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?