As usual, Billy Johnson has his finger on the pulse of Gun Nation. Nothing gets gun owners’ hackles up quite like open carry. Just read the comments under any TTAG post that touches on the subject, sit back and watch the fur fly. But whether you think open carry is needlessly inflammatory or a right rightly exercised, there’s little doubt that demystifying firearms can only redound to the benefit of The People of the Gun. The fewer non-gun types who freak out at the mere sight of a holstered hog leg, the better it is for gun rights in general. Billy suggests taking a noob to the range. Some of you believe that, yes, open carrying regularly will desensitize the overly sensitive. What’s the best way to demystify guns for a gun-ignorant public?

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57 Responses to Question of the Day: What’s the Best Way to Demystify Guns?

  1. There are 100,000,000 law-abiding gun owners in the country, and 11,000,000 to 12,000,000 who carry daily.

    The best way to “demistify” guns? Carry. Daily. Everywhere. Openly or concealed, as you see fit. Just carry.

    The gun control nuts are the fringe. Law-abiding gun owners are the norm. The more of us who carry as a matter of habit, the more and more difficult – if not outright impossible – it becomes for them to caricature us.

  2. “Holstered Hog Leg”, hog leg- now that’s a term I haven’t heard in a mules age- glad to see it’s still around, I commend you for its use.

  3. Positive exposure, both active and passive. Have a standing offer to take gun-ignorant friends to the range and teach them to shoot, and open carry.

    However, if you open carry, it is absolutely CRITICAL that you act like a paragon of your community so as to get that positive association going. If you act like a dick, then you’re just hurting the cause by driving the association between guns and jerks in the minds of the gun-ignorant folks.

  4. Take’em to the range.
    Keep them away from shaved head mall ninjas.

    It never fails on a nice relaxed range visit with an anti some yahoo pulls in with a murdered out F250 climbs out loaded with tattoos and a shaved head and starts hooting and hollering as he throws down his ammo cans and unloads a dozen identical tacti-cool AR’s.

    He may be a tool. He may be the nicest friendliest guy you’ve ever met but right then and there to that first-time shooting anti he’s the epitome of every anti slogan and catch phrase ever uttered.

    Thankfully I see far less of that in NH than I did in CT.

    • We had a NAVY SEAL officer (he didn’t look at all ‘former’ and we didn’t really talk shop) show up at a rifle/pistol class with dread-loc hair and full-sleeve tats.

      He was the epitome of professional otherwise, and a total machine (not tool) on the range.

    • I’m the CRSO for my club. Never saw one of those “yahoos” here, with a gun or otherwise. I’d say that the dress or gear collection is relatively immaterial. It is the safety habits I watch for. If someone is safe, handling their guns responsibly and listening to range commands, I don’t care what they are wearing or how many tatoos they have. Not my job to decide that.

      If people are unsafe, not responding appropriately to range commands, they get tossed out no matter who they are or what they are wearing.

      If we want to actually normalize the use of guns and the right of self defense, we must accept the fact that EVERYONE has that right, not just those we approve of, or who dress and groom themselves to suit us. That just results in a slightly different “gun control” after all.

      • If we want to actually normalize the use of guns and the right of self defense, we must accept the fact that EVERYONE has that right, not just those we approve of, or who dress and groom themselves to suit us. That just results in a slightly different “gun control” after all.

        Amen.

        (Full disclosure: I’m bald, though I’m not a ninja, try to avoid malls, and have never open carried in my life, though I’m considering it.)

      • You’re looking through the lens of a gun guy. Look through the lens of a hipster biddie who feeds on network nightly news and can’t form a thought more complex than a bumper sticker slogan.

        If we’re looking to sway fence-sitters and even anti’s we’re stepping into the realm of political persuasion. It’s petty and superficial. Mr. Rodgers bench shooting his Weatherby is nice and safe. Even if Mr. Rodgers is sweeping everyone on the range with his muzzle. Steve Austin is scary and intimidating even if he’s the safest guy on the line.

        It’s not right. It’s not nice. But it’s good PR and PR sways the ignorant.

