There are certain circles in our society – including our current administration and the mainstream media – that love to label you. You are a gun owner. You are therefore a cammo-wearing, anti-social, war-crazy, right-wing survivalist who hunts pretty animals, loves NASCAR and Budweiser. You don’t fit in with the rest of the enlightened, civilized masses. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration. But as a recent convert to the world of defensive firearms, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I decided I wanted to protect my family and myself by purchasing a handgun. The mainstream media paints such a one-sided view when it comes to things of this nature; it’s hard to get an honest, clear picture of the average gun owner . . .

I recently visited one of the largest gun shops here in central Ohio. The store wasn’t filled with war-crazy survivalists, as some of those enlightened people believe. Quite the opposite. The place was packed with men and women in suits, parents with young children, college-aged kids, grandparents, people with disabilities, kids with mohawks, and plenty of other average citizens.

Well, how about the storeowners? Surely anyone running a large store that deals in death (i.e. various forms of defensive, target and sporting firearms) would be a nut job. Nope. No crazies. In fact, I encountered a lot of friendly, smiling faces that seemed to enjoy what they were doing. They were patient and kind to this newbie. Some were downright funny, in a straightforward, not at all creepy kind of way.

Imagine my surprise when I “crossed over” to firearm ownership and discovered that gun owners are simply law-abiding citizens who have chosen to exercise their right to protect themselves and their loved ones, hunt or simply enjoy firearms. They come from all backgrounds, races, creeds and political beliefs. They are lawyers, doctors, musicians, artists, laborers and CEOs. They are mothers, fathers, children and grandparents. They are stay-at-home suburban moms and they are third-shift highway construction workers.

Of all the mainstream stereotypes regarding gun owners, the idea that the average gun owner is a dangerous person is the worst. When Ohio lifted the ban on concealed carry, the first thing we all noticed was the “no firearms allowed” sign posted on the front window of almost every establishment around the local area. Granted, I have heard that Ohio is a little less friendly than some other states when it comes to concealed carry. Some of you might not see those signs as frequently as we do here. But it still begs the question: are gun owners really that threatening?

Does the rest of society not understand that the entire purpose of carrying a concealed handgun is self-defense? So let me get this straight… I can defend myself, but only if I do it out on the sidewalk. I’m way too dangerous to be inside a Starbucks. No latte today, I guess.

What’s even more ridiculous: some people believe the bad guys will obey those signs. Sorry Joe, we can’t rob this bank; they have a no-guns-allowed sign on the front window. A coworker of mine once commented that those signs do nothing more than advertise to criminals that nobody inside can defend themselves. In a way, she’s right. You can face some big legal trouble if you carry a concealed weapon into an establishment that specifically forbids it, including the loss of your permit.

But let’s be serious… the bad guy who wants to rob the place does not care about that little sign up front, and odds are he does not have a permit to lose in the first place. So if the average gun owner is an upstanding, law-abiding citizen who has no desire to cause trouble, and the average criminal could care less about the sign in the front window, then who is that sign really helping?

I know that some people believe that legal gun owners are the issue. They believe that the presence of firearms is inherently dangerous. If anything, prohibiting concealed carry within an establishment limits the potential safety within that establishment. For all its occupants, both gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

Recently, a man in Florida walked into a school board meeting with a gun. He eventually opened fire on the school board members and then killed himself. At the risk of stating the obvious, the situation would have been handled much differently if there had been several armed citizens in attendance. The second the gunman produced the handgun the threat could have been addressed. Instead, the terrified attendees of the meeting watched as the gunman ranted and raved, and then began to take shots at the school board members. The gunman obviously did not care that there was a “no firearms allowed” sign on the front door of the school.

It goes without saying that there are some places where civilian firearms should be prohibited – jails, police stations, schools, etc. But what those enlightened masses need to realize is that the average gun owner is not out to start a Hollywood-style gunfight in the local Barnes & Noble. On the contrary, most gun owners I know hope and pray that they never, ever, EVER have to fire that gun outside of the range. Those people aren’t dangerous. They are simply aware that the world is an imperfect place, and they don’t want to become a statistic on the evening news.

I’m happy to say that I’ve learned that the mainstream picture of the average gun owner couldn’t be further from the truth. I only wish more non-firearms-enthusiasts saw it that way. We are not the cammo-wearing, anti-social, war-crazy, right-wing survivalists that they make us out to be. Well, maybe some of us are. But that just makes the world a more interesting place to live, don’t you think?

