Whether through articles or posts on social media the gun industry has a tendency to readily and joyously eat its own. Toss a proverbial hot topic into the ring and suddenly it’s lions versus Christians with the lone Christian being represented by some poor guy who was “just saying.”
It’s a topic worth addressing even though it will cause more even kvetching and whining in the comment section (commonly-shared saying among writers: never read the comment section). Addressing it is likely to be called “whining”, “playing the victim card”, or – my personal favorite – “virtue signaling.”
There’s also the opposite end of the spectrum. There we have those who loudly proclaim we as an industry are being divided by “divisive” speech. Often this involves the originator of the discussion having asked a question or somehow challenged the status quo. You don’t dare rock the boat, because that makes you “part of the problem.”
These are my two cents, and they’re sentiments I like to believe are shared by most of us here at TTAG. This is also one of the rare instances in which I’m going to be blunt about this problem.
Speak Your Mind
Willingness to speak up should never be discouraged, so long as the speaker isn’t a flaming asshat (yes, I’m looking at you). Voicing different thoughts and opinions is how progress is made; silencing those voices is how we not only remain in place, but are dragged backwards by our opponents. Who is it you think makes the changes in the industry? Those who go with the flow or those who are willing to speak up?
A word of advice. Speaking your mind can be done politely. Resorting to name-calling, insults, and condescension is the quickest way to be cast aside as yet another ranting redneck gun owner or a crude commenter. Be constructive. It’s fun.
2A Rights Take Priority
As an industry we’re faced with significant threats to our Second Amendment rights. For example: bump stocks. A large portion of the industry was and is willing to throw bump stocks under the bus because, hey, it’s a small concession in light of greater issues, right?
Wrong. It doesn’t matter if you think bump stocks are useless toys or if you feel the action can be easily replicated with a rubber band. The anti-gun left has proven — time and again — that if they’re granted so much as an inch, they will take not just a mile but ten. Give them bump stocks, they’ll take semi-autos, exactly as some are trying to do.
Petty squabbles should be set aside for Second Amendment rights. If the anti-gun crowd is threatening those rights in some way, we should be capable of banding together to fight back. But we apparently aren’t. Case in point, bump stocks and…
The Big, Bad NRA
You might not agree with everything the NRA does, but they remain our most powerful voice for Second Amendment rights. I wasn’t pleased with their handling of bump stocks, but I still support them. We need a big, badass dog in the fight and right now that means backing the NRA.
If, one day, another organization manages to garner their level of influence, great. In my mind it’s an easy question: do you like owning guns? Yes? Cool. Support the NRA, then fight for change from within instead of pouting like a recalcitrant toddler from the outside.
Love a Good Debate
I have a confession, something you might already have noticed: I love a good debate. By “good debate” I mean a logical discussion based on facts. I do not mean an argument where we call one another names and slap at one another like sorority girls.
Debate is good for the soul; more importantly, debate is important for progress. Weaver versus isosceles, low versus high bore axis, competition versus self-defense training. Even, God help us, 9mm vs. .45. It’s all fantastic food for thought. Also, you’ll never know what people think if you don’t bring it up. Even better, you might – *gasp* – learn something during the discussion.
Debates are necessary parts of progress. What if John Browning never invented – well, anything? What if Daniel LaFever never designed a striker-fired shotgun? What if Elmer Keith failed to work on magnums? Oh – what if Jeff Cooper never developed the Modern Technique?
Debate is Not Divisive
It’s past time we as an industry stopped clutching at our pearls and admit that debates are not divisive. Divisive behavior is like what Karl Lueger did to Vienna (by the way, Karl, thanks for influencing Hitler, who took division to new heights). Debating whether competition shooting makes one a competent self-defense shooter, not so much.
Debate is, quite literally, talking an issue or issues over in a formal manner. What debate isn’t is an insult-tossing free-for-all. That means bellowing that open carry or using a SERPA will get someone kilt in da streets is not conducive to progress. Just saying.
Don’t be an Asshole
Can you discuss an opposing viewpoint without calling someone names, slapping rude labels on them, or otherwise being a jerk? If the answer is no, get out of here. You aren’t looking for a debate, you just want a fight. Those methods are the way of the angry, reactive anti-gun left and shouldn’t be your way. Shush and let the grown-ups talk.
Here we come to the crux of the matter. As an industry, we eat our own. Writers who attempt to build themselves up by mocking and tearing down other writers, competitive shooters who degrade and name-call as a matter of reflex, brand founders targeting other brands for imagined or years-old slights; we’re like an industry of junior high schoolers with access to copious amounts of alcohol.
But wait, you say, you don’t work in the industry. You’re a reader; a commenter. Gues what? Without readers clicking on links and buying guns and gear, we wouldn’t exist. The industry would crumble. Don’t believe me? You all should see the fall-out of declining gun sales. It isn’t only the manufacturers who are hurt, it’s the guys heading up R&D and marketing, the ammo companies, the writers.
Also, I know there are plenty of industry guys reading this right now and grimacing.
I have an idea. It’s pretty radical, but it’s worth a shot. Why don’t we have rational, logical discussions? Why not trade ideas back and forth without informing someone they’re part of the problem? There are quite a few people out there willing to talk to me – and to others – privately who will not make public statements for fear of repercussions. We aren’t bullet proof, after all, and we have bills to pay.
In my experience, those who say you are rocking the boat and should sit your ass down are the same people who will toss you head-over-kettle out of that boat without a second thought (whether you sit down or not). The industry needs to grow and expand its base. The industry needs to welcome newcomers. The industry and the NRA need more Adam Krauts. Toeing the party line is not the answer.
Disclaimer: Raging assholes and jerks deserve to be slapped down. Dangerous practices – think VODA – should be spoken out against. Safety, ethics, and protecting our Second Amendment rights should be the priorities. Get those priorities in order. Let your polite conversation freak flag fly. Just keep your muzzle aimed in a safe direction, please.