        • Steve Austin is scary and intimidating even if he’s the safest guy on the line.

          So big, tall, bald guys with facial hair should just not carry (or shoot at a public range, as it were), lest we scare the poor hoplophobes? Really?

          Do we need to recruit a Pajama Boy Army?

        • Can’t really fix stupid. No amount of catering to them or compromising with what they think they want is ever going to help. Becomes a real catch 22.

          We don’t really have too many Mrs. Grundy/pearl clutchers out here. I’m 68, short, stout female, and anybody who is fearful of the gun I carry openly has too many rocks in their head to “normalize” to anything.

        • Purposefully obtuse Chip? Of course you should carry and shoot. Derp.

          Like it or not you project an image. An image that holds a meaning for a certain segment of society that may or may not reflect who you are.

          I’m over 200 pounds and above 6 feet tall bald with a massive unkempt beard. I know my expression, dress, volume and tone have an affect on how others perceive me. That’s just reality. Skinny jeans Joe doesn’t want a bunch of wannabe 1%ers rolling up with open pipes when he’s at the range for his first time ever. Certainly not if they’re loud, cussing, obnoxious, etc…

          Your behavior means more in the end but your appearance is the first impression. Unless you happen to live in the land of goody gum drops where everyone gets a participation ribbon and a hug. You live in the same universe I do, right? Walk among the same people? Haven’t noticed people treat you differently on occasion? Lucky you I suppose.

        • You’re describing attitude, behavior, and body language? Yeah, I’m down with that. But that applies the skinny-jean hipsters just as much as it does to big, tall, bearded bald guys.

          Appearance is irrelevant, and if all 11,000,000 CCW permit holders carried daily, appearance would be a non-issue because it’s impossible for a group of that number to be completely homogeneous. Even the much-maligned “tacticool operationally operating operators” would be irrelevant at such numbers.

    • I’ve never seen that in Texas, at a range, anyway. I’ve seen police like that and I’ve seen leftist comic strips like that, but never a real person regular guy at the range. Just my experience. Doesn’t mean it isn’t out there somewhere.

      • Me niether. Even in heartland of poor decisions, Los Angeles California. Nor at any range between Seattle and Austin.

        The only people I see that fit that discription are the police. And then only sometimes.

  5. I would think a citizen demonstrating gun use in a safe effective manner as needed during a terror attack, animal attack including wild dogs, wolves, bears and snakes would demystify guns and the gun range works too.

  6. If you hear people talking about guns like mind altering drugs, correct them. Guns are a tool. It takes a bad person behind one to hurt someone, the same way a bad person behind a kitchen knife or a car can hurt people.

    Of course, those kinds of people are not common. Life is full of dangerous things for them to use, and guns are not their only option nor their most effective option. (building fires and bombings by crazy people have always claimed more lives than an active shooter).

    • If you hear people talking about guns like mind altering drugs, correct them.

      Fantastic! Never heard it put that way.

      It’s like a drug so mystical and magically powerful that it can take control of anyone who:

      * touches a gun
      * stands near a gun
      * looks at a gun
      * says the word “gun”
      * hears the word “gun”
      * writes a story that has guns

      Unless, you’re a Hollywood actor, then you’re immune.

      They have super powers that prevent them from being influenced by gun handling.

  7. “What’s the best way to demystify guns for an gun-ignorant public?”

    Take someone shooting. Ammo and range fees are on you; this is an investment you’re making. Nothing takes away the mystique of guns for an uninformed person like shooting one themselves. Then they see it’s just a mechanical object. They held this “evil” thing, and didn’t feel an urge to kill anyone, imagine that. You may not convert someone to full-on RKBA support with just one range trip, but it happens a lot more often than most people realize.

    Outdoor ranges are best for this – indoor ranges are loud and smelly and can be intimidating to a newbie. Reactive targets are better, too, than just punching paper.

  8. Keep it simple. Whether at the range or just over lunch, resist the urge to deluge the acquaintance with firearms politics, mechanics, minutiae and any histrionics. Play it straight, reasonable, minimal and purely factual.