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8 Responses to Guns: Labels, Signs, and the Enlightened Masses

  1. My favorite line from The Addams Family was Wensday Addams’, when she was asked why she wasn’t dressed up in a costume for Halloween. She replied, “I’m a homicidal maniac…we look like everyone else.” Which is kinda the point. There is no way to identify a gun owner – a law-abiding one, a crazy one, or a homicidal one – by their looks. (Although I do have to admit, I love the footage the MSM shoots of neighbors after some guy goes postal, when they inevitably say, “oh…I never suspected a thing…he was quiet and kept to himself…a good neighbor.”

    I was surprised a couple of weeks ago – I was in an automotive garage, when the owner came up to me and asked what I was carrying. It was one of the days when I wasn’t actually – what he saw was my cell case under my shirt. I’m still going through the “touchy” phase on carrying, and it was a little funny that he assumed I was carrying when I wasn’t. (Guess I can either stop carrying a cell phone, or stop worrying about being detected with a concealed gun.) The funniest part was that he was wondering if I was carrying that new Kimber I’d talked about online – he wanted to see it.

  2. I observed an interesting pair while waiting in line recently to pick up a prescription at a local pharmacy. Two old gentlemen were ahead of me at the counter, they were dressed in that business casual of retired professionals who neatly out of habit but shun the now unnecessary tie. The younger one gave the clerk the last name and said they were there to pick up his father’s prescription. The clerk rummaged around but could not find it, then checked the computer and returned to the counter and asked the older gentleman for his date of birth. He replied “February 14, nineteen seven.” Apparently there had been a computer flag because his particular prescription would not go through for a pediatric patient (and we thought all the Y2K problems had been solved . . . . ). The problem was quickly solved and everybody went on their way. The interesting part is that both of these men, one over a hundred and the other easily seventy, were openly armed with neatly holstered revolvers (looked like old Chief’s Special snubbies). They were polite, well-dressed, and armed–and it was unremarkable. And this was inside the Capital Beltway.

  3. Jared, if Ohio is anything like North Carolina, there’s an easy explanation for the “no guns” signs in shop windows.

    In NC, the “shall issue” law was a big controversy in the state. Anti-gun groups stirred the pot by hysterically (and predictibly) claiming that the streets would run red with blood and every fender-bender would be a shootout if the law passed. When the the law did pass, these same groups went around to businesses warning them that they could be held liable if an innocent person was injured in a shooting and they allowed guns on their premises.

    It is basically a fallback provision – the anti-gunners can’t stop the law but they can do their best to try and make it irrelevant (note that this is also where the no-guns-in-bars provisions of many state CCW laws come from.)

    • Martin, you’re exactly right. They can’t stop the law from going into effect, but they can make it very hard for you to carry a weapon anywhere. In my opinion it’s an extremely sneaky and childish way for them to get what they want, even though concealed carry was approved by law.

      It’s somewhat similar to the smoking bans that have gone into effect over the past few years (sidebar – I’m not a smoker and I don’t advocate it, I’m just using it as an example). Smoking is technically legal, but it’s gotten to the point where you can only do it in your own house, in the closet, hiding under a blanket.

  4. “Gun people” (sounds like the title to a B-movie) are just like anybody else. Some of us are camo-crazy, war-waring pretty animals who hunt Budweiser and drink NASCAR to survive. Some of are just geezers who love to blow stuff to smithreens at the range (I raise my hand). And we all love our toys! But let’s face it, guns are as dangerous as, say, construction equipment. Most people can’t come to grips with us enjoying something dangerous. If we didn’t enjoy guns, would the same people feel differently about us? Not about the guns, but about us? Maybe, but I don’t know.

  5. “It goes without saying that there are some places where civilian firearms should be prohibited – jails, police stations, schools, etc.”

    You said yourself if someone in the SCHOOL board meeting (don’t know where it was held) had had a firearm things would have turned out differently. Jails I understand, but I do not understand why you would agree that police stations, schools, and etc are no places for guns. How many of the campus shootings could have been stopped had someone been carrying?

  6. Once upon a time(not so long ago) I WAS a camo wearing, heavy drinking, uber-weird type of guy….. Then I grew up and joined the real world, the business world. Even then I still kept a few signs of rebellion visible to the public to “express myself” but as time went on and especially after I started to CC I’ve purposely toned things down and “normalized” my appearance. My hair got shorter, my clothes got blander and my temper got tamped down and better controlled. The one thing that made all those things happen was RESPONSIBILITY in one form or another. I see CC as a serious responsibility just like any other and have seen others go through the same changes I did when they decided to CC….. I believe it does make SOME of us better people if not just more “normal”. It adds another perspective to the daily grind that I don’t think most anti-gun people could ever understand, a perspective that MAKES US THINK and PAY ATTENTION more than the average person floating around oblivious to their surroundings.

    There are exceptions to every rule(other than death and taxes) but the overwhelming majority of gun owners and CC holders I’ve met over the years seem to back up my theory.

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