safe enjoyment of firearms, preferably guided by an NRA Certified Instructor, is important to the gun rights movement. Getting actively involved in our local communities can usher the novice into a nurturing environment, which is vital at that budding stage. There they can be introduced to a great first experience that can help them see that firearms, when properly handled and respected, are not capable of causing problems, but can be the cause of many great things.
Looking beyond appearances can help ease tensions and encourage new owners to do more than simply purchase a firearm and stick it in a gun safe. It can help to create a solid community that welcomes curiosity and encourages new owners to seek guidance and instruction. Not only does this approach create a safer and more enjoyable experience at our local ranges, it also strengthens the gun rights movement as a whole. New owners are more valuable now than ever before. Regardless of what the firearms they find interesting look like, realize that hey–if it gets them out to the range, it’s a good thing.
We are almost the majority, let’s keep growing.
Thanks for reading,
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