    Invite and answer questions, but keep it short. No more than 10 second answers.

  9. I’m in my mid-twenties. It seems like the “anti-gun” moms are a generation older than mine, for whatever reason. I’ve helped 2 female shooters recently purchase their first firearms, and one of them joined the NRA. People need to realize that firearms can afford protection to those who would otherwise be marginalized if strict gun control is in effect. Despite several high profile domestic violence & other violent crime cases against women in the news, anti-gun groups are silent on this issue.

    I want someone to ask them what they expect a single mom with kids to do if they hear someone breaking into their house late at night. Regardless of gender, everyone should be afforded this right (OBVIOUSLY) but I would want to ask this very question to appeal to the “mom” in “Moms Demand Action” and see what they have to say.

  10. I’m a normal guy, my friends think I’m normal, my coworkers think I’m normal. So every time I bring up the fact that I shoot competitively and own guns, non-gun types are forced to confront that normal people own and use guns. I bring it up in almost any social conversation.

  11. Am I the only one getting, “This video is unavailable in safety mode” when I press play?

    For the record, I do have SafeSearch enabled.

      • We’re talking about grabbers here not ISIS. Violence should always be the fallback plan. If you can win without loss of life or injury why would you choose any other option?

  12. With due respect to MamaLiberty, you can’t fix stupid but we can educate the ignorant. People are naturally fearful of things they don’t understand, especially when those things are known to be powerful enough to kill.

    We can and should take non-gun-owning friends to the range, every chance we get. Field strip the gun in front of them, explain the major components (especially the safety features), reassemble the gun, load it and fire it. Then let them do it. That’s a whole lot of demystification right there. If we have reloading equipment, have them load a few rounds and let them fire the rounds they loaded. That would be beyond cool for someone who has no prior ballistic knowledge.

    • There is a VAST difference between the gun phobic “stupid” and anyone who is willing to even look at a gun without fainting… The dedicated hoplophobe probably can’t be reached by any effort we might make, but God bless any who continue to try.

      I take people to the range all the time. I teach any who ask for the class. I hold a weekly shooting clinic for all comers. I just don’t have time to track down hoplophobes.

  13. I have been reading the comments on Salon about this video. The hate filled ranting therein is unreal. The ludeness is frankly revolting.

    • That’s par for the course on Salon.com. A while back there was an article by a Democrat woman who’s best friend was a Republican. Overall a warm article. The number of comments wishing rape and murder on the author and the best friend made me sick, and I’ve not been back since, no matter how intriguing the non political articles are over there.

      • The amount of rage that gets spewed by “2nd Amendment Haters” is truly staggering.

        And of course, they project their own desire for violence into the minds of law-abiding gun owners.

        Meanwhile, concealed carry permit holders have a lower crime rate than the general population (and lower than police).

        Sheesh.

  14. This is too long, but I’ll post it anyway.

    First off, I think that personal contact with friends is a great way. Casual discussions, being open to questions, being polite and kind when discussing guns, eventually taking them to a range (if they’re interested) is great. All of that said, I think that we can miss a lot of folks that way.

    Ideally, I would want what amounts to a public service campaign. It would essentially be a three part plan: a basic information class, a “welcome to the range” class, and advertising to get people there. Something like this:

    * Basic Firearm Information Class

    These would be brief classes, probably no more than 2 hours, that would introduce people to the world of firearms. The classes would:

