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…and a fun time was had by all.

Our Members’ Council spent yesterday at the Angeles Shooting Ranges  hosting some first time shooters. The really cool thing was that we weren’t the only ones doing this. There were several groups  of first-timers there being introduced to shooting by friends. More specifically, being introduced to shooting black guns. Those iron plates out at the 100m line were getting the snot beat outta them!

Natalie shooting an AR-15

The author’s daughter doing her part to beat up that plate out at 100m

There has been a trend lately by the anti-gun lobby to claim that there are fewer gun owners in the US and that, somehow, the number of people exercising a right determines that right’s importance. Of course, the methods they’ve used to determine gun ownership are far from scientific. They rely mostly on polling. But ask yourself: If some random stranger called you on the phone and started asking about the number of guns you own, would you give truthful answers? Many gun owners will not. Thus the number of gun owners gets underreported. The stats the anti-gun lobby ignores are those on gun sales. NICS checks for gun sales have been increasing over each prior  year for the past dozen years with over 21 million done in 2013. Since the program’s inception in 1998, there have been over 181 million checks; nearly 120 million in the last 8 years alone. They also don’t want to pay attention to gun manufacturing statistics. In those past 8 years, American gun makers turned out nearly 28 million new guns.

Add to this the fact that guns are “the ultimate in durable goods.” Tony Canales pointed out to our guests that there are grandfathers in places like Pennsylvania that took whitetail deer this season using guns their grandfathers shot. And they will probably pass those guns along to their grandkids. Those 28 million new guns made over the last 8 years weren’t replacing worn out old guns. Cars and washing machines wear out; guns don’t. These were nearly all additions to the American civilian arsenal. And the remaining 92 million NICS checks during that period weren’t all for sales between existing gun owners. As much as we like to joke that guns are like potato chips (You can’t have just one!), they’re expensive and many of our fellow gun owners do own just that one gun. Many of the 92 million used gun sales that went through the NICS system were cases where first time buyers were getting a less expensive used gun. And this may come as a shock to some Californians, but in the rest of Free America, not all private party guns sales go through NICS. Nor do inheritances. So again, the number of gun sales, and thus gun owners, is underreported. (And we’ll leave out the folks who make their own DIY guns, like those making AR-platform rifles from 80% lowers. While making guns ain’t rocket science, but for some people, talking about them is.)

Which brings us back to the notion that the number of people exercising a right has any bearing on its importance. Legally, this is false. Politically, however, it has some validity. Politicians are far more likely to ignore the Constitution in areas where they believe that there’s little interest among the voting public. This doesn’t make that behavior legitimate, but it’s still a political reality. And as far as gun ownership is concerned, the argument is, at this point, merely academic. It doesn’t make much difference to a politician if there are over 90 million gun owners in the US or nearly 90 million. In either case, you’re talking about roughly half of all adults. Even if the number of gun owners is declining, it will be generations before gun owners are a small enough minority for most politicians to feel safe to attack them.

That’s where you come in.

Do what we and those other gun owners were doing at the range yesterday: Take your non-gun owning friends out shooting. One of two things will happen. They may decide that they really, really like shooting and the next thing they’ll be asking is your advice on a first gun. That’s great for two reasons. The first is that you’ve helped them onto a path where they take responsibility for their own safety; where they stop looking to the Nanny State to do that. This is transformative. The American People have a reputation for a strong independent streak. That tendency in our people has been waning over the past 80 years. Some would argue that we no longer deserve it. By turning your friends into gun owners, you help to turn our people away from the path our cousins in Great Britain took. The other benefit is for all of us and it’s pretty obvious: That’s one more gun owner. Their choice to purchase a firearm can also create another generation of gun owners among their children. Your friend will make the community of gun owners that they join that much larger.

The other possibility is that you don’t help to birth a new gun owner, but instead, you inoculate your friend against the gun grabbers’ arguments. When they hear a Chuck Schumer or a Michael Bloomberg talking about what awful people gun owners are, they think back to that day at the range. They remember how friendly everyone was. How much fun they had. They remember how those folks at the range were just ordinary people. They saw conservative retirees shooting and talking shop with inked up 20-somethings. They saw young men and young women learning to shoot. They saw parents teaching their children to safely shoot. They remember how many times you used the word “safety”. Now when they hear gun owners demonized and called reckless, they think “What’s he talking about? Maddy isn’t like that.” Instead of hearing anti-gun rants and having nothing else to go on, they have their own very positive experience by which to judge those statements. When they hear a Dianne Feinstein talking about this or that new gun law that we “need”, they will no longer blindly accept what the news media tell them; they’ll ask your opinion. By taking your friend shooting, you’ve defanged the gun grabbers.

So the next time you’re planning a trip to the range, think about which of your friends you could invite. You will be doing them, yourself, and the rest of us a tremendous favor.

Posted in Shooting, Shooting sports.

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