By Charles Romano
Gun owners are a breed apart from the rest of humanity; at least according to those who have a fear, dislike, or hatred of guns and the people that own them. It is those same feelings that allows them to defame and vilify the collected population of gun owners across the country as nothing more than a bunch of ill-bred, anti-government, white, racists who have few, if any, qualms about killing any person, regardless of age, for whatever reason or whim they deem acceptable . . .
Their supporting argument to this gun owning archetype are deranged criminals, mass murderers, and right wing extremists who make for easy marks to make the case. With such a preponderance of evidence that all gun owners are child murdering psychopaths, the only logical course of action for the rest of America is to believe just that. But, like all cases of stereotyping and discrimination, the truth goes much deeper than simple appearances allow.
Discrimination in this country is a serious topic, but one usually reserved for situations involving gender, race, religion, age, and sexuality. Preventing someone from receiving necessary services, denying them fundamental rights, or creating defaming ads or committing a violent act against any of the aforementioned particulars are grounds for action ranging from simple civil suits up to, and sometimes including, felony hate crime charges. A person or group can espouse a discriminatory view and even use hate speech to promote it, but as long as they don’t cross a certain line then they are still protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
As an example; in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, one of the most resounding changes in the United States was an immediate distrust of the entire Muslim community. Businesses run by Muslims were boycotted, people of the faith or of an Arabic background were subjected to epithets of a vast range, surveillance programs (both official and unofficial) sprung up overnight to keep tabs on anyone of Arabic descent, and crimes fueled by hatred became commonplace occurrences. The most brutal crimes varied from assaults, to rapes, and even murders.
This blind hatred of an entire race and religious subculture even led to crimes being committed against people who just looked remotely Muslim or Arabic (such as the beatings of several Indian Sikhs simply based on their turbans even though they were neither Muslim, nor Arabic). Cooler heads attempted to quell the spat of Anti-Arabic mindsets by trying to remind the citizens of the United States that not all Muslims are terrorists, just as all Arabs are not necessarily Muslim.
It is in this form of discrimination that one of the most direct parallels to discrimination against gun owners can be made. Just because a prevailing stereotype exists does not make it true. Now, of course, the people who try to champion these stereotypes as part of an agenda will never accept anything else as truth, but that still leaves all the non-extremists up for changing their minds and instilling them with the knowledge of what is real. That is why we, as gun owners, must raise ourselves over the stereotypes so that we may lay low any chance of stronger discriminatory acts from taking root.
Right now, beyond a campaign of distaste and distrust against gun owners, the only major issues we must contend with are banks and credit cards distancing themselves from gun sales and legislative proposals that target firearms sales and ownership. With the help of heavy corporate lobbying and citizen backlash, most states have refused to pass new legislation. However I fear that all this does is delay the inevitable as public perception drives policy, and if the public continues to see gun owners as violent, racist, right-wing, white extremists then they will care less about rights in the long run in the interest of “public safety”.
America needs to see a different gun owner than the ones that Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and any other such groups try to pass off as the average gun owner. We need to show the country that a gun owner can be of any race, any gender, any religion, any sexual preference, any political alignment, and any background.
That is why I co-founded the Legislative Oversight & Knowledge Initiative (LOKI). LOKI is not a gun lobby as its true mission is to protect the fundamental and Constitutional rights of all Americans; it just so happens that the actions that spurred LOKI into being were the spat of anti-gun legislation that had been proposed in Rhode Island. We at LOKI are working beyond that, having noticed that the new plight of gun owners is not just the anti-gun bills that threaten their rights but also the negative public image that is being generated by the acts of real monsters and the targeted publicity of a few groups and individuals.
LOKI is going to try and counter that with its own ad campaign to help those who may have been swayed otherwise into realizing that just because a person owns a gun does not make them a murderer much in the same way that a woman who dresses in a certain manner does not make her a slut, or a person who owns costume fangs is somehow a vampire. A person is not definable by what own or how they dress or where they came from.
A person is defined by their actions.
So in truth, we are not gun owners.
We are just people…
…and that is all that should need to be said.