    ** be a live class, taught in a comfortable setting or viewed online (interactive)
    ** be taught by someone who will NOT be condescending, but gentle, well-spoken, informative and professional (unfortunately this is an issue at some gun shops / ranges)
    ** destroy a lot of the myths about guns and about legal issues, e.g.
    – police have no legal duty to protect anyone
    – guns rarely fire when dropped
    – “assault weapon” is a term that means whatever a politician wants it to mean
    – guns are used more often for defense than many will admit
    – MSR’s are rarely used in attacks (discuss disproportionate media coverage of bad things)
    – population of gun owners is more diverse than you think
    – etc.
    ** inform people of things they may not have considered, such as:
    – a man usually doesn’t require a gun to assault a woman, but a woman is greatly helped vs. a man if she has a firearm
    – a senior citizen / disabled person / etc. has very little chance against a young able-bodied thug
    – most individuals have very little chance against multiple attackers
    – there are 100 million gun owners in the country … it is a very, very small percentage that do bad things with guns
    – it is impossible for police to be everywhere at once, and an attacker can do a lot of damage very quickly
    – most bad guys won’t obey gun free zone signs, restraining orders, etc.
    – etc.
    ** introduce the basics of gun safety (e.g. the four rules)
    ** introduce some of the very basic stuff regarding a firearm, e.g.
    – definitions of long gun / handgun / revolver / pistol / shotgun / rifle / semi-auto / full auto
    – safety features on holsters for carrying a handgun
    – options for safe storage of a firearm at a home
    – etc. (this won’t be a lot of info, but it’ll get people started)

    After the class, students will be invited to schedule a “welcome session” at a local range (see next section). Thank ’em for coming (or viewing online), and give them a way to follow up if they have additional questions about the information discussed.

    If at all possible, these classes would be free (accepting donations ok but not charging a fee). Since the idea is to get people who are presumably apprehensive, and in some cases hostile, towards firearms, charging for the class would not be ideal.

    These classes could be taught at various locations, including churches, homes, restaurant meeting rooms, fraternal organizations, library meeting rooms, hotel conference rooms, etc. A fantastic opportunity would be if a local college student group invited a speaker once or twice a year to speak in an on-campus meeting room.

    All of this is a chance to expose people to the truth.

    * Welcome Session at local range

    After the information class, the person can have a “welcome session” at a local range. This would involve 20-30 minutes of going over the basics of firearm safety (again), the rules for behaving on a range, and information on how to use the firearms – ideally a 22LR semi-auto and 22LR revolver.

    It would probably last 60-90 minutes, depending on how much the user wanted to shoot. The user would be charged a flat fee for the instruction, range time & gun rental, and have an additional cost for the ammo (market dependent).

    * Advertising

    The goal of this campaign is to reach people who know little-to-nothing about guns but are curious enough that they want to learn more … but perhaps don’t have any gun-owning friends or family to turn to. Advertising will help get the word out to these folks. It could be in the form of billboards, TV commercials, radio commercials, newspaper ads, online ads, restaurant placemat ads, mass transit ads, or other methods that are found to be effective.

    On television (and in online video), the ads would essentially be public service announcements – quick little videos that give one tidbit of information and then direct folks to a website for more information (and contact info / scheduling for classes). New ones could come out every so often so that they are not stale.

    Given enough time, money and people involved, I think this could make an impact.

  15. Put it back in the physical education curriculum and the after-school shooting team.

    It was stripped years ago. It needs to be put back.

  16. There’s no one ‘best’ way, IMHO, but a good start is to seek first to understand. Just listen and find out what they like, and what they fear, and appeal to those emotions showing how being in better direct charge of your personal and family security can help with both. Sometimes you just plant the seed and return to water it, by and by.

  17. This is a very good video, but like all the rest, its nog going to be sought out, or found in a search by those afraid of guns.

    Its more likely to be criticized, disrespected, or trolled by the active anti-gunners. So, it is up to all of us, to do as he says, find someone neutral but willing to try something new, and get them involved, by going to the range, hands-on. Its the most fun, most effective teaching method.

    Guns are sexy. Bring partners, or potential partners, as a social occasion. That sems to he the vibe most common among the younger folk I see at a range near me that is packed on weekends.

    It looks like the tide is shifting, per Drudge…Women prefer Republicans…get on the train will you can!

  18. The best way to demystify guns is to take people to the range and let them shoot yours. Every one of the 500 .22 LR rounds I won from TTAG for the “look at this baby” MDA poster has been fired by several gun-novices I’ve taken to the range (less a few rounds I fired for demonstration). Set up some 1/5 scale metallic silhouettes at 10-25 yards and you’ll win them over really fast.

  19. 1n1 education. If every gun owner took the time to educate just one non-gun owner next year, gun-control would be a dead movement.

  20. Coming “out of the closet” as a gun person helps a lot on its own, it’s much harder for demonization to work when everyone knows someone who defies the stereotype being pushed.

    The other little fact that I’ve had a lot of luck with is pointing out that guns don’t just go off, and then using the lawsuit happy culture of this country to point out that if they did, like is shown in the movies, all the manufacturers would have been sued out of existence. It’s surprisingly effective, so few people actually know how guns actually work that explaining things like passive safeties and automatic firing pin blocks and how they work immediately conveys that you know what you’re talking about, and tends to impress them with the amount of safety engineering that actually goes into firearms. It’s a little thing, but worth trying out.

  21. Gun safety classes in every high school, and Eddie Eagle classes in every grade school.

    I know; It ain’t gonna happen.

  22. We should adopt the progressives’ tactic and put guns into the public education curriculum. It will normalize guns for the new generation. It will force their parents to confront the fact that guns are a real part of our society, and help to normalize it for them as well. It will further our basic goal of educating kids about firearm safety and reducing tragedies caused by curious, uneducated kids handling firearms. As part of that effort, let’s insist on air rifle being part of the gym curriculum. It will give kids hands-on experience with shooting and with safety. It will let them discover the sport and should lead to more recreational shooters in our society.

    • Maybe the 2nd Amendment crowd could adapt the following for firearms and get school to promote “firearms inclusiveness”

      12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness…
      http://www.nebraskafamilyalliance.org/ wp-content/ uploads/ 2014/ 10/ Training-Handouts.pdf

      ———————

      Wouldn’t be that difficult really. For the most part, just replace “gender” with “firearms.”

      For example:

      * Have visual images reinforcing FIREARMS OWNERSHIP: pictures of people who don’t fit FIREARMS-OWNER norms.

      * Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing FIREARMS in a binary manner. Ask things like, ”Hmmm. That is interesting. Can you say more about that?” or “What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.” Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of FIREARMS.

      * Look for examples in the media that reinforce FIREARMS OWNER stereotypes or binary models of FIREARMS (it won’t be hard; they’re everywherel). When with others, call it out and interrogate it.

      * Be intolerant of openly hostile attitudes or references towards others EVERYTIME you hear or observe them, but also use these as teachable moments. Take the opportunity to push the individual on their statements about FIREARMS. Being punitive may stop the behavior, at least in your presence. Being instructive may stop it entirely.

      * Teach children specific language that empowers them to be proud of who they are, or to defend others who are being mistreated. “Please respect my privacy.” “You may think that, but I don’t.” ”You may not like it, but I do.” ”Hey, they’re caled ’FIREARMS’ for a reason.”

      * Help students recognize ”all or nothing” language by helping them understand the difference between patterns and rules. Teach them phrases like “That may be true for some people, but not all people,” or ‘frequently, but not always,” or “more common and less common.” Avoid using “normal” to define any behaviors.

      * Share personal anecdotes from your own life that reflect FIREARMS inclusiveness. Even better, share examples when you were not FIREARMS inclusive in your thinking, words or behaviors, what you learned as a result, and what you will do differently next time.

      * Do the work yourself. What are your own experiences with FIREARMS? What might be some of your own biases? What assumptions do you make about the FIREARMS of others? Share reflections about your own evolving understandings about FIREARMS.

  23. I usually carry concealed but I will occasionaly open carry. There is a flip side to the tactical argument of carrying concealed and that is, if your weapon is visible you may not need to use it in the first place because of the implication of resistance. As we all know most criminals and mass shooters want to meet absolutely no resistance at all.

    The other advantage is the conversation that it occasionally sparks. I have used it as an oppurtunity to educate atleast 8 people about their rights and have had some very friendly conversations that were all initiated by another curious person.

    Like I said, I usually carry concealed but not for a tactical reason, just a personal preferance. As for the element of surprise, most don’t even notice when I open carry and a cortisone pumped criminal with tunnel vision about to rob a store is even less likely to notice it and if they do it may deter the crime to begin with